Friday, March 5, 2010

Living in the Poverties of Lent

This is the season of Lent. Often we religious/spiritual types seek to give something up for 40 days as a sign of our devotion. Our act of sacrifice is rarely that, a sacrifice. It becomes almost a sport or contest rather than an offering to God. I am not saying that our sacrifice is meant to be some kind of payment for future grace, but it is supposed to cost us something significant. However, I have been chewing on a different piece of cud this season.
What if we live in a season of poverty to better identify with Christ who came to serve the least and the last and the lost? Jesus asked the young ruler to leave all of his riches and follow him. I am no Jesus, as I've often said, so I am not asking for us to put on ashes and sackcloth and martyr ourselves to impress the public or to make ourselves worthy to follow Jesus. Let me get to what I am saying.
Let us not livein our abundance but each week let us live in a different mode of poverty. The partial poverty list includes a poverty of:
clean, plentiful water
material goods
cultural acceptance
In a small group decide to live in one of the poverties in some way. The group could research how the world lives or experiences that poverty. They could choose to experience the poverty for themselves for the week. I think an example will help. Your group is working on the poverty of clean, plentiful water for the week. Two people are doing research: one on how people survive without clean, plentiful water and the other on how different groups have worked with indigeonous (sp?) to help provide their communities with adequate clean water. Two other people in the group are recognizing how much water they use. One is calculating how much water in all its forms he uses each day, while his partner is trying to see if she can survive on 5 gallons of water a day. Other people in other groups have other ways of experiencing this poverty, so at a predetermined time groups meet to share their research and experiences. After sharing and worshipping God and thanking God for the Spirit's presence, it is time to choose how to live and learn regarding the next poverty.
Spending Lent in poverty will help people develop networks of communication, help people find God working amidst the poverty, help people quiet the noisiness of this world to hear the voice of God and help people live amongst the people Jesus came to save. In this season of repentance, forgiveness, atonement, discipline, humility and sacrifice the people of God need to evaluate their relationship not only with the Trinity but with the people whom God wishes us to love. I think that the time has come to try something new this Lenten season. While giving up coffee or chocolate may fulfill what the culture thinks is necessary, living in the poverties of Lent may fulfill what Jesus has called us to do in order to be his disciples. Good LUCK! Let me know if you take on this challenge. I am writing the curriculum resource for this idea during this Lent so I can present the finished idea next year (2011). I would love to add your experiences. Look forward to hearing from y'all.