Can It Already Be Lent Again?

Well, yes it can! It’s no use saying Epiphany was too short this year or I’m not ready for Lent. It is happening.

And I am disappointed!

Last year during Lent I sent out an email each day that used the book 40 Day Journey with Dietrich Bonhoffer to offer a quote from Dietrich Bonhoeffer along with a brief Scripture passage, a Psalm portion, some questions for reflection and journaling, suggestions for intercession and a very brief prayer. Most of the Bonhoeffer quotes came from Bonhoeffer’s The Cost of Discipleship and Life Together. It seemed to me this gave only one perspective on Bonhoeffer’s life and writings. I planned to do a Bonhoeffer mailing this Lent and use material from his Letters and Papers from Prison. A good thought on my part, but it isn’t happening. Hence my disappointment with myself, and my lack of follow through. I simply did not plan my time well enough to bring it about. I “hope” to offer such in the future.

So, what am I planning for Lent 2023?

I have decided to spend some time reading and working with selections from Devotional Classics by Richard Foster and James Bryan Smith.

The volume has 52 selections from both classical and contemporary writers who address a range of topics on spirituality. The readings are organized around what Foster calls the “six traditions or ‘streams’ that comprise a healthy and holistic life of faith.” I wonder if we might also call them “emphasizes” The six streams are –

  • The Prayer-Fill Life (The Contemplative Tradition)
  • The Virtuous Life (The Holiness Tradition)
  • The Spirit-Empowered Life (The Charismatic Tradition)
  • The Compassionate Life (The Social Justice Tradition)
  • The Word-Centered Life (The Evangelical Tradition)
  • The Sacramental Life (The Incarnational Tradition)

There are seven or eight selections for each stream and additionally there is a chapter entitled “Preparing for the Spiritual Life” which includes eight selections.

During the weeks of Lent I plan to spend a week with a selection from each of the seven sections.

And I want to read selections from writers who are not on my usual reading list. I began my reading on the 19th and I noticed that one of the readings in the section on “Preparing for the Spiritual Life” began on page 19. Well, my starting place was chosen. The reading is entitled “Engagement of the Heart” and the writer is Jonathan Edwards. I’m off to a “good” start. I have never read anything from Edwards except “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God.” I read that only because it was a required assignment in high school English.

The pattern for each selection is: (1) an introduction to the author; (2) the reading from the selected writer; (3) a Scripture selection; (4) reflection questions; (5) suggested exercises; (6) a reflection on the selected reading written by Richard Foster; and (7) a brief section entitled “Going Deeper’ which is a list of other works by or about the author of the selection.

As you can see the opportunity is offered to spend time with the selection and not to engage in “speed” reading.

Well, that’s what I’ll be doing in part during Lent. I plan to report back from time to time as to what I discover and maybe there will be an opportunity for some conversation.

What is on the horizon for you during Lent?

{ubi caritas et amor, Deus ibi est}

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