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The Living Reminder: Service and Prayer in Memory of Jesus Christ

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“The Living Reminder was like a visit from a friend I needed to speak with. The surprise for me was how much I needed to hear him say familiar things.” —National Catholic Reporter The Living Reminder is a gift from Henry J.M. Nouwen—along with C.S. Lewis and Thomas Merton, one of the 20th century’s most beloved and important spiritual writers. Subtitled “Service and Prayer i “The Living Reminder was like a visit from a friend I needed to speak with. The surprise for me was how much I needed to hear him say familiar things.” —National Catholic Reporter The Living Reminder is a gift from Henry J.M. Nouwen—along with C.S. Lewis and Thomas Merton, one of the 20th century’s most beloved and important spiritual writers. Subtitled “Service and Prayer in the Memory of Jesus Christ,” Nouwen’s book presents  simple yet powerfully profound expressions of the joys of religious service, prompting the publication New Review of Books and Religion to note that we read Nouwen “to discover new possibilities in our own faith.”


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“The Living Reminder was like a visit from a friend I needed to speak with. The surprise for me was how much I needed to hear him say familiar things.” —National Catholic Reporter The Living Reminder is a gift from Henry J.M. Nouwen—along with C.S. Lewis and Thomas Merton, one of the 20th century’s most beloved and important spiritual writers. Subtitled “Service and Prayer i “The Living Reminder was like a visit from a friend I needed to speak with. The surprise for me was how much I needed to hear him say familiar things.” —National Catholic Reporter The Living Reminder is a gift from Henry J.M. Nouwen—along with C.S. Lewis and Thomas Merton, one of the 20th century’s most beloved and important spiritual writers. Subtitled “Service and Prayer in the Memory of Jesus Christ,” Nouwen’s book presents  simple yet powerfully profound expressions of the joys of religious service, prompting the publication New Review of Books and Religion to note that we read Nouwen “to discover new possibilities in our own faith.”

30 review for The Living Reminder: Service and Prayer in Memory of Jesus Christ

  1. 5 out of 5

    Michael Eckhardt

    Nouwen is always a gift, but this one feels like a distilled version of some of his best insights. Really wonderful little book.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Amanda Patchin

    Excellent. Would recommend to teachers as well as pastors and missionaries.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Chad

    This book is an incredible journey into the biblical understanding of memory. Profound insights for both ministers as they serve as ‘’Rememberers’’ and for us all.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Briana Almengor

