What's Your Lent Study Style?
Lent is a time of preparation for Easter, but it means different things to each of us. We prepare in different ways. Some focus on Jesus' time in the wilderness, some on Holy Week, others on Easter itself and what comes after. Whatever your style, there are studies to take you or your group on a meaningful path to Easter.
If it's less than seven weeks before the first Sunday succeeding the first full moon after the Spring Equinox, then it must be Lent! The liturgical seasons are important to you and you're so devoted to the lectionary you wonder if Jesus handed out a bibliography of Old Testament readings with every parable.
You prefer straightforward, Bible-based studies and devotions that engage the mind and touch the heart. You probably have your favorite Lenten study preordered already, but if not, you may want to check out Following the Way, Hope Beyond Your Tears, or Lent for Everyone: Luke, Year C.
Taize, candles, lectio divina . . . It's ancient-modern all the way for you, as you find meaning in simplicity, self-denial, fasting, and spiritual practices. Your focus on Jesus' time in the desert, resisting temptation, lends itself to a more austere observance culminating in meditation on Christ's suffering.
You'll love Simplifying the Soul, from Catholic author Paula Huston, a collection of daily practices for Lent that draws on the wisdom of the Desert Fathers and Mothers. And Holy Week just wouldn't be, well, holy, without walking the Stations of the Cross. Pray using The Stations of the Cross which includes photographs and meditations by Paul Hoffman, or Alfred McBride's The Challenge of the Cross, which includes a fifteenth station for the resurrection.
It's not Lent, it's our Easter series. Isn't Lent that stuff that gathers in your belly button? Christ is risen, so why focus so much on his suffering and death? For the seven weeks (or six, or four) leading up to Easter, you want to focus on what Christ's death and resurrection mean for us today. Themes of redemption and new life reign. Try Beth Moore's Breaking Free, J. Scott Duvall's New People Forever, or John Stott's LifeGuide Bible Study, The Cross.
The Jesus Journeyer
For you, Lent is all about following the path of Jesus, studying and discussing death and resurrection, sin and atonement. You embrace the roller coaster of Christ's final week in Jerusalem, pondering everything from the donkey Jesus rode in on to those war drums that end Mel Gibson's Passion of the Christ.
Lucky you, there are many studies available exploring Jesus' journey to the cross, many with a DVD component. Check out The Last Days of Jesus by Matt Williams, and two from Adam Hamilton: 24 Hours That Changed the World, and Final Words from the Cross.
If you're more focused on the actions and attitudes that got Jesus on the wanted poster in the first place, you may be an Activist. You're tired of giving up something for Lent—you want to give back instead, focusing on living out Jesus' values in the world. If this is you, you might like A Practical Christianity, meditations focused on a faith we "do," and you won't want to miss A Place at the Table: 40 Days of Solidarity with the Poor.
So what "style" are you?