Resources for Lent and Easter

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We hope you find helpful these essays, sermons and stories for the Lenten and Easter seasons from Faith & Leadership.

Ash Wednesday

Amy Butler: Strangers seeking ashes
Reminders of our failures are all around us every day. Why seek them out? Why do we all seem to need Ash Wednesday so much?

George Mason: The astonishing hope in death
Ash Wednesday and the season of Lent invite us into radical noticing. It is in paying attention to what’s dead around us that we can be surprised by the hope of resurrection, writes the senior pastor of Wilshire Baptist Church.

Lisa Nichols Hickman: Get a little soapy
On Ash Wednesday, a writer learns how to make soap, reminding her that the journey from soil to soul requires the naming of ashes and the claiming of oil.

Beth Felker Jones: Gospel in the dirt
On Ash Wednesday, we can no longer hide the truth about ourselves: that we are God’s creatures, that we are broken, that the spotless and perfect life is a lie, writes a Wheaton College professor.

Jason Byassee: The humility of dust
Ash Wednesday reminds us to act with humility, remembering St. Augustine’s claim that repentance, not imitation of Christ, is the task of leaders.

Lent

Laura Stern: Life, against a backdrop of death
The historic cemeteries on the North Carolina island of Ocracoke prompt a pastor to consider the darkness of Lent.

Tim Keel: Grace, and the hopeful honesty of Lent
Unbidden and unexpected, Lent comes full of grace and truth, giving us time and space to face ourselves honestly and with hope, says the emerging-church pastor.

Michelle A. Gonzalez: Is shopping sinful?
The author of a book on a Christian approach to shopping considers the difficulties of truly embodying the Lenten spirit while living in a culture that fosters infinite desire.

Benjamin McNutt: Giving up my self-image for Lent
Sinking a Jeep into the waters of the Pacific Ocean forces a moment of reckoning for a college student who fancies himself limitless and self-sufficient.

Allison Backous Troy: Why I am not reading a book a week
After failing in her New Year’s resolution to read a book a week, a young writer realized that she needed to repent of the sin of pride. During Lent, she is approaching her reading practice with a different spirit.

Catherine A. Caimano: As alone as I ever am
In the lonely journey of Lent, we learn anew the real source of our power to change the world: our complete dependence upon God, says an Episcopal priest.

Marilyn McCord Adams: Lenten work
Lent calls us to our rightful mind, to the hard work of dismantling the defenses that divide us from others and that screen out the presence of God, says the theologian and philosopher.

Edgar Moore: The limits of ordinary vision
The church emphasizes Lent as a time of penitence and self-reflection because it has inherited from John the conviction that perceiving the in-breaking of the kingdom in the midst of the ordinary is foundational to its proclamation of the gospel.

Holy Week

Trygve David Johnson: The gravity of grace
The cross is a sign pointing to a reality that is even now framing this one, a reality that whispers that even in the midst of the sufferings of this present moment there is a glory yet to be revealed, says the dean of the chapel at Hope College.

Amy Butler: A meditation for Good Friday
On this darkest of days, as our souls crumble and our hearts break, we are handed the memory of a Savior who leaned over into the void of the darkness and refused to give in to despair, writes a D.C. pastor.

Jessica Bratt: Journeying with Jesus’ body
The narrative of Holy Week has something to offer to those who are too frightened to face the reality of death for fear that their intense grief may be purposeless or endless, says an RCA pastor.

Lisa G. Fischbeck: Liturgy in the public square
A North Carolina congregation takes Palm Sunday and Good Friday outdoors and discovers how it feels to publicly claim their identity as Christians.

Easter

C. Kavin Rowe: Why Easter needs Christmas
Remembering the story of Emmanuel at Easter helps us to remember that the way God chose to save was a way with us, writes the New Testament scholar.

Mark Ralls: In the creche and on the cross
Jesus begins and ends his life swaddled in strips of cloth -- a symbol in the ancient days of being cherished, writes the senior minister of Centenary United Methodist Church in Winston-Salem, N.C.

Bill J. Leonard: Moravian witness in a North Carolina city
The public witness of the Moravian Church influences and welcomes Christians from other faith traditions, says the professor at Wake Forest University.

Mark Ralls: He lingers in my presence
The first Easter unfolded quietly and slowly, writes a United Methodist pastor.

Jim Harnish: Who needs a savior?
The senior pastor of Hyde Park UMC says that the unfinished ending of Mark’s Gospel reminds us that Easter is not just the remembrance of something in the past. It is the good news that the risen savior is alive and is on the road ahead of us.

Ronald G. Luckey: ‘Well, what can you expect?’
Jesus is alive, and that means everything we have come to expect is up for grabs. Even the unexpected, says a Lexington, Ky., pastor.

Lillian Daniel: Busy, busy, busy
The story of Mary Magdalene at the tomb illustrates the importance of taking the time to live as we say we want to live.

Ellen Davis: Learning to believe
Practicing the forgiveness of sins is practicing resurrection; that is how we may come to believe that in the crucified and risen Lord, everything has changed, says the theologian and biblical scholar.

Dave Odom: Cultivating an Easter vision
Christian institutional leaders can see decay in their midst. A life with God calls us to journey past Good Friday into Easter.

Debbie Blue: Easter in body -- Roadkill, loathing and love
God doesn’t alleviate our fears of death by disembodying our souls but by joining us there, says a Minnesota pastor.

John Heinemeier: Grave robbing
Mary feared that grave robbers had taken Jesus’ body from the tomb. But it is God who robs graves and renders them useless, writes a North Carolina pastor.

 'The Lord is risen!'
The Moravian Easter sunrise service in Winston-Salem, N.C., is a public event featuring a brass band and thousands of worshippers. It is steeped in a 240-year-old, deeply theological tradition that shapes each new generation.

'We have been resurrected'
A few years ago, tiny Saint Cyprian’s Episcopal Church was dying. Today, to everyone’s surprise, it is beginning to thrive. It’s a testament to the work of dedicated lay leaders in the historically African-American congregation and a retired white Lutheran pastor.