Book Review: Lent

The Lenten Season is now behind us, but just this morning I finished a book I started in the beginning of Lent. The book is conspicuously titled Lent (Free PDF of Book). The book published in 1902 is composed of 30 short articles by 30 Protestant Episcopal Bishops.

These are fairly conservative Bishops, unlike what one may find in the modern Episcopal landscape.

The book deals with a variety of Lenten themes. Among them is the consistent themes of preparation and discipline. Lent is a time of testing. A testing–though not equally–like unto the testing of Jesus in the wilderness for 40 days. Lent requires a sacred desire to examine oneself in light of God’s Word.

The 40 days of Lent serve as a time of self-control. The Lenten man is purposeful about those sins that have overtaken him. It is not as if he has not considered his sins outside the season of Lent, but that the season provides greater opportunities to look deeply into one’s walk in the gospel.

The book also offered warnings. Some may treat Lent as the only period of self-examination and good works, thereby acting carelessly throughout the rest of the Church year, but as St. Paul so clearly states: “God forbid that we continue to live in sin!”

The Church also provides with its various liturgical services extra opportunities for repentance and sacred living. “Repentance,” as Luther observed in his 95 theses, “is the life of the Christian” (paraphrase).

Lent is a necessary season for the Christian. If all is feasting then feasting is mundane. But Lent teaches us that the reason feasting is such a fundamental part of Christian existence is because fasting exists. There can be no glory without cross. There can be no empty tomb without the crown of thorns. So too, there can be no rejoicing without repentance.

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