It’s no secret that I love books. And it’s no secret that I love the Lutheran liturgy. And it’s certainly no secret that in many ways, for better or worse, my life revolves around the Church. So back in 2015 when I picked up House of Living Stones, the first installment in the Anthems of Zion series, I immediately placed myself right in the plot and never wanted to leave. Katie Schuermann has masterfully composed an anthem both bitter and sweet that celebrates the gift of life together in Christ.
House of Living Stones invited me into the lives of those who call Bradbury, Illinois home. Here I met Emily Duke: kind, thoughtful, and ready for a new beginning. And here I met Zion Lutheran Church, whose members are sharp, practical, and fiercely loyal. Together, they learn that life is always sweeter when burdens- and cinnamon rolls- are shared together. This book has a special place in my heart. Initially read during a very difficult time in my life, House of Living Stones made me laugh, cry, and most importantly, gave me HOPE.
And that HOPE did not disappoint, as I returned to Bradbury in The Choir Immortal. Here I found the perfect continuation of life in Bradbury. It doesn’t get much more real than this, and Schuermann handles the lives of her characters (and all of us, really) with grace and humor. The Choir Immortal is a wonderful, encouraging, and humorous book for all of us familiar with the ups and downs of congregational life. (Have I convinced you to read the first two, yet?)
This spring, I have had the immense pleasure of serving on the Launch Team for the much anticipated final installment in this series. And let me tell you, dear reader and now fellow Bradburian, The Harvest Raise does not disappoint.
The Harvest Raise is the perfect bittersweet ending to a series that brought laughter, heartache, and joy into my life. This book explores what it means to live out our vocations faithfully, in the forthright yet gentle way we’ve come to expect from Katie’s masterful prose. What I love most about this final book in the series is the way it touches on so many timely subjects. Our favorite Bradburians encourage us to live faithfully through their own examples. They show us how to serve our neighbor especially when it makes us uncomfortable. And they demonstrate that it is good and proper to eat some humble pie- accompanied by a side of real pie, of course.
Although this book is certainly written for all members of the congregation, The Harvest Raise, to me, is really encouraging for pastors’ wives. So many times, Katie was able to convey what I wish I could about my challenging vocation as a pastor’s wife. I pray that these books will encourage others to consider how they treat their Christian brothers and sisters, including their pastor and his wife.
So thank you, Katie, for the Anthems of Zion series. Thank you for taking us to Bradbury, for allowing us to sit at the kitchen tables of those who have become friends and family. I am so thankful that God has used the grace and mercy shown through this series to put a new song in my mouth. This series is such a gift to the Church– and to me.
Have you read House of Living Stones or The Choir Immortal? What are you most looking forward to in The Harvest Raise?
To order (or pre-order, in the case of THR) the Anthems of Zion books, and for lots of other free goodies, visit books.cph.org/anthems-of-zion.