Encounters, by Rachel Treweek, the Bishop of Gloucester, captures thoughts on the centrality of relationship and community to the Christian faith, clearly a topic that drives her personal faith and her very being. Each chapter takes a different theme, based on a core scripture highlighting one of Jesus’s many encounters with individuals, to explain why other people, and relating to and integrating with others, is so important.
The emphasis on the value of people, individually, closely mirrors the teachings and workings of Christ, and exposes Rachel’s heart that is set on encouraging others.
Each of Jesus’s encounters that she writes about is relatable to a situation in her own history, as well as our own, showing us that Jesus sees everyone as a precious individual. Every person is to be respected, nurtured and encouraged for them to grow into the full potential that they have been created for.
The insights drawn from her own experiences as a pioneering woman, however reluctantly, show her true humility, authenticity and compassion to reach others with the good news.
The clear conclusion of the book is to affirm us as children of a loving Father God, and despite all our efforts to do things and prove ourselves, we must know that we are already accepted wholly by the God who created us. We can settle back peacefully in the loving embrace of God, in the knowledge that we are loved and adored, precious in His eyes, and there is nothing more we can do, or need to do. We can then simply reflect that Christ-like love to others.
There are many reminders in her stories of the power that exists in people reaching out to each other, that it is healing and essential to our existence as humans. Our encounters with each other lead us to become more human, more like the people that God intends us to be.
For much of the world having been unable to enjoy the gifts of fellowship and community during the recent COVID-19 lockdowns, this has led us all to appreciate more the importance of simply being with others. Hence Encounters is a lovely blessing to read.
Encounters, by Rachel Treweek, is available here.