Sin weighs us down, but we long for freedom. When harmful words or actions lead to broken relationships, we often aim for forgiveness. But forgiveness can be elusive. Sometimes it can take our whole lives to forgive those who have harmed us. Sometimes we may never manage it. And when we are the ones responsible for rupture, we may long for a reconciliation that doesn’t come. Lent is a time to reflect on how Jesus frees us from the burden of sin, both personal and communal. It’s a time to orient ourselves toward Easter and the possibility of new life in Christ. Unburdened invites readers to hear God’s call to move away from brokenness and into the healing and hope of the resurrection. Author Carol Penner draws on her experiences as a pastor, chaplain, and theologian to help readers navigate the forgiveness journey. Through prayers, scripture reflections, and stories about individuals and communities, be encouraged to take small steps toward the freedom found in forgiveness.
Invitation: Shrove Tuesday Notes on the Road Ahead
Week 1: Seeking Repentance Ash Wednesday: Searching for Forgiveness Thursday: Embracing Belovedness Friday: Turning Around Saturday: Taking Responsibility Sunday: Practicing Penitence Monday: Focusing on Fasting Tuesday: Dying to Self
Week 2: Addressing Sin Wednesday: Lamenting Harm Thursday: Yearning for Restoration Friday: Naming Sin Saturday: Confessing Together Sunday: Calling for Repentance Monday: Relieving Shame Tuesday: Encountering Walls
Week 3: Pursuing Freedom Wednesday: Turning to God Thursday: Finding Deliverance Friday: Heading for Safety Saturday: Taking Time Sunday: Searching for Sorries Monday: Taking Separate Paths Tuesday: Hoping for Forgiveness
Week 4: Responding to Brokenness Wednesday: Working at Repair Thursday: Disrupting Systems Friday: Surviving Betrayal Saturday: Guarding against Harm Sunday: Confronting with Wisdom Monday: Extending Mercy Tuesday: Breathing Hope
Week 5: Building Forgiveness Wednesday: Being Transformed Thursday: Supporting Accountability Friday: Fostering Forgiveness Saturday: Reaching Out Palm Sunday: Making Peace Monday: Relinquishing Revenge Tuesday: Tending Sheep, Feeding Lambs
Week 6: Treading Holy Ground Wednesday: Kneeling Faithfully Maundy Thursday: Telling Our Stories Good Friday: Breaking Free Holy Saturday: Embracing Love Easter Sunday: Leaping Over Walls!
Guide for Small Groups Notes The Author
Carol Penner has served as a pastor and chaplain and is an assistant professor and director of the theological studies program at Conrad Grebel University, in Waterloo, Ontario. She is the author of Every Day Worship and Healing Waters: Churches Working to End Violence Against Women and the coeditor of Resistance: Confronting Violence, Power, and Abuse in Peace Churches. She writes and speaks about worship, including for Rejoice! and Canadian Mennonite and on her worship blog, LeadingInWorship.com.
“Several things endeared me to Unburdened. I liked its thoroughness, its use of contemporary versions of Scripture, and the telling of true stories drawn from real lives lived in community. Add to that the challenge to the reader to ponder thoughtfully and practice faithfully the exercises suggested by the author. This is a book worth buying for personal use and to give away. I highly recommend it.”
~Luci Shaw, poet and author of The Generosity and Eye of the Beholder
“Jesus calls to himself those who are weary and burdened, promising to give them rest, saying that his yoke is easy and his burden light. This beautifully honest book about the promise and demands of forgiveness is a Lenten companion to those words, conveying Christ’s rest for our many burdens.”
~Jonathan Tran, associate dean for faculty in the Honors College and associate professor of theology at Baylor University and the author of Asian Americans and the Spirit of Racial Capitalism
“Jesus offers us life, abundant life, which is a lifelong journey of unburdening. That’s the Lenten experience made available to us in these pages. Carol Penner guides us down the path of repentance and forgiveness as we confront the powers of sin in us and around us, all as part of our lifelong pilgrimage into the wonders of grace, of grace upon grace—the endless grace of God’s life with us.”
~Isaac S. Villegas, ordained minister and contributing editor for the Christian Century
“The forty-day spiritual trek we call Lent is too often a solitary journey inward in self-exploration. This book offers a journey back to failures, outward to co-travelers, and forward in a search for forgiving, reconciling, and reconstruction of relationships. I suspect that the teacher Jesus would like this book even more than I do since it fulfills his vision of what real spirituality is truly about. Carol Penner is a trustworthy guide for this walk of renewal through reunion with others.”
~David Augsburger, professor emeritus of pastoral care and counseling at Fuller Seminary School of Theology and author of The Freedom of Forgiveness and Caring Enough to Confront