“Our God is a God of surprises... Am I open to the God of surprises?”—Pope Francis, 2014
Responding to this challenge, Surprised by God explores what it means to reflect on life and our journey of faith. Theological reflection has been primarily used in academic training for ministry preparation, but it is an essential tool for any person pondering Pope Francis’ questions.
Christina Zaker provides an in-depth look at the foundational elements of theological reflection including definitions and guidance through various methods. Offering a lens for reflection based on the unique way Jesus’ parables surprise and invite listeners to collaborate in the reign of God, the book foregrounds the importance of reflection as a spiritual practice committed to justice.
Reveling in the many ways God surprises us, we learn how to respond to the invitation of faith with open minds and hearts.
Christina R. Zaker is director of field education at Catholic Theological Union in Chicago, Illinois. Her past experiences in Campus Ministry, as the Executive Director of Amate House for the Archdiocese of Chicago, and in parish ministry lend to her ability to journey with students in their field education experiences. She is a practical theologian with a focus on spirituality and justice. She is the chair of the Research and Publications committee for the Association of Theological Field Education and is a member of the National Association for Lay Ministers.
Chapter 1: Breathing Deeply: Noticing God in the Midst of Life
Chapter 2: Cultivating the Heart: Carving out the Space for Reflective Practice
Chapter 3: Developing Ears that Can Hear and Eyes that Can See
Chapter 4: Exploring Parables as a Lens for Reflection: Key Frameworks for Reflective Practice
Chapter 5: Connecting: Reflective Practice, Solidarity and the Spiritual Life
Chapter 6: Practicing Reflection: Reflective Practice through the Lens of Parable
Epilogue: Finding Hope in Family During COVID-19
Appendix A – Theological Reflection in Parabolic Mode Quick Reference
Appendix B – High School Service Journal
With the wisdom of an experienced parent, the instincts of a theological educator, and the heart of a practical theologian, Christina Zaker inventively reminds us why the art of reflection is an indispensable spiritual practice. Be prepared to be surprised, be prepared to be “parabled.” This is certainly the most accessible introduction to theological reflection available today. Bravo!
Christina Zaker shows that everyone searching for meaning in life engages in some form of reflection. Her study is grounded in solid theology, sensitive to the dynamics of human psychology, and creative in the way she weaves all these insights together. It is an excellent text for theology classes and those interested in reflective living.
Christina Zaker expertly equips and encourages readers on the journey of a reflective life. Theological field educators and their students will appreciate her adaptable framework for reflection and the many helpful examples. The reflective practice she commends alerts us to be attentive to the movement of God at work and joyfully join in.