The Lenten season may be an old tradition but it’s new to me. For the past couple years, I’ve added some new pieces to my participation in the forty days before Resurrection Sunday.
Last year, I attended my first Ash Wednesday service at a Catholic church and walked through the Stations of the Cross at an Episcopalian Church. What a significant time of reflection as we prepare our hearts to celebrate Easter morning.
This year, I found two books to add to my forty days of focus. One is Make Room: A Child’s Guide to Lent And Easter by Laura Alary. While I realize my daughter will develop her own faith traditions, I want her to be aware of all the various ways she can remember all her Lord and Savior has done for her. This book explains why Lent helps us remember.
First, it walks through what the church as a whole does to prepare during this season.
The Church is dressed in purple.
We count the days by snuffing out purple candles, one for each week.
Make Room also teaches us about what we can do as individuals or with our families during this season as well. Questions we can ask, artwork we can work on as an offering to God. Focus on how we treat other people. Find ways we can give.
Taking us through the events of Holy Week, the author explains how all the Lenten traditions we focus on help us “Make Room” for more of Jesus.
While the book is simple enough for a child, it unpacks the importance of participating in Lent very well.
For myself, I’ve been going through the devotional God For Us. I have the e-book but there is a coffee table style book that I’d recommend. The writing in this book is so rich it would make an excellent devotional year after year.
Each week starts out with a short history lesson of when the practice of Lent first began, where certain Lenten traditions came from or why we do certain things during Lent. I’ve learned a lot from these short pieces. Each day offers various Scripture readings. Then, various authors share their thoughts on the passages.
Here are a few excerpts:
If Advent/Christmas is a revelation of God’s presence with us, then Lent/Easter is a revelation of God’s desire to use all of life for our wholeness and our healing - the revelation that he will pull life from death. (Greg Penoyer)
I have clear memories of the Lenten seasons of my childhood. How strict that season was then! Fast and renunciation: no weddings, no dances, no parties, drinks and desserts only on Sunday, and generally less of everything that constitutes specialness and celebration. Churches were draped in purple. The colors were dark and the mood was penitential, but the feast that followed, Easter, was indeed special. (Ronald Rolheiser)
Much of the Lenten journey - the long and slow-moving services of the church, the dark vestments, and (most importantly) the coupling of prayer with fasting, and of fasting with almsgiving - has a way of quieting distractions and centering our minds within our hearts. (Scott Cairns)
Both books have been excellent additions to my Lenten practices. Incorporating these things into my Easter preparation has made my time celebrating Christ’s resurrection much sweeter.
I received a copy of Make Room: A Child's Guide To Lent And Easter, written by Laura Alary, and God For Us, edited by Gregory Wolfe and Greg Pennoyer, from netgalley.com for the purpose of generating a review. Italicized quotes are from the books ("Make Room" at top; "God For Us" at bottom). The opinions expressed here are my own.