'No better way to journey through Lent'
Looking for a new resource to help you journey through Lent? Our reviewers assess some of the latest titles
Songs of the Spirit by Megan Daffern
This book on the Psalms by Megan Daffern is a classic Lent book. Each day during Lent, starting from Ash Wednesday and culminating on Easter Saturday, is assigned a Psalm.
Each individual reading starts with the author’s own translation of the psalm from the Hebrew, and this is one of the enormous strengths of this book. Daffern’s translations are fresh and arresting, and the combination of careful scholarship with a deep personal faith has resulted in translations which are a delight to read.
The psalm is then followed by a commentary, which usually runs to two or three pages.
Finally, each daily reading ends with a question, such as “Who are shepherds in our society?” for Psalm 23, or “Do you have angry thoughts and feelings you can hand over to God?” for Psalm 137.
This book is heartily recommended to all those who wish to enrich their Lenten journey in 2018. There can be no better way to journey through Lent than to root our prayer life in the Psalms, and Megan Daffern is a wise and knowledgeable guide on this journey.
Read the full review by Rosa Hunt here
The Art of Lent: A painting a day from Ash Wednesday to Easter
By Sister Wendy Beckett
In this beautiful, full colour, pocket size book Sister Wendy Beckett’s short daily reflections invite us to prayerfully consider some of the timeless questions of the Lenten narrative such as, how do I choose and surrender to joy or embrace courage, even in the midst of powerlessness and suffering? Or what does is mean for me to live a meaningful life, what passions and sacrifices bring me peace and enable me to live fruitfully?
Sister Wendy, well known for her poignant understanding of art works through her BBC documentaries and best selling books, brings alive 40 of the worlds greatest paintings using her knowledge of the scriptures and her prayerful observance of daily life. Themes of silence, humility, peace, joy, confidence and love are accompanied by both contemporary and traditional art works and a depth of wisdom gained from her many years of study, contemplative prayer and intercession, centred on the self emptying life of Jesus.
This little gem is the perfect gift for those who are on the fringes of church as well as for those of us who want to explore alternative and creative ways of journeying through the coming season of Lent.
Read the full review by Lesley Sutton here
Lent Talks: A collection of broadcasts by Nick Baines, Giles Fraser, Bonnie Greer, Alexander McCall Smith, James Runcie and Ann Widdecombe
This slim volume – 65 pages – bearing the BBC Radio4 logo features the distilled thoughts of two crime writers, a playwright, a former cabinet minister, a bishop and a parish priest. What emerges is as varied as the contributors themselves and often unorthodox, but nevertheless thought-provoking.
A strength of the book are the five Questions For Reflection which conclude each talk and allow the major ideas presented to be chewed over. They enable Lent to not only be observed but harnessed as a time for profound thinking – drinking in, as well as giving up.
This can be a tool for the Christian who wishes to come at the familiar events of the Passion from a fresh angle.
Read the full review by Martin Poole here
The Way of the Carmelites by James McCaffrey
A helpful introduction to Carmelite thinking. The book consists of six chapters explaining various aspects of Carmelite life: the Rule, the heritage of Elijah, reading scriptures with Mary (Lectio Divina), Terseian spirituality (prayer), the love that leads to Calvary, and the Holy Spirit. Each chapter ends with three questions to reflect on.
There are some useful aspects such as the explanation of Lectio Divina.
However, the subtitle of the book is “a prayer journey through Lent”, and within two sentences the author admits that Carmelites rarely if ever speak about Lent. I came away from reading this book with more knowledge about Carmelite saints than ideas on Lenten practice. Perhaps those more in the Catholic tradition might more easily make links.
Read the full review by Jeannie Kendall here
Resources for Lent and Easter - a list of resources compiled by the Evangelical Alliance