Increasingly in recent years, Lent has been rediscovered as a sacred time of reflection and renewal in its own right and a time of preparation for the seasonal finale that is Easter Day.
Picking out the right Lent course can be tricky and there is certainly a lot to choose from. To help you, this year members of the Outreach Team based at Church House have handpicked 12 Lent resources that will appeal to individuals, families, and churches.
Clinging to the Cross
By Bishop Mark Tanner, 2023
Bishop Mark’s recently published book has been written and released to be used as a Lent Course in the Diocese of Chester.
The book, titled Clinging to the Cross is the first of three books in a series called Between the Stones and the Firelight.
As well as being offered as a Lent Course, the book could also be used as study material in any context, as a group or alone.
Accompanying the book, Bishops Mark, Julie, and Sam will be recording a series of podcasts on the material, and there is a suite of recorded reflections on biblical passages.
In these podcasts, the bishops reflect together on specific chapters from Bishop Mark’s latest book. They explore biblical resources for living faithfully in complex times and have been prompted in part by the conclusion of the Church of England’s Living in Love and Faith project.
Download the podcast resources from the diocesan website: Clinging to the Cross - Diocese of Chester (anglican.org)
Dust and Glory
The Archbishop of Canterbury’s Lent Book 2023
This Lent we are all invited to explore how we can live well with the mess of everyday life.
Dust and Glory encourages us to take a fresh look at the frustrations and failings that every day brings and, rather than pretending we can always avoid them, seek to learn from them and grow closer to God through them.
Dust and Glory: A Lent journey of faith, failure and forgiveness is the Church of England’s Lent theme for 2023. This year’s resources are informed and inspired by the Archbishop of Canterbury’s 2023 Lent Book, Failure: What Jesus said about sin, mistakes and messing stuff up (SPCK) by Bishop Emma Ineson, who has also co-written the daily reflections booklet for adults (CHP).
There will be free online support for groups studying the book – including in-depth video interviews with the Archbishop of Canterbury and others exploring the themes of each of the chapters.
Images of Grace, a Lent book from the Bible Reading Fellowship
"At the heart of the Christian message is a collection of abstract nouns: love; sin; forgiveness; grace. It is quite difficult to explain what the gospel message is without using some or all of those words. But the problem with abstract nouns is that when we use them, we assume that the person we are talking to understands them, and not only that, we assume that they have the same understanding of the word that we do…"
Lent is traditionally a time of repentance, fasting and prayer as we prepare to celebrate our salvation at Easter. Through daily readings and reflections from Ash Wednesday to Easter Day, Amy Scott Robinson explores different biblical images of repentance, sin, forgiveness and grace, bringing them together in Holy Week as a lens through which to view Christ’s work of reconciliation on the cross.
‘Amy is an expert storyteller, a well of emotion and reflection, and a follower of Jesus with a deep, genuine hunger for the reality of God.’ - Adrian Plass, author and speaker
Images of Grace is published by BRF
Following Christ in the footsteps of the Saints – guided by the story of St. Winefride/Gwenffrewi
Churches Together in Britain and Ireland
A study from the Mission Theology Advisory Group (MTAG), drawing on material prepared for a 70-mile pilgrimage from Holywell, Wales, to Shrewsbury after Easter this year (see the Lichfield Diocese website for details).
There is a path through the materials that focusses on the scripture for the day, and also one that takes you more deeply into the traditional accounts of St Winefride, whose story has many touchpoints with our modern world – sexual harassment and coercion, misuse of power, the place of faith and the right to follow Jesus, and the contemporary need for healing and hope.
You can follow either ‘path’, or mix and match them, but each session has five ‘stations’: a conversation starter; something to talk about together; something to reflect on; something to do; and something to deepen our Christian lives as disciples as we seek to follow Jesus Christ more faithfully. The final station concludes with prayer.
More details and the material can be found here: https://ctbi.org.uk/lent-study-2022/
Previous CCTBI courses are also available: https://ctbi.org.uk/category/spirituality-and-reflection/lent-courses/
You Can Be Serious! Meeting Jesus afresh in John's Gospel
York Course 2023
by David Wilbourne
This inspiring York Course on John’s Gospel, the most mysterious of all the gospel accounts of the life of Christ, invites us to meet Jesus afresh . . . an ideal study for Lent or any time of the year
Life on the Breadline
Based on three years of research and conversations, led by a team including Church Action on Poverty, and academics from the Centre for Trust, Peace and Social Relations at Coventry University, the Lincoln Theological Institute at Manchester University, and the University of Winchester.
The course consists of six sessions covering:
- Christian responses to poverty
- “Love thy neighbour” – poverty and inequality
- Race, ethnicity, austerity, and faith
- Deficits and assets
- Housing (in)justice
- Poverty and structural inequality
Each session starts with a short video to stimulate discussion, followed by a short reflection time on the video. Some scripture passages lead into a guided reflection, followed by a wider discussion. The final section prompts thoughts on practical actions before turning to prayer to end each session.
