A Resurrection-Shaped Life: Dying and Rising on Planet Earth, by Jake Owensby. Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2018.
A Resurrection-Shaped Life is a gentle, generous, and encouraging book. It’s author, Jake Owensby, an Episcopalian bishop serving in Louisiana comes across as a man with a deeply compassionate, pastoral soul.
Each chapter is a brief meditation of a topic infused with the taste and promise of resurrection. His chapter titles help give a sense of the flavor of his topics:
· Growing Beyond our Past;
· The Meaning of Sorrow;
· Recovering from Shame and Blame;
· Mending Loss and Sorrow;
· Forgiveness, Passion, and Justice;
· Just Us.
The writing is filled with anecdotes that don’t come across as canned, convenient stories but as authentic experiences.
Resurrection does not always play a heavy hand in each chapter, but often lingers in the background. It is really only in his helpful Postlude that the author takes a more direct approach with resurrection, bringing together all that came prior in the book.
Owensby approaches resurrection not simply as the one-time experience of Jesus more than 2000 years ago, but as a defining characteristic of the Christian life. He sees a world filled with brokenness and resurrection as God’s unending move to heal. “The message of the resurrection is that God transforms the life we are actually living – sorrows, wounds, regrets and all – into symbols of love’s power to mend and to heal.” (XIII)
He seriously considers the realities of repentance, suffering, shame, and injustice. He does not diminish the importance of these experiences but portrays resurrection as God’s healing response to all of this. “The resurrection teaches us that God transforms who we are through a continual process of dying and rising. We are what we have overcome.” (103)
But this resurrection-shaped life is not just about healing our own wounds, it also drives us to brings this healing power to the people and systems we encounter. “A resurrection-shaped life replaces the illusion of an eternally carefree life with the scriptural vision of an inexhaustibly caring life.” (104)
This is a warm and uplifting book, without being trite or simplistic. It offers both hope for healing, and strength for participating in and sharing this resurrection-shaped life with the world.
*This review was of an Advanced Reader Copy. Page numbering may not match the published version.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the author and/or publisher through the Speakeasy blogging book review network. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.