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5 books for your Lenten journey

Need some daily reading to inspire you during Lent? Here are five suggestions, including a book from Dietrich Bonhoeffer.

God Is on the CrossGod Is on the Cross by Dietrich Bonhoeffer

I compiled this Bonhoeffer devotional myself, so you can take any endorsement I give here with a grain of salt. But it was a great privilege to immerse myself for a time in the theologian’s reflections on suffering, self-denial, and the atonement. I hope you feel the same. As one reader put it, “Lent is about giving up our comfort to show Christ that He is the most important thing to us. I can think of few things that could aid us in sacrificial living during lent than to spend it in a jail cell beside Dietrich Bonhoeffer as we pray, read Scripture and seek God together.”

breadandwineenBread and Wine: Readings for Lent and Easter (compilation)

I can’t locate this book on my shelves right now and it’s making me anxious, because how will I get through the season without this standby? This has been my go-to Lenten resource for several years. Some of my favorite writers are in this lovely compilation: “C.S. Lewis, G.K. Chesterton, Philip Yancey, Madeline L’Engle, Henri Nouwen, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, John Donne, Thomas Merton, St. Augustine, Mother Teresa, John Updike, Leo Tolstoy, Fyodor Dostoevsky, and many others.” As Publishers Weekly said, “Caveat lector: no one should have this much pleasure during Lent!”

City of GodCity of God: Faith in the Streets by Sara Miles

This book just came out a few weeks ago, so it’s the newest suggestion on my list. Unlike the others, it’s not arranged for daily readings, but is appropriate for Lent as a kind of day-in-the-life narrative of an Episcopal priest on Ash Wednesday as she goes out into the streets of San Francisco to do the imposition of ashes for anyone who asks. “Though the Bible describes people trying to demonstrate their sorrow before God through rituals like fasting, wearing sackcloth, and pouring ashes on their heads, prophets like the ones we read aloud on Ash Wednesday insist these acts do not constitute repentance unless there’s a real change in behavior,” she writes. “Repentance requires paying attention to others, and learning to love, even a little bit, what God loves so much: the whole screwed-up world, this holy city, the people God created to be his own.”

god-for-us-rediscovering-the-meaning-of-lent-and-easter-6God for Us: Rediscovering the Meaning of Lent and Easter, edited by Greg Pennoyer and Gregory Wolfe

Like the Bread and Wine compilation, this book features reflections from well-known spirituality writers (Richard Rohr, Lauren Winner, Luci Shaw, Kathleen Norris, Ronald Rolheiser, etc.). Unlike Bread and Wine, this is a full-color extravaganza with gorgeous sacred art to augment your Lenten experience. So you’ll find illustrations by Peter Brueghel, Paul Gauguin, Edvard Much, El Greco, John LaFarge, Marc Chagall, Fra Angelico, Vincent van Gogh and many others. If your tastes run to the visual as well as the literary, this is a fine daily devotional for you.

Followers of the Cross MM3Followers of the Cross by Martin Marty

This little devotional is just 99 cents on the Kindle right now, so I thought I’d mention it. It’s based on a print pamphlet that Martin Marty compiled for Lent, with very short daily entries that are intended to be readable in just two minutes. Martin Marty, who is a Lutheran pastor as well as a well-known historian of American religion, writes beautifully and accessibly.