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The Reverend Barbara Brown Taylor delivers a sermon entitled ”Sacramental Sky.”

Barbara Brown Taylor

Sunday Service – 2/28/2010 – Barbara Brown Taylor
A service of worship in Duke University Chapel. The Reverend Barbara Brown Taylor delivers a sermon entitled ”Sacramental Sky.”

Barbara Brown Taylor

Altar in the World, An: A Geography of Faith
by: Barbara Brown Taylor
publisher: HarperOne, published: 2009-02-01
ASIN: B003B65280
sales rank: 15338
price: $5.79 (new), $6.04 (used)

In her critically acclaimed Leaving Church (“a beautiful, absorbing memoir.”—Dallas Morning News), Barbara Brown Taylor wrote about leaving full-time ministry to become a professor, a decision that stretched the boundaries of her faith. Now, in her stunning follow-up, An Altar in the World, she shares how she learned to encounter God beyond the walls of any church.

From simple practices such as walking, working, and getting lost to deep meditations on topics like prayer and pronouncing blessings, Taylor reveals concrete ways to discover the sacred in the small things we do and see. Something as ordinary as hanging clothes on a clothesline becomes an act of devotion if we pay attention to what we are doing and take time to attend to the sights, smells, and sounds around us. Making eye contact with the cashier at the grocery store becomes a moment of true human connection. Allowing yourself to get lost leads to new discoveries. Under Taylor’s expert guidance, we come to question conventional distinctions between the sacred and the secular, learning that no physical act is too earthbound or too humble to become a path to the divine. As we incorporate these practices into our daily lives, we begin to discover altars everywhere we go, in nearly everything we do.

Leaving Church: A Memoir of Faith
by: Barbara Brown Taylor
publisher: HarperOne, published: 2007-04-01
ASIN: B004HB1D5O
sales rank: 47207
price: $6.00 (new), $5.57 (used)

By now I expected to be a seasoned parish minister, wearing black clergy shirts grown gray from frequent washing. I expected to love the children who hung on my legs after Sunday morning services until they grew up and had children of their own. I even expected to be buried wearing the same red vestments in which I was ordained.

Today those vestments are hanging in the sacristy of an Anglican church in Kenya, my church pension is frozen, and I am as likely to spend Sunday mornings with friendly Quakers, Presbyterians, or Congregationalists as I am with the Episcopalians who remain my closest kin. Some-times I even keep the Sabbath with a cup of steaming Assam tea on my front porch, watching towhees vie for the highest perch in the poplar tree while God watches me. These days I earn my living teaching school, not leading worship, and while I still dream of opening a small restaurant in Clarkesville or volunteering at an eye clinic in Nepal, there is no guarantee that I will not run off with the circus before I am through. This is not the life I planned, or the life I recommend to others. But it is the life that has turned out to be mine, and the central revelation in it for me — that the call to serve God is first and last the call to be fully human — seems important enough to witness to on paper. This book is my attempt to do that.

After nine years serving on the staff of a big urban church in Atlanta, Barbara Brown Taylor arrives in rural Clarkesville, Georgia (population 1,500), following her dream to become the pastor of her own small congregation. The adjustment from city life to country dweller is something of a shock — Taylor is one of the only professional women in the community — but small-town life offers many of its own unique joys. Taylor has five successful years that see significant growth in the church she serves, but ultimately she finds herself experiencing “compassion fatigue” and wonders what exactly God has called her to do. She realizes that in order to keep her faith she may have to leave.

Taylor describes a rich spiritual journey in which God has given her more questions than answers. As she becomes part of the flock instead of the shepherd, she describes her poignant and sincere struggle to regain her footing in the world without her defining collar. Taylor’s realization that this may in fact be God’s surprising path for her leads her to a refreshing search to find Him in new places. Leaving Church will remind even the most skeptical among us that life is about both disappointment and hope — and ultimately, renewal.

Bread of Angels
by: Barbara Brown Taylor
publisher: Cowley Publications, published: 1997-01-25
ASIN: 1561011428
EAN: 9781561011421
sales rank: 81554
price: $6.99 (new), $1.29 (used)

As Barbara Brown Taylor reminds us, the Israelites received the bread of angels— manna—as they made their way through the wilderness. So too is God made known to us in the simple things that sustain our lives. With humor and an eye for human stubbornness, Taylor points to just how much like the people of scripture we can be—stiff-necked and ungrateful in the face of God’s bounty. Taylor moves through the span of the Bible in her search for divine love. In the stories of Moses, David, and Daniel she picks up its trace in reversals and surprises. She refreshes our perspective on Pentecost and its aftermath in a sermon sequence on the Book of Acts. And at book’s center radiates her stunning parable of the Incarnation, “God’s Daring Plan.” With characteristic flair, Taylor grounds her exegetical enterprise on jokes and stories packed with truth. As pleasurable as they are profound, her meditations on the life of faith and the cost of discipleship will instruct the preacher and delight the reader.

Barbara Brown Taylor

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