You can find the material here: https://breadlineresearch.coventry.ac.uk/churches/lent-course/
Life on the Frontline & Fruitfulness on the Frontline
London Institute of Contemporary Christianity
£5 (digital version)
These are two separate courses that help participants think through what it means to be a Christian in the everyday world and equip people to live as faithful disciples wherever they are Monday – Saturday.
The two courses use a mixture of research, videos, and discussion to help broaden people’s horizons for everyday discipleship.
Church House ran the course online in 2021 and it was very well received.
Living in Love and Faith
Church of England
Living in Love and Faith, is a major new exploration of Christian teaching and learning about identity, sexuality, relationships, and marriage. The LLF course aims to help Christians think more deeply about what it means to be human. It provides a structured and accessible way for local groups to engage in and reflect on the issues at hand. Each of the five sessions explores one key topic, with an opening reflection about learning together, followed by teaching, time for discussion, and Bible study. The sessions end with an invitation to reflect on our learning, bringing it to God in prayer.
As well as providing notes for leading groups, the course signposts relevant chapters in the Living in Love and Faith book, films, podcasts, and other digital resources available via www.churchofengland.org/LLF where you can also find a video version of the course.
Loved and Liked
Written by Peter Hill, in collaboration with The Fuel Cast and Gloucester Diocese
Designed as a ‘prequel’ to the LICC Fruitfulness on the Frontline course, Loved and Liked aims to enable people to explore who they are as diverse individuals inhabiting different stories and carrying different joys and hurts. It invites participants to dare to discover yet more of the God who knows us by name, loves us and calls us to go on becoming who we have been created to be.
Discovering our unique identity cannot be separated from exploring who we are as people created to live in relationship with God, neighbour and creation in many different contexts, past and present, and it is hoped that the group interaction of the course will engage both the head and heart amid questions, challenges and encouragement. It is not a course seeking right answers but rather an invitation to take risks as we respond to Jesus Christ’s offer of life in all its fullness wherever we find ourselves and in whatever circumstances.
The course explores the following five questions:
- Journey - Am I on a journey or is this it?
- Identity - Am I the wrong person or in the wrong place?
- Story - What is my story so far?
- Called - If that’s true, what next?
- Equipped - Shall I just try harder?
There is then a sixth session to review what has been learned in order to celebrate and encourage one another. This could be held around Pentecost or later in the year.
There is a mix of video, bible readings, discussion and prayer, lasting around 1 ½ hours.
The resources are available at: https://www.lovedandliked.life/
Meals with Jesus: A journey through Luke’s gospel for the whole family
Written by Ed Drew, The Good Book Company
Encounter Jesus in the pages of Scripture with these easy-to-use 10-minute daily devotions for families. Explore nine meals that Jesus shared with people in Luke’s gospel, from lunch with Levi, to supper in Emmaus. Sit with him at the table, ask your deepest questions and hear Jesus speak.
These discussion-based devotionals include differentiated questions for 3-4s, 5-7’s, 7-12’s, teens, and adults. At just ten minutes each, they are an achievable joy, not an unrealistic burden.
An Ocean of Grace: A Journey to Easter with Great Voices from the Past
Written by Tim Chester, The Good Book Company
Reflect on Jesus in the run-up to Easter with this inspiring collection of daily devotions and prayers from great Christian writers of the past, each bringing a special focus to the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. These are designed for personal study, but might be appreciated by a small group reflecting on them at intervals through Lent.
Sharing the Easter Story: from reading to living the gospel
Written by Sally Welch, BRF
In this year’s BRF Lent book, Sally Welch explores two questions: What is the Easter story really about, and how do we share it?
Through each week of Lent, a different aspect of the Easter story is examined: repenting, forgiving, hoping, trusting, sacrificing, loving and changing.
Within each week, the days are focussed on what we need to do in order to share the story: listening, understanding, reflecting, living, telling, sharing and becoming. Each day offers a Bible passage, followed by a reflection and a prayer. Suggestions for group study and group study questions are also included.
Hope Together, The Church of England, Kingsgate Community Church and the Evangelical Alliance
A short, easily accessible course to help everyone share their faith naturally and relevantly. It will inspire you to share your faith and will give you practical suggestions to help you as you talk about Jesus with the people you meet.
Conversations with Christians are one of the most important influences in bringing people to faith. In this course, there are six encouraging, video-based sessions with short films, inspirational, short testimonies, real-life examples from people who are talking Jesus, and a short, easy-to-follow course book.
There is plenty of chance to discuss with others, and for everyone to feel more confident in sharing their faith. Based on research, this course from Hope Together, the Church of England and the Evangelical Alliance, is accessible and useful for churches of all traditions. See www.talkingjesus.org for details.
Church House officers are currently running this course online. It's not too late to join in. If interested, register here.
The Growing Good Toolkit
Church Urban Fund
This is a free six-session course helping churches explore the connection between social action, discipleship and growth.
The Growing Good Toolkit is a resource that equips your church to grow new connections and make a difference where you live. It is available to view, download and share with your church this Lent. You can use it online or at church, in-home groups or bible study groups.
It will help individuals and church groups grow in faithfulness and fruitfulness as part of our call to love our neighbours and seek justice. Find out more about Growing Good here.