Book review of the days before easter

the days before easter  

W.A. Poovey, Minneapolis: Augsburg Publishing House, 128 pages



A brief review by Rev. Garth Wehrfritz-Hanson


Some books I struggle to read through only once; others I might read twice; and a few rare ones I’ll keep going back to and read several times. the days before easter, in my humble opinion, is worth reading over and over again. It is one of my all-time favourite books to read during the season of Lent.

   Although the volume is a mere 128 pages, the content is incredible. Not only is it well written—Professor Poovey has organized the material in a well thought out fashion that holds the reader’s interest as if it were a fast-paced, page-turner novel.

   After a brief “About this book,” the content is divided up into three parts: Part 1. The Story of Lent, Part 2. Preparing for Easter, and Part 3. Devotions for Lent. In Part 1, there are eleven short chapters titled respectively: A time for reflection, A time for repentance, A time for rejoicing, Four men tell the story, Prophecy fulfilled, Origins of Lent, Customs of Lent, Hymns of Lent, Poetry of Lent, Sustenance of life, The end of Lent. Part 2 consists of eight brief chapters: Let’s have a Seder, Fasting and sacrifice, Who were the people? Symbols of Lent, A Lenten prayer list, A book for Lent, I am Pilate, Meditation for Lent. Part 3 contains forty-seven devotions—four the forty days of Lent, plus the Sundays—all based on the Book of Isaiah. One critique I have of the chapter A time for repentance in Part 2 is that Professor Poovey could have added some comment about the need for Christians to repent of the anti-Semitism and ant-Judaism of centuries past, which were incited no less by Christian leaders during the season of Lent. Another critique I have of the chapter Let’s have a Seder in Part 2 is that although the author tries to be sensitive and respectful toward the Jewish people and this important meal of Judaism’s Passover festival—he even advises Christians to consult with a local rabbi in planning a Seder—he stops short of actually counselling Christians to attend a Jewish Seder in a synagogue or Jewish home.

   All-in-all, this small tome, and albeit older and out of print, still is worth reading by pastors and laity alike for a wealth of information on the season of Lent.