The Archbishop of Canterbury’s Lent Book 2024
ISBN 978 0 281 09010 5
Price £11.99
191 pages

I read this during Race Equality Week. It was a good reminder of what is at stake in the argument of this book. Justin Welby says that this title he has commissioned is “wonderful!”

In some ways it is a strange Lent book. It is less of a journey through the season with traditional Lenten themes, and more of a book to read carefully during the season to gain a fresh perspective on what it means to be black and Christian.

Reading it is undoubtedly stimulating. Not everyone will agree with every reflection, but no reader will be left unchallenged about issues related to Black Spirituality. Stone views the Christian story through an interesting lens, that will leave readers unable to view parts of Scripture in the same way again.

I was interested to read the author’s take on the how we might read about darkness in Scripture in a positive way. It was instructive to reflect on Abraham and Sarah’s harsh treatment of their black maid Hagar.

Writing as a woman, black and Pentecostal, the author has plenty of experience of being marginalised. The sting of prejudice is communicated effectively as is the sweet possibilities of moving into a better place.

The author helpfully reflects on the last week of Jesus’ public ministry, his death and resurrection. We are reminded the resurrected Jesus retains his scars. This reminds us that there is an ‘already but not yet’ about the Easter story.

“Most of us, even if we are not honest about it, live somewhere between hope and disappointment, or perhaps at a crossroads where they meet.”

John Woods is a writer and Bible teacher based in West Sussex. He is Director of Training at the School of Preachers in Riga, Latvia.