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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars God for Us: Rediscovering the Meaning of Lent and Easter, January 10, 2014
This review is from: God for Us: Rediscovering the Meaning of Lent and Easter (Hardcover)
God for Us: Rediscovering the Meaning of Lent and Easter Edited by Greg Pennoyer and Gregory Wolfe

God for Us is a wonderful collection of essays on the meaning of Lent and Easter written by a great host of writers, including writers, priests, a poet, and professors. The book is stunningly enhanced by incorporating famous works of art throughout the chapters as a way of illuminating the message or theme of the piece. Each reading includes a few Scripture readings, identification of the day of the church calendar, a short explanation, prayer, and work of art depicting that chapter. Whether you worship in a church with high or low liturgy, this book will expand your appreciation for the Lenten and Eastern season which mirror the life of Christ.

The powerful reminder coming through in this book was the fact that we are all on a journey. Commenting on Shrove Tuesday and Lent, Richard Rohr writes, “Lent is intended to lead us into an always hidden future and an always greater opportunity, and it is in truth – a future created by God – but still unknown to us. We now enter Lent with a new and open horizon, ready to both expect and work for God’s ever new springtime.” (6) There is a combination of feasting and fasting that is part of the Lenten season that connects with this hidden future. We don’t know the exact outcome of the future but we work for the Lord with an expectant spirit knowing that He is good and has our good in mind. The dual nature of letting go of the things that hinder our worship and taking on the practices that draw us near to God remind us that change is possible, even in the time being. Richard reminds us in his prayer of the eschatological dimension of our journey in his prayer, writing, “May we never lose hope in the eternal spring that you have promised to all of creation in a “new heaven and a new earth.” (7) This chapter includes Pieter Brueghel’s The Peasant Dance which joyously illuminates the feasting side before the Lenten season.

Luci Shaw picks upon the unique way the Bible uses narrative and literary devices to reveal its Maker. She writes, “How energizing it is that the Bible is pierced through and through with metaphor, analogy, parable, simile, comparison. God is saying, “This is how I bring my truth into your human reality.” (123) The Mighty God is evidenced in very concrete metaphors and images. Rocks, forts, lions, and forts are just a few of the ways God is described by the biblical writers. Based upon John 9, Luci brings out the story of Jesus in a poem called The Sighting. The initial lines are worth repeating, “Out of the shaem of spittle/the scratch of dire, /he made an anointing.” (124) The descriptors here bring forth the story of Jesus in his anointing clearly and wonderfully, Even more, recognizing the provocative way Scripture uses imagery and metaphor, this language helps us along the way through Lent. We groan at times at the demand of such a season but realize that in the Lord’s Supper Jesus offers himself as the Bread of Life. We eagerly anticipate the rejoicing of Resurrection Sunday as we look forward to the Supper of the Lamb. These images and concrete reminders help us along the way in our journey of faith.

This collection of essays on Lent and Easter were a breath of fresh air for me. The paintings provided in each chapter were also remarkable expressions of way people have envisioned the faith. I think all will find something to resonate with in these pages, not least because they help us on our journey of faith.

Thanks to Paraclete Press for the copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars My Choice For Lent 2014, January 28, 2014
By 
James R. V. Matichuk (Birch Bay, Washington) - See all my reviews
This review is from: God for Us: Rediscovering the Meaning of Lent and Easter (Hardcover)
he past couple of years my Lenten practice has been enriched by books from Paraclete Press. Two years ago I prayed the daily offices from the Prayer Book of the Early Christians through Lent. Last year my wife and I read Seeking His Mind: 40 Meetings With Christ by M. Basil Pennington as part of our evening devotions.I was on the hunt for a good reader for Lent this year and was excited by Paraclete’s latest offering, God For Us: Rediscovering the Meaning of Lent and Easter. I am highly impressed and excited about this! I have read God With Us, the companion volume to this book which explores the meaning of Advent and Christmas. So I had some inkling of what to expect when I opened the book.

