DAILY FEAST: Meditations from Feasting on the Word: Year B. Edited by Kathleen Long Bostrom and Elizabeth F. Caldwell. Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2011. Xii + 571 pages.
Feasting on the Word series of lectionary commentaries From Westminster John Knox Press. Edited by David Bartlett and Barbara Brown Taylor, this now complete set, provides rather in-depth commentary on each lectionary text from four different perspectives – Theological, Pastoral, Exegetical, and Homiletical. They draw from a wide variety of interpreters, who emerge out of these various disciplines. The result is one of the best resources for preachers available today.
WJK Press has now published a daily devotional entitled Daily Feast, that is based upon that series. Using excerpts from the lectionary commentary to provide brief reflections on the lectionary texts and bound in a light brown “soft leather-like” cover, Daily Feast is an aesthetically pleasing and theologically rich devotional resource for Christians, whether lay or clergy. One would assume that WJK will produce two more volumes, with the current Year B in the lectionary cycle being the first offering.
Daily Feast is a lectionary based devotional that follows the liturgical calendar, beginning with Advent and ending with Proper 29 or the Reign of Christ Sunday. In the season of Epiphany there are ten weeks worth of devotions, with the final one being Transfiguration Sunday, so you can adjust to the changing nature of this season. There are also specific devotions for Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, Ash Wednesday, each day during Holy Week, Ascension Sunday as well as the Seventh Sunday of Easter, and All Saints Day. The devotions are organized in a way that prepares one to hear the lectionary readings for that Sunday.
To illustrate how the editors have laid out the devotional, I’ll use the week leading up to the First Sunday of Advent as an example. If you open to page one you’ll find brief excerpts from the four lectionary texts that designated for the coming Sunday. On the following pages, you will find a devotional exercise for each day of the week, with each day focusing on one of the four texts designated for the week. Thus, on Monday, for instance, the reading likely will be from the Old Testament – in this case Isaiah 64:1-9. The user of the devotional is encouraged to read the entire passage, using a bible of your own choosing. After reading the passage, you will find an brief excerpt from one of the four commentaries (theological, pastoral, exegetical, or homiletical) found in Feasting on the Word. After reading the Reflection (in this case by Patricia E. De Jong), you will be asked a response question drawn from the Reflection. The question for this day is: “How has a broken heart brought you to a place of hope?” Finally you will find a one sentence prayer that picks up on the response question, drawing you prayerfully into the message of the day. In this first week of Advent, there are two days lifting up the Hebrew text, one from the Psalm, two from the Epistle, and one from the gospel. The following week there are two days using the Psalm and two the gospel, with one from the Hebrew Bible and one from the Epistle. Then on Sunday, there is a reflection provided from each of the readings, along with a response and a prayer.
Each devotion, with the exception of those for Sunday, fits on a single page. As a result, using this devotional will not be time consuming. The brevity, however, does allow for creativity, perhaps using the reflection and question as the foundation for a journaling exercise. Of course, some might find at least some of the excerpts too brief, but most are just right. Because of the richness of the commentary that these devotions draw upon, the user will derive much benefit from the wisdom provided.
Since I’m currently using this devotional myself, I’ve not read or used the entire book, but I’ve used enough of it to find it beneficial and worth commending to others. So, if you’re looking for a daily devotion to enrich your spiritual life that is deeply rooted in thoughtful commentary on the biblical text, then this will be a welcome resource. And, of course, the aesthetics are pleasing as well (there is a Kindle version as well).