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NOW AVAILABLE: “FAITH ONCE DELIVERED,” SERMONS BY PAUL N. WALKER

Couldn’t be more thrilled to announce that “Faith Once Delivered,” a collection of sermons by Paul N. Walker, is now available through our online store and Amazon! Collected over many years, through both tragedy and celebration, these sermons are for every season in life. Preface here:

It was a few minutes before noon on a Thursday, and I was killing time with Paul as he waited for his lunch date. We were standing at the bottom of the stairs at the office of Christ Church Charlottesville, as we often do. The young man arrived, and Paul introduced us. I had seen him at church but had yet to make his acquaintance.

After a few pleasantries, I asked how he had found our church. It’s the sort of open-ended question that I had heard Paul ask newcomers before, the kind that allowed them to go as light or heavy as they wished. “Someone at the office invited me,” one person might say, the next that her mother had recently died.

The young man responded by saying it was the sermons that had drawn him. He had never heard anything like them. He then paused, possibly debating whether or not to proceed with his next thought. After a moment he looked up at Paul and asked, “I’ve been listening for months and I have to ask: do you basically believe that people are always in a state of existential crisis?”

“Well, now that you mention it…” Paul responded, chuckling a little. “I suppose you could say that, yes.”

The young man cracked his first smile, “So it’s not just me!”

Their brief exchange crystallized something crucial for me about the nature of preaching, indeed the nature of life. I had only been working for Paul for a couple years at that point, but had been eagerly listening to his sermons for close to a decade. Some weeks I arrived at the sermon feeling fine, other weeks in a state of barely disguised distress. But no matter what attitude I brought to the pew or the iPod, I never walked away burdened. And I’ve never prepared a sermon myself without first consulting what Paul has said about the passage in question.

Some preachers conceive of their hearers as people who’re doing basically okay but could use a pep talk. Some as pupils in need of instruction or wisdom. Some address the complacent person they feel needs to be jolted awake. But the audience Paul has in mind when he preaches are people undergoing some kind of crisis, existential or not. His words are aimed at the man or woman in pain. It turns out that describes all of us.

You might expect therefore that his sermons might be a little morose. Yet the exact opposite is true! Despite the gravity of what he has to say—indeed, because of it—there’s a palpable freedom that comes across. Listen to him preach and you will hear a man who takes the Gospel seriously, but not himself. Or, put another way, a key part of Paul’s task each time he climbs into the pulpit involves puncturing his audience’s self-importance, beginning with his own. In poking fun at himself, he conveys that he is not above his hearers but right there among them, just as much in need of God’s grace as anyone. It’s a rare gift to be able to do so without attracting unnecessary attention, but Paul has it.

There are many other remarkable qualities I could commend in his sermons—the precision of the language, the literary imagination, the reverence of scripture, the sheer creativity. It’s all there, in spades. But what most distinguishes the entries in this collection, what accounts for their urgency and power, is the message itself: the unflagging grace of God for non-theoretical sinners like you and me. This “goodest” of good news drips from every single sermon this man preaches.

Paul once told me that, since you never know who’s sitting in the pew—perhaps they lost a loved one that week, or received a diagnosis, or simply got into a massive fight with their spouse on the way to church—you cannot risk preaching anything other than the forgiveness of sins. Any hedging and you’d be of more service selling insurance.

Of course, what we miss when the words are sequestered on the page is the sound of Paul’s own voice. Because, as we all know, you can speak words of peace in a violent manner or words of absolution in a condemnatory tone. You can speak spiritual words without conviction or heart. As someone who was present for the majority of these sermons, you’ll have to take my word for it when I say that the spirit in which they were delivered was one of utmost compassion, warmth, and sincerity.

And ultimately, that’s why this man’s ministry means so much to so many. Why his lunch schedule remains booked solid, year after year after year. These aren’t just words. Paul is not merely a spokesman for God’s grace but an active embodiment of it. He shows up on your worst day with arms outstretched and a listening ear (and possibly a well-mixed martini). That he would object to such a characterization, and resist any and all such lionization, only confirms its truth.

