I went searching for a new Lenten reading guide that was more than just “here’s-a-verse-and-a-nice-thought.” I wanted something that caught my eye, that brought a sense of the Holy into its reflections, and that caused me to consider more thoughtfully the Passion Story.
I was delighted when I found this book! This is the companion volume to the devotional guide of the same name for Advent and Christmas. Like its companion, it brings new depth of meaning to this period in the church calendar. Writes Greg Pennoyer in the Preface:
If Advent/Christmas is a revelation of God’s presence with us, then Lent/Easter is a revelation of God’s desire to use all of life for our wholeness and our healing — the revelation that he will pull life from death. (p. x)
I don’t know about you, but that pretty much captures a spiritual need that is frequently ignored by the world, and glossed over by the Church. After all, if we are living in a struggle and a world of pain, what difference does our faith make? When we sing “Victory in Jesus” and we feel like a defeated mess, where’s the joy and peace that everyone talks about at Christmas?
The book is designed to provide a guided reading of Scripture with stories, art, poetry and prayers. The book contains beautiful imagery and personal stories. It invites you to wander slowly, LENTE, through its pages. Just sitting and gazing that the various artists was a feast in itself! They represented centuries of the faithful, giving their creative touch to the biblical story.
In addition to the daily reflections, the book gives the history of the various Feasts and Fasts of Lent. As someone who only paid a cursory attention to these liturgical details, and who has ministered mainly in a non-liturgical environment, I particularly appreciated this background information. (Let’s face it, chaplains don’t get to do a lot of preaching — sadly — and many times it is not appropriate to offer religious services to the patients and families in our charge. That does not mean, however, that I do not need and want to ponder the depths and riches of my faith tradition!)
The Scripture quotations were from a variety of translations, which sometimes was a bit disjointed in terms of language style from week to week. However, I can appreciate the various translations and the spectrum of faith traditions and practices that they represent (NIV, NASB, RSV, NRSV, NJB, KJV and The Message).
Each week has its own author, representing a broad spectrum within Christendom: Richard Rohr, Laren Winner, Scott Cairns, James Schapp, Luci Shaw, and Kathleen Norris. The background on Feasts and Fasts was written by Beth Bevis. I am grateful for their faith, their giftedness, and for the beauty of this volume. And I can’t wait to read it in more detail in the coming weeks!
God For Us: Rediscovering the Meaning of Lent and Easter, Edited by Greg Pennoyer and Gregory Wolfe. Published by Paraclete Press, Brewster, Massachusetts. (c) 2014.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I purchased this book. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”