There are many ways to observe Lent, but in whatever way we choose, we should be intentional about coming closer to Christ and deepening our understanding of what He has done for each of us through His death and resurrection. The Easter season is different from Christmastime in that we do not have the pressure of decorating, gift buying, holiday parties and big family meals that so often robs us of time to prepare our hearts for the birth of our savior. But at the same time, because we are not involved in those extra activities, Easter can sneak up on us. We can find ourselves just as unprepared for the true meaning that is to be ours in the celebration and observance of this most holy church season.
That is why I am excited to recommend several resources from Wesleyan Women on the RENEW team.
Kris Key recommends two books by Max Lucado. In Six Hours One Friday, Lucado delves into the meaning of Jesus’ last hours on the cross. The reviews I found on the web of this book were very moving and heartfelt. On reviewer writes, “The way Max Lucado portrays the cross and how our father must have felt with his son on the cross gave me chills and brought me to tears throughout the book, especially the last page. As a parent, I simply can’t imagine.
You might also want to consider He Chose the Nails, an in depth look at what Jesus did for us. In this book Lucado writes about how much Jesus loved us – a love that led him to choose the cross. In this book you will find a discussion of the symbols such as the crown of thorns, the burial clothes, the sign of the cross, and many more. On reader describes this book as “very emotional and eye opening. This will most defiantly be a book I read every year!”
Karen Booth shared that every year she tries to read The Day Christ Died by Jim Bishop. The author approaches this day from the viewpoint of a journalistic historian rather than a theologian. In fact, the book reads like a narrative from a storybook. It is written in hourly increments and opens at 6 P.M. with Jesus and ten of the apostles coming through the pass between the Mt. of Olives and the Mt. of Offense in route to Jerusalem and the Last Supper. It closes at 4 P.M. of the following afternoon when Jesus was taken down from the cross. One cannot help but be drawn into the “most dramatic day in the history of the world – the day Jesus of Nazareth died.
Sara Anderson, chief operating officer at Bristol House Publishing (800-451-7323 or www.bristolhouseltd.com), has three suggestions for seven week studies that are not specifically for Lent but lend themselves well for growing closer to Christ and deepening our walk with Him.
Everyday Christian: Living Like Christ Seven Days a Week – encourages us to become followers of Christ, and invite God’s Spirit to infiltrate every area of our life, both inside and out. “Whether it be in our business practices, how we treat our family, how we react on the sports field, how we take care of our bodies, or how we treat God’s creation, our lives are to be consistently Christ-like and Holy Spirit-filled–no matter where we are or what we are doing.”
She also suggests Christian Disciplines: Creating Time and Space for God.
“Discipline is necessary to realize our desires and goals. It is the means to an end, a method of moving forward, a path toward a destination, a way of living that enables accomplishment….This study focuses on the Christian’s yearning for a deeper life in God and more faithful living out of faith in Jesus Christ.”
The Sower Went Out: And Other Parables of Jesus. This book gives fresh depth and meaning to seven parables; the sower, the good Samaritan, the prodigal son, the Pharisee and the tax collector, the wise and foolish builders, the workers in the vineyard and the ten virgins.
The one resource that has been very meaningful to me is Richard John Neuhaus’ Death on a Friday Afternoon: Meditations on the Last Words of Jesus from the Cross. Neuhaus devotes a chapter to each of the seven works of Christ from the cross. I have underlined so many deep insights as I have read and re-read this book. With each reading, my understanding of His death and resurrection is deepened as I am pulled into the drama of what is taking place on my behalf and the behalf of all humanity. In the Preface I found this quote, “…Good Friday is the key to understanding what Dante called “the love that moves the sun and all the other stars.” I can highly recommend this book.
During this Lenten season, The RENEW Team hopes these suggestions will help you to deepen your relationship with Jesus, your savior and help make this time of preparation indeed meaningful. In fact any time or season, these resources will enrich your walk.