Resources for Lent 2020

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Some people get excited about Advent and Christmas, but Easter is my most favorite holiday of them all. But a few years ago, I noticed that by the time I arrived at Easter I felt completely unprepared. Christmas had lots of intentional prepwork, both spiritually (Advent Sundays) and commercially (decorating and shopping), but Easter felt like it came out of nowhere. Sitting in church on Easter Sunday morning, I felt as though something was... missing.

The feeling seemed incredibly ironic to me, because Easter is all about how the missing has been found: Jesus' missing body is found, our lost souls are found, our missing eternity with God is found. Despite all of this "finding," it seemed as though something was still missing.

That's when I realized that the "finding" doesn't mean very much unless we've had a period of the "missing."

The other day I lost my keys in the church where I work and didn't notice they were missing until I found them sitting atop the church's dryer. It was a surprise, but not really a great relief or joy. But imagine if I had lost them, realized they were lost, and spent time wandering around the church trying to find them. Their discovery would have been one of celebration and relief.

Lent is the time of the year when we realize that something is missing. 

Lent is a reminder that, without Christ, we would be wandering around trying to find all the missing pieces in our lives. It's a reminder that, without Christ, both our souls and our bodies would be lost to the bondage of sin and its devastating consequences. To make the most of the joy of Easter Sunday, we must spend time mourning what has been lost. This 40-day period from Ash Wednesday to Easter Sunday is a time for us to acknowledge the brevity of our lives and to recognize a need for God's grace and mercy.

Maybe it's because I have lots of sins to confess, maybe it's because I'm an Enneagram 1, or maybe it's because I'm just a masochist, but year after year Lent has become a significant time of spiritual growth for me. Lent is the time of the year when I slow down, do some deep listening, and especially enjoy my time in God's presence. Taking the time to pause, mourn, and "miss" prepares me for the joy and promise of Christ's resurrection.

 Here are a few resources I would recommend to prepare ourselves for the celebration of Easter Sunday, where everything that is lost is finally found:

The Repentance Project from An American Lent - I've done this project for the last two years and can't recommend it enough. This project puts repentance into the context of America's racism and invites us to repent of our deep-seated prejudices.

The Unvarnished Jesus: A Lenten Journey by Brian Zahnd - This is the Lent reader I will be using this year. If you haven't read anything by Zahnd, I highly recommend you at the very least follow him on Twitter or Facebook. His prophetic insight and bold assessment of our cultural moment has been both and a challenge and encouragement to me.

Lent for Everyone: Matthew - N.T. Wright has a Lent study for each year of the Lectionary, and this year's (Year A) is Matthew. I'll read anything this New Testament scholar writes.

Bread and Wine: Readings for Lent and Easter - I like this reader because it is a combination of historical (Augustine, Tillich, Kierkegaard), classic (C.S. Lewis, Dorothy Day, Bonhoeffer) and contemporary writers (Merton, L'Engle, Nouwen).

Wendell Berry and the Sabbath Poetry of Lent - I love Wendell Berry. I love Sabbath. I love Lent. (I love lamp!*). This devotional combines all three of these loves. It is meant to be read alongside Berry's collection of Sabbath poems.

Breathe Lent Reader - To date, this is my favorite thing I've ever written. I poured my heart and soul into writing this Lent reader a few years ago. This devotional connects themes from the Old Testament with the promises of Jesus, inviting us as a Church to live into the new life we have in his life, death, and resurrection.

Coloring Book for Lent + Eastertide - Sacred Ordinary Days is an incredible resource, and this year they have a coloring book available for the holy days of Lent and Eastertide.

Lent Playlist - This is a list of all of my favorite Lent-related songs that I use to center my thoughts and soothe my soul.

*If you got this movie reference, you deserve all the accolades. Let's be friends, ok?

1 comment

  1. Thank you for this! I've been reading through several of the resources you listed (as well as Breathe) to help through the Lent season with our congregation. We also started following the Spotify playlist. Great idea!


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