    Once again a timely find at a used book store. I heard the name Henry Nowen from many of the Christian, women leaders I follow online. I’ve wanted to check out his writings for a while. I wasn’t disappointed. I’m simply going to leave quotes here for my future self & others to reference. “ Service is prayer and prayer is service.” “ ...much of what the Bible demands can be comprised in one word, ‘Remember.’” “... to forget our sins may be an even greater sin than to commit them. Why? Because what is Once again a timely find at a used book store. I heard the name Henry Nowen from many of the Christian, women leaders I follow online. I’ve wanted to check out his writings for a while. I wasn’t disappointed. I’m simply going to leave quotes here for my future self & others to reference. “ Service is prayer and prayer is service.” “ ...much of what the Bible demands can be comprised in one word, ‘Remember.’” “... to forget our sins may be an even greater sin than to commit them. Why? Because what is forgotten cannot be healed and that which cannot be healed easily becomes the cause of greater evil.” “... much of their sense of self derives less from what happened than from how they remember what happened, how they have placed the past events into their own personal history.” “... emotions are deeply influenced by the way we have integrated past events in to our way of being in the world.” “By refusing to face our painful memories we miss the opportunity to change our hearts and grow mature in repentance. When Jesus says, “It is not that healthy who need the doctor, but the sick,” (mark 2:17), he affirms that only those who face their wounded condition can be available for healing and so enter into a new way of living.” “ if ministers are reminders, their first task is to offer the space in which the wounded memories of the past can be reached and brought back into the light without fear.” “ The great vocation of the minister is to continuously make connections between the human story and the divine story.” “ by connecting the human story with the story of the suffering servant, we rescue our history from its fatalistic chain and allow our time to be converted from chronos into Kairos, from a series of randomly organized incidents and accidents into a constant opportunity to explore gods work in our lives.” “ all of ministry rests on the conviction that nothing, absolutely nothing, in our lives is outside the realm of God‘s judgment and mercy.” “ The challenge of ministry is to help people in very concrete situations – people with illnesses or in grief, people with physical or mental handicaps, people suffering from poverty and oppression, people caught in the complex networks of secular or religious institutions – to see and experience their story as part of gods ongoing redemptive work in the world. These insights and experiences heal precisely because they restore the broken connection between the world and God and create a new unity in which memories that formally seemed only destructive are now reclaimed as part of a redemptive event.” “... in order to be a living reminder of the Lord, we must walk in his presence as Abraham did. To walk in the presence of the Lord means to move forward in life in such a way that all our desires, thoughts, and actions are constantly guided by him.” “ when we no longer walk in the presence of the Lord, we cannot be living reminders of his divine presence in our lives. We then quickly become strangers in an alien land who have forgotten where we come from and where we are going. And we are no longer the way to the experience of God, but rather in the way of the experience of God.” “ it is this unconditional and unreserved love for God that leads to the care for our neighbor, not as an activity which distracts us from God or competes with our attention to God, but as an expression of our love for God who reveals Himself to us as the God of all people.” “ just as the memory of past wounds can prevent us from repeating the evil that wounded us, so also the memory of love can nurture us in our day-to-day struggles.” “ when everything is dark, when we are surrounded by despairing voices, when we do not see any exits, then we can find salvation in a remembered love, a love which is not simply a wistful recollection of a by gone past but a living force which sustains us in the present.” “ although this ministry of presence is undoubtedly very meaningful, it always needs to be balanced by a ministry of absence.” “... it is essential for patients and parishioners to experience that it is good for them, not only that we come but also that we leave. In this way the memory of our visit can become as important, if not more important, than the visit itself.” “ we have to learn to leave so that the spirit can come.” “ we ministers may have become so available that there is too much presence and too little absence, too much staying with people and too Little leaving them, too much of us and too little of God and his spirit..” “ I would like to make a plea for prayer as a creative way of being unavailable.” “... wasting time for God is an act of ministry, because it reminds us and our people that God is free to touch anyone regardless of our well meant efforts.” “ we all have had the experience that in times of distress, failure, and depression it is the good memories which give us new confidence and hope. When the night is dark and everything seems black and fearful, we can hope for a bright new day because we have seen a bright day before. Our hope is built on our memories. We do not always realize that among the best things we can give each other our good memories: kind words, signs of affection, gestures of sympathy, peaceful silences, and joyful celebrations. At the time they all may have seemed obvious, simple, and without any consequences, but as memories they can save us in the midst of confusion, fear, and darkness.” “ The meditation on God‘s word is indispensable if we want to be reminders of God and not of ourselves, if we want to radiate hope not despair, joy and not sadness, life and not death.”

  5. 5 out of 5

    Melanie

    Very inspirational book on the subject of how to maintain spiritual vitality and energy while serving in ministry.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Rev Ricky

    Reading the Living Reminder feels like spending a day with a mentor. Henri Nouwen draws from literature, his pastoral experiences and the Bible to remind ministers of what we do best: administering grace to dying and lonely people. Nouwen starts out reminding us of the importance of our past. That which is unacknowledged controls us. What is forgotten cannot be healed and that which can not be healed easily becomes the cause of greater evil. The minister's job is to bring the pain of the past ou Reading the Living Reminder feels like spending a day with a mentor. Henri Nouwen draws from literature, his pastoral experiences and the Bible to remind ministers of what we do best: administering grace to dying and lonely people. Nouwen starts out reminding us of the importance of our past. That which is unacknowledged controls us. What is forgotten cannot be healed and that which can not be healed easily becomes the cause of greater evil. The minister's job is to bring the pain of the past out into the open and expose it to the gospel that the injuries can be healed. In the second chapter Nouwen discusses the importance of becoming a memory. Our memories of our friends dictate who our friends are to us. How we remember the holiday or vacation determines how we view the people we were with. A minister should take care to be absent occasionally, for regular prayer, so that a memory of him as a reminder of grace can be formed. Finally, he calls ministers to remind people of the past in such a way that calls them to a better future. The great reformers reminded us of our heritage to call us to a better today. Luther called us back to the better theology. Wesley called us back to better practices. Theresa called us back to better service. Etc. Ministers need to know how to use stories to call their people back to their better selves. I loved this book and I think you will too.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Cathy

