I really love my job. I am privileged to travel around the state of Virginia to greet pastors, educators, and congregations in my work as Church Relations Officer and to extend gratitude for the relationships built between our respective institutions. In addition to preaching, making presentations and sharing about the exciting happenings on both campuses of Union Presbyterian Seminary, I am eager to listen for ways in which we, as a Seminary, can support congregations as a regional body for curriculum, enrichment and further study.
With this goal in mind, the following is our latest installment of resources for the upcoming Lenten Season! We may be half way through this first season of Ordinary time in our liturgical calendar, but you still have plenty of ordinary time to intentionally prepare for Lent.
Below, you will find printed materials, online sites and local events to assist pastors, educators, and all believers for this coming season of Lent. Many of the publications can be found online at your favorite book distributor.
*Please note that the publications and sites listed below represent my personal recommendations and should be treated as such. As always, we would love to hear your favorites so please make a comment below!
“Writing to God: 40 Days of Praying with My Pen” by Rachel G. Hackenburg (Paraclete Press, 2011)
I am not one to take time to sit and write. In fact, I find it incredibly challenging to stick to a regimen of journaling my thoughts, prayers or reflections in ministry. For this reason, Lent tends to be an excellent time to challenge myself to pray with my pen! This is an easy guide to praying with your pen, allowing God’s Spirit to move and to strip away insecurities about praying right or praying well. Challenge yourself to use a pen and not a pencil!
“40 Days, 40 Prayers, 40 Words” by Bruce Reyes-Chow (Westminster John Knox, 2016)
Short on time and attention? Join the club. As a new mom, I find it more difficult to center on daily practices for spiritual renewal as my little sprout grows. In my search for an applicable and accessible resource for Lenten study, I came across this gem from Bruce Reyes-Chow. Each devotion is centered upon a word inspired from the lectionary reading for that day, followed by a short reflection and prayer to summarize the study. Grab a cup of coffee and center in on God’s word for a fresh start to your morning.
“Lent for Everyone: Matthew, Year A” by N.T. Wright (Westminster John Knox, 2013)
Searching for a great study to use with a weekly group? Lent for Everyone is really for everyone. I found this study to be accessible for believers of all stages and walks in faith. Wright takes readers through the entirety of the Gospel of Matthew from Ash Wednesday through the week after Easter. Use this study alongside your favorite bible translation and reflect upon applications of the text to daily life. I have found this to be a real crowd-pleaser for both individual and group study!
“Make Room: A Child’s Guide to Lent and Easter” by Laura Alary (Paraclete Press, 2016)
This year I became a mother, but I have always been “Auntie” to 7 kiddos, ages 6-20. This year, I also became a Reverend so I am the go-to, theological resource person in my family (which is frightening and humbling all the same). In my search for practical resources for kiddos, I found this beautifully illustrated and thoughtfully written book for children ages 8-12 (but you know your child best so use discretion). Let’s face the facts: Lenten stories and themes can be difficult to understand and scary for some little ones. This resource offers concrete examples of Jesus life and ministry and challenges little hearts in practical ways: Making Time, Making Space and Making Room as we wait for Easter. Check this one out for yourself and see if it is a right fit for you and your family!
Reviews of books for children and youth are written by students, alumni, faculty and friends of Union Presbyterian Seminary. The reviews are created using a common set of evaluative questions developed by Dr. Pamela Mitchell-Legg which consider literary elements and style as well as theology, Scripture and faith questions that can be the used with different age groups.
I love Storypath for use with children and families. The link above connects to books chosen based upon Revised Common Lectionary (Year A) and will offer a book for each week of study during Lent. They are listed in chronological order. So head to your local library and check out these fabulous books to use with your little ones as you prepare for Easter.
Seasonal devotionals are written by alumni, faculty, staff, students, and trustees. Check back to this website and sign-up to receive daily scripture readings and meditations! You can also download the entirety of the devotions and print them for daily use. This is a fabulous resource to use individually, as a congregation, or at home with your family. Enjoy!
EVENTS* (For those within driving distance to Richmond, Va)
“Preaching for Lent” by Rev. Jill Duffield, Editor of the Presbyterian OUTLOOK and Dr. Steve Eason, Interim Pastor of First Presbyterian Church, Richmond.
Thursday, February 16th at Presbytery of The James office, 9:30am-12noon
Now we need your help!
*Is your Presbytery or local church hosting a Lenten Study Series or continuing education opportunity for pastors or educators?
Do you have a favorite Lenten publication or children’s resource you wish to share with others?
Sharing is caring! Comment below.
Rev. Nicole Childress Ball, Church Relations Officer