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The First Fruits of Prayer: A Forty Day Journey Through the Canon of St. Andrew [Paperback]

Frederica Mathewes-Green

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Book Description

1 Feb 2009
Join Frederica Mathewes-Green on a guided retreat through an ancient Orthodox text. Regardless of your denominational background, First Fruits of Prayer will bring to life the prayer experience of first millennium Christianity through immersion in this poetic hymn, an extraordinarily beautiful work that is still chanted by Christians around the world each Lent. It weaves together Old and New Testament Scriptures with prayers of hope and repentance and offers ancient ways of seeing Christ that still feel new today.

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About the Author

Frederica is a regular columnist for Beliefnet.com and a book reviewer for the Los Angeles Times. She has written hundreds of articles in secular and religious periodicals and has been interviewed extensively in national newspapers, magazines, and television programs, including the New York Times, the Chicago Tribune, Newsweek, Time magazine, CNN, MSNBC, and C-SPAN. A sought-after speaker, editor, and commentator, Frederica has worked with The Odyssey Television Network, National Public Radio's 'All Things Considered,' World magazine, Religion News Service, and Christianity Today, among others.

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Amazon.com: 4.9 out of 5 stars  10 reviews
69 of 75 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Journey Through Lent 26 Jan 2006
By Pennsylvania Settler - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I don't intend so much to review this book (which I found excellent), as to respond to a couple of questions posed by the reviewer below, John Zxerce.

Mr. Zxerce seems to be looking at the theology of the book through a Protestant/Reformed lens. No doubt, if this is the case some of what he sees will seem strange, even foreign, to his understanding of the Faith. An example of this is his putting forth of several implicit or explicit "either/or's." But from an Orthodox perspective these are seen more as "both/and's." Salvation is found through "a Savior to be embraced" and "an example to be followed." One aspect of soteriology doesn't preclude or negate the other. Of course, one must "embrace" the Saviour before one can follow Him, but it the Orthodox mind the two are not radically separate. Salvation is a gift of God's grace, without a doubt. But that doesn't eliminate the need to live a Christ-like life. To put it in Western terms, righteousness is both "imputed" and "infused." It's not one or the other.

The ransom/redemption texts of Scripture that Mr. Zxerce quotes will fit just as well into the Orthodox paradigm of salvation as rescue, as they do into the Western understanding of the "substitutionary atonement," which of course the Orthodox believe, albeit not in the same way. Sin and death are definitely real enemies--I'm not sure how one could come away with any other idea after reading the Canon of St. Andrew. The difference between Orthodoxy and Protestant Christianity in this regard is the manner in which the two sides see those enemies being defeated.

It is important to remember that the Western "substitutionary atonement" model of the death of Christ isn't all there is. For centuries before that model became the dominant one in the Western Church, the Eastern Fathers (and many Western ones as well) held to the view that the Orthodox hold today. For further reading on this I'd recommend Mathewes-Green's earlier book THE ILLUMINED HEART and Matthew Gallatin's THIRSTING FOR GOD. These two books also contain references that point the way to deeper, more scholarly works on the subject.
14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars First Fruits of Prayer 17 Mar 2006
By Jackie Maine - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
This is a wonderful book to go through during lent, or for that matter, at any time of the year. There are 40 excerpts from the Canon of St. Andrew. Frederica Mathewes-Green links these selections with the scripture from the Bible that inspired them and includes a brief commentary on each verse.

This book makes one look at their own shortcomings and sins, but also shines the light of a loving and merciful God as the help and healer of our human spiritual ailments. I really am enjoying reading and being challenged by this book.
18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Lenten Resource 18 Feb 2006
By RJ - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Eastern Christian thought, prayer and spirituality is not well enough known in "the West." The Canon of St. Andrew of Crete is a beautiful prayer, and Ms. Mathewes-Green does an excellent job in communicating these values in a way that those of us with a "Western" mindset can understand, appreciate, and find meaning in our lives. Great reading during the Lenten season.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Reflections during the journey through Great Lent 14 April 2009
By Mr. Robert C. Bonds - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
To those in the Western Church, especially the Protestant demoninations, Lent is not well understood. Even to most Episcopalians, Anglicans, and Roman Catholics, Lent is not given its due importance, though it is part of the respective church calendars.

For us in the Eastern Church, Great Lent is a time where we are called to reflect upon our sins which separate us from God. It is a time where we truly fast as did Christ during his 40 days in the desert. Great Lent is one of the best opportunities to refocus ourselves on living a Christian life.

Yet, even many Orthodox Christians are like their counterparts in the Western Church, in that their connection to this period of fasting, prayer, alms giving and repentence is weak.

What Frederica Mathewes-Green has done, is that she has provided us guide to help us take the journey that early Christians took in preparing for the celebration of the arisen Christ. She has taken the words of St. Andrew of Crete and given them meaning that we in today's world can relate to. Her commentary takes to the true meaning of what St. Andrew has written, it helps us cross that bridge so that we can pause, reflect and take the daily steps we must take in order to fulfill the commission of this holy season.

Try reading this book at night before retiring, letting the words of St. Andrew and Frderica's skillful interpetive narrative fill your thoughts as you close your eyes to sleep.

This book is not for casual reading, it is for one who is seeking a greater understanding of a spiritual journey we as Christians (East or West)need to take as we approach the day Christ's sacrifice upon the cross.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Encouraging reading! 14 Feb 2007
By Sasha - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I have read the Canon of St. Andrew several times in the past. This book is helpful in causing a deeper dig within my own heart, to grasp the faith of the Ancient Christians! I expect that this book will begin to look worn, as the years go by, as well as a few other favorites on my bookshelf!
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