Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Songs of Joy in The Anthems of Zion

Do you ever pick up a book which turns out to be so good that you don't want to put it down? Do you say to yourself  "Just one more chapter" and it turns into 2 or 3 or more?

If you answered Yes to either of the questions then I know of a new series of books for you.

Check out the Anthems of Zion series by Katie Schuermann. Titles in this trilogy are House of Living Stones, The Choir Immortal, and the soon to be released The Harvest Raise.

All three books are set in the fictional southern Illinois town of Bradbury.  Not only is the series a chronicle of small town life, the church in town, Zion Lutheran, is just as central a setting for all three books.

 In House of Living Stones  you will meet the main characters; Pastor Fletcher, Dr Emily Duke; a college music professor, Mrs Scheinberg; the church secretary, and many other loving souls who make Bradbury a wonderful place to live. Not only will you share in the joys (and not so joyous parts) of small town life, but also the life and happenings of Zion Lutheran Church.

The Choir Immortal  begins with a highly anticipated wedding at Zion. But will it happen or will several events turn into catastrophe and prevent this joyful event from taking place? As the story moves on the reader continues to experience life in Bradbury through the many people they came to meet in House of Living Stones. Just as in real life the people in Bradbury experience trauma and heartache and joy and happiness. Through it all they are comforted by their friends, but most importantly through the Word of God.

The Harvest Raise concludes this Bradbury trilogy. It may not begin the way the reader anticipates based on the conclusion of The Choir Immortal, but it is good none the less. Just as real life goes on, life moves along in Bradbury as well. Real life is full of changes, challenges, and new experiences and these are all experienced by the people in Bradbury as well. They grow and pull together through trials and joys, just as we do. Good comes out of difficulties in both real life and Bradbury. Through it all the members of Zion Lutheran Church are guided and loved by their faithful pastor, Pastor Fetcher. He never ceases to give anyone who comes to him the Word of God to comfort, guide, and instruct them.

My Thoughts 

I really enjoyed reading all three of these books and found myself nodding 'Yes' or agreeing with many of the situations. There were two parts of  The Harvest Raise with which I could especially identify. Bethesda is a Lutheran organization dedicated to serving people with developmental disabilities. Bethesda has facilities in many communities around the United States. Some of these facilities are smaller and provide homes for just a few people. The people who live in these homes are fairly integrated into many aspects of their community. In The Harvest Raise two of the residents of the Bethesda Homes attend church at Zion. One of the young men there develops a relationship with them and help them become a special part of Zion. I liked seeing the integration of the clients served by Bethesda into the life of the congregation. When I worked in the Chaplaincy department for several regional Bethesda facilities it was a high priority for us to see the people we served attend and be welcomed by their local churches.

In addition, in my vocation as a Pastor's wife I could really relate to many of the challenges faced by the occupants of the parsonage. I pray I can relate to those I encounter with as much grace and compassion as exhibited in these books.

I whole heartedly recommend The Anthems of Zion trilogy to anyone looking for a thoughtful and enjoyable read. I think these books will especially be enjoyed by fellow Lutherans as well as being great for those wanting to know a little more about the practices of a Lutheran Church. While Lutheran doctrine and teachings are a part of the story line these wonderful books are not a complete exposition of Lutheran beliefs.

To learn more about all three great books and for some fun things visit the Anthems of Zion homepage.

The Anthems of Zion books are the perfect books for summer reading. However, if you like them as much as I did you will certainly finish them long before summer is over.

The Harvest Raise (Available for preorder) as well as House of Living Stones and The Choir Immortal are available from CPH.

Disclaimer: I personally own House of Living Stones and The Choir Immortal. I received an advance digital copy of The Harvest Raise for the purposes of promoting it. I have not been compensated in any other manner and all opinions expressed here are entirely my own.

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