I asked the lovely folks at the Association of Christian Writers for their recommendations for Lent devotions. Here is the second instalment of their ideas, all available from your favourite Christian bookshop, Waterstones, Eden etc.
My personal choice is Eugene Peterson’s A Long Obedience in the Same Direction. It’s not specifically a Lent book, but the matching study guide (suitable for groups or individuals) has six sessions, perfect for a weekly study group or to work through yourself
“Since Eugene Peterson (of The Message fame) wrote this spiritual formation classic more than forty years ago, hundreds of thousands of Christians have been inspired by its call to deeper discipleship. Our society is obsessed with quick fixes. But Peterson’s time-tested prescription for discipleship remains the same – a long obedience in the same direction.”
And, of course, I’m going to promote my own Lent books:
Trace the whole story of the Bible from Creation to Easter in bite-sized chunks, and see how it all hangs together in one grand story that leads to Jesus.
Linking Old Testament and New Testament texts that follow the grand themes of scripture, this will give you a wonderful overview of God’s eternal plan that culminates at Easter
Each day, from Ash Wednesday to Easter Day, tells part of the story with a short reflection and prayer. You can use the sessions daily or in weekly groups.
Meet some of the Bible’s most dismal failures, in nine intergenerational studies including special features for Good Friday and Easter Sunday.
Each session has a reflection, question to think about, space for your own thoughts, craft, cooking, an outside activity and a labyrinth. It’s perfect for weekly adult or youth groups, or to use at home with a different activity each day.
The Resilient Disciple by Justine Allain Chapman
Alone on an 8-day retreat in the Egyptian desert, Justine Allain Chapman experienced first-hand the physical, spiritual and mental struggle many have endured before her. Our own desert experience may involve attending to challenges that come upon us suddenly – such as an illness or bereavement – or to difficult relationships or patterns of thinking that have long been draining us of life and joy. A Lenten pilgrimage is testing. We have to search within ourselves for answers which lie hidden, to draw on each other’s strengths, to reflect deeply and to trust that we will be enabled to integrate our many experiences. But there is a ‘bright flame before us, a guiding star above’. And the God, who always calls us to love beyond ourselves, offers tender healing for our brokenness, longing that we may be consoled and renewed.
Great Lent, Journey to Pascha by Alexander Schmemann
Lent through the perspective of Orthodox spirituality. This revised edition of Fr Alexander Schmemann’s Lenten classic examines the meaning of the Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts, the Prayer of St Ephraim the Syrian, the Canon of St Andrew of Crete, and other neglected or misunderstood treasures of Lenten worship. Schmemann draws on the Church’s sacramental and liturgical tradition to suggest the meaning of “Lent in our life.”
The Lenten season is meant to kindle a “bright sadness” within our hearts. Its aim is precisely the remembrance of Christ, a longing for a relationship with God that has been lost. Lent offers the time and place for recovery of this relationship. The darkness of Lent allows the flame of the Holy Spirit to burn within our hearts until we are led to the brilliance of the Resurrection.
Consider the Cross by Kirsten Oliphant
These devotions for the Lenten period before Easter will cut through denominational lines and theological stances, challenging you to simply consider. Consider the person of Jesus. Consider the moment in history where he was nailed to a cross. Consider what significance the resurrection has in your life. Enjoy a Bible study for Easter that will let you really think about a man named Jesus.
Focusing on the last week of Jesus’ life, these devotionals and questions will help prepare your heart to celebrate Easter by reflecting on the person and work of Jesus.
Leaning Towards Easter by Chris Leonard
This book features daily readings exploring the major themes surrounding this time of year This is a book of daily devotional readings for the Lent and Easter period, exploring themes such as death to new life, suffering to joy, oppression/betrayal to freedom, blindness or unbelief to faith, abandonment to foundness, despair to hope, darkness to light. For each day, a reflection on a Bible passage (not necessarily from the Passion/Easter narratives) is followed by a true story from an ‘ordinary’ person to illustrate and earth the day’s message, then a short prayer or meditation.
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