As the kids head back to school and Labor Day approaches, readers are returning to their book clubs and discussion groups. I’ve heard from all sorts of communities who really appreciated the conversation generated by Searching For Sunday - from Sunday school classes, to college student groups, to pastoral and ministry teams, to ladies’ book clubs. It seems that arranging the book around the sacraments (baptism, confession, communion, holy orders, confirmation, anointing of the sick, and marriage) has helped readers - as it helped me - understand and communicate their faith stories in real, relatable, and concrete ways. It’s also generated some amazing ideas among church leaders who have implemented some of the ideas from Searching for Sunday into their services and ministries.
So as the season prompts us to get back together around shared books and shared food, I wanted to let you know about some resources that will make your experience more immersive and interactive. And since I’ve been asked about a dozen times about Caroline Clunk’s amazing dark chocolate chip cookie recipe (referenced in Chapter 19), I’ve shared it here, with Caroline’s permission, for your group’s enjoyment.
FREE “Searching for Sunday” Discussion Guide:
Companion album - Seven Songs:
Arranged around the imagery of seven sacraments, Searching for Sunday is a book about all that is frustrating and beautiful and complicated about church, and I dedicated it to my blog readers and my sister, Amanda Opelt. Amanda is a singer/songwriter out of Boone, North Carolina. Her songs are haunting, beautiful, and lyrically profound. Amanda and I have always been close in mind and spirit, but there were moments in listening to the first cuts of Seven Songs that I felt she had reached into my brain and put my best dreams into song. (The “Marriage” song will totally wreck you.) Written and recorded in the mountains of western North Carolina, the album is the effort of a community of musicians and artists seeking to creatively express the longing inherent in each of the sacraments: the hunger for new life, healing, and harvest. It’s the perfect companion to Searching for Sunday.
We prepared a series of short video reflections around the themes of Searching for Sunday, including “Table,” “Sacraments,” “Scars,” and “Resurrection.” You might also be interested my lecture at Canterbury United Methodist Church entitled “Keep the Church Weird.”
Featured Faith Communities -
The Refuge, Denver
Epic Fail Pastors Conference
St. Lydia’s, Brooklyn
St. Gregory of Nyssa Episcopal Church, San Francisco
St. Bernard Abbey, Cullman, Alabama
St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, Cleveland Tennessee
Thistle Farms, Nashville
St. Augustine’s Chapel at Vanderbilt, Nashville
Gay Christian Network
Carr United Methodist Church
House for All Sinners and Saints, Denver
Most-Cited Books -
For the Life of the World by Alexander Schmemann
Life Together by Dietrich Bonhoeffer
An Altar in the World by Barbara Brown Taylor
The Story of Christianity, Volumes I & II by Justo Gonzalez
Take This Bread by Sara Miles
Remember Who You Are by Will Wilimon
The Sacred Meal by Nora Gallagher
Evangelicals on the Canterbury Trail by Robert Weber
Art & Images:
Check out my Searching for Sunday Pinterest board for ideas and inspiration and Ruth Meharg's bird series inspired by the seven sacraments.
Check out #SearchingForSunday on Instagram for pictures from fellow readers, including several reading groups.
Part 4 of #SearchingForSunday by @rachelheldevans: Communion. The Fosters had us over for book study, and Pastor Kathryn served communion with the Fosters homemade wine (made using elder berries Julia grew in the front yard) and beer bread. "This is what God's kingdom looks like: a bunch of outcasts and oddballs gathered at a table not because they are rich or worthy or good, but because they are hungry. Because they said yes. And there's always room for more."
Caroline’s Dark Chocolate Chip Cookies:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened or melted
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 egg yolk
2 cups dark chocolate chips
1. Preheat oven to 325. Grease cookie sheet or line with parchment paper.
2. Sift together flour, baking soda and salt; set aside.
3. In a medium bowl, cream together the softened butter, brown sugar, and white sugar until well blended. Then beat in the vanilla, egg, and egg yolk until light and creamy.
4. Mix in the sifted ingredients a little at a time until blended. Stir in the chocolate chips using a wooden spoon. (For best results, chill the dough a few hours before baking.)
5. Drop cookie dough a tablespoon at a time onto the cookie sheet with cookies about 3 inches apart. Sprinkle a dash of sea salt on each drop if desired.
6. Bake for 12-15 minutes.
Notes from Caroline:
“I have a few tricks for these that I think make all the difference. First of all, I chill the dough before baking. I chilled mine overnight, as I made this batch of dough really late at night, but even just two hours would be sufficient. After I scoop them out onto the tray, I press a little flaked sea salt on top of each cookie. I use a Maldon flaked sea salt, which is not always easy to find, so you can easily leave this off; I just love the salty/sweet contrast. I bake mine for about 12 minutes and right as the edges are starting to brown and the middles aren't quite done, I take them out and let them cool entirely on the cookie sheet. The residual heat from the cookie sheet helps finish baking the cookie but still leaves it soft and gooey in the middle.”
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