Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Review of The Year of Small Things

The older I get, the more I find myself hungry for a simple, downwardly-mobile, radical lifestyle, one that honors and cares for the least of these and the hurting, and one that finds my husband and me living in strong community with other people of faith. I also secretly wish to be the person who sold everything and moved to the inner city like the people who are my heroes. But my husband's job is out here in a Chicago suburb. We're planted here.

Then along comes Sarah Arthur's and Erin Wasinger's book, The Year of Small Things, telling how they worked to apply these very principals - the principals of new monasticism - while living in the suburbs.
New monasticism focuses on America’s forgotten urban centers while forming intentional Christian communities, as defined by the authors. The Arthurs came from a background of intentional living in North Carolina where they attended grad school at Duke. They spent years showing hospitality to the marginalized and the stranger in the inner city while sharing their meals, possessions and living space with others. After a move to the suburbs to answer a call to pastor a church, Sarah and her husband Tom struggled to apply their former lifestyle to their new living situation in a homogenous suburban neighborhood where the folks all seem to be fine. When they met the Wasingers, the families discovered their common passion and life philosophies. They decided to meet weekly, sharing their lives with brutal accountability, and creating a covenant to apply one principal a month of radical Christian living and new monasticism to their lives in that place where they lived.

 The result included some successes and some challenges. The authors offer much grace and much confession about their own awkward fits and starts on their journey, giving readers the same grace and permission to work through a new, simple lifestyle marked by generosity to others and hospitality, and care for the earth, all while  living in an accountable community.
Underneath many of our lives lies a hunger for this kind of radical call to shake up the status quo. The Year of Small Things could be transformative in so many ways, to so many people, in so many places despite just offering “small things” to do. The book is a great read for individuals, couples, or small groups interested in a life resembling the early church.
“We’re pretty sure we’re not changing the world. But we’re letting God change us, which in turn points us toward the change already happening in our church and city. One small thing at a time.”


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