However, I was ill-prepared for how beautiful this book is. It is a hardcover book with ribbon bookmarks. Inside, it has inside a stunning collection of art work. Icons, religious art, landscapes, and still life which deepen our experience of Jesus life, death and resurrection. The art is well chosen to illustrate the readings, they are not just pretty pictures. I counted over a hundred paintings, in a variety of styles but mostly from the Western European tradition.

God For Us is edited by Greg Pennoyer and Gregory Wolfe (of Image Journal). Pennoyer and Wolfe have assembled an impressive list of of Christian writers and poets which include the likes of Richard Rohr, Lauren Winner, Scott Cairns, James Schaap, Luci Shaw, and Kathleen Norris. There is a preface from Greg Pennoyer and an introduction by Ronald Rolheiser, OMI. Beth Bevis opens the volume with a section on the history of Lent and has fourteen other articles which punctuate the text. These authors share a commitment to Christ and they are all great writers (five of which are personal favorites). However they also represent a range of church traditions. They are Catholic, Orthodox, Episcopalian, Presbyterian (maybe more–I don’t know the denominational affiliation of James Schaap or Beth Bevis).

Each week of Lent has daily readings by one of these contributors. Richard Rohr writes the entries from Shrove Tuesday to the Saturday of the first full week of Lent (a week-and-a-half’s worth). Lauren Winner covers week two; Scott Cairns, week three, James Schaap , week four; Luci Shaw, week five; and Kathleen Norris covers Holy Week and Easter Sunday. Bevis’s articles introduce each of the weeks as well as important feast and fast days. The daily entries are each about two days long, reflect on the daily lectionary and close with a brief printed prayer. This a substantive devotional which opens up the contributors’ own practice of Lent. The literary gifts of the authors ensures that this devotional

I really like the format for this book. Reading one author for a week and then changing to the next, provides both continuity and variety. Beth Bevis’s articles illumiate aspects of church tradition (i.e. Lent as the season of Baptismal preparation, differences between practices East and West, etc.). This gives a rooted-ness and framework for the rest of the book. I love how well this book is crafted!

As I look over this book I am grateful for a book that helps me press fully into the meaning of the season. I will be reading this through Lent and would love some friends to read this with. So if you are shopping for a Lenten devotional, perhaps we can read in community and go through this together.

Thank you to Paraclete Press for Providing me a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars meets a large need, December 29, 2013
By 
Doug (Columbia, SC, United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: God for Us: Rediscovering the Meaning of Lent and Easter (Hardcover)
Like its companion volume, God with us, these two facilitate fulfilling a desire to cultivate personal depth during the two particularly intense times of every year, Christmas and Easter. Wonderful concept well offered and completed if I use it.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Heirloom Quality Lenten/Easter Devotional Resource, February 18, 2014
By 
Jeff Borden (Pacific Northwest) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: God for Us: Rediscovering the Meaning of Lent and Easter (Hardcover)
Paraclete Press has done it again! God For Us is another heirloom quality devotional written, crafted, and printed in the same beautiful spirit as God With Us.

God For Us is as its subtitle suggests, a devotional focused on the Liturgical season of Lent and Easter. Paraclete Press with Editors Greg Pennoyer and Gregory Wolfe have gathered together some of the most well respected Christian writers (Beth Bevis, Scott Cairns, Kathleen Norris, James Schaap, Luci Shaw, Richard Rohr, Ronald Rolheiser, and Lauren F. Winner) from the modern day and assembled their writings into a theme that helps us draw closer to God with our reflections upon this most holy Lenten and Easter Season.

As I mentioned earlier, this is truly an heirloom quality book and very sturdy. It is hardbound with glossy, heavy gauge paper. Paraclete Press has also thoughtfully included a couple ribbon markers for place keeping. The book could easily stand on the devotional writing alone, but the inclusion of Christian art spanning 1500 years makes this work truly rise above other seasonal devotional books.

