A Just Passion: A Six Week Lenten Journey, Ruth Haley Barton, Sheila Wise Rowe, Tish Harrison Warren, Terry M. Wildman, and others. Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2022.
Summary: A six week Lenten devotional consisting of brief excerpts from works by InterVarsity Press authors, scripture readings, and breath prayers, considering how, in the passion of Christ, we lament the injustices of the world, find healing in the redemptive work of Christ, and enter into Christ’s heart for justice for the oppressed.
Lent is a season of fasting (except on Sundays), where we begin by remembering that we will die, we lament our sins and those of the world and the impact of these on others. It is a time of repentance and drawing close again to Christ, walking in the way of his passion and anticipating the hope of Easter Sunday. For many, some form of Lenten devotional reading is a part of their practices from Ash Wednesday through Holy Saturday, the forty days of Lent.
A Just Passion follows in that tradition, offering readings for the forty days of Lent (Sundays excepted because Sunday is a feast and not fast day). The readings are drawn from the writings of InterVarsity Press authors, each reading of two short pages of reading. Among those included are Ruth Haley Barton, Tish Harrison, Warren, Eugene Peterson, Esau McCaulley, Sheila Wise Rowe, Dominique DuBois Gilliard, John Perkins, Tara Beth Leach, and Soong-Chan Rah, just to give you a sense of the stellar lineup represented here.
Also included in each week’s readings are a lectionary reading drawn from the First Nations Version of the New Testament, an English translation for indigenous peoples of North America, whose lead translator is Terry M. Wildman. One day each week includes a “breath prayer” in which we breathe in a short invitation or supplication to God and breathe out a line of response or release. For example, the breath prayer of week one is (breathe in)”Blessed are those who hunger” and (breathe out) “They will be filled.”
The readings focus on the inextricable link between the passion of Jesus and the pursuit of justice. They begin with Tish Harrison Warren reminding us that on Ash Wednesday, the ashes are to remind us that we are dust, that we die, and to hold on to what is real. John Perkins reminds us that Jesus was love incarnate, a mission of reconciliation his son Spencer died pursuing, and that he continues in West Jackson. Mark E. Strong tells the story of a young boy who has nothing for the offering and climbs into the basket, offering himself, which is truly the living worship of every Christ follower. Bethany H. Hoang, director of International Justice Mission, speaks of the exhausting work of fighting injustice, work that only can be sustained if begun in prayer. Christ outpoured in our lives is the beginning of our pursuit of justice.
Each reading gives the author and book from which it is sourced and an index by days gives more complete publication information. Not only is this a wonderful “sampler” of the authors who write for InterVarsity Press, this is a well-conceived and substantive collection that helps us enter into Christ’s passion while calling us into the pursuit of justice. Vice President of InterVarsity Press Cindy Bunch introduces the collection, offering specific practices we might consider in the pursuit of justice. If you are still looking for a Lenten devotional, this one is well worth your consideration.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a complimentary review copy of this book from the publisher.