Lent has traditionally been a period lasting 40 days (beginning Ash Wednesday) in the lead up to Easter. It’s a period of time that people have used to prepare for the celebration at Easter of Jesus’ death and resurrection. People would often fast for some of this time as a way to help focus on their spiritual needs and be reminded of those facing poverty and injustice. Whilst people often give up something in order to honour Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross for us, the early church also thought it was an important period to heighten our anticipation of the full impact of Easter (for now and when Jesus returns). Whilst this is of course a human tradition (particularly important to note after our look at Mark 7 last week!), it can sometimes be helpful to intentionally do something to prepare for Easter. Too often, in the busyness of life, these great celebrations are upon us before we’ve had a chance to think and pray about them. As part of your preparation (completely optional of course!), might I suggest reading one of the following books (I’ve personally found them very helpful in recent months) during Lent as a way of growing our relationship with God.
- A Doubter’s Guide to the Bible (by John Dickson): If you have doubts about the reliability of the Bible (or even if you don’t!), this is a really helpful book that provides an intelligent overview and approach by an Australian minister and historian.
- Prayer: Experiencing Awe and Intimacy and God (Timothy Keller): Every Christian struggles with prayer at some point in their life. This is a deep and helpful book that can help grow your prayer life.
- Simply Good News (N T Wright): A compelling and enlivening account of why the Gospel really is good news.