Lent begins on March 1st this year, con­sid­er­ably lat­er than last year’s ear­ly Feb­ru­ary start. The tim­ing is a good oppor­tu­ni­ty to con­sid­er the fact that the word Lent” comes from the Old Eng­lish word for spring.” As right­ly as we might asso­ciate Lent with death, we would do well to remem­ber that it’s a spring­ly sort of death — akin, per­haps, to the way the death of a seed is nec­es­sary to the blos­som­ing of a flower.

C. S. Lewis is one of the voic­es that reminds us that the invi­ta­tion to die is real­ly the invi­ta­tion to life. Con­sid­er what he says about self-denial in the open­ing words of his famous ser­mon, The Weight of Glory.” 

If you asked twen­ty good [per­sons] today what they thought the high­est of the virtues, nine­teen of them would reply, Unselfish­ness. But if you had asked almost any of the great Chris­tians of old [they] would have replied, Love. You see what has hap­pened? A neg­a­tive term has been sub­sti­tut­ed for a pos­i­tive, and this is of more than philo­log­i­cal impor­tance. The neg­a­tive ide­al of Unselfish­ness car­ries with it the sug­ges­tion not pri­mar­i­ly of secur­ing good things for oth­ers, but of going with­out them our­selves, as if our absti­nence and not their hap­pi­ness was the impor­tant point. I do not think this is the Chris­t­ian virtue of Love. The New Tes­ta­ment has a lot to say about self-denial, but not about self-denial as an end in itself.

Some Help Along the Way 

As we ready our­selves for this dual move­ment of death and res­ur­rec­tion — self-denial and love — Ren­o­varé is pleased to once again offer our two Ren­o­varé Lenten devotionals. 

Dying: Dis­ci­plines of Abstinence

Less is More: A Lenten Guide for Per­son­al Renew­al helps us make space by prompt­ing inten­tion­al reflec­tion on the aspects of our lives that stand in the way of walk­ing in God’s spir­it. Each week, a clas­sic spir­i­tu­al dis­ci­pline pro­vides the entry point for self-exam­i­na­tion, God reflec­tion, and god­ly action. 

  • Con­fes­sion: Less Guilt/​More Grace 
  • Soli­tude: Less Noise/​More Listening 
  • Fast­ing: Less Consumption/​More Compassion 
  • Sim­plic­i­ty: Less Stuff/​More Freedom 
  • Fru­gal­i­ty: Less Spending/​More Peace 
  • Inter­ces­sion: Less Me/​More Others 
  • Reflec­tive Read­ing of Holy Week Sto­ry: Less Fear/​More Love 

Liv­ing: Dis­ci­plines of Engagement

Engage: A Lenten Guide for Spir­i­tu­al Growth helps us pre­pare for the dance of res­ur­rec­tion” by invit­ing us into a week-by-week jour­ney of engagement. 

  • Ash Wednes­day Week: Submission 
  • Week One: Study 
  • Week Two: Worship 
  • Week Three: Celebration 
  • Week Four: Service 
  • Week Five: Community 
  • Holy Week
  • East­er Sunday 

How­ev­er you pre­pare for Lent this year, our hope is that you will arrive at East­er pro­found­ly ready to par­tic­i­pate in the res­ur­rec­tion. In the mean­time, we offer this prayer, adapt­ed from Hen­ri Nouwen’s book A Cry for Mer­cy: Prayers from the Genesee:

Yes, Lord, we have to die — with you, through you, and in you — and thus become ready to rec­og­nize you when you appear to us in your Res­ur­rec­tion. There is so much in us that needs to die: false attach­ments, greed and anger, impa­tience and stingi­ness.… We see clear­ly now how lit­tle we have died with you, real­ly gone your way and been faith­ful to it. O Lord, make this Lenten sea­son dif­fer­ent from the oth­er ones. Let us find you again. Amen. 

📚 The 2022 – 23 Ren­o­varé Book Club

This year’s nine-month, soul-shap­ing jour­ney fea­tures four books, old and new, prayer­ful­ly curat­ed by Ren­o­varé. Now under­way and there’s still time to join.

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