    This is a very short book on the importance of spending time in prayer for Christians in full-time ministry. The author argues that: 1) Full-time ministry entails reminding people that God heals our past, sustains our present, and guides our future; 2) In order to remind people of these things, it's crucial for full-time ministers to spend time in prayer, because a) Our spiritual life will be stronger when we spend more time praying; b) Seeing ministers spending so much time praying will encoura This is a very short book on the importance of spending time in prayer for Christians in full-time ministry. The author argues that: 1) Full-time ministry entails reminding people that God heals our past, sustains our present, and guides our future; 2) In order to remind people of these things, it's crucial for full-time ministers to spend time in prayer, because a) Our spiritual life will be stronger when we spend more time praying; b) Seeing ministers spending so much time praying will encourage believers and remind them how prayer can also sustain them; c) Prayer is not just a tool that helps make ministry more effective, but an important part of ministry itself. I really like how the author's argument that individuals are basically shaped by our memories. We are what we remember. He describes our faith as our "memory" of Christ's healing, sustenance, and guidance. Seen from this lens, religious practices (studying the Bible, listening to sermons/encouragement...etc.) are basically attempts that aim at reminding believers of these past memories. And that is why Moses and the prophets continues to remind Israelites of their salvation from Egypt and the importance of following God's law. I thought this was interesting.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Tim

    Another wonderful little book on ministry by Nouwen. He seeks to incorporate knowledge from behavioral sciences while maintaining a spiritual focus - something that we might take for granted in a writer today, but I think it was more groundbreaking then. He encourages the minister to heal past wounds through offering an accepting presence; he encourages the minister to sustain people through prayer & absence; and he encourages ministers to inspire with hope through meditating on the word, sharing Another wonderful little book on ministry by Nouwen. He seeks to incorporate knowledge from behavioral sciences while maintaining a spiritual focus - something that we might take for granted in a writer today, but I think it was more groundbreaking then. He encourages the minister to heal past wounds through offering an accepting presence; he encourages the minister to sustain people through prayer & absence; and he encourages ministers to inspire with hope through meditating on the word, sharing it's stories, and embodying them.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Patrick

    THE JIVING REMINDER BY HENRI J.M. NOUWER Ibought this book at our church book fair because I like Henri Nouwen. It is a small book only 78 pages.But in those few pages is a lot of wisdom. This book was written for ministers, It was written in 1977 . Although It Is 42 years old the wisdom in this small book still applies today even to lay ministers in the church.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Christopher Pokorny

    Nouwen explores the uniqueness of a minister as compared to a mental health provider. He outlines the life of Christ as pastor, priest and prophet. Many times we want to play deaf, dumb and blind instead of returning to our people, faithful to our vocation and growing in humility and love. Good book for the soul of a chaplain!

  11. 4 out of 5

    Laura Kisthardt

    What a wonderful short reflection from Nouwen! I read this book in one sitting. It was assinged in Spring 2019 for my pre-CPE course at Yale Divinity School. I wish every student had to read this at the beginning of seminary. This short book would make a nice gift for someone new to ministry.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Earl

    I believe that this is a must in our vocation.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Keith

    Nouwen sets forth some essentials roles of the minister, describing their functions in the daily life of those around them. A very helpful reminder.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Trevor

    This is a very small book I bought in a used bookstore because why not? Nouwen is looking at the role of a pastor and suggests that an important aspect of it is to serve as a living memory of Jesus Christ. He complains at the end that the book ended up rather conventional but he guesses that is a good thing. I'm not a pastor. But I am a Bible teacher and a missionary; in a way I serve a pastoral role to my students and so I still found this book to be pretty applicable. This is a very small book I bought in a used bookstore because why not? Nouwen is looking at the role of a pastor and suggests that an important aspect of it is to serve as a living memory of Jesus Christ. He complains at the end that the book ended up rather conventional but he guesses that is a good thing. I'm not a pastor. But I am a Bible teacher and a missionary; in a way I serve a pastoral role to my students and so I still found this book to be pretty applicable.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Andrew

