Lenten Reading

What will you read this year for Lent?

Many Christians don’t even bother with Lent, thinking that time of year is for high churches and the liturgicals. Some churches don’t bother with Lent because they’d rather not interrupt the series they already have planned.

But Lent has been a part of the Church life from the 2d Century on, and it’s a discipline and a season worthy of the entire Church. What is Lent? Essentially it is a time of preparation. As during Advent we prepare to celebrate the Advent of our Lord, so during Lent we prepare to enter in and participate in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. In other words, it is a time for us to recollect our minds and hearts toward the saving events of our faith. The Church Calendar is designed to keep our lives connected week by week to the life of Jesus.

Traditionally, the Church has made Lent a time of fasting, and I have written about fasting (Fasting) and that is appropriate for the Lenten period. But there’s another theme worthy of our attention too: as the love and grace of God are supremely manifested in God’s taking upon himself our sins and carrying them away in order to give us new life, so we are called during this Lenten period to enter into that love by learning to love God and love others as an extension of God’s love.

Last year I was encouraged by the number of churches that used our 40 Days Living the Jesus Creed for Lent. So this is a reminder for those who are wondering what topics to ponder during Lent — one suggestion I have is that we learn the discipline of self-denial that leads to loving God more deeply and loving others more completely.

About Scot McKnight

Scot McKnight is a recognized authority on the New Testament, early Christianity, and the historical Jesus. McKnight, author of more than forty books, is the Professor of New Testament at Northern Seminary in Lombard, IL.

  • Richard

    Our congregation is developing its own Lenten Devotional by collecting stories from members of a time when they say God carry them through a difficult time alongside scriptures and devotional readings.

  • Terry

    Scot, so glad that you mentioned this. I’d actually thought to ask you about this very topic.

    We’re a congregation that used 40 Days Living the Jesus Creed last year during Lent, and greatly benefited by it. The theme of the Jesus Creed has remained more significant during the last 12-months than ever before: sermons have been preached, books have been read, prayers have been prayed, fellowship and service have deepened, paintings have been created — all as a result of the Lord using 40 Days during Lent. I’d highly recommend the book, but would certainly encourage any Lenten observance, even (or especially) for those of us in the most “low church” of congregations.

    I too have wondered what to offer to the church here for Lent, and so far am not finding anything. I’d like to wait to reintroduce 40 Days Living the Jesus Creed until next year. Honestly, I wish there was a 40-Day version of One.Life as it seems to me a perfect fit. Hopefully others will have good and helpful suggestions.

  • Susan N.

    My women’s small group leader proposed ‘Blessings of the Cross’ by Robert Martin Walker, published 12/10 by Abingdon Press. It is a Lent study based on the Revised Common Lectionary. I’m looking forward to using this resource to help me stay focused during the season of Lent. The Scriptures will parallel those of the worship service each week. The fellowship and discussion mid-week is good for me, to meditate deeply on the teaching from Sunday. Advent and Lent are my favorite times in the church year; I love the extended focus and depth that these seasons bring to Christmas and Easter.

  • http://www.chadelliott.wordpress.com Chad

    Scott, great topic. My wife and are members of a Nazarene church, and our former pastor greatly encouraged us to consider the great historical traditions associated with the Lenten season. I’m quite excited about it this year, because the Nazarene Publishing House has released Ashes to Fire, a devotion for the period from Lent to Pentecost, with a whole host of programs and materials available for Nazarene churches to make use of for the spiritual growth of their members.

  • Kyle

    Does anyone know where we can find a good list of suggested reading for lent?

  • Sterling

    I will be leading my church in a Bible Study Curriculum based on Richard Stearns book, “The Hole in the Gospel.” I think that it is a great book for Lent.

  • NancyS

    Our congregation will be participating in 40 Days of Prayer and reading “Unbinding Your Heart” by Martha Grace Reese.

  • http://sarahinprocess.wordpress.com Sarah

    “A Clean Heart Create in Me: Daily Lenten Reflections from C.S. Lewis.” It’s an excellent little booklet that my pastor used last year. I found my own copy from http://www.creativecommunications.com.

  • http://communityofjesus.wordpress.com/ Ted M. Gossard

    I was just getting into the 40 day book, again. Maybe I’ll do both! Of course by Lent I’ll have the One Life book.

  • http://fillmeuplord.blogspot.com Lived in Wien!

    I love the Lenten readings of Henri Nouwen.

  • http://fillmeuplord.blogspot.com Lived in Wien!

    That should be WRITINGS.

  • http://about.me/danielsims Daniel

    This Lenten season I will be reading Pope Benedict’s book on Jesus – Jesus of Nazareth. Excited.

  • Randall

    I’ve ordered Steven Cherry’s _Barefoot Disciple_, the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Lenten book for 2011. I’ve followed the good archbishop’s recommendations before and not been disappointed.


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