Among all the work stuff I have to read (like the report issued yesterday – funded by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation – on the 2012 Bradford West by-election) I have just read Professor Ben Quash's excellent new book Abiding. The Archbishop of Canterbury's Lent Book, it addresses the urgent need of Christian people to commit to place and stay there.
With reference to film, art and literature, Quash writes beautifully about how to live generously and contentedly with life lived in community. Rooted in the Benedictine experience, he draws on Scripture to encourage openness, attentiveness, reflectiveness, looking reality in the eye and living an authentic life. In so doing, he eschews the escapism of fantasy – religious or otherwise – whilst encouraging a habit of 'abiding' in body, mind, relationships, exile, woundedness and peace.
Perhaps it isn't coincidental that today I visited a church in Bradford where a simple community has arisen around the making of bread. Bread Church draws people from the local community into what I want to call an 'abiding presence' – where people bake bread together, share time together, talk together, break loneliness together, eat together, pray together, care for one another. It can only happen where one or two people commit themselves to a particular place – to abiding and not running away. It is impressive and rooted in the soil of Christian love and mercy.
Bread Church embodies what Ben Quash describes.
This is a book for slow reading and one I will be commending strongly – and not only because Ben is soon to be installed as Canon Theologian of Bradford Cathedral.