In my sermon this week, I spoke about a new introduction to Lent, written by an Anglican Pastor in Chicago by the name of Aaron Damiani. I found this book to be an extremely helpful resource for anyone who is new to the tradition of Lent and anyone who wishes to revitalize their thinking about the practice.
Up front I should say that the book is not a devotional. It certainly feeds the soul, but it is not designed as a journey through Lent. Rather, this is to help equip believers for the journey into Lent. It does, however, include a preview at the end of the first week of renowned author A.W. Tozer’s Lenten devotional.
The book really is a swiss army knife of Lenten preparation. He begins with a warm and personal introduction and often uses anecdotes from his own family and friends to describe what Lent looks like for beginners. He (like myself and so many) did not grow up with any awareness or practice of Lent, so there is no sense of condescension or presumption as he wades into the tradition.
This humble voice leads him to ‘make his case’ for Lent. He does not presume that everyone will just sign onto Lent because it is a traditional part of the faith. He looks at periods of fasting in the Bible, in church history, and gives a theological sketch of the intent of the season—what it is and (maybe more helpfully) what it is not. He even gives a sort of FAQ, answering common objections for those who may be resistant to what they see as needless asceticism or legalism.
Having made a clear and helpful case for why Lent exists and why its practice is relevant and crucial in our lives, Damiani doesn’t leave us on our own to wonder where to start. He offers a holistic overview of practices that goes way beyond just giving up a meal, but reminds Christians of the necessary entanglement of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. His suggestions will allow even the most timid to find a way into the wilderness.
We often make Lent into a lonely practice, taking a misdirected cue from Jesus’ warning against outward show and wrongly turning ourselves away from community. Damiani navigates this difficult conversation very practically, talking about how congregations and families can experience this season together.
Perhaps best of all, Damiani’s clear and conversational voice makes this book a very manageable read, meaning that there is still plenty of time to check this out as you enter into the wilderness of Lent yourself. Find the book on Amazon here, and check out the interview Damiani gave with our own C4SO Canon David Roseberry.