Lent: A Counter-Cultural Walk toward Easter
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CBN.com A pervasive preoccupation with bunnies, eggs, new clothing, and spring flowers heralds the celebration of Easter in our culture. For the Christian, the 40 days leading up to the celebration of Christ’s resurrection can be something far deeper. Lent gives us the opportunity to take a slow walk into a chosen death, following the example of Christ.
The 40 days of Lent can become life changing with a passion for Christ restored as the journey is undertaken. To help readers take that journey, author Marty A. Bullis has written The Passionate Journey: Walking into the Darkness towards the Light of Easter, a devotional, journal, and prayer guide.
Bullis recently discussed his book. (Read an excerpt below.)
Why are you passionate about The Passionate Journey?
Confusion is easy and is pervasive in our culture. Each day we’re bombarded with billboard enticements, text messages, pre-recorded phone ads, and a hundred other things we didn’t wake up with. How can we see through the silliness of these things without getting depressed? For Christians the goal is to keep our attention on God as we walk through the tangle.
The Passionate Journey spotlights the person and work of Jesus, and in doing so shows how laughable our culture is. The Passionate Journey is a spiritual anti-depressant of sorts, a mental fitness program unlike anything found on the bestseller lists. By calling the reader to sacrifice and “dying to self,” The Passionate Journey adjusts attitudes.
What is the story behind your book? What led you to write about this topic?
This book is a personal attempt to return to the basics of our salvation—Jesus’ sacrificial death, his obedience to God, and his compassionate love of humanity. These themes are ignored, perhaps even despised by our culture. The Passionate Journey is a Christian version of raging against the machine. “Subversion of society and transformation of the person balled into one observance,” is how the introduction puts it. And all of this is accomplished by focusing people’s attention on Jesus—he’s our goal.
Who is this book written for, and why will they be excited about it?
The Passionate Journey is written for Christians who find themselves struggling against the ubiquitous messages of self-fulfillment that society serves up. These Christians are dissatisfied with their culture and desirous of adopting the mind of Christ. The Passionate Journey is aware of the position in which these readers find themselves: busy and restless, yet full of energy waiting to be released in a Godly direction.
The Passionate Journey’s format does not require a large daily time commitment from the participant, but its reflections and readings are substantive enough to help the reader slow down amidst the frenetic “get-ready-for-spring” season during which Lent occurs. Christ’s Passion, examined in the daily reflections, exposes the idiocies of modern culture and provides the basis for reexamination and redirection as the reader walks toward Easter, shaking off cultural idols. Readers who want help connecting Jesus’ sacrificial life to lives trivialized by society’s call to “have-it-all-now” will find The Passionate Journey a welcome companion.
How would you like your book to impact the world?
I want people to enjoy the time-gift we have in Lent. We’re given 40 days to consider Jesus’ sacrificial death on our behalf, 40 days to remember and contemplate, 40 days to walk toward death with Christ. We relive Jesus’ Passion by rereading the Gospel accounts. We anticipate our deaths and pray that our journeys will be faithful, reflecting Jesus’ obedient journey to the cross. The Passionate Journey will help the reader embrace this gift of time and renew Christ’s call to sacrificial living.
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Ash Wednesday—Day 1
A woman came to [Jesus] with an alabaster jar of very costly ointment, and she poured it on his head as he sat at the table. . . . [Jesus said,] “By pouring this ointment on my body she has prepared me for burial.”
The Gospel Reading
We begin our journey with an unusual anointing. Today Christians enter churches around the world in quiet reflection and exit with a death mark upon their foreheads—ashes mixed with oil applied in the shape of a cross. Reminders of the death of our Lord, and our deaths. I speak in the plural, highlighting the two types of human death we contemplate during Lent. There is the daily death of self (our quotidian struggle to give over all those parts of our being that are resisting God) that we attend to with renewed vigor during Lent. Then there is the future death of our physical body, which the ashes remind us is looming. While death of self marks growth in Christ, physical death underscores the fate of this world—destruction. Our hope is that as we move toward our physical end through processes of decay, we grow in new life with Christ by giving up our preoccupation with self. We would like to see our power in these arenas be inversely proportional—less able to stop the decay of our body, more empowered to let our self die for the sake of Christ.
The Scripture reading recounts an anointing prior to Christ’s death. Our Lord tells His disciples that it is preparation for burial. Some of those around Him do not understand the act. They even ridicule it. In a few days, Jesus gives up His body and His will to the will of the Father. We remember His words: “Father, if thou art willing, remove this cup from me; nevertheless, not my will, but thine, be done” (, RSV). Like Christ, you are preparing for death. Receiving a symbol upon your body that others will not understand. Walking toward acts of renunciation that confuse them. It is the beginning of your death march—death of self during Lent. But it also marks growth in Christ—growing strength to be filled with God’s will.
Powers continue to exist that would arrest our growth and kill us even as our Lord was arrested and killed. These are the enemies of God’s economy. These forces would steal what is true in us, having us glorify rebellious desires and ignore those people around us whom God would have us help.
As you encounter difficulties in the next few weeks, let your breath prayer be the words of Christ, “Not my will, but thine be done.” Just as the powers of evil misjudged God’s work in Christ, so too they will misjudge what God is able to do within your life.
The Bidding Prayer
Help me, Lord Jesus, die to self this day. (silence)
Light of the world, shine into my darkness. (silence)
Jesus, show me how to serve the members of Your Body. (silence)
Enliven my spirit as I reveal myself to You in written word. (silence)
Want to read more? Purchase your copy of The Passionate Journey.
Excerpted from The Passionate Journey © 2006 by Marty Bullis. Published by Regal Books, www.regalbooks.com. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
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