It’s been a messy few years. The climate catastrophe, a lingering pandemic and persistent inequality all make it hard to resist the pull of pessimism. Is there hope? Always. Lent is a time to examine the mess we’re in and to repent, believing that transformation and rebirth are on the other side. In the spirit of the liturgical season, we’ve chosen three standout new devotionals to help you embrace the ancient wisdom of the Lenten journey, abstain from cynicism and renew your faith.
Edited by Alydia Smith
United Church Publishing House
Editor Alydia Smith advocates for the kind of courage that American congressman and activist John Lewis recommended — good trouble that builds beloved community. In her words, “Courage is heart speech.” If you’re feeling angsty in these uncertain times, this book will shore you up. It’s full of what Smith calls “courageous (s)heroes: people who have had the courage to follow their hearts, to hope against hope, and to faithfully work towards a better world.” Far from pious or pollyannish, the contributors reveal that courage is born from struggle, not strength, and offer valuable hard-won wisdom.
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By Brian Kaylor, Angela Parker and Beau Underwood
Is there a better time than Lent, the season of repentance and promise, to explore what it means to love justice, and to examine the injustice in our lives? Not according to the writers of this bold devotional, who maintain that Lent was always meant to be radical. If you’re tired of Lenten studies that stick to the personal — as if it weren’t intimately tied to the political — then you’ll appreciate the invitation to lean into the spiritual work of demanding justice. The authors remind us that age-old religious concepts like self-denial and sacrifice were always intended to have a public, communal component.
By Anne Cumings
Upper Room Books
Those wanting to show their bodies some radical self-love this Lent will appreciate this body-positive devotional. Geared specifically to women, the book flies in the face of a long Christian tradition of using Lent as a way to punish our bodies through restrictive diets. In saying yes to both body and spirit, author Anne Cumings creates a space for readers to heal from shame-based diet culture and to better connect with their faith, recalling that God showed up in human flesh. All bodies — not just thin, white, cisgender and non-disabled ones — are sacred in these pages. All are reclaimed as ways of encountering the divine.
Julie McGonegal is an associate editor at Broadview.
This story first appeared in Broadview’s March 2023 issue.
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