Taking More Time to Reassess
A 40-Day Guide for Lent and Easter
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Amid the saber rattling since September 11th, we all have a chance to reassess many aspects of our lives - our Lenten disciplines, our connection with Earth, our overconsumption, our relationships with other peoples, our work for peace.
This 40 day guide is designed to help us grow in our faith and to develop a spirituality of cultural resistance. During Lenten daily devotion time, consider using this guide's suggestions for thought or action, preferably as a household. What Bible stories does the day's topic remind you of? What is God leading you to do in response?
Choose a project you want to support, and find an empty container to collect your offerings. At the end of the 40 days, the recipient will be pleased at your generosity.
The suggested websites are a few of the many worthy ones. Most of the sites recommended in our Advent booklet Whose Birthday Is It, Anyway? are not included here. View those at SimpleLivingWorks.org >> Archives >> Advent Calendars >> Birthday Gift for Jesus.
1-Ash Wednesday. Read Matthew 6:1.What hopes and fears do you have for this Lenten time? Open yourself to learning new ideas, attitudes, actions, habits. Pray for joy to accompany you during this Lenten season. Visit www.FutureNet.org
2-Thursday. Read the ten commandments. How will we honor the Sabbath each week together? Visit www.TimeDay.org
3-Friday. Notice advertising today. Discuss its effect with family members. List some things that ads make you want that you wouldn't even know existed otherwise and would never have missed. Visit www.Adbusters.org
4-Saturday. Go through your closet today and give away at least five pieces of unused clothing. Learn to live with less. Spruce up old clothing instead of buying new. Discuss what guides your clothes purchasing habits. www.MediaLit.org
First Sunday in Lent. Read Mark 1:9-15. What material possessions, people, fears or emotions do you allow to have power over you? How are you tempted to serve this other "master"? Visit www.Sojo.net
5-Monday. Pray to use your personal freedom to serve the needs of people in bondage to hunger. Keep a photo or a quote in your kitchen as a reminder of them for 40 days. Visit www.FoodFirst.org
6-Tuesday. Learn to enjoy without owning: what can you borrow rather than buy? Check out Bonhoeffer's The Cost of Discipleship or another book from the public library. Visit www.CommercialAlert.org
7-Wednesday. In Haiti, the poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere, a village of 6,000, the average source of water is two taps. Give $2 for every faucet in your house. Visit www.JourneyIntoFreedom.org
8-Thursday. Read Luke 14: 25-33. Name your most prized possession. How would life change for the better if you were called to give this one thing up? Visit and www.ShareholderAction.org
9-Friday. Could our church building be used more efficiently if opened to other groups? Brainstorm: What worthwhile local organizations could use free meeting space? Visit www.CommunityInvest.org
10-Saturday. Invest your monies with a social conscience. Visit www.SocialInvest.org
Second Sunday in Lent. Read Mark 8:31-38. Where does consumerism "set our mind" on human things rather than the divine realities? Visit www.SimpleLiving.NET
11-Monday. Average TV viewing in U.S. households is over 7 hours a day. Decide to do something for at least an hour other than watch TV tonight, such as read, take a walk, talk with each other, play a game, etc. Alternatives has lots of ideas for you! Visit www.TVTurnOff.org
12-Tuesday. Does something produce addiction in you - coffee, TV or newspapers, sports, chocolate, soda, snack food? Abstain for the week or longer. Visit www.ChurchWorldService.org
13-Wednesday. Make a list of five things you have and five you would like to have. Discuss with your family which are necessities and which are luxuries. Give $1 for each luxury item. Visit www.financial-education-ICFE.org
14-Thursday. Evaluate your church celebrations by their lifestyle and economic witness. What kind of foods are served? Are disposables used? Visit SimpleLivingWorks.ORG
15-Friday. "Dematerialize" celebrations by making your own gifts or giving gifts to non profits in honor of family and friends. Share the story of a meaningful gift you have received. Visit www.FairTradeFederation.com
16-Saturday. Pray for a spirit of openness and sensitivity. Ask God to help you see how your lifestyle affects those around you and sisters and brothers who are poor throughout the world. Visit www.TheOtherSide.org
Third Sunday in Lent. Read John 2:13-22. What needs cleansing in our lives, our temples, our structures? Visit www.ESA-online.org
17-Monday. Pray this Latin American mealtime prayer: "To those who hunger give bread, and to those who have bread, give the hunger for justice." Visit www.NewInt.org
