Lent begins next Wednesday, February 10. For your own spiritual practice during this season, please find at the end of this post a link to a free Lenten devotional, Come Back to Jesus, in which I have an entry. The devotional was put together by Chris Gehrz, a professor at nearby Bethel University in St. Paul, Minnesota. Writers of the devotional were readers of the book that he and co-author Mark Pattie have recently written, The Pietist Option: Hope for the Renewal of Christianity, published by IVP Academic. I'm happy to say that I had the privilege of writing the entry for the 5th Sunday in Lent, March 18.
Several years ago I attended a seminar taught by Gehrz on the topic of Pietism, a religious movement that emerged in the late 1600s. What I learned that weekend helped me fill in pieces of history to better understand the church denomination that I belong to and was raised in. The Covenant church, which grew out of the Lutheran Church of Sweden during the great "spiritual awakening" of the nineteenth century, was particularly influenced by the Pietism movement, which in turn was influenced by Lutheranism, mysticism and late medieval Catholicism, reformed protestantism, and anabaptism. Pietism has an emphasis on devotional practice, particularly the practice of hope. In fact, hope is the central Pietist virtue. (When I learned that I got a shiver given that my current book-in-progress is on hope.)
In The Pietist Option, Pattie writes, "This decision to put one's faith in God and so to allow hope in the fulfillment of God's promises to blossom and bear the fruit of love is at the heart of the Pietist option.... A living faith out of which hope springs up, inspiring love, directing life, and reshaping the world."
May you enjoy this Lenten devotional. Here’s the link. Please feel free to share the file if you'd like; it has a Creative Commons non-commercial license. (For those of you who receive this post through email subscription, I'm not sure if the link will be active in your inbox. You may have to click through to the web version.)
I also encourage you to read Chris and Mark's book!
[Photo: taken of art at a local coffee shop at which I sometimes write.]