The Space Between: The disruptive seasons we want to hide from, and why we need them

The Space Between: The disruptive seasons we want to hide from, and why we need them

Author : Mark Bradford
£9.99

God uses transition times for our good

The disruptive seasons of life – those transition times in which we have left one season of stability but not yet arrived at the next – can be times of great disorientation. Yet, for good or for ill, they are also the most transformative. In The Space Between, Mark Bradford provides the reader with a biblical and theological understanding of such seasons of life, connects them with the resources to live faithfully through them, and offers strength and hope for the journey.


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Title The Space Between: The disruptive seasons we want to hide from, and why we need them
Author Mark Bradford
Description

The disruptive seasons of life – those transition times in which we have left one season of stability but not yet arrived at the next – can be times of great disorientation. Yet, for good or for ill, they are also the most transformative. In The Space Between, Mark Bradford provides the reader with a biblical and theological understanding of such seasons of life, connects them with the resources to live faithfully through them, and offers strength and hope for the journey.

Details
  • Product code: 9780857468253
  • Published: 23 April 2021
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 192
  • Dimensions: 130mm wide and 198mm high

The disruptive seasons of life – those transition times in which we have left one season of stability but not yet arrived at the next – can be times of great disorientation. Yet, for good or for ill, they are also the most transformative. In The Space Between, Mark Bradford provides the reader with a biblical and theological understanding of such seasons of life, connects them with the resources to live faithfully through them, and offers strength and hope for the journey.

Mark Bradford is the vicar of St Cuthbert’s, Fulwood. Previously he taught history and politics and has worked for the Oasis Trust in Leeds training and discipling 18–25-year-olds. He is married with three young children.

‘A timely book for the pandemic age… A wise companion for the tough seasons of life.’
James Lawrence, CPAS leadership principal

‘This is not a book to read all in one go! Gems keep tumbling out of the cupboard and they need to be picked up one at a time before moving to the next… This is hard to beat!’
Julian Henderson, bishop of Blackburn

‘A wonderfully honest and human book that enables readers to find God in the disturbing experiences of change and disruption… The rich wisdom of this book will offer both a healing balm and a source of courage to all who engage with it.’
Philip North, bishop of Burnley

‘This book is important… It tackles difficult times in our lives with honesty and clarity – which will be a relief to those who read it.’
Canon Dr Christina Baxter

‘This book draws on the Bible, on the lives of saints old and new, and on the author’s deep experience to invite us afresh to engage in the precious things God is doing when the temptation is to focus elsewhere. This is encouraging, wise, and helpful.’
Mark Tanner, bishop of Chester

‘In a highly engaging way, Mark extends our awareness and draws our attention to God’s work of grace in the whole of life – not only the highs and lows, but the rest of life, where we are on a journey, waiting, confused or disoriented. This is a guide for a truly whole-life discipleship.’
Paul Harcourt, New Wine national leader and vicar of All Saints Woodford Wells

‘An apt resource and encouragement that we are not alone in experiencing these seasons.’
Jo McKee, CPAS director of the Arrow Programme and archbishops’ evangelist, vicar of St Andrew’s Radcliffe

 

The Church Times, 27.08.21. Review by David Wilbourne

 

Church Times 27.08.21. Review by David Wilbourne

A former physiologist, John Habgood maintained that creation invariably happened at the interface between order and chaos. Something as messy as creation is strictly verboten in an over-regimented system; something as fragile as creation would soon be stamped on by anarchy. In The Space Between, Mark Bradford explores such liminal zones, the heady pauses between one order passing and another emerging — cue Covid-19.

Through the lenses of waiting (likened to weaving a web to eventually catch God), exile (being where we don’t want to be with people we don’t want to be with), the wildernesses, storm, and pit, he focuses on biblical episodes featuring significant change and concomitant lament. John Holdsworth in his magisterial Honest Sadness (Church Times, Books, 30 April 2021) laments lament’s current low profile. So does Bradford, homing in on the seasons of Advent, Epiphany, and Lent, and Good Friday and Holy Saturday, to champion lament as railing against our losses and failures, in order to save us from apathy and despair.

Unfettered by slavish obedience to excessive biblical criticism, Bradford skilfully re-enacts stories of disturbance, featuring Jacob, Abraham, Jonah, Job, and John the Baptist, juxtaposing them with the Passover, the Exile, the Revelation of St John, and, supremely, Christ. Along the way, he gives a scholarly verse-by-verse commentary on the psalms of lament, 29, 42, 43, 63, 66, 130, and 137, illustrated with vignettes of historical and modern saints, including contemporaries’ life-changing stories, anonymised and somewhat contrived. But when Bradford draws, self-deprecatingly, from his own life, he does so with authenticity, insight, and humour: ‘there is no evidence to suggest anyone asked a prophet home for supper more than once.’

