When the Universe Cracks – ed. Angie Ward

When the Universe Cracks Angie Ward
When the Universe Cracks: Living as God's People in Times of Crisis by Angie Ward
Series: Kingdom Conversations #1
Published by Tyndale on October 5, 2021
Genres: Non-Fiction, Christian Life
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four-stars

Global conflicts, civil unrest, fallen leaders, health crises, financial meltdowns--the world is ripe with strife. When we face unexpected personal crises or when society around us seems to be collapsing, we wonder: Why is this happening? Can God be trusted?
Who can I trust to help me follow Jesus through this current crisis?
When the Universe Cracks is a sweeping, multifaceted look at the role of crisis in the life of faith from an esteemed gathering of pastors, faith leaders, and experts. You'll find honest and realistic reflections to help you navigate a present trouble or anticipate changes. Inspired by a global pandemic, these writers examine the whole history of God's people and offer a fresh perspective for every time the universe cracks.
Scholar and church leader Angie Ward facilitates this energizing and fascinating discussion. Thought leaders Jo Anne Lyon, Efrem Smith, Christine Jeske, D. A. Horton, Kyuboem Lee, Marshall Shelley, Matt Mikalatos, Sean Gladding, Catherine McNiel, and Lee Eclov each contributed a chapter.
When the Universe Cracks is the first in a series of Kingdom Conversations, books that bring together experts and faith leaders to address the most urgent and perplexing challenges of our time in resonant and redemptive ways for each of us and all of us.

Have you ever felt like the universe cracked? Whether globally, like in the rise of nationalism and racism, or personally like the loss of a friend or family member? We’ve all gone through those times of crisis and felt powerless and unable to move forward. We see society making the same mistakes over and over again and we don’t know how to stop it. We’re too busy with the necessities of life to stop and grieve and lament and actually assess the crisis and figure out what to do better. What are we to do?

In When the Universe Cracks, Angie Ward assembles a team of pastors and faith leaders to answer that question: What do we do in the face of crisis? This book was, as you may suspect, borne out of the continuing COVID-19 pandemic that began two years ago. Despite that inspiration, the book seeks to be timeless by being general enough in its discussion to encompass a wide variety of crises.

Christine Jeske begins with an excellent chapter on the opportunity that can be found in crisis. She doesn’t downplay the horror that crises can bring or spiritualize it all as “God’s plan,” but acknowledges the seriousness of crisis that demands drastic change. Things cannot continue on as is, something has to give. It is a revealing disruption of live and society and Jeske uses the context of the pandemic talk about how different inequalities and injustices were brought out in the open by the pandemic.

This foundation proves to be the jumping off point for other writers, who all clearly write from the perspective of COVID but with a long-ranging, evergreen perspective that fits all sorts of crises. One of my favorite chapters is Kyuboem Lee’s chapter “Growing a Church in the Ruins.” The pandemic exposed how much of our idea of church was tied to a once-weekly experience in a building and in accelerating the decline of many churches as people walked away due to increasing politicization, nationalism, or distrust of science. Lee shows us how the current crisis has revealed the weak spots in the church and offers us a new model forward that will give us an opportunity to flourish.

Matt Mikalatos—through whom I learned of this collection of essays–closes out the book with a reminder that God remains good and that the exhaustion, anger, fear, and uncertainty we’re all feeling is normal. Mikalatos uses the story of Elijah after the defeat of the Baal worshippers to draw a straight line to where we’re at today. We know God is powerful…but we’ve just got nothing left. He exhorts us to allow ourselves to rest and to lament and be embraced by God.

When the Universe Cracks is a timely word for the church. As the first in the Kingdom Conversations series, it’s a solid entry that hopefully sets the tone for the books to come. These kinds of collaborations and conversations are much needed in the church and I’m thankful that Tyndale is sharing them this way.

four-stars