A Lenten Study
In the Christian tradition, Lent is the forty days leading up to Easter Sunday and is a nice spread of time to do more intensive work on a particular topic. Many ministry contexts do specific topics or read books for those forty days to give a short-term obtainable goal.
One potential book for your ministry context to use is Rev. DJ del Rosario’s book Wind in the Wilderness, which is specifically written as a Lenten study. Here’s the Amazon Kindle version and here’s the Cokesbury link. DJ (twitter) has been a friend of mine since he recruited me to teach at Exploration 2011, a discernment event for young adults considering ordained ministry in The United Methodist Church. So I was eager to sit down and engage his work.
DJ is a United Methodist pastor in Bothell, Washington, a city close to the Seattle metropolis. The context is important as DJ uses a ton of urban northwest imagery: skyscrapers, running marathons, Starbucks, going to concerts, the city’s huge Christmas Tree, and other events that speak to the northwestern experience, or perhaps just the urban experience. But his everyday connection to commonly held experiences is also evident in the personal stories, like momentarily losing one of his three daughters in a crowd. I found the examples sermon-worthy (I outright stole how he described skyscrapers for a future sermon!) and relevant.
The book has good biblical study and engagement of the prophets. I had read very little of the conflict between Zedekiah and Jeremiah, so that conflict was helpful to be outlined and drawn out. My favorite chapter was on Jonah “nine words that changed everything.” I appreciated DJ’s take on the prophet who didn’t believe in himself or believed the people should be saved, but was flabbergasted when they actually responded to his words. Each chapter ends with questions suitable for a small group or personal study.
The challenge for people wanting to be prophetic is in articulating not only what we are against (racism, sexism, etc) but also who we are for (refugees, etc). I think DJ does well advocating for who and not just railing against the what. It’s a tricky balance of naming the powers and principalities while also lifting up where you find solid ground, and any study on the prophets has to engage it to be credible. The final chapter uses the image of “if a tree falls in the forest, does it make a sound” which leads to our role to be prophets, to make the sound, to be the credible witnesses to Christ, and to encourage others to go and see. A great Easter Sunday ending to a Lenten season.
I enjoyed the study and would recommend it for personal or small group use.
Thoughts on this study?
(Disclosure: I received a review copy to offer an unbiased review, and book links are referral links)