Finding Our Way Back with Christ: Four pathways for preaching Lent

I recently wrote an article for Preaching Today on approaches to preaching during Lent. I explore the following ways to preach Lent:

  • A Call to Repentance
  • Facing into the Darkness of Human Experience
  • Journey through the Longings of the Human Heart
  • Follow the Journey of Jesus

This is a parallel article to my “Recovering the Wonder of Christmas: Four pathways for preaching during Advent.” Both of these articles on preaching during seasons of the Christian year flow out of my earlier article “Time Touching Eternity: Preaching through the Christian Year.”

While it is behind a paywall, you can read the entire article here. Here is an excerpt from the beginning of the article:

Several years ago, our family traveled by road from our home in the Midwest to Montreal and Quebec City. While we enjoyed seeing the new sights, including road signs and business names written in French, navigating the roads was a challenge at times. On our way to explore the city of Montreal, I followed the GPS navigation, taking a sharp turn through a construction zone only to suddenly discover I was driving the wrong direction on a one-way road. After a few sharp exclamations and some evasive maneuvers, we turned around and made our way safely to our final destination.

Sometimes when we get turned around in life. It can happen through quick decisions that dramatically turn us around or through slow and almost imperceptible changes that lead us off-course. When this occurs, we need to take action, reorient ourselves, and get back on track. Unfortunately, we do not always know how to do this, what action we should take, or what direction we should follow.

In the spiritual life, the Christian year is a resource to help us take action and find our way back on course. With steady attention on the life of Christ and framed within the story of the church, the Christian year literally forms our days around Christ’s days through a series of seasons and celebrations.[1] In a more focused way, the season of Lent dramatically reorients us around Jesus’ journey to the Cross with a forty-day period (not including Sundays) of preparation, beginning with Ash Wednesday and culminating in the Passion or Holy Week.

This journey echoes the forty-year journey of Israel to the Promised Land and Jesus’ forty days of temptation in the wilderness, intending to lead us into deeper engagement with God. We turn from ourselves and turn to God. We repent of sin, lament our brokenness, and enter the fires of refining. This extended journey allows us to enter slow time with Christ and his suffering before we leap into our celebration of the Resurrection at Easter.

As preachers, we have a unique opportunity to help our congregations see how lost we are and how much we need Jesus. Our preaching offers a reorientation, new direction, and the way to get back on track by God’s grace with Jesus as the center.

I am going to offer us four pathways for preaching in Lent so that our congregations can find their way back through Christ.

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