Adele Alhberg Calhoun, co-pastor of , is an accomplished author of books for spiritual seekers and recently published a new book, "Invitations from God: Accepting God’s Offer to Rest, Weep, Forgive, Wait, Remember and More" (InterVarsity Press, 2011). This Q&A was written by Calhoun and provided to Patch.
Why did you decide to write 'Invitations from God'? Two reasons niggled away at me. First, invitations shape the contours of our existence: who we know, where we go, what we do and who we become. Sometimes we get to choose to respond 'yes or 'no' to invitations. Sometimes we don’t have a choice. We can be left out of invites we want. We can get invitations we don't want: 'We are outsourcing your job.' 'The tumor is malignant.' Understanding the shaping power of invitations can be the difference between freedom and victimhood, healing and bitterness.
The second reason I wrote about invitations is that we live in an over-optioned culture with so many choices that we don't know what or how to choose. 'Invitations from God' just get added to the long list of things we want to do. Responding to choices in ways that bring us life and deepen our relationships doesn't happen automatically. So my book began as an attempt to help people in our congregation at Redeemer Community Church, which draws from Needham and Wellesley, to be intentional about their choices.
Can you tell us about one of the invitations in your book? One of my chapters is called 'The Invitation to Admit I Might Be Wrong.' We live in a world where people are biased in favor of their own rightness. Read the newspaper. Listen to the news. People would rather spin, lie and manipulate the facts than admit they are wrong. This impacts social and political discourse. It sabotages trust and it breaks relationships. The Bible makes it stringently clear that God invites us to admit where we are wrong because doing so actually heals and helps us in our relationships. Truth is life-giving; being stubbornly attached to your own opinions isn't. I long for people to have the best possible relationships—I long for trust to inhabit the political and social arena. This can only happen when people listen to what they don't want to hear and then develop the grace to admit that they might be wrong. In fact, we are human and limited. How could we not be wrong about some things?
What do you hope people will get out of reading your book? I hope they will be handed some tools to help them discern which among their choices are good, better and best. For instance, in the aftermath of writing this book, I have received various opportunities to speak or give interviews. I ask myself: Am I saying 'yes' because I want to be seen and noticed—or am I saying 'yes' because I really want to do this and feel it will give me life? God's invitations give us life. I believe we can all grow in our capacity to hear God's invitations and so grow into an authentic identity.
I’ve also written a handbook compiling 64 different ways to make space in your life for God, so it becomes more natural to say 'yes' to the best. 'The Spiritual Disciplines Handbook: Practices That Transform' (InterVarsity Press, 2005) is a 'how to' book. If you are looking for ways to connect with God, there are many tried and true practices that can lift the sail of your soul so it can catch the wind of God.
How do you see your books impacting Needham and Wellesley? I believe if we listened to and attended to invitations from God that service to and for our communities would grow. God wants to see our communities flourish. And he invites us to participate in creating a culture where people can thrive. I believe that God’s invitations can make a community thrive.