    Spending time with a Henri Nouwen book refreshes, inspires, and consoles me like no other author. Clocking in at just under 80 pages, The Living Reminder speaks to the soul of a minister, giving a bare bones job description for those who serve others in Jesus' name. Nouwen divides his book into three responsibilities that the minister is called to fulfill: healing, sustaining, and guiding Jesus' flock. He roots much of his instruction in the power of memory, and touches on such tangible aspects o Spending time with a Henri Nouwen book refreshes, inspires, and consoles me like no other author. Clocking in at just under 80 pages, The Living Reminder speaks to the soul of a minister, giving a bare bones job description for those who serve others in Jesus' name. Nouwen divides his book into three responsibilities that the minister is called to fulfill: healing, sustaining, and guiding Jesus' flock. He roots much of his instruction in the power of memory, and touches on such tangible aspects of ministry such as visitation, communion, solitude, and prayer. This book meshes together the ancient model of pastoral ministry espoused by Jesus with many of the contemporary practices of pastoral psychology. The Living Reminder book is very easy to read in typical Nouwen prose. This book is far from being a 'How To' instructional guide; instead, Nouwen writes plainly from his heart, flawlessly weaving rabbinic stories, examples of Jesus, and common pastoral experiences to remind and challenge the reader to fulfill the vocation that they have been called into and to not get in the way of God's work. Bang for buck (it only cost me six dollars at House of James) this is one of the best books on pastoral ministry and spiritual formation that I have read in years. Yup, it's that good. But that's coming from a huge Nouwen fan so take it for what you will! I recommend The Living Reminder for anyone - rookie or veteran - who finds themselves in ministry role or a position of care and influence. In my opinion, it would be a great fit as a weekend retreat reading or as a discussion piece for ministry peers and teams.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Ann Yeong

    A little over a year ago, I attended a workshop on Henri Nouwen and heard, for the first time, about "The Ministry of Absence." Nouwen had taught that constant presence is harmful, and that it is the interplay of absence with presence that deepens intimacy - both in our relationship with God and in our relationships with people. He called for "creative withdrawal" and "the ministry of absence" for ministers to be effective. It is in "The Living Reminder" that Nouwen writes about this intriguing A little over a year ago, I attended a workshop on Henri Nouwen and heard, for the first time, about "The Ministry of Absence." Nouwen had taught that constant presence is harmful, and that it is the interplay of absence with presence that deepens intimacy - both in our relationship with God and in our relationships with people. He called for "creative withdrawal" and "the ministry of absence" for ministers to be effective. It is in "The Living Reminder" that Nouwen writes about this intriguing idea and articulates how ministers can be A Healing Reminder, A Sustaining Reminder, and A Guiding Reminder to others through their own remembering. Nouwen has a way of speaking truth that echoes in the readers' hearts with both comforting and alarming familiarity, and this book is no exception. A highly-recommended read, especially for those active in ministry, and a 'must-read' for those who are in full-time ministry.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Barbara

    This is a short but significant reflection on the work of ministry and preparation for ministry as a healing presence of Christ. In three movements he reflects on the work of the Minister as a "healing reminder, sustaining reminder, and guiding reminder." His emphasis upon the art and action of listening to provide a space within which the other may speak of the wounds received in life to facilitate healing is foundational. In the concluding pages of the book, Nouwen writes "There is an increasi This is a short but significant reflection on the work of ministry and preparation for ministry as a healing presence of Christ. In three movements he reflects on the work of the Minister as a "healing reminder, sustaining reminder, and guiding reminder." His emphasis upon the art and action of listening to provide a space within which the other may speak of the wounds received in life to facilitate healing is foundational. In the concluding pages of the book, Nouwen writes "There is an increasing need for diagnosticians of the soul who can distinguish the Holy Spirit from the unholy spirits and so guide people to an active and vital transformation of soul and body, and of all their personal relationships."

  18. 5 out of 5

    Bill

    A powerful and, I believe, very important book for ministers/pastors/chaplains and anyone who participates in visitation ministry. I have always appreciated Nouwen's writing, and Wounded Healer is a well-known classic. THIS book is a great companion to that and should be mandatory in preparatory education for faith leaders. While this is, or can be, quite a fast read, it is something that requires more attentiveness and reflection. I will be revisiting this often, I think, and keeping some type of A powerful and, I believe, very important book for ministers/pastors/chaplains and anyone who participates in visitation ministry. I have always appreciated Nouwen's writing, and Wounded Healer is a well-known classic. THIS book is a great companion to that and should be mandatory in preparatory education for faith leaders. While this is, or can be, quite a fast read, it is something that requires more attentiveness and reflection. I will be revisiting this often, I think, and keeping some type of journal or notebook alongside. Hard to believe this doesn't seem to be better known. I highly recommend it.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Michale

