There has been a slow recovery of the practice of Lent in parts of the Protestant world that has not traditionally celebrated the liturgical year over the past couple of decades. I want to commend three devotionals that I have used, although I have not read all of any of them yet. Each of them is a 40-day devotional.
Lent is a season of reflection and preparation for Easter. Traditionally, it is a period that includes fasting, repentance, prayer, and penance. Each of these devotionals is focused on knowing the history of the US, particularly the history of Black oppression, slavery, and the cultural embrace of racial hierarchy, which posits that those with lighter colors of skin are inherently superior to those with darker colors of skin. The purpose of these is not guilt, but awareness of. history for the purpose of repair and reconciliation. Without a shared historical story, there cannot be a shared future story. Each of these has slightly different focuses.
The newest is the Lent of Liberation, which was released a couple of weeks ago. The Lent of Liberation has a basic format of a quotation from slave narrative, usually about 3/4 of a page, a related biblical quotation, and then about 1-2 pages of reflection on the biblical passage and the historical reality of slavery and oppression. The focus of Lent of Liberation is to draw attention to the African Decendents of Slavery (ADOS) and the continued impact of slavery on the present world as well as the ways that Christianity is oriented toward reconciliation and the Imago Dei (image of God) within all people and how historic Christianity has not practiced that fully. The author Cheri Mills is a church administrator, founder of the 1 Voice Prayer Movement, and prayer director at Simmons College of Kentucky, an HBCU.
Last year I read most of Were You There?: Lenten Reflections on the Spirituals. Luke Powery is the chaplain of Duke Divinity School and has several similar books of devotionals based on African American church experience. Each devotional revolves around a spiritual, although many of them are less well known. I frequently, although not every time, was able to look up on youtube or other places to get audio or video performance of the spiritual which did help to place the spiritual in context. Some of the devotionals were more about the content, some were more about a memory of the spiritual in the life of Rev Dr. Powery.
The third devotional is the Repentance Project. The Repentance Project was created three or four years ago, “to encourage racial healing by communicating the systemic legacies of slavery, building relationships, and creating opportunities—through formation, repentance, and repair—for a just future.” There are two Lenten devotionals that are offered through the Repentance Project, An American Lament and An American Lent. These are written by a variety of people, from a mix of racial, ethnic and denominational backgrounds. But with an explicit focus on lamenting the history of racism and oppression in the US and trying to raise awareness for the long term hope of change and reconciliation in the church.
I am posting this a week in advance of the start of Lent to give you time to order one of these and to make a plan for lent.