In June of 2012 I was able to meet the author of The Awakening of Hope, Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove. I stayed near his home, visited frequently, eat meals with his family and community, played with their children and on numerous occasions talked with him and other members of the Rutba House Community which Wilson-Hartgrove is part of. I was deeply humbled by how down-to-earth they are.
Of particular importance, I met one individual in the community who, while living in the neighborhood, happened to be homeless. He moved into the Rutba community and now is a member. It is examples of love, reconciliation, justice, and hospitality like this that show how deeply true to the spirit of Christ folks on the Rutba Community are. To see it is to have fresh imagination breathed over you by God.
Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove's newest book The Awakening of Hope is a breath of fresh air along these same lines. He works to answer two questions. First, How is Christian hope born, nurtured and shared? Second, what are the practices that "normal" Christians are engaged in that is changing them into "saints"? He answers this in seven chapters each describing a specific practice:
1. Why we eat together
2. Why we fast
3. Why we make promises
4. Why it matters where we live
5. Why we live together
6. Why we would rather die than kill
7. Why we share the good news
Because The Awakening of Hope is a book about practices, that are sorely needed within the western church, Jonathan isn't hesitant to be theological. But don't let this wary you. His theology is lived out and a flower blossoming from his life in community and close quarters with the people of a struggling neighborhood. He pulls heavily from Biblical narrative to show how practices, such as making promises and dying rather than killing, issue from the heart of God and are important parts of the lives of Biblical saints. He also shows us how Christians today are using these practices and becoming saints one-day-at-a-time because of it. All of it together has left quite an impression on me.
Jonathan definitely breaks new ground in the evangelical world with this book. And as with all of his books he is drawing us closer to a deeply humble, but truly revolutionary faith. I strongly recommend this book to anyone who is seriously considering reimagining faith.