Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Lenten Bible Study

Often Lent is viewed as a time to put away luxuries of life for a little while or to put aside self-indulgence - but not too seriously. Chocolate goes for a few weeks, but is back again permanently after Easter. Seems to me this does us little real benefit.

Lent is a good time to consider our ways and to form new habits more conformed to the image of Christ. Prune back the thorns that choke out your productive branches. If you want to lose weight, don't just fast frequently during Lent. Form a habit of eating less, and remind yourself when the hunger pangs come, that your strength for the day comes from God, not simply from the food you eat.

One of my Lenten observances this year is to become more regular in my communications with you. I'd like to begin by offering a preview of the Lenten series of devotions I'm writing. So here's installment one, a little background on Lent and the use of the Lectionary on which these Bible Studies are based.

My writing will improve if you comment. Perhaps that could be one of your Lenten observances: cease lurking and speak up!

Beauty for Ashes

Daily Devotions for the Lenten Season

These devotional meditations are based on the readings organized in the lectionary found at www.oremus.org. The lectionary is perhaps the first Christian Bible study manual, compiling parallel and thematically related passages of Scripture from the Psalms, the Old Testament and the New Testament in a daily reading regimen that covers the entire Bible in a three-year cycle. This tradition of readings stretches all the way back to the ancient synagogues’ practice of reading through the Torah, so as to acquaint the people with as much of the Scripture as possible.

Hearing the antiphonal voices of Old Testament echoing New Testament themes gives extraordinary richness to familiar passages. We are enabled to capture the reverberations of Old Testament stories in the nuances of those densely-packed New Testament narratives and analyses. Seeing what those Old Testament events foreshadowed in the New Testament helps to make sense of some of the odd consequences of seemingly minor events in those first events (For instance, why was it so important for Moses not to strike the rock that poured out water for Israel in the wilderness, so important that because he disobeyed, he was barred from entering the Promised Land?).

This particular series of readings is from Year C of the Revised Common Lectionary, which pairs Luke’s Gospel with the Old Testament prophets. The Revised Common Lectionary is used by Protestant churches across the English-speaking world.

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