I was rocking out on Interstate 55 in snow-dusted central Illinois, driving to a press run for a book, when the music stopped for an incoming call. I naturally half-assumed it was a spammer, but I checked caller ID and took the call. I always try to take calls from Sandhya Jha.
Sandhya is a busy, busy person. She spends her days with the Oakland Peace Center, a collection of 40 organizations working for justice and fairness in the Bay Area. Working for just one would put enough on anybody’s to-do list. She’s also a popular speaker and a prolific writer – and a spectacular example of God’s handiwork in creating humanity. A conversation with Sandhya always sends me away inspired, smarter, and amused.
After our brief greetings, Sandhya cut to the purpose for her call, to run a book idea by me. A friend had given her a popular daily devotional that she felt focused more on an individual’s relationship with God than on the ways God and scripture call us to create God’s kindom on earth. She decided to give away the devotional to somebody who would appreciate it more. Then, she writes:
She listened. The result is Liberating Love: 365 Love Notes from God, launching today from Chalice Press.
The book Sandhya pitched to me that winter day was a daily devotional that focused on a brief scriptural passage, using each book of the bible, with a prayer that interprets the scripture in ways encouraging us to think about others before ourselves, to recognize the value in every life in addition to our own, to seek holy justice and equality for all. But Sandhya wanted to take it a step further. Taking inspiration from the blockbuster devotional series Jesus Calling, Sandhya wanted to write each prayer borrowing the voice of God, to convey the sense God was saying the very words on the page to the reader, right then.
In the time it took to write Liberating Love, Sandhya admitted a few times it felt daunting to assume one could speak not just forGod, but in God’s voice. When Biblical characters hear God speaking, it’s not always a harbinger of good things. But God in Liberating Love is the loving, compassionate God who knows how many hairs we have on our head, knows our most exhilarating joys and paralyzing fears, who loves us through all our successes and failures. Liberating Love is an uplifting journey through the year and through the Bible, a one-minute-a-day read that will help you set the stage each day for a reflection on your faith and your life.
Beyond that, Liberating Love is revolutionary in its communal scope. The book market has many, many, many choices for daily devotionals, and the massive sales numbers would indicate those are beloved by millions. But the bulk of them focus on individual relationships with the divine. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that. Liberating Love, though, somehow predicted the moment we are in as this book launches in the summer of 2020. We hear a new, urgent call for unity across lines of race, gender, income, sexual orientation, and all the other divides in humanity that have been conjured up over the past two thousand years – including religion. We hear God calling us to work together for the common good. We hear God telling us that love can liberate us all when we listen hard enough.
Let’s listen to God together.
 In one instance, one conversation sent both of us away with the idea that became her 2015 book Pre-Post-Racial America. Like all good Biblical stories, it involved wine – just the ordering of wine in this case. But that’s a story for another blog.
(Cover photo: Pixabay)