He quotes extensively, and I was particularly struck by Walter Wink’s ‘Biblical prayer is impertinent, persistent, shameless, indecorous. It is more like haggling in an outdoor bazaar than the polite monologues of the church.’ Bradford walks Wink’s talk, wrestling with God and ending each chapter with a selection of arresting prayers. It all makes for an engaging book, rooted in everyday parish ministry and a dynamic rather than static personal faith, proving a worthy prequel to his Encountering the Risen Christ (Church Times, Books, 24 March 2016).

The Rt Revd David Wilbourne is an hon. assistant bishop in York diocese.

 

Progressive Voices, issue 38, September 2021. Review by Christine King.

There are few of us who have not, albeit to varying degrees, experienced what Mark Bradford  describes as ‘the space between’. It can describe those times of transition, when we have left a time of peace and order and we are waiting ‘in the wilderness’ for a new phase, whatever it might bring, to begin. The book takes us through such times, which can feel like exile, like being at the heart of a storm or being in what might be described as ‘the pit’; a time of bereavement, loss or despair.

The space between is often a place of pain and disorientation but the experience, the author argues, provides a unique opportunity to reimagine our lives. He writes as a committed Christian and aims to explore ways in which God works in and through the lows and the times of change and uncertainty as much as when life goes at a steady or joyful pace. Throughout the thoughtful text exploring the theme, Mark includes a number of prayers, poems, exposition of biblical messages, especially the Psalms and the Gospels, as well as stories from the lives of saints and ‘contemporary saints’ - people of courage and growth. One of his many secular saints is Nelson Mandela whose transformation took place during his own personal ‘space between’ in prison.

These stories add force to his argument that, in his view, God works uniquely in and through these disturbing experiences to bring about transformation. Each chapter ends with a number of questions for reflection which makes this an excellent tool for a study group. The book throughout is a rich resource of Christian thinking and teaching as well as a thoughtful and often moving, journey through difficult terrains for any reader.

Reviewed by Christine King

 

CPAS Lead On e-news June 2021. Review by Jo McKee

Growing up near London, and having spent a good amount of time travelling on the London Underground, I am very familiar with the tannoyed phrase 'mind the gap'. It's a warning to travellers who are journeying from one place to another as they embark and disembark off the train. Much of the time these journeys are straightforward, but there are occasions when the train comes to a standstill: it is delayed, there is an incident on the line, or an onward station is closed. At this point we find ourselves sitting on the train not knowing what's happening and neither being at the beginning or the end of our journey, but a space between the two.

This book honestly explores the various 'between' spaces we can find ourselves in: the waiting, exile, wilderness, the storm and the pit. Within each chapter the different types of spaces are explored through scripture, the experience of individuals and how we can intentionally embrace the space at different times of the year.

All of us are living through this COVID season and at some point many of us will have felt like we're in the wilderness and that we've been through a violent storm. The positive invitation to reflect on these spaces is not there for us to endure the pain and anguish that we've been through again, but a challenge to honestly dialogue with God about them. In being completely open with God our eyes can be opened to the healing that still needs to take place, but also we can start to recognise the spiritual growth that has comes from these times. 

In a year that will be full of these 'space between' times, this book is an apt resource and encouragement that we are not alone in experiencing these seasons. Jesus, the one who has experienced all these spaces, is constantly faithful and present in those times with us. In the knowledge of this we should not live in fear, but hope. In this journey of life we are not able to 'mind the gap', but with God's help we can step into each day knowing that he is there in the midst of them and will lead us on.

Review by Jo McKee

 

 

Review by Richard Frost, May 2021

Liminal places: the place on the threshold of what comes next and, in this book, Mark Bradford claims that most of life is lived in this ‘space between’.

Mark Bradford explains this space as being one which carries grief, consolation, ambiguity and loss of control, to name but a few common characteristics. ‘It’s a hard place to be in,’ he writes, ‘because we each arrange our lives of the sake of predictability and control, comfort and security – and the ‘space between’ offers none of those.’

But, fear not, this is not a depressing book.

By describing experiences from the life of Jacob and many others in the Bible, interspersed with examples from his own life and people known to him who have made specific contributions, Mark Bradford explores this important but complex area in a readable and accessible way.

He explores what he calls the ‘disruptive seasons’ of waiting, exile, wilderness, storm and the pit. This exploration draws on a wide range of other writers (notably Walter Brueggemann and Richard Rohr) and also links in with examples from sacred scriptures, such as the Psalms, and sacred stories of saints, old and modern from St John of the Cross to Terry Waite. The practical suggestions he makes are helpful: especially those in the closing chapter.

A worthwhile read for anyone stuck in the current space between what was pre-pandemic normality and what is still too come.

Richard Frost is the author of Life with St Benedict and writes a blog at workrestpray.com