18-Tuesday. Eat your evening meal by candlelight tonight and discuss better ways to conserve energy. Give $1 for every electrical appliance in your kitchen. Visit www.SolarCatalyst.com
19-Wednesday. Go to your place of solitude. Relax with eyes closed for 5 minutes. Now remember one joyful childhood experience. How did that experience make you feel loved? How can you share that joy with someone else? Learn about the Institute for Peace and Justice, Parenting for Peace and Justice Network, and Families Against Violence Advocacy Network at www.IPJ-PPJ.org
20-Thursday. Find joy in letting go and in sharing. Give away something of value to you - a book, tape, toy, tool. Visit www.WholeEarth.com
21-Friday. Give thanks to God for both the challenges and choices you have in your life. Ask God's spirit to fill all with compassion, insight and concern when making personal decisions which may affect the lives of others. Visit www.WorldWatch.org
22-Saturday. Many electronic devices are assembled in countries where workers earn fewer than 25¢ an hour. Give at least 25¢ for each electronic in your house. Visit www.SweatShops.org
Fourth Sunday in Lent. Read John 3:14-21. Focus on "God so loved the world..." the people, the animals, plants, the Creation. Living the "Environmental Tithe" means to reduce consumption of all resources by at least 10%. God put us on Earth to be stewards of Creation, not abusers, not dominators. Visit www.EarthLight.org
23-Monday. Water. In the Story of the Creation (Genesis 1 & 2) reflect on "And Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it." [to serve it and keep it: KJV] -Genesis 2:15. Visit www.EarthIsland.org
24-Tuesday. Our water is both precious and finite. Let's challenge wasting or poisoning of it. Turn the water off when not needed while washing hands, shaving or brushing teeth. Install an efficient toilet. Fix leaky faucets. Wash fewer loads each week. Take only the number of showers you really need. Install low flow shower heads. Turn off the water while soaping. Visit www.EcoStewards.org
25-Wednesday. When using public facilities, report leaks to the proper authorities (faucets, showers, toilets, drinking fountains, garden spigots). Ask why automatic sprinklers are running in the rain. Why do we water the street? Recommend a drip system instead of sprinklers. Visit www.TargetEarth.org
26-Thursday. Energy. Read the Story of Noah in Genesis 6-9:17. Reflect on 6:19-22 and 9:8-17. God does not want the Earth harmed. Visit www.EarthMinistry.org
27-Friday. Heat only the part of the building - church, home, office - you are using, not the whole structure. Use high efficiency ceramic space heaters. Set thermostats no higher than 68°F in the winter and no lower than 78°F in the summer. Style is no excuse to waste energy! Layers of clothing can be put on or taken off to keep comfy. Run your water heater no higher than 120°F. Wrap it in a thermal blanket. Visit www.GreenAtWorkMag.com
28-Saturday. Convert to fluorescent or other high efficiency bulbs. Wash the dishes by hand today. Hang the clothes out to dry this week. Inquire about an energy audit from your local utility. Visit www.NewDream.org
Fifth Sunday in Lent. Read John 12:20-33. Plan recreation that gives physical exercise and/or builds relationships but uses little fuel or other nonrenewable resources. Take only short trips or carpool, walk, bike or use public transit. Visit www.HopeMag.com
29-Monday. Consumables. Share newspaper or magazine subscriptions with a friend or read it at the office or the library. It takes 17 trees to make one ton of paper from non-recycled sources. Very few magazine publishers use recycled paper. Over half the magazines on newsstands are discarded unsold. It takes about 280 gallons of water to produce a large Sunday paper (after the trees are grown). Visit www.WoodWise.org
30-Tuesday. Buy only the paper products you really need. "Close the loop" by purchasing products made of recycled fibers, even if they cost somewhat more. Caring for Creation does not mean "living on the cheap." Yes, we can afford to do this for the Earth! Visit www.Eco-Justice.org
31-Wednesday. Recycle paper, metal, glass, etc. Set up properly marked bins at home, church, work, school. Volunteer to help get the materials to the recycling center. As important as recycling is, it is not an excuse for waste. It's more important to REDUCE consumption and waste. Visit www.Emagazine.com
32-Thursday. PRE-cycle - do not buy products that use excess packaging. Let manufacturers know you care. Chide the wasteful ones. Praise the helpful ones. Go shopping with a cloth bag. If you forget, request a paper bag and later use it to line your trash can. Decline plastic bags. Visit www.ResponsibleShopper.org
