God for Us: Rediscovering the Meaning of Lent and Easter Edited by Greg Pennoyer & Gregory Wolfe
God for Us is a wonderful collection of essays on the meaning of Lent and Easter written by a great host of writers, including writers, priests, a poet, and professors. The book is stunningly enhanced by incorporating famous works of art throughout the chapters as a way of illuminating the message or theme of the piece. Each reading includes a few Scripture readings, identification of the day of the church calendar, a short explanation, prayer, and work of art depicting that chapter. Whether you worship in a church with high or low liturgy, this book will expand your appreciation for the Lenten and Eastern season which mirror the life of Christ.
The powerful reminder coming through in this book was the fact that we are all on a journey. Commenting on Shrove Tuesday and Lent, Richard Rohr writes, “Lent is intended to lead us into an always hidden future and an always greater opportunity, and it is in truth – a future created by God – but still unknown to us. We now enter Lent with a new and open horizon, ready to both expect and work for God’s ever new springtime.” (6) There is a combination of feasting and fasting that is part of the Lenten season that connects with this hidden future. We don’t know the exact outcome of the future but we work for the Lord with an expectant spirit knowing that He is good and has our good in mind. The dual nature of letting go of the things that hinder our worship and taking on the practices that draw us near to God remind us that change is possible, even in the time being. Richard reminds us in his prayer of the eschatological dimension of our journey in his prayer, writing, “May we never lose hope in the eternal spring that you have promised to all of creation in a “new heaven and a new earth.” (7) This chapter includes Pieter Brueghel’s The Peasant Dance which joyously illuminates the feasting side before the Lenten season.
Luci Shaw picks upon the unique way the Bible uses narrative and literary devices to reveal its Maker. She writes, “How energizing it is that the Bible is pierced through and through with metaphor, analogy, parable, simile, comparison. God is saying, “This is how I bring my truth into your human reality.” (123) The Mighty God is evidenced in very concrete metaphors and images. Rocks, forts, lions, and forts are just a few of the ways God is described by the biblical writers. Based upon John 9, Luci brings out the story of Jesus in a poem called The Sighting. The initial lines are worth repeating, “Out of the shaem of spittle/the scratch of dire, /he made an anointing.” (124) The descriptors here bring forth the story of Jesus in his anointing clearly and wonderfully, Even more, recognizing the provocative way Scripture uses imagery and metaphor, this language helps us along the way through Lent. We groan at times at the demand of such a season but realize that in the Lord’s Supper Jesus offers himself as the Bread of Life. We eagerly anticipate the rejoicing of Resurrection Sunday as we look forward to the Supper of the Lamb. These images and concrete reminders help us along the way in our journey of faith.
This collection of essays on Lent and Easter were a breath of fresh air for me. The paintings provided in each chapter were also remarkable expressions of way people have envisioned the faith. I think all will find something to resonate with in these pages, not least because they help us on our journey of faith.
Thanks to Paraclete Press for the copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.