Sometimes you read a book, and it’s by someone you’ve been aware of for years, but never read anything by, and you are furious at yourself for not having got round to it earlier. Epiphanies of the Ordinary by Charlie Cleverly of St Aldates, Oxford, is one of those books. As I read it, I found myself agreeing the the effusive praise of Simon Ponsonby in the foreword. This is a book for every Christian, and for those on the fringes or doorstep of faith.
Cleverly takes the idea of epiphany – perhaps most simply translated as ‘manifestation’ – and applies it to various ordinary words, in a way that explains and unpacks a variety of key themes of the Christian faith. The book is divided into three sections – ‘Come’ (to Jesus), ‘Abide’ (with Jesus), ‘Go’ (for Jesus), and I found all three to be deeply helpful for reflecting on aspects of my life. This is a perfect book to read after, or perhaps as part of, a daily quiet time. This is a spiritual discipline I’ve recently rediscovered, and this book has been a blessing as a ‘treat’ to read after it, or to remind me of the importance of practicing and seeking the presence of God everyday.
Epiphanies of the Ordinary is a generous book – Cleverly draws from across the church spectrum and church history – and a biblical book, as Jesus is traced throughout the whole of scripture. Fundamentally, though, this is a prayerful and meditative book. As we read, “Christian meditation contrasts radically with much Eastern meditation, which has to do with emptying oneself and with the use of repeated mantras. Instead, we are concerned to fill our mind with biblical truth and to heighten personal relationships with the Father through the Son” (to which we might add, ‘in the power of the Holy Spirit’!). With this in mind, there is both deep theology simply explained, and beautiful prayers that can be used by anyone, woven throughout the structure of the book.
I’m glad I got round to reading this book – and have a number of others by the same author now on my ‘to acquire’ list – and found it spiritually nourishing in a practical and deep way. I would recommend it to weary leaders, burnt out disciples, or those pondering just how this Christian thing could possibly be real.