I know what you are thinking. Easter is AGES away. You're right. It is. Even though there have been hot cross buns in the shops since January (I promised myself I wouldn't get on my soapbox...oops...) and the shelves are filling with Easter eggs (although why you would buy chocolate eggs in this heat is beyond me), even still, there are a good seven weeks until Easter. But Lent, the forty days plus Sundays preceding Easter - the time, if you choose to observe it for preparing your heart and mind for Easter - begins next Wednesday.
Like my friend Amy, I have grown up in a church tradition that doesn't really observe Lent and I didn't know much about it. Like Amy, we do lots in the month leading up to Christmas (Advent) but precious little when it comes to the lead up to Easter. Which seems wrong. Because Easter is so important.
To redress that situation I have made my humble attempts. This post is the second most visited post on my blog to date. Maybe that is because others also feel this imbalance. (Or maybe you just wanted to make yourself feel better when you read about my failed attempts!!)
If you are after something to help you to prepare for Easter (personally or with your family), the lovely Amy has come to our rescue with her BRAND NEW BOOK Lord Have Mercy: Discovering Jesus in the Days Before Easter - a Family Devotional Guide for Lent.
She begins with a helpful introduction on Lent, covering its history and how we might rightly apply it today - "rending our hearts, not our garments, in repentance to Him."
What then follows is forty short studies, one for each day of Lent, not including Sundays. Forty studies in forty days??? Overwhelmed before you even start? Amy is a busy mother of five children. She knows. And she is here to help.
Amy has arranged the studies by week. Each week's studies covers a different aspect of Christ's ministry. She has provided a reference for a short reading from the Bible and then a series of questions (with answers!) If you start late, start on the current day's study. Can't manage every single day? Even if you only do some of the studies each week you will get a sense of the theme being covered. Can't fit in a discussion with all the family some evenings? Quickly talk through the main points that would have hopefully come out of the discussion, had you had it. Obviously the more you do, the better and richer the experience. But if you can't do it all, then some is good. Amy sets before us a realistic and flexible programme because she appreciates and knows what it is like.
The weekly themes are...
Week one - We need God's mercy.
Week two - Jesus is holy, we are not.
Week three - Jesus is God and has the power to heal and save.
Week four - Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of Man.
Week five - Jesus is glorious.
Week six - Jesus is the Only Saviour.
Week seven (Holy Week a.k.a. the week leading up to Easter) - Jesus Christ, God's Annointed One.
For all you up to date people with a Kindle, you can get Lord Have Mercy HERE for $US3! If you have an eReader that isn't a Kindle then Amy has some instructions, which she has put in the comments below, as to how you can get this book successfully onto your gadget. (This technology is WAY beyond my understanding but those who have eyes to see will understand.) And if you prefer to hold a book in your hand, in recent days it has become available in that format HERE.
As I said earlier, this book is brand new. I haven't road tested it. I haven't read all the way through it as yet. But what I have read I love. And I have read Amy's blog for maybe three years now, chatted with her via email, prayed for her, asked her to pray for me and know her to be a growing, flourishing, intentional Christian wife, mother, daughter and friend. Amy loves Jesus and her greatest desire is that her children will grow up strong in their love for the Lord as well. This book wells up from that desire.