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Tuesday, February 18, 2014

"Lent for Everyone - Matthew Year A" (N T Wright)

TITLE: Lent for Everyone: Matthew, Year A
AUTHOR: N T Wright
PUBLISHER: Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 2013, (174 pages).

Lent is an important season of the Christian Church calendar. It comprises 40 days of preparation, waiting, remembrance of Christ's death at the cross and the celebration of the resurrection of Jesus at Easter. The Lent For Everyone series comprises of Year A (Matthew), Year B (Mark), and Year C (Luke). All written by the former bishop of Durham, renowned scholar and theologian NT Wright has given us a very readable, simple and theologically penetrating reflection on the gospels through the season of Lent.

Beginning with Ash Wednesday, the devotional does not end until the week after Easter. For Year A, Wright lets the gospel of Matthew guide our understanding and reflection on Christ's person, Christ's mission, Christ's work, and Christ's fulfilment of the promises of God. For each day, Wright begins with a selected portion of Scripture. While broadly the readings will cover big chunks of Scripture each day, readers get to focus on a smaller passage that enables deeper meditation on the Lenten theme. For example, at Ash Wednesday, while the readings suggest the first two chapters of Matthew, the focus is actually on the birth narrative, and especially the very difficult decision Joseph had to make. It suggests that Lent itself is not an easy period for Jesus. Right from the start, Wright sets the stage.

On Sundays, Wright selects several Psalms to give readers a pause from the gospel. Themes of forgiveness and repentance, hope and trust; Joy; and clinging onto the promises of God are adopted. For Holy Week, I sense an intentional inclusion of larger chunks of the biblical narrative to let the Word of God speak for itself. It is meant to be read slowly and with much care. The prayers at the end are also very brief. In fact, one way to use it is to let the Scriptures be read meditatively and prayerfully.

This is one of the best resources for laypersons to use this Lent. A devotional should not be too heavy going that people easily fall asleep. Neither should it be too light that one does not find it meaty enough. Wright has taken care to do a fine balance to render it just right for most of us, if not everyone.

Rating: 5 stars of 5.


This book is provided to me courtesy of Westminster John Knox Press and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions offered above are mine unless otherwise stated or implied.

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