Lent begins this week on Ash Wednesday and I want to invite you to go on a Lenten journey with me. I’ll be reading the book Grace Upon Grace by John Kleinig and posting once a week about the reading. The book has an introduction and then five chapters so we’ll take the introduction this week and meet here to discuss it next Wednesday (Feb. 27th) and then take one chapter a week until Easter.
The book is about spirituality for the christian, perhaps the most misunderstood topic and word in our modern vernacular.
Kleinig introduces the book with this:
“The modern interest in spirituality is a bit like our interest in health. Our obsession with health is not at all healthy; in fact, it emphasizes the problems that we have without providing much of a solution to them. So, too, with our concern for spirituality! Despite the multitude of books on spirituality that can be found in the bookshop, Christians seem to find it harder than ever to practice what they believe. So many aspire to be spiritual high fliers but never seem to get off the ground for any length of time. As the failures mount, so does the fascination with what seemingly cannot be achieved. The only thing we learn is that something is lacking in this part of our lives. But we end up with no understanding on how to fill the void……If we have problems living the life of faith, if we have challenges in our practice of prayer, the solution is not to be found in what we do, our self-appraisal, or our performance. The solution to our problems is found in what we receive from God Himself, in His appraisal of us, and in His gifts to us. Like our physical life and health, our spiritual life is something that is given to us, something that is to be received and enjoyed and celebrated. Our piety is all a matter of receiving grace upon grace from the fullness of God the Father. “
Isn’t that good stuff? The book is chocked full of this all too rare theological truth—-that we already have everything we need from the Father and we are merely learning to live from His fullness, which was bestowed on us at our Baptism.
Too often our Lenten journeys are ‘try-hard’ failures. We give up coffee—-for a while. We pray daily—-until we don’t. We pull ourselves up with our spiritual bootstraps and suffer, by-golly.
But Lent is not about our supposed sacrifice of some earthly passion. Lent is a journey with Christ to His passion.
Lent is not a time to focus on ourselves and our own particular abundance or lack of self-discipline. Lent is a time of self-forgetfulness, where we learn to live more in union with Christ and less from our own capabilities.
Our Lenten discipline does not make us more holy. We have the very righteousness of Christ and His holiness already.
Our Lenten failures do not make us more wretched but serve to remind us that our wretchedness has cost our Savior His life and that He has gone to every length to secure our ransom.
We take this journey with Him to learn from Him what it means to be His child. To remember what it’s like to be loved by Our Father.
To learn to receive from His hand nothing more and nothing less than what He Himself gives.
Lent is about Christ and His pilgrimage to the Cross, where His love is poured out for all humanity.
Spirituality is His work in us as He creates faith and repentance.
But what does that daily spirituality look like? Dr. John Kleinig will be the perfect study leader as we explore what it really means to be spiritual. Join us for lenten devotions.
You may purchase Grace Upon Grace through this link and I’m donating my Amazon Affiliate funds to purchase 4 books for anyone who would like to participate in this book study but isn’t able to buy the book right now. Just email me with your name and address and I’ll choose the first four people who respond:)
Winner of Grace for the Good Girl by Emily Freeman is Sarah Pinnault! Email me with your address, Sarah, and I’ll get the book out to you.
You can find podcasts of Dr. Kleinig’s teachings here.