Another feature of this style of devotional writing (perhaps it would be better to refer to this book as part of a series) is the all-in-one approach to teaching and practice. The book appeals to many different learning styles as it incorporates history, art, poetry, prayers, liturgy, and Scripture to hopefully engage as many of the senses as the reader allows engaging.

The flow of the book follows the Lenten-Easter season in full, beginning with Shrove Tuesday and Ash Wednesday, proceeding through the Lenten Calendar, landing on Palm Sunday, entering Holy Week, the Holy Tridium (Good Friday, Holy Saturday, Easter/Pascha), completion of the journey on Easter Sunday.

The book is completed with a very thorough notes section that details every resource used throughout the devotions. There is also a nice biographical section for the contributing authors and a resource guide for every illustration shown in the book.

This is a marvelous and very attractive resource for one of the most sobering and beautiful seasons of the Church Calendar. If you have been wondering what you might use as a devotional resource for yourself or your family, this might be worth your consideration. There is still plenty time to order and receive the book from online retailers before the Lenten Season begins. Amazon.com is retailing the book for just around $20.00 before tax and shipping. In my opinion, this stunningly handsome book is well worth that price and then some. Thanks go out to Paraclete Press for another winning devotional guide!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another good one in the series, March 1, 2014
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This review is from: God for Us: Rediscovering the Meaning of Lent and Easter (Hardcover)
I love the format of these. I have the Advent/Christmas one as well. These are well done and will be used over and over each liturgical season.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A Beautiful Book in every way, April 7, 2014
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This review is from: God for Us: Rediscovering the Meaning of Lent and Easter (Hardcover)
This collection of writings and art has been a wonderful addition to our Lenten devotions. Three contributors, Rolheiser, Rohr and Norris, were known to me and this drew me to purchase the book. Just opening it the first time convinced me to order another copy for a friend. The format is perfect for making complete use of its resources. History of the Lenten season and observances leads into each week's offering. The art pages are rich in color and illustrate the text beautifully, allowing these paintings to further enrich one's experience. I love that the book includes a glossary of where each work can be found. And each writer of the daily readings provides a week of devotional focus relating their personal observations to Scripture and Lent. I write this in the 5th week with every expectation of finishing the journey better prepared to celebrate the Resurrection once again.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful. Just Wonderful!, April 7, 2014
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This review is from: God for Us: Rediscovering the Meaning of Lent and Easter (Hardcover)
I looked for a Lenten resource that incorporated more of the broad scope of thought in Christendom. I was not disappointed by this ! The readings follow the Revised Common Lectionary. The art brings new depth and beauty to the texts. And the wisdom of the authors, as well as skillful editing and publishing, make it a volume that I will use again and again. I am delighted with this resource and it has been a blessing for me during this Lenten season.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Inspirational., April 4, 2014
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This review is from: God for Us: Rediscovering the Meaning of Lent and Easter (Hardcover)
I look forward to each day's reading and meditation and the beautiful art. It is a real inspiration for the Lenten season.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Perfect, March 31, 2014
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BRH (Louisville, KY USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: God for Us: Rediscovering the Meaning of Lent and Easter (Hardcover)
This book is a lovely and inspitational addition to my spiritual library. It would be a lovely gift too. The art work alone will touch you.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A Serious Lenten Devotional Study, March 29, 2014
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Sugar Bear (West Fork, AR USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: God for Us: Rediscovering the Meaning of Lent and Easter (Hardcover)
This is truly the most meaningful Lenten devotion I have ever used. I very much look forward to reading it every day. I take notes and highlight sentences or phrases that resonate with me. Due to this, I also ordered the Devotions for Advent and Christmas by the same 2 editors and look forward to Advent to read it, also.
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God for Us: Rediscovering the Meaning of Lent and Easter
God for Us: Rediscovering the Meaning of Lent and Easter by Scott Cairns (Hardcover - December 1, 2013)
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