Consumerism and Enough
First Sunday in Lent to Saturday (March 10-16, 2019)
Creation Care as a Hopeful Spiritual Practice for Lent
Lenten devotional by Lynne Baab and Janette Plunkett. Illustration by Dave Baab
Our consumer culture tells us we need to have more of everything in order to be happy. The manufacture, marketing, shipping, and disposal of each consumer item puts a strain on God’s beautiful earth. For this week of Lent, we’ll ponder and pray about the pull of the consumer culture in our lives, and we’ll rejoice in those moments when we know we have enough.
Walking with Jesus
This week, as you ponder your possessions and what it might look like to live more simply, imagine Jesus right there beside you. Picture the simplicity of his clothing. Take joy in his presence. Ask for his guidance about choices related to buying things and keeping things. Receive his deep acceptance for you exactly the way you are – untidy, cluttered, whatever! – and ask for his help to continue to grow into his peace in the area of your possessions.
Read Isaiah 5:8-10 for an early statement about overconsumption. Ponder what the words in that passage would have described in Isaiah’s time and what they describe today.
Read Psalm 104, watching for all the ways God provides for creation. If you truly believed that God provides abundantly for you in the ways described in the psalm, how would that change the way you approach your daily life and your purchases?
Thankfulness: Thank God for your possessions. Each day this week stand in a room of your house and thank God for individual items you own and the ways they serve your life or give you pleasure.
Lament:Lament the fruit of overconsumption in our world today. Lament the emptiness that drives people to buy things to make them happy and the desperation for more possessions that occupies the minds of so many people.
Confession and Pardon: Confess to God your own overconsumption. Ask God to help you receive forgiveness and to live in peace in a way that would help you consume less.
Intercession: Pray for your own shopping habits. Ask God to illuminate the places where you are using possessions to fill a void that objects were never designed to fill. Ask God for wisdom when you shop. As God to help you understand what “enough” looks like in your life.
Read Psalm 136:4-9 responsively. Teach your children the response (the second half of each verse) and ask an older child or a parent to read the first half of each verse. Consider writing a psalm using the structure of Psalm 136 but using your own words focused on aspects of daily life.
Go through your children’s possessions (and maybe your own as well) and select one possession to give to someone else. You might suggest that your child give it as a gift to a friend or as a contribution to Goodwill or Salvation Army, so someone else could use it.
Make a piece of art out of cedar or fir branches.
- “I find that I have to think about the material things in my life, and that I am being called to establish a right relationship with all my possessions. I see myself as a steward, holding these things in trust, enjoying but not owning them. I find this easier to accept in theory than in practice. But when I do remind myself that all these good things belong to God and not to me, I find that my sense of gratitude for the extraordinary generosity of God brings with it also a sense of freedom. All things are on loan, all things come from God, and that includes my own body as well. I have no rights and I do not possess.”
-Esther de Waal, Living with Contradiction: An Introduction to Benedictine Spirituality
Musical Notation: 2 by Mary Oliver
All creatures of our God and King (words by St. Francis of Assissi):
Voluntary Simplicity is a modern-day movement with its roots in Christian monasticism. Here are some introductions to the movement:
Earth Ministry has a page, Simplicity, which gives a Christian perspective and has links to numerous other resources
What is Voluntary Simplicity (from the Simplicity Collective)
The Simple Life of Jesus (from the Simplicity Collective)
Choosing Voluntary Simplicity is a website with numerous articles
- YouTube has a playlist of 94 videos categorized as “Biblical Minimalism/Christian Simplicity/Minimalism/Simple Living"