33-Friday. Take your own mugs, plates and silver if you go to a fast food restaurant. Use them instead of disposable cups and plates. Keep these items handy in your car or on your bike. Make a list of other disposables to avoid. Visit www.WebOfCreation.org
34-Saturday. Food. Reflect on Luke 12:22-32 or Matthew 6:25-33. Don't worry about what you'll eat or what you'll wear. That sounds like encouragement to live more simply. Visit www.STW.org
Sixth Sunday in Lent (Palm/Passion Sunday). Read Mark 11:1-11 (or John 12:12-16) and Mark 14:1-15:47 (or Mark 15:1-39 (40-47)). WWJD? What Would Jesus Drive now? WWJB? What would Jesus buy? Discuss with others: If Jesus accompanied us shopping, would our buying habits be different? Visit www.Boycotts.org
35-Monday. Read John 12:1-11. Reduce processed food by at least 10% at each meal. Cooking "from scratch" is more nutritious. Have fun "playing with your food" together. Make menu planning, shopping and food preparation a social event. Visit www.SecondHarvest.org
35-Monday. The crowds expected a certain kind of Messiah. Reflect: Jesus is not a model of triumph and success; his response to the suffering of the world is to join it. What expectations do we have of God for deliverance? Visit www.LionLamb.org
36-Tuesday. Read John 12:20-36. Serve and take only what you and your household can eat. Go back for seconds if you're still hungry. Try to throw nothing away. Develop clever ways of using left-overs.Visit www.Permaculture.org and www.PermacultureActivist.net
37-Wednesday. Read John 13:21-32 aloud over dinner tonight. Whom do we betray by our actions? Shop at Farmer's Markets. Eat mostly fruits and vegetables that are in season in your area. Food in grocery stores travels an average of 1300 miles to reach our tables. Investigate sustainable agriculture, subscription farming (CSAs), composting and rooftop gardens, especially for office buildings. Start a composter. Visit www.CSAfood.org
38-Maundy Thursday. Read John 13:1-17, 31b-35. Cook with the World Community. Investigate recipes from Developing Countries. [See Resources.] Organic foods are healthier for us, less dangerous to farm workers and less harmful to the soil. Their health benefits are worth the extra financial cost. Today we are in danger from the pesticides that have been banned in this country but exported to poor countries. Visit www.CHEJ.org
39-Good Friday. Read John 18:1-19:42. Learn about the power of "Cheap Food." Resist using foods that deprive other countries of food and have little or no nutritional value. People of goodwill who drink coffee drink with their conscience by buying Fair Trade coffee, such as Equal Exchange. Visit www.FairTradeResource.org
40-Easter Eve. Read Exodus 14; Mark 16:1-8. What needs to be "rolled away" for us to discover resurrection? Consider fasting one regular meal or one day per week. Use the pain to deepen awareness of poverty. Offer the savings to the poor. Help supply soup kitchens by gleaning unsold produce from grocery stores. Reduce consumption of red meat by 10%. It takes 2500 gallons of water and many pounds of grain to make one pound of beef for our table.
! Easter Sunday Morning. Read John 20:1-18. Does our faith enable us to SEE? Where does hidden consumerism still blind us?
! Easter Sunday Evening. Read Luke 24:13-49. Does consumerism keep us from recognizing him in the breaking of the bread in broken people?
In celebration of Alternatives' 30th Anniversary in 2003, this guide is taken largely from previous Lenten calendars, specifically "At Least 10% for God's Creation: Living the 'Environmental Tithe'" and "The Joy of Discipleship." "At Least 10%" has been expanded into a year-round perpetual calendar called "Simpler Living Alternatives Calendar for Any Year." In the form of bulletin insert masters, it can be reprinted without permission or royalties. The bulk of Alternatives' past resources, including 40-day guides, are available on CD-ROM "Simply the Best: Over 30 Years of Alternatives." Also visit SimpleLivingWorks.org >> Archives
To reach last year's calendar "A Time to Reassess," visit SimpleLivingWorks.org >> Archives >> Lenten Calendar 2002.
Recommended RESOURCE on Care of Creation - Earth Score: Your Personal Environmental Audit & Guide, 40 pp., $5.
More Lent and Easter resources are available in the collection "Who's Risen from the Dead, Anyway?" Read it at SimpleLivingWorks.org >> Archives >> Who's Risen.
Simple Living Works! continues Alternatives' mission of "equipping people of faith to challenge consumerism, live justly and celebrate responsibly." For resources for Advent and Christmas, Lent and Easter, weddings and other celebrations - some in Spanish - visit SimpleLivingWorks.org >> Archives.
© Creative Commons (originally 2003 by Alternatives for Simple Living)
Page updated 3 Jan. 2014
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