In fact, if you know Paul, then you know how grateful we should be that he agreed to let these sermons be preserved in the first place. Fortunately, this book was not his idea. Nor is the message it contains. It is nothing less than the faith once delivered and the only response to it is the only response to the preacher himself:

THANK YOU.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have an existential crisis that needs tending…

NOW AVAILABLE: “FAITH ONCE DELIVERED,” SERMONS BY PAUL N. WALKER!

When Reconciliation Was the Most Obvious Thing in the World: An Excerpt from Robert Farrar Capon’s The Youngest Day

From Chapter 14, “The Funeral,” in Robert Farrar Capon’s collection of seasonal musings, “The Youngest Day”: Late one evening I was with a group of people who were having an extended series of nightcaps after the funeral of a common friend. We’d all known him well, and as the night wore on and tongues got […]

The Youngest, Freshest Day of the World: An Exploration of Springtime and Eschatology

The following is a timely excerpt from Robert Farrar Capon’s The Youngest Day, a collection of musings on the four seasons in the light of grace. In this passage, from a section titled “Spring: Judgment,” the author takes a morning run around his home on Shelter Island, NY. One of the pleasures of running, at […]

Mission: Difficult

The following was excerpted from Nick Lannon’s fantastic new book Life Is Impossible: And That’s Good News—a fundamental distillation of the law and the gospel in everyday life. This comes from the third chapter “Mission: Difficult.” I have heard the Christian life described in many different ways. Some have compared it to a race, or […]

The Failure of Best Intentions (Mark 14:27-31)

This timely excerpt is taken from Larry Parsley’s devotional, An Easy Stroll Through a Short Gospel: Meditations on Mark.  Peter declared, “Even if all fall away, I will not.” “Truly I tell you,” Jesus answered, “today—yes, tonight—before the rooster crows twice you yourself will disown me three times.” (14:29–30) If you have read the gospels […]

“All Is Lost…and All Is Not Lost”: An Introduction to Life Is Impossible by Nick Lannon

No one ever said life would be easy. But does your life ever seem…too hard? Does self-help, strangely, not work? If so, consider Life Is Impossible: And That’s Good News, the new book by longtime Mockingbird writer Nick Lannon. It’s a slim work, biblically sound and buoyed by vivid illustrations from culture and everyday life. Read […]

Now Available! Life Is Impossible: And That’s Good News, by Nick Lannon

Have you heard the Good News? Life Is Impossible…is now available through the Mockingbird bookstore and Amazon!
This slim, gospel-centered book points to God’s abundant mercy and love amidst life’s painful realities. With wisdom, humor, and compassion, Nick Lannon illumines the light of Jesus, the One who achieves the unachievable.

“A short, accessible classic.” – Paul F. M. Zahl, author of Grace in Practice

“Masterfully clear and imminently practical, this book puts flesh on theology, roots it in daily life, and demonstrates over and over that when we run into the brick wall of the impossible, we are actually at the very door that opens to Christ’s saving work.” – Chad Bird, author of Night Driving and Your God Is Too Glorious

This is one you won’t want to miss!

(Oh yes, and while you’re perusing our store, don’t forget to visit the merch page where you’ll find t-shirts and notebooks for wicked-cheap. Cheers to that.)

Announcing: Life Is Impossible (And That’s Good News), by Nick Lannon!

Well, no one ever said life would be easy…

Pleased to announce our latest book publication, by longtime Mockingbird contributor Nick Lannon. Available next FRIDAY MARCH 15, 2019. You can pre-order TODAY through our online bookstore and Amazon.

Many of us will admit that, at times, life is hard. We buckle down, put our noses to the grindstone…and all too often wind up exhausted or burned out. But the problem isn’t that life is hard. The problem is that life is impossible! Fortunately, what sounds like bad news is merely the beginning of the Good News in this concise, gospel-centered book about God’s abundant mercy and love. With wisdom, humor, and compassion, Nick Lannon casts life’s painful realities in the light of Jesus, the One who achieves the unachievable.

