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New every morning is your love, great God of light, and all day long you are working for good in the world. Stir up in us desire to serve you, to live peacefully with our neighbors and all your creation, and to devote each day to your Son, our Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.

"A Liturgy for Morning Prayer,"" Upper Room Worshipbook

Reprinted by permission from the Book of Common Worship, © 2018 Westminster John Knox Press. All rights reserved. This prayer appears in “A Liturgy for Morning Prayer” in Upper Room Worshipbook.

A Clearing Season

Reflections for Lent

Sarah Parsons • September 2005

BUY Print $13.99

BUY eBook (Available in ePub or Kindle) $9.99

Cities across the world celebrate Mardi Gras with colorful parades and over-the-top parties. Then Ash Wednesday arrives … Sigh. Lent has begun.

You hear about devout friends giving up seemingly innocent things like chocolate or stressing out as they try to live a more perfect life during six grueling weeks—for reasons you don't completely understand. Sermons about penitence are preached, and guilt soaks the congregation.

Sound like a good time?! It's time to rethink Lent.

Or at least see it for the positive opportunity it offers. It's spring cleaning for the soul! Lent offers you time to pause, consider, and renew your relationship with God—an altogether hopeful (not dreary) experience.

"To arrive at newness of life, we first name parts of our lives that are shrouded in darkness," writes Parsons. "To put it very dramatically,… your first order of business is to break your heart for God. We walk through some muck so that we can leave it behind and find Easter joy beyond…. With God's help we will clear the darkness away and begin to experience greater joy and newness of life."

Sure, there's work to be done during Lent, but it's the gentle, gradual work of opening one's heart and mind to grace. A Clearing Season will move you week by week from "wilderness to holy ground," using a personal tone that will stir and challenge personal reflection.

Parsons includes exercises for small groups, as well as questions at the end of each chapter for individual reflection. Also included is an appendix of spiritual practices for Lent.

This Lent, clear away the obstacles that block you from God, and experience spiritual renewal.


Categories: Devotional, Lent
Sarah Parsons recently completed a master's degree at the University of Tennessee College of Social Work and intends to become a psychotherapist. She holds a BA in Religious Studies from Yale University and a master of divinity degree from Vanderbilt Divinity School. Sarah worked at Upper Room Ministries as a website editor from 1999 to 2002. She has had articles published in Weavings, Alive Now, DevoZine, and on MethodX.net. In her spare time, Sarah enjoys running, yoga, other sports and hanging around in cafés.

ISBN: 978-0-8358-9817-1

Kindle ISBN: 978-0-8358-1260-3

EPub ISBN: 978-0-8358-1261-0

Imprint: Upper Room

Pub Date: 20050901

Trim Size: 5.5 in (w) x 8.5 in (h) x in (d)

Page Count: 112

BISAC Categories: RELIGION / Holidays / Easter & Lent

BISAC1: REL034030

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"Finally, a Lenten study that avoids a heavy-handed, legalistic approach! A Clearing Season isn't a cookie-cutter guide for perfect Christians but a grace-filled tool for exploring one's imperfections. Sarah Parsons invites readers to look within and develop an approach to the Lenten season that's authentic, fresh, and relevant. The reflection questions, group exercises, and appendix of suggested Lenten practices make this book a great resource for groups wanting to journey through Lent together or individuals seeking deeper experience and growth."
— Bill Lizor Director, Young Adult and Single Adult Ministries General Board of Discipleship of The United Methodist Church

"Every year I approach Lent with the same feeling — dread. I know I'm going to attempt to avoid something I enjoy for reasons I'm not completely sure of and fail to make it through 40 days. But after reading A Clearing Season, Lent seems more doable and more meaningful. It make the season more personal and more honest to the "everyday" seeker. Who knew it was okay to start small and to suffer setbacks? Sarah Parsons' writing guides and encourages us to truly find God in life's chaos and to use Lent as a time to clear a path to a deeper faith. Simply put, this book is good!
— Brandon Dyce Graduate Student DePaul University

"In A Clearing Season, Sarah Parsons masterfully illustrates a way to invite God into our quiet space so that we can fully experience the Lenten season. By giving ourselves permission to "make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert" (Isa. 43:19), we become freer and more willing to explore areas where we may not be satisfied. The weekly readings in this book gently nudge us to live through the temptations and "wild beasts" we experience during the forty days of Lent — a clearing season. If you want to release the need to control your surroundings, see yourself as you truly are, or learn to accept the gift of quietness that the Lenten season may bring, A Clearing Season is a must read."
— Trenay Perry Bynum Author of Triumph! The Beautiful Face of Courage Founder and director, Figures of Nashville, Inc.

"Sarah Parsons’ thoughtful book acknowledges the biblical tradition of soul searching. Exercises and questions probe and direct the reader toward the ultimate goal of the Lenten season: to draw closer to God. Her step-by-step process moves the reader from the wilderness — a place of life’s chaos — to the establishment of new, enriching patterns. The detailed guide for small groups includes excellent preparation and exercises. A Clearing Season is a well-grounded, hopeful work that will be useful year after year to individuals and groups as they partake of Easter’s promise of new life."
— Bonnie Epperly-Trudel, EdD Licensed Professional Counselor Mental Health Service Provider Naples, Florida

"I was immediately captured by Sarah Parsons’ honest approach to my favorite season of the year. Filled with relevant stories and creative Lenten practices, A Clearing Season provides an incredible guide for individuals or small groups to use in preparation for Easter. This book is an essential addition to the library of anyone on the journey who is ready to clear space for God during the season of Lent."
— Ciona Rouse Freelance writer and youth/young adult specialist Nashville, Tennessee