Lent 4.5 Christian Simplicity

Imagine living on 4.5 acres. Lots of space, right? On that 4.5 acres you would grow all your food, grow or manufacture the materials for your home, cultivate the energy to heat/cool it, provide water for your lawn and toilets, provide place to dispose your wastes, grow the timber or manufacture the plastic to put together your furniture. The list goes on.

Today there are about 6.5 billion people alive on the planet. If the Earth were divided equally among us, and we each received our fair share, every person would be entitled to 4.5 acres. According to 2009 data (www.footprintnetwork.org) the amount of acreage it takes to support the average lifestyle varies widely from country to country. Here’s an example. Tanzania – 2.6 acres; Iraq – 3.3 acres; India – 1.9 acres; Japan – 10.2 acres; France – 11.4 acres; Mexico – 8.0 acres; United States – 22.3 acres

Lent is a time for us Christians, as followers of Jesus, to take a deep, penetrating look into our relationship with God through spiritual practices. Those practices have traditionally included prayer, fasting, meditation, and service. But somehow we have fragmented our lives by calling some practices spiritual and others as … well, other-than-spiritual. Habitual and everyday choices about what we eat, what and how we “consume”, how we use water and energy, and how we transport ourselves, are among those other-than-spiritual practices. It is an understatement to say that through these practices, we have not been exactly the kinds of stewards of God’s creation our Gospel calls for.

Someone once told me that one of the benchmarks of spiritual growth is a heightened sense of awareness. This Lenten season, the weeks leading up to Easter, I invite us to open up our lives to the conscious and intentional spiritual practices of everyday living. As we become more aware, we become more intentional. Our spiritual lives will be enriched.

Lent 4.5 Themes:

  • Ash Wednesday, March 9                       Christian Simplicity
  • Lent 1 – Week of March 13                    Food: Buying and Eating as Moral Acts
  • Lent 2 – Week of March 20                    Consumption: Buying Less, Wasting Less
  • Lent 3 – Week of March 27                    Water: Clean and Life-Giving
  • Lent 4 – Week of April 3                         Energy: Sabbath Rest and Healing the Earth
  • Lent 5 – Week of April 10                    Transportation: Mobility and the                                                                            Ripple Effect

These themes will be at the center of worship on the Sundays of Lent. Each week (on Sunday) I plan to provide a page or two of simple prayer/liturgy and reading material (with a couple of discussion questions) for individual reflection and small group/family discussion for that week.

“Simplicity does not mean moving to a cave or eating berries. Living simply means setting limits that reflect our faith values by taking only what we need – not hoarding or taking in excess. It is the path to a life that is outwardly simple and inwardly rich.”

Thanks to Passionist Earth & Spirit Center, Louisville, Kentucky and Passionist Congregation of Holy Cross Privince, Chicago, ILL for these resources.

Peace – Bill