    Required for CPE, tough for a Jew: "How does a ministry as a sustaining memory of Jesus Christ take shape?" Um, well...not. He speaks of being in touch with the source of guiding inspiration, but since we differ in our interpretation of that source, a seemingly helpful passage can suddenly feel alien to me. He quotes Elie Wiesel at the start of each chapter - another example, for him, of a suffering Jew from whom to learn ethics. Required for CPE, tough for a Jew: "How does a ministry as a sustaining memory of Jesus Christ take shape?" Um, well...not. He speaks of being in touch with the source of guiding inspiration, but since we differ in our interpretation of that source, a seemingly helpful passage can suddenly feel alien to me. He quotes Elie Wiesel at the start of each chapter - another example, for him, of a suffering Jew from whom to learn ethics.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Francine

    This is a great little book. It was written, according to the Library of Congress, for clergy. However, the meaning of the word minister in the Roman Catholic Church has been expanding since the 1970's. This book is a good refresher for anyone who serves in ministry in their parish communities. I think it's especially relevant to Extraordinary Ministers of the Eucharist and those who do hospital and home visits. I've read this before and try to re-visit it every 2 or 3 years. This is a great little book. It was written, according to the Library of Congress, for clergy. However, the meaning of the word minister in the Roman Catholic Church has been expanding since the 1970's. This book is a good refresher for anyone who serves in ministry in their parish communities. I think it's especially relevant to Extraordinary Ministers of the Eucharist and those who do hospital and home visits. I've read this before and try to re-visit it every 2 or 3 years.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Amos Smith

    This is one of Nouwen's most brief, yet exquisite books. I often give this book to people considering Seminary. It gives such a simple yet profound approach to Christian Ministry as a living reminder of Jesus' life and ministry. When it comes to books on a practical and accessible theology of ministry this one makes the top of the stack! -Amos Smith (author of Healing The Divide: Recovering Christianity's Mystic Roots) This is one of Nouwen's most brief, yet exquisite books. I often give this book to people considering Seminary. It gives such a simple yet profound approach to Christian Ministry as a living reminder of Jesus' life and ministry. When it comes to books on a practical and accessible theology of ministry this one makes the top of the stack! -Amos Smith (author of Healing The Divide: Recovering Christianity's Mystic Roots)

  22. 5 out of 5

    Chris Padgett (thebookaholic1 )

    I am just a major fan of Nouwen. I would recommend his works to most people I encountered interested in growing their spirituality. This was one of my early encounters with Nouwen and in some ways marked a movement towards Catholicism for me. I was very blessed by Nouwen's books as I journeyed home. I am just a major fan of Nouwen. I would recommend his works to most people I encountered interested in growing their spirituality. This was one of my early encounters with Nouwen and in some ways marked a movement towards Catholicism for me. I was very blessed by Nouwen's books as I journeyed home.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Eric Lynch

    Pretty fast read but eventually intellectually stimulating. Henri has a focus on memories, prayer and guidance. Saw a reference to the Abbey at Genesee which my mum goes on her silent retreats (pretty cool shout-out). Definitely insightful perspective when it comes approaching ministry for faithful followers. Goodread ;-)

  24. 5 out of 5

    Adam Tyler

    Nouwen's work is a good word for all ministers: be intentional about how you serve and who you represent. It is so easy to get caught up in the busyness of ministry and be deluded into thinking we are indispensable. Nouwen reminds us to be pointers to Christ through being a healers, sustaining reminders, and guides. Nouwen's work is a good word for all ministers: be intentional about how you serve and who you represent. It is so easy to get caught up in the busyness of ministry and be deluded into thinking we are indispensable. Nouwen reminds us to be pointers to Christ through being a healers, sustaining reminders, and guides.

  25. 5 out of 5

    N

    Very short but (as is often the case with Nouwen's books) it took a long time to read through and digest. Some of this was not as good as "The Life of the Beloved" or "The Return of the Prodigal Son," but there were compelling nuggets throughout. Very short but (as is often the case with Nouwen's books) it took a long time to read through and digest. Some of this was not as good as "The Life of the Beloved" or "The Return of the Prodigal Son," but there were compelling nuggets throughout.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Megan

    Make time in your life to read this book! It is reminder to me of my role as healer, sustainer, and guider...because of the Healer, Sustainer, and Guider of all things.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Stephen

    Read AUG 2001

  28. 4 out of 5

    Beca Lufi

    "It is from the still point of prayer that we can reach out to others and let the sustaining power of God's presence be known." "It is from the still point of prayer that we can reach out to others and let the sustaining power of God's presence be known."

  29. 5 out of 5

    Kevin M

    If you do any type of service for the body of Christ this should be a must read... easy and quick, yet thought provoking.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Albert Hong

    Nothing really stuck for me in this book. The epilogue was good. :)

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