Guidelines for Consumer Fast during Lenten Season
Contributed by: Andrew Walsh: firstname.lastname@example.org
(Please contact Andrew if you would like to connect with his community during this time)
“But now we are discharged from the law, dead to that which held us captive, so that we serve not under the old written code but in the new life of the Spirit.” –Romans 7:6
These guidelines are merely a tool for growth in Christ, and they should not be followed legalistically. It is important to keep in mind that we are to be lead by the Spirit rather than a man-made list. These guidelines are meant to help you and your community grow in understanding of faith, hope, and love (charity).
Many times in our American culture the Gospel of Christ is muddled with the advertisements of our consumer-laden society. Often times Christ’s warning of having many material things and riches is muted out by our society’s persistence that “the more you have the happier you are.” In getting back to the heart of the Gospel we propose a Lenten practice of breaking some ties with consumerism. This is our attempt to forgo certain comforts of the world and put our comfort in Christ. Lent lasts 40 days beginning February 22nd and ends April 8th (the day before Easter). These are our suggested guidelines:
1. Charity above all things. We will live simply to love God and our neighbors more fully.
We forgo the excesses of consumerist practices in the pursuit of simple living only so that we are freed to love God and our neighbors more fully. We are trying to leave behind the worries of the world so we can enter into charity without being distracted. Please keep in mind that love is our ultimate goal not living as simply as possible.
2. No frivolous spending. We will refrain from purchase that are unnecessary.
We will refrain from the purchase of anything unnecessary. Who is to say what is necessary? Of course we must be lead by the Spirit. But for lent we will focus on trying to buy only necessities, like groceries. Some things you should avoid buying are clothes, CDs, books, shoes…etc.
3. Simple transportation. We will walk, use bikes, and public transportation.
In Austin it is possible to get around without a car, but at times we opt to drive a car out of convenience. For lent we need to make every attempt to walk or ride a bike. Obviously, when trying to get to certain places we have to take a car, but we should make every effort to park, walk, ride, or use public transportation. You may have to endure the weather or take more time then normal, but it will allow more time to pray and perhaps a chance to meet a new person.
4. Simple Eating. We will prepare meals and eat in our homes.
To cut down on unnecessary spending we will not eat out or buy luxurious food. So much money is spent carelessly at restaurants and coffee shops on over-portioned and over-priced foods. Eating at home is a simple way of solving this problem. There is opportunity to invite people into your homes to share food and stories, which invoke the kind of community mentioned in the book of Acts (love feast). This also involves cutting down on consumption of high cost foods, which typically are unhealthy for us anyways. One example is to eat less meat, which can help us identify with the poor of the world with eating from the land (fruits and vegetables).
5. Community meals. We will gather for meals together.
In keeping with simple eating, we may not be able to go out with people to eat at restaurants or going to coffee shops, so we must supplement this community time. There will be chances to eat with other people who are trying to live simply to encourage each other with scripture and grow together. As a result of our fast-paced lives we rarely slow down to work and eat with people. Also as a result of our fast-food culture, many people do not really know how to cook for themselves. To solve this we will be cooking, eating, and cleaning together in each other’s homes.
6. Avoiding distractions. We will choose relationships over technology.
One of our ultimate goals is to raise the need for community living like “the way” of the early Church. In order to reach this goal we must give up some things that can take us way from community living. Things like TV and computers/Internet are things that one does alone, and if alone, there is not very much conversation involved. Thinking of these things as evil is not a healthy way of viewing it because sometimes in our cultures things like the Internet are necessary. We suggest leaving the TV off for these 40 days and only using the Internet to accomplish a certain task then getting off the computer. Distractions may also include things like iPods or any other personal music players that can take you away from conversation and getting to know people.
7. Simply giving. We will give out of our surplus to those in need.
As a result of living simply we will be able to save quite a bit of money. This money is not ours to horde; all these blessings are from God and to be shared with His people. As the saying goes, “live simply so others can simply live.” This is our chance to break away from our tendencies to selfishness and practice generous giving. Consider the money that you would have been spent during this time and use it to help the people around you and to help Christ in the “least of these.”
’Tis the gift to be simple
‘Tis the gift to be free
‘Tis the gift to come down where we ought to be.
– Traditional Shaker Hymn