The second volume in my series of seasonal liturgy books is now available from Patristica Press (buy it here)!
The first volume of Counter Liturgy was for the first season of the Christian year — Advent and Christmas. Volume Two is for the next major liturgical season, Lent and Easter. It begins with a liturgy for Ash Wednesday, runs through the six Sundays of Lent (plus a prayer for Saint Patrick’s Day), and concludes with a series of Holy Week prayers for Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter morning.
Like Volume One, this collection also includes a pair of theological/devotional reflections — one an introduction to the season of Lent, and the other a reflection for the still silence of Holy Saturday. And yes, this one also features the artistic stylings of my main squeeze, Alexis Davidson.
The liturgies in this volume are geared toward reminding us that Christian discipleship is about more than just the last two chapters of the Gospel accounts, and that God became a human being and lived for thirty-three years in a world of complex social, religious, and political conflict. By focusing especially on the words and actions of Jesus, the prayers challenge us to reckon with the ramifications of this truth.
My hope for Volume Two is that it will offer a fresh perspective through the long season of Lent on what it means to proclaim that Jesus is Lord and God, and that it will broaden our gaze to grasp more fully the significance of the empty tomb on Easter morning.
“The callings of the season of Lent haven’t changed, but we have changed; the cultural liturgies that form us have changed. We need a prophetic guide to pull us out of our “normal” and get us on the lenten journey toward the cross. Pulling from sources both ancient and contemporary, Sam Davidson wisely guides us would-be pilgrims on the way – out of our sleeping and toward the living and crucified Jesus. Oh how we need to encounter Jesus today, and, truly, this guide helps point the way.”
– Kyle Knighton, Minister of Spiritual Formation, DaySpring Baptist Church (Waco, TX)
“Many of the good things in life require rhythm – music, dancing, even the beat of the human heart. Sam reminds us that at the core of the Christian experience is the cadence of celebration (Advent) and seriousness (Lent). Thank you, Sam, for providing a resource to serve the Christ-follower who desires to stay in sync with the heartbeat of God.”
– Deron Spoo, Pastor, First Baptist Church Tulsa (OK) and author of The Good Book: 40 Chapters that Reveal the Bible’s Biggest Ideas
“Counter Liturgy, Volume Two is a graciously provocative work that challenges its readers to re-examine the liturgies of our lives—those patterns of living that form and shape us. In a world that draws us towards practices of selfishness, greed, and power-grabbing, this book calls the reader to discover the freedom and power found in the liturgies of Christ. By walking us through the Lenten season with Scripture, responsive readings, silent reflections, and guided prayers, Davidson invites us to participate in active, communal, and formative reflections that draw our minds to Christ’s life, death, and resurrection. In doing so, this book is a powerful tool for reorienting our minds and our hearts—and subsequently our actions—toward God. A must read for the Lenten season.”
– Julia Wallace, Missions Education & Urban Missions, Baylor University
“The liturgies that Sam Davidson has crafted help us ponder the extent of our discipleship, and to examine the contradictions that we are every day. Counter Liturgy is accessible for those who have discontentedly fumbled through the season of Lent and are seeking a better entry into this sacred time, yet also thought provoking and challenging for those looking for a new guide through a familiar period in the church calendar. Counter Liturgy at its heart is doing the necessary work of stripping away American cultural Christianity, and reminding us what the statement ‘Jesus is Lord’ really means.”
– Dilan Braddock, Youth Pastor, University Baptist Church (Waco, TX)
“Sam Davidson has given us a new window to see something very old. In Counter Liturgy, Volume Two, we find a story of defiant submission that has been lived and relived for thousands of years, presented in a way that is challenging to our own contemporary idolatrous tendencies. Davidson provides us with reflections, passages of Scripture, introductory essays, and even suggested monastic chants, as means by which we might make that story our own. If you are new to Lenten practices, or if you have been fasting forty days out of every year for your entire life, you will find this book helpful in discovering new relevance in Lent and Holy Week. Whether it is from the lectern of the classroom, the pulpit of the chapel, or my own couch by candlelight, I will be using this book for years to come.”
– Jeremy Crews, Grammar School Chaplain and Rhetoric School Teacher of World Religions, Live Oak Classical School (Waco, TX)
(From “Introduction to the Season”)
For many of us, what it means to be a Christian is defined wholly by the events of Christmas and Easter—that is, by God coming to earth in the birth of Jesus at Christmas, and by Jesus saving us from our sins in his death and resurrection at Easter. But this skips over quite a bit of material. As defining as both of these events are, we often forget that the Christian confession of faith is not simply that God showed up at Christmas and Easter, but that God became a real human being and lived in an explosively complex socio-political situation for thirty-three years—a political situation that eventually led to his death on a Roman cross.
Rather than jumping from the festive reading of the Christmas story in Luke 2 straight to the celebration of the resurrection accounts, Lent invites us to slow down and listen to Jesus—to remember that the great majority of the Gospel texts are concerned not with how we get to heaven, but with what happens when heaven shows up in the middle of earth’s mess. Lent invites us to walk where Jesus walks, to respond when he calls, and to obey when he commands. It invites us to sit with his words—not only the easy words of encouragement and hope, but also the hard words. Words that challenge what we take for granted about the way the world works. Words that, if we allow them to soak into us, may undermine many of our assumptions about right and wrong, wisdom and folly. Words that are not simply nice ideas about an afterlife to come later, but that directly confront the structures and systems that we live in here and now.
Lent invites us to confront the challenge that Jesus’s life presents. It presses us to recognize that if we confess that Jesus is Lord and God, we must also insist that what this man says and does is what God says and does.
The focus of this book of liturgies, then, is on the this-worldliness of the kingdom of God that Jesus bursts onto the scene proclaiming: on what Jesus has to say to us here and now, and on how not only the death and resurrection, but also the life of God incarnate transforms the world, summoning us to be transformed along with it. As I said, you may discover that in this Lenten season, God is concerned with more than just your prayer life.
How to Use This Book
Introduction to the Season
First Sunday in Lent: Jesus’s First Sermon
Second Sunday in Lent: Kingdom and Call
Saint Patrick’s Day
Third Sunday in Lent: The Sermon on the Mount
Fourth Sunday in Lent: The Way of the Cross
Fifth Sunday in Lent: The Power of God
Sixth Sunday in Lent: Palm Sunday
Reflections for Holy Saturday: On Good Friday and Easter