Illustration: Juliana Crownover
An Invitation to a Holy Lent
Amidst all the busyness and difficulties of life, Lent affords us the opportunity to slow down, to pray and to prepare to celebrate the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. As always, the better the preparation the more effective the celebration.
As Christians, we seek to emulate Christ by spending forty days undertaking certain spiritual disciplines. Each year, we are invited “to the observance of a holy Lent, by self-examination, and repentance; by prayer, fasting, and self-denial; and by reading and meditating on God’s holy Word” (BCP, p. 265).
Traditionally, Christians will choose something to abstain from during the Lenten season. It matters less what we choose to live without and more that we focus our hearts and minds toward the love and grace extended to us. Rigorous discipline profits little without opening our hearts to receive what the Holy Spirit has to give us.
This Lent, we will focus on five of God’s Promises and how you can find meaning in them.
These promises will be incorporated into the sermons throughout the Lenten season; Sunday School classes for students will be centered on purpose-driven curriculum as it relates to these promises; kids will receive devotionals that will link together these promises like a chain; adult Sunday school classes and growth groups will integrate elements of these promises in their study and programs; and for the first time in the history of this parish, you will be offered a daily devotional book created and written just for you.
This devotional is designed to help you with your Lenten disciplines. It offers daily Scripture readings, illuminating narratives, thought-provoking questions, and real-world applications. We encourage you to use it in whatever way you find helpful. However you decide to approach this season, we pray that God will reveal Himself to you in a new and fresh way.
About the book
This Lenten devotional is designed to help you meet with God, but it’s also designed to be realistic. Each lesson contains a series of texts that should take about fifteen minutes to read. The flow of the texts follows an ancient Lectionary whose roots, in various forms, trace back all the way to the fifth Century. In other words, this devotional tracks how the Church has observed Lent for centuries.
Each day presents a short set of readings from the Bible, usually just a few verses. Accompanying these readings is a brief introduction. After this, comes a set of reflection questions, a comment section to tie things together and some suggested applications. There are six days of lessons for each week since Sunday is always a feast day.
Let these texts be a spur to reflection and to opening yourself up to God. Think of this devotional as the introduction to a conversation you might have with God, with friends, with clergy, with whomever you choose. The applications listed at the end of each lesson are purposely designed to be diverse enough to give you various opportunities to put these lessons into action. If you find an activity you like, then by all means, keep doing it throughout Lent and beyond.
While there are many Lenten books and studies already available in the marketplace, we felt compelled to meet the needs that you specifically expressed to us in the church-wide survey you took less than a year ago. The data from that survey revealed our areas of excellence and our areas of needed growth. Two of the greatest opportunities identified for us to develop were 1) knowledge of the Bible and the authority of scripture and 2) spending time daily with God in solitude.
This daily devotional serves as an excellent way to advance our spiritual formation by specifically addressing these two areas. If you desire a deeper walk with God, this is going to take some work, just like anything else in life. God will meet you if you’ll consistently meet with him in a spirit of humility and repentance.
We are unbelievably blessed with a talented author among us here at Incarnation. Kevin Dodge worked diligently with us to create a stimulating and approachable tool to help foster and deepen our relationship with Jesus Christ. We are forever grateful for his dedication to this church and his commitment to the Great Commission of Jesus Christ to “go out into the world and make disciples.”
Many of you may know Kevin Dodge by some of his other literary works on the spiritual life, including Confessions of a Bishop: A Guide to Augustine’s Confessions and Reading Dante: A Theological Paraphrase of the Inferno. He holds an MBA from Harvard Business School and a ThM with Highest Honors from Dallas Theological Seminary.
The book, titled: An Invitation to a Holy Lent: A Devotional, will be available for purchase in the coming weeks. Look for the books on stands throughout the welcome center toward the end of January. The cost of the book has been offset to make it extremely affordable to all at $9 each. Please plan to purchase a copy for yourself and possibly as a gift for a friend or family member you think would enjoy embarking on this journey as well.
About the cover artist: Juliana Crownover is an award-winning artist of more than 30 years who has also been teaching art for 16. She is a member of the Pastel Society of the Southwest, and the Outdoor Painters Society. For the last four summers, Crownover has been artist in residence at Ghost Ranch in New Mexico.
“I use light and color to bring out beauty in everyday life. In that way I use my art as a reminder of where to find beauty all around us, and to slow down in our daily lives so that we may see it,” says of her work.
Crownover holds BA in Biology, Art, and Environmental Studies from Austin College. Learn more at paintandsimple.com.
Lent I (Week of Feb 14)
Promise: God is with us.
Purpose: Work for the common good.
Lent II (Week of Feb 21)
Promise: We are God’s family.
Purpose: Live for the Body of Christ.
Lent III (Week of Feb 28)
Promise: God’s people are saved.
Purpose: Rely on Christ.
Lent IV (Week of March 6)
Promise: We are empowered to reconcile.
Purpose: Be peacemakers.
Lent V (Week of March 13)
Promise: We are forgiven.