Rowan Williams, Being Christian: Baptism, Bible, Eucharist, Prayer (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2014), 84pp.
Rowan Williams was the Archbishop of Canterbury and leader of the 70 million members of the Anglican Church from 2002 to 2012. He then served as Master of Magdalene College at the University of Cambridge. In the summer of 2013 he was appointed Chancellor of the University of South Wales (he is Welsh). Williams is a formidable scholar, but in this little book he shares his heart as a pastor and priest. He explores what he calls the four "basic activities" or "essential elements" of being Christian — Baptism, Scripture, Eucharist, and Prayer.
Williams devotes one chapter to each of these four spiritual practices. Each chapter is about twenty pages, and uncluttered by any footnotes or jargon. He begins each chapter with a single Scripture reference, and ends with three questions for further reflection. The book concludes with a short bibliography for further reading.
Baptism is a "restoration of what it means to be truly human." It connects us to the love of God, to the mess which is the world in which we live, and to one another. Baptism leads Williams to consider the roles of Christ as a prophet who asks difficult questions, a priest who builds bridges, and a king who seeks justice. We listen to Scripture to hear what the Spirit of God is saying. Jesus himself is the "luminous center" in light of which we read the rest of Scripture. The Eucharist is about hospitality, about being welcomed by God and in turn welcoming others. In prayer, we quiet ourselves to align ourselves more fully with the life and love of God. This is a simple book that's written with clarity and conviction by one of our leading Christian voices.