“I imagine Lent for you and for me as a great departure from the greedy, anxious anti-neighbourliness of our economy, a great departure from our exclusionary politics that fears the other, a great departure from self-indulgent consumerism that devours creation. And then an arrival in a new neighborhood, because it is a gift to be simple, it is a gift to be free; it is a gift to come down where we ought to be.”
The longheld festival of Lent mirrors the time Jesus spent in the wildnerness without food and without company. The gospel writers say that the Spirt of God led Jesus into this departure from home, community and family. It was not a movement to be resisted but instead a season where Jesus shaped and formed much of what was to come in his life. English artists Stanley Spencer thought as much, depicting scenes from this wildnerness period which then reflected on into the things Jesus said in his teaching ministry. Below is one of his most famous works "Consider the Lillies" where a plump Jesus looks wonderously at a flower in this midst of his wilderness experience. In the midst of barren nothingness, can you imagine the beauty and splendour of a flower and where perhaps Jesus took his inspiration? Lent maybe enables us to embrace simple gifts as Brueggemann suggests - to newly find wonder and to arrive at somewhere new.
This Lent we wanted to issue a challenge for Lent this year that was both simple and we hope, a profound journey for each of us - a Silence Challenge. Our friends at Space to Breathe have been working for some time to introduce people to the practice of silence - many have got on board and seen really effects on their daily lives.
This Lent they've created a special Silence pack called Entering Silence and its free on the site till Easter. The challenge is simple. How about spending five minutes in silence each day during Lent and seeing what happens.
Many non-religious voices are now getting on the silence bandwagon with studies suggesting it aids blood pressure, stress, sleep and general wellbeing. Two studies have even noted that cells grow in the Hippocampus area of the brain as a result of being silence (see Space to Breathe's article for more info.)
However, silence has also long been a spiritual tradition - a cave of the heart if you like. Silence can provide a wonderful space in each of us where God can take up residence and speak to us. Why not give it a try - download the pack for free today.
Each Lent we're amazed at the way 40 by Si Smith & Chris Goan continues to connect with Proost regulars. Take a look at 40 Book and 40 the video to explore this wonderful creation and the way it helps people through this season.
40 Temptations by Ian Adams is a beautiful resource is in the mould of Give Me a Drink and other reflective downloads from Ian. It takes us beyond a simple understanding of temptation to consider our inner and more subconcious darkness. Then far from running away from the dark he encourages us to embrace it and to sanctify it - sometimes even discovering gifts within it. These reflections were part of Ian's own Lent journey in 2015 so have a practical power which shines through. Take a look at the product page and we really recommend this lovely set of meditations.
If you're looking for Lent resources then do check out our Seasons tab and go to Lent or to Good Friday/Easter. In those sections you'll find other resources like Francis:Stories and Reflections by Andy Freeman, 40 Thoughts by Tim Watson, Restless by Tim Snyder or Where are You? by Jon Birch. These resources are specifically focused on this season and we know have proved so helpful to people in the past.
New on the site this month is Enter Exodus by the Plural Guild. This is a Lent resource put together by this Chicago based collective who are behind band The Many who also fature on the site this month. Exodus is a beautifully crafted journey through Lent with reflections, music and devotional aspects. Its well designed and a deeply challenging read.
Lastly a big thank you to the many of you who access Proost through a Get it All subscription. This enables users to access everything on the site for one year. We wanted to say thank you to those who do this - we appreciate you more than you know.
As Lent begins we wish you a lovely meal of pancakes, God's blessing in your departure into the wildness and a happy heart as you reflect on who you are and who God is. Every blessing.
The Proost Team