Media Matters: Lent books
Jesus' miracles, parables among studies for Lent
You've just finished storing the Christmas wreaths and candles, the Epiphany stars are shining brightly, your committees are forming—and it's time to begin choosing the devotional books and studies you and your church will use during Lent. Ash Wednesday is Feb. 13.
The Upper Room and Cokesbury are introducing five new studies this year.
Upper Room Books, www.upperroom.org/bookstore
The Rev. Wessel Bentley wrote the reflections for the book and for the online retreat sponsored by The Upper Room and www.beadisciple.com. The retreat begins Feb. 13 and continues through Holy Saturday, March 30. Retreatants participate as their schedules allow.
Ordained in the Methodist Church of Southern Africa, Bentley asks readers to consider the needs, challenges, hurts or hopes they share with the people Jesus healed and transformed. Jesus' miracles are complex events, Bentley says, of healing, multiplication or resurrection, but they also challenged attitudes and beliefs.
Each daily reading begins with Scripture followed by the Bentley's reflections, a prayer and a prayer focus.
Abingdon Press, www.cokesbury.com
Many Christians give up something during Lent as an act of sacrifice and spiritual discipline. Often, it is something they can again enjoy when Easter arrives. The Rev. James W. Moore challenges readers to eliminate one destructive habit or attitude. Consider giving up envy, jealousy, self-pity, apathy, procrastination, gossip, resentment or negative thinking, he writes.
Individuals can use the 40 days of Lent to prepare to give up something bad while embracing fully the good news of Easter. The group study includes seven sessions, one for each Sunday in Lent and Easter Sunday. Each features a Scripture, a personal reading and questions for reflection or group study.
Give Up Something Bad for Lent is available as a print book or e-book
The cold, gray part of life, which is death, is as inevitable as the season of winter, the Rev. Mark D. Price reminds readers. No one can skip it and go straight to spring and the Resurrection, because this journey travels through the valley of the shadow of death.
Following the Way, available as a print or e-book, leads readers through the Revised Common Lectionary Scripture readings for Lent, Year C. The leader's guide, written by Nan Duerling, contains Bible background and suggestions for group activities.
Upper Room Books
"For those new to the Lenten journey, (Jesus' parables) give access to the holy through the ordinary," says the Rev. John Indemark. "For those who have navigated this season many times, they allow an opportunity to experience Lent from a different perspective."
Parables and Passion users will reflect on one parable each day during Lent and one thematic chapter per week. The prologue offers a reading for Ash Wednesday, while the epilogue provides readings for the final days of Holy Week. This six-week study includes a leader's guide.
The Upper Room
Renowned author Henri Nouwen offers a welcome message for our chaotic times: "Come home to God, and you will no longer feel like a stranger to yourself or the world." Editor John S. Mogabab has drawn selections from Nouwen's more than 40 books that explore seven facets of Christian discipleship: conversion, freedom, solidarity, suffering, joy, prayer and service.
The study is for both individuals and groups wanting a deeper understanding of discipleship.
The Rev. Kathy Noble, editor, Interpreter and Interpreter OnLine.