Recent Reads: The Return of the Prodigal Son by Henri Nouwen

What the book's about:  Henri Nouwen's The Return of the Prodigal Son: A Story of Homecoming  chronicles the author's encounter with Rembrandt's The Return of the Prodigal Son and the exploration of Luke's parable prompted by it. 

Why I read this book: I loved Henri Nouwen's In the Name of Jesus. It is, in my opinion, one of the best books on Christian leadership ever written. Since reading that book, I've been slowly reading others by him. 

My favorite quotes from the book:

- "God rejoices. Not because the problems of the world have been solved, not because all human pain and suffering have come to an end, nor because thousands of people have been converted and are now praising him for his goodness. No, God rejoices because one of his children who was lost has been found. What I am called to is to enter into that joy. It is God's joy, not the joy that the world offers." 

- "Once you choose to claim the joy hidden in the midst of all suffering, life becomes celebration. Joy never denies the sadness, but transforms it to a fertile soil for more joy." 

- "Grief asks me to allow the sins of the world - my own included - to pierce my heart and make me shed tears, many tears, for them. There is no compassion without many tears." 

- "Every time I take a step in the direction of generosity, I know that I am moving from fear to love." 

Thumbs up or thumbs down? A reluctant thumbs up. This book was a slow, difficult read for me. I loved the chapters that dealt with Scripture; I hated the chapters devoted solely to the analysis of Rembrandt's painting. Ultimately, however, I am glad I read it. Nouwen's exploration of the Father in Chapters 8 and 9 are, in my opinion, worth the price of the book. 

Jen Bradbury on Youth Ministry

Jen serves as the Minister of Youth and Family at Atonement Lutheran Church in Barrington, Illinois. A veteran youth worker, Jen holds an MA in Youth Ministry Leadership from Huntington University. Jen is the author of The Jesus Gap: What Teens Actually Believe about Jesus (The Youth Cartel), The Real Jesus (The Youth Cartel), Unleashing the Hidden Potential of Your Student Leaders (Abingdon), and A Mission That Matters (Abingdon). Her writing has also appeared in YouthWorker Journal, Immerse, and The Christian Century. Jen is also the Assistant Director of Arbor Research Group where she has led many national studies. When not doing ministry or research, she and her husband, Doug, and daughter, Hope, can be found traveling and enjoying life together.

More about Jen

Jen's Books

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A Mission That Matters: How To Do Short-Term Missions Without Long-Term Harm

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Unleashing the Hidden Potential of your Student Leaders

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The Real Jesus

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The Jesus Gap

What Teens Actually Believe About Jesus

Based on National Research

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