“A short, accessible classic.” – Paul F. M. Zahl, author of Grace in Practice

“Masterfully clear and imminently practical, this book puts flesh on theology, roots it in daily life, and demonstrates over and over that when we run into the brick wall of the impossible, we are actually at the very door that opens to Christ’s saving work.” – Chad Bird, author of Night Driving and Your God Is Too Glorious

…a real, earthy, honest book that will set you free to admit that you can’t do it. But he doesn’t leave you there. Nick points beautifully and creatively to the One who did it for you.” – Tullian Tchividjian, author of One Way Love

“Good news, told and illustrated well.” – Zac Hicks, author of The Worship Pastor

“…like the finger of John the Baptist, [Life Is Impossible] points away from our life as it points to the lamb, the saviour who takes away the sins of the world.” – Dr. Jonathan A. Linebaugh, editor of God’s Two Words

PRE-ORDER LIFE IS IMPOSSIBLE TODAY!

Announcing Bed & Board: Plain Talk About Marriage by Robert Farrar Capon!

It is a privilege to announce the latest installment in our Robert Farrar Capon series… Bed & Board: Plain Talk About Marriage.

This little book was Robert’s first best-seller, originally published in 1965. Now re-released for the first time, Bed & Board is Father Capon’s enduring, rambunctious counsel on marriage and family life—woven through with the message of grace that never changes, no matter the decade.

From inside:

“This book is not about those giants who tower over you: Psychology, Education, Maturity, Sexual Adjustment—not even Religion. They can take care of themselves. This is about you—that is, about me (for we are all unique, and practically identical). This is, to be honest, not a book at all. It is only a monologue, and not an entirely sober one at that. It is one peasant swapping stories with another in the cold backyard of the House of Important Subjects, while the grand seigneurs hold their solemn consultations within. The author’s qualifications therefore almost cease to matter. Indeed, he has arranged things so that only one is really necessary: He must be an expert in absurdity. And that is the only qualification that will be offered. An absurd Baedeker for an absurd journey; no apologies, no explanations…”

You can order Bed and Board: Plain Talk About Marriage, by Robert Farrar Capon here!

You can also find Mockingbird editions of Robert’s other books here: The Man Who Met God in a Bar, and More Theology & Less Heavy Cream.

Message in a Bottle – An Excerpt (and Video!) from Unmapped Washes Ashore

Mockingbird’s latest book—“Unmapped” by Charlotte Getz and Stephanie Phillips—is now available!

The following “Message in a Bottle” will give you a little taste of what you’ll find in this hilarious and (mostly) true story of two long-distance friends who found hope and grace in unexpected exile.

Announcing Unmapped by Charlotte Getz and Stephanie Phillips!

We couldn’t be more excited to announce Mockingbird’s latest book project, a sprawling and poignant “spiritual memoir duet” by two longtime Mockingbird writers, Charlotte Getz and Stephanie Phillips. This book features a patchwork of personal essays, pocket liturgies, and pseudo-fictional plays, and not a dull moment between them.

Stephanie Phillips and Charlotte Getz never expected to raise their families anywhere but home, in the American South. But then…life happened.

Quirky, hilarious, and (mostly) true, UNMAPPED is the tale of two long-distance friends who found home—together and apart—in unexpected exile. This spiritual memoir duet is unlike anything you’ve ever read.

Pre-order here: Unmapped: The (Mostly) True Story of How Two Women Lost at Sea Found Their Way Home! 

Free domestic shipping on pre-orders made before May 7! Available in hardback and paperback.

Stories of Grace and Ethan Richardson’s This American Gospel

In an article from The Atlantic, Cody C. Delistraty writes about the psychological comforts of storytelling. He writes, “Stories can be a way for humans to feel that we have control over the world. They allow people to see patterns where there is chaos, meaning where there is randomness.” He also says stories can impact […]