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Vintage Saints and Sinners

A good friend from Charlottesville, Virginia, has written a book that is due to be released on September 12th. I’ve been sent an advanced copy, and I’m loving it. As I’ve been reading it, I thought many of you might really enjoy it, too. I hope to blog about it as I go. So here’s my first entry to pique your interest. 

Anyone who has the desire to walk through the doors of the Bonhoeffer House (near the Grounds of the University of Virginia) for discussions centered on men and women who have been touched and changed so as to live life radically different, authentically, in deep relationship and pursuit of God, will walk out changed, hungrier than before, but encouraged by the risen, real, and living Christ who joins them as they go. This is the way I first encountered the life of vintage saints and sinners through the eyes and reflections of Karen Marsh.   

So, no surprise, but a deep delight to me to find Karen sharing some of the inspiration she has found in the lives and writings of Christ-followers who have gone before in the pages of her new book, Vintage Saints and Sinners: 25 Christians Who Transformed My Faith.

I now live in Southern California, an entire continent and several years between me and those treasured times at the Bonhoeffer House and other Charlottesville venues in Karen’s company, sharing life in following Christ authentically in the academy and in the mundane activities of life.Having Vintage Saints and Sinners on hand delights me and draws me to new fellowship and encouragement offered by those who have followed Christ in cultures and through crises I may never know, but in many ways parallel my own pilgrim’s path, pitfalls, and challenges. 

It is the same Jesus who called Soren Kierkegaard (the first to speak from the pages of Vintage Saints and Sinners) to prayer and vibrant authentic faith that calls me. It is the same Jesus who greets me as I rise each day, beckoning me to follow him, to listen, belong, and draw sustenance from conversation with him that was there for Soren, and is there for Karen and you and so many others. 

I have always loved biographies of missionaries and Christians who, motivated by God’s love and presence in their own lives, took on great things much larger than they could imagine taking on in their own strength. Such lives of other Christ-followers have always encouraged me. But I’m not just encouraged by those in past generations and foreign cultures, but especially by a contemporary in my time and culture. Karen’s reflections, insights, and experiences, drawn from her encounters with these vintage Christ-followers, encourage me as much as their lives do. 

Perhaps it is as Bonhoeffer puts it—that the Christ in my brother (or sister) is often more real to me than the Christ in me. In Vintage Saints and Sinners I get the double encouragement of peering into authentic and transformed lives of vintage Christ-followers and into Karen’s life. I’m planning on using the book as a devotional over the next several weeks. 

When it becomes available on September 12th, I hope you will get a copy too, encourage a friend or two to get copies, and share the encouragement of peering into the lives of regular saints who have gone before and of one who follows Christ today.