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Lent and Life with Amy Boucher Pye

Lent can be a mystery for many non-liturgical Christians.

In a recent interview, author Amy Boucher Pye discussed what it means and how to observe it.

I’m currently reading her new book: The Living Cross: Exploring God’s Gift of Forgiveness and New LifeLent, Amy Boucher Pye, The Living Cross:Exploring God's Gift of Forgiveness and New Life, fasting, Easter, Bible, New Testament, Old Testament.

An American  married to a English clergyman, Amy lives with her family in north London.

Here are my questions and Amy’s interesting answers.

What is Lent?

Many evangelical and non-denominational Christians don’t understand Lent.

How would you encourage their involvement or answer the questions, “what’s the point?”

Lent is a time to examine ourselves before God as we prepare to celebrate the gift of new life that Jesus bestows to us at the cross through his death and resurrection.

We take our cue from him, for he fasted for forty days in the desert.

Setting aside time to ask him to help us in this journey can help us to come closer to God, as we confess our wrongdoings and receive his forgiveness.

It need not be a time of sackcloth and ashes – I believe our God of grace delights in the individual ways we choose to observe the season.

What do you mean by celebrating a full forty days of the Easter season?

I feel like many Christians observe Lent, but then they miss out on the joys of celebrating the gift of new life.

When the fast is over, it’s time to feast (which is also why Lent is 46 days long, but is seen as 40 days, for Sundays are reserved for feasting).

We say together, with joy, “Christ is risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia!”

Lent practices

Has your sense of the Lenten season changed from your childhood?

When I was a child, Lent was part of our family life, along with eating fish on Fridays and going to the various church services.

In my twenties, when my faith really came alive, I embraced Lenten practices with passion and verve, such as weekly fasting, giving up the eating of sweet things, and other spiritual practices of abstinence (as Dallas Willard terms them).

Then I moved to England, and tried to do my usual practices, but soon gave up, saying to a visiting American friend, “All of life feels like Lent” (as I recount in Finding Myself in Britainyou can read the chapter here).

All the changes I experienced with the move left me feeling numb; I needed some space and time to adjust as I was planted in this new soil.

What about fasting?

As I’ve settled into life in the UK, learning to love my adopted country, I’ve returned to some of my earlier Lenten fasts. However, I also have given myself grace not to undertake them too.

I also love the #40acts movement, which gives an idea for an act of kindness and generosity for each day of Lent.

Lent, Amy Boucher Pye, The Living Cross:Exploring God's Gift of Forgiveness and New Life, fasting, Easter, Bible, New Testament, Old TestamentFamily and Lent

Amy recounted a simple yet meaningful way of making Jesus’ death for our sins hands-on for her children.

When I read the description, I gasped–and bought a styrofoam wreath of my own.

How does your family incorporate Lenten reflections in your home?

We like to do different things, according to the rhythm of our family life that year.

An activity we did last year is one of the spiritual exercises that I feature in The Living Cross, which I found online.

Every evening at dinnertime, we’d go around the table and add a toothpick to a Styrofoam wreath.

We silently confessed a sin we had committed that day and asking God to forgive us. At the end of Lent, we had a full crown of thorns.

On Easter Sunday, my daughter and I changed over the toothpicks for flowers. This signified the sins forgiven and new life given to us by God.

About The Living Cross

Tell us how your new book opens our souls to Lent.

I learned so much through writing The Living Cross.

The Bible showcases fallen people – that is, those like us – and so the need for forgiveness is woven throughout its page.

And not only the need, but the freeing gift that it can be. Such as when siblings forgive each other (for example, Esau forgiving Jacob; see Genesis 32) or Jesus telling the paralyzed man that his sins are forgiven (see Mark 2).

At the cross, we find forgiveness. My book explores that gift through the stories from the Bible and some from modern-day life.

How do you see forgiveness differently than before?

One revelation I had in writing this book was the Jewish view of forgiveness versus that of Christians.

In the Old Testament, people don’t generally forgive each other, for they see all forgiveness as the remit of God.

Look at the passage where Joseph reveals who he is to his brothers. (see the story in Genesis, and the culmination chapter 50).Lent, Amy Boucher Pye, The Living Cross:Exploring God's Gift of Forgiveness and New Life, fasting, Easter, Bible, New Testament, Old Testament

When they ask him to forgive them, he answers: “Am I in the place of God?” (Genesis 50:19).

Although he extends forgiveness through his deeds, he doesn’t do so through his words.

Instead, he says (paraphrase), “Who am I to forgive you? Am I God?”

In the Old Testament, person-to-person forgiveness is rare. Instead, the all-powerful Lord is the one who grants pardon.

By contrast, in the New Testament, the death and resurrection of Jesus enables us not only to receive forgiveness but to extend it to others.

Why did you write The Living Cross?

Amy loves to write Bible-based devotionals. (She’s written more than 600 for publications such as Our Daily Bread and the UK’s New Daylight).

A book of devotional readings for Lent, “seemed like a natural next step.”

The Living Cross is a through-the-Bible look at forgiveness. We spend half of Lent  in the Old Testament and half in the New.

I enjoyed delving into the Bible and also finding modern-day stories of forgiveness extended and received.

As an Amazon reviewer noted:

The Living Cross offers daily reflections and prayers with forgiveness as its central theme.

Each day’s reading weaves scripture together with real life stories. Amy’s skilled writing and deep biblical knowledge helps guide us to a place where we can implement and receive forgiveness in our daily lives.

There are also helpful spiritual exercises to work through for the reader be it individually or within a group.

Lent, Amy Boucher Pye, The Living Cross:Exploring God's Gift of Forgiveness and New Life, fasting, Easter, Bible, New Testament, Old Testament

Amy Boucher Pye (Kevin Ahronson Photography)

Who is Amy Boucher Pye?

Raised in the American Midwest, Amy has lived in the UK for twenty years. The adventure of marrying an English husband and repatriating, helped form her faith. She recounts the story in her first book, Finding Myself in Britain.

Amy writes for Our Daily Bread and other devotionals. She wrote an essay on the May 13 My Utmost for His Highest reading for Utmost Ongoing: Reflections on the Legacy of Oswald Chambers.

If you’d like to connect with Amy, find her at her blog, on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

She concluded the interview:

“I pray that Lent for you will be a meaningful time of drawing near to God, and that the Easter season will be marked with joy and celebration.”

Tweetables

A book of Lent devotions highlighting forgiveness: The Living Cross. Click to Tweet

Lent and Life, The Living Cross and preparing for Easter. Click to Tweet

What’s the point of Lent? Click to Tweet

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