I've had several people request a reading list of books that have deeply influenced me. This list is particularly concentrated on the themes of sin and grace.
Now, because all of these books have gotten "under my skin" so to speak, be warned: parts of these books may sound familiar. I return to them again and again in preaching preparation :) The good news is that they all have a depth to them that you will want to return to again and again!
*The asterisk means we have this book in the church library!
The Cure: What if God isn't who you think He is and neither are you?
Short book with deep impact. You can download the first chapter for free, and you can also watch/listen to a bajillion grace-filled youtube videos and podcasts linked from that website.
Speaking of Sin*: The Lost Language of Salvation by Barbara Brown Taylor
Short book from an Episcopalian priest who seeks to reclaim words like "sin," "confession," and "repentance" for progressive Christian contexts.
Life Together by Dietrich Bonhoeffer
Essential reading by the German Lutheran theologian/martyr on what intentional Christian community can be by God's grace. (Bonhoeffer also wrote Discipleship*, which is flippin' amazing and the best thing you'll ever read on the Sermon on the Mount). It's worth reading and digesting his books slowly (and seeking out the Fortress Press translations). Life Together is a bit shorter and more accessible because he is giving prescriptions for community life.
Standing Naked Before God: The Art of Public Confession by Molly Phinney Baskette
The first half of this book shows the why and how of public confession. The Worship Team studied this to prepare for our Lenten "Grace Sightings" at University UMC. The second half of the book are confessions that have been made at First Church Somerville United Church of Christ (UCC) in metro Boston.
The Ragamuffin Gospel: Good News for the Bedraggled, Beat-Up, and Burnt Out by Brennan Manning
This powerful book is written by a former Catholic priest who discovered Jesus' grace through his lifelong struggle with alcoholism.
Accidental Saints*: Finding God in All the Wrong People by Nadia Bolz-Weber
A tall, foul-mouthed, tattooed recovering addict becomes a Lutheran pastor and founds "House for All Sinners and Saints," a grace-filled Christian community for people who never thought they'd be part of a church.
Messy Spirituality: God's Annoying Love for Imperfect People by Mike Yaconelli
Short book with powerful stories, a few drawings, and a simple message that is so hard for strivers like me to "get." Read with tissues!
The Spirituality of Imperfection: Storytelling and the Search for Meaning by Ernest Kurtz and Katherine Ketcham.
Humility, self-acceptance, and wisdom from world religions and the spirituality of Alcoholics Anonymous.
I Thought It Was Just Me (but it isn't): Making the Journey from "What Will People Think?" to "I Am Enough" by Brene Brown
We can't address our guilt/sin without dealing with shame -- and this book (the first in a series of books by Brene Brown -- all of which I recommend) shows us how to do that. Her search for a "whole-hearted life" comes from the prayer: "we have not loved you with our whole hearts..."