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with God, Others, Myself
A 40 Day Guide for Lent and Easter
Amid the horrors of war and a climate of fear, we all have an opportunity to CONNECT with many aspects of our lives -- our Lenten disciplines, the Earth, our relationships with other peoples, our work for peace, our desire to live more simply and consume less.
During Lenten daily devotion time, consider using this guide's suggestions for thought or action, preferably as a household. If alone, contemplate the day's thought for at least 90 seconds. If in a group, discuss each day for at least five minutes. 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. Find an empty container to collect your offerings. At the end of the 40 days, the recipient will be pleased at your generosity.
Select a Lenten Bible Study for you or your group from the six in "Who's Risen from the Dead, Anyway?" on the CD-ROM "Simply the Best: Over 30 Years of Alternatives" or in this web site archives here.
For "Ten Tips for a Simpler, More Meaningful Easter," visit SimpleLivingWorks.org >> Archives >> 10 Tips Easter.
1 - Ash Wednesday. The ashes on our foreheads remind us of our sinfulness and mortality. We can't take our possessions, power or prestige with us to the grave... or to heaven. This season of Lent let's focus on eliminating the distractions of "stuff." This will free us to revel in the meaning given to our lives by our relationships with people, with Creation and with God.
2 - Read Matthew 6:1. What hopes and fears do you have for this Lenten time? Give 50¢ for each. Open yourself to learning new ideas, attitudes, actions, habits. Pray for joy to accompany you during this Lenten season.
3 - This guide is designed to help us grow in our faith and to develop a spirituality of cultural resistance. To connect we resist those forces that keep us from connecting or that offer false connections. For example, advertisements that try to make us feel that we will be loved or accepted if we own a product. If we love things, we will feel an emptiness because things cannot love us back.
4 - "Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also." (Matthew 6:21.) Where is your treasure?
First Sunday in Lent. Read Deuteronomy 26:1-11 and Luke 4:1-13.
5 - "Behold, I am doing a new thing." (Isaiah 43:19) What part of your life, your world, is your wilderness this Lent? What new thing might you do or perceive this season? Give 50¢ for each idea.
6 - Wilderness is not bad. Though it might be risky and survival oriented, it reminds us that we can live with little. It is not a place to be avoided but a special place where "new" things happen.
7 - When the spirit "drove" Jesus, into the wilderness it was neither in a limo nor with a whip. Have you ever felt "driven," compelled, "this is something I must do"? I must discover myself, my mission in life. That could well be the urging, prompting, "driving" of the spirit also.
8 - Our society constantly tempts us to be wasteful. Practice creative frugality. List ten ways in your own life to substitute helpful, conserving habits instead of wasting such resources as food or water. Give $1 for each example. Give $5 for each one shy of ten you can't think of!
9 - What foods tempt you? Most people in the world have a very limited diet. For a week, eat only locally grown food that is in season. Take note of your menu and budget. Give 25¢ for each non-local item.
10 - What temptations confront you through TV commercials? Give a nickel for each commercial you see in the next two days. Give $1 for each one that makes you want to buy something.
Second Sunday in Lent. Read Genesis 15:1-12, 17-18 and Luke 13:31-35.
11 - The desert is a place where we are stripped of distractions. Give 50¢ for every TV program you watch today and tomorrow.
12 - For the next three days, turn off your car radio and/or tape/CD player as you travel to and from work. Use this time for quiet reflection. How does this affect your life?
13 - Find a wilderness area or green space near your home, at a park or at a reserve. Visit the area with a few friends or your family. While you are there, spend forty minutes in silence opening your mind and heart to God. Give 10¢ for every wild creature you see.
14 -Cars are idols for many in our culture. Plan to carpool, take public transportation, ride a bike or walk to school or work every day next week. How will this change your life? Give $1 each time you drive alone.
15 - If Jesus were alive today, would he approve of the large shrines built in his honor? Do you tithe to your church? Find out how your money is being spent. Does your church need a more extravagant building when so many live on the streets?
16 - Jesus compares Herod to a fox in Luke 13:32. How does Jesus seek to protect you from the foxes of the world? Are you willing to be protected?
Third Sunday in Lent. Read Isaiah 55:1-9 and Luke 13:1-9.
17 - Celebrate your baptism by drinking only water today. Feel the addictive effects that soda pop or coffee or some other beverage may have on you. Are you willing to ask God for help to reduce or eliminate any such addictions? Give 50¢ each time you drink something caffeinated this week.
18 - People tend to fear what is different or what they do not understand (ideas, people, different cultures, races, ways of life). Think of a group of people you fear or dislike, and consider why you might not like them. Give 25¢ for each fear.
19 - In many parts of the world and increasingly in this country, water is becoming more and more scarce. Today limit yourself to bathing with one gallon of water. Reflect on how we waste water in our daily lives. Give $1 for each way.
20 - What makes it most difficult for you to repent? Pride? Unbelief? Something else?
21 - What sins have you committed by "long distance" (i.e. by the stocks you own, by the corporate and government policies you have not challenged)? Give 25¢ for each.
22 - In Isaiah 55:1-2, the prophet proclaims: "Ho, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and you that have no money, come, buy and eat!" Do you try to quench your thirst with money, with material things? Does the way of money ever really satisfy your thirst?
Fourth Sunday in Lent. Read Joshua 5:9-12 and Luke 15:1-3, 11-32.
23 - Greed is a way to false power. There are many ways in which individuals, groups and governments demonstrate greed. List those you can think of. Take action to eliminate one form of societal greed that directly affects you.
24 - Become acquainted with a person whom you would normally avoid (because of race, age, class, disability, etc.). Observe over time how your attitude toward that person changes.
25 - In Luke 15:1-2, we hear the Pharisees and scribes complaining that Jesus welcomes sinners and eats with them. How can you reach out to those whose opinions and lifestyles differ from yours? How can you judge less and love more?
26 -For seven days consume nothing from a "fast food" restaurant. Instead, work with other members of your family to prepare meals together, including the menu selection and shopping. Experience the "inconvenience," satisfaction and the sense of community.
27 - Living simply can be lonely, especially if family and friends do not understand its value and don't cooperate. To empathize with another' loneliness, reach out to a lonely person, like inviting the person to supper.
28 - Leisure is important. Excessive leisure is like too much food. We can put on unneeded weight. Try substituting service - like volunteering to help the disadvantaged - for some leisure. Both service and leisure help us. Service also helps others.
Fifth Sunday in Lent. Read Isaiah 43:16-21 and John 12:1-8.
29 - Reflect on how important your "self-image" is to you. Recall a time when you went against cultural or social norms. How did you feel?
30 - O God, give us wisdom to know when to feast and when to fast, and let both be for the sake of others.
31 - Take a walk outside. Reflect on your relationship with nature, God's creation. Do you heal, control or destroy?
32 - Try a family meeting each week at the same time, such as Sunday after lunch. When an environment of trust exists, everyone can speak without fear of ridicule. Write down decisions. Do not rely on memory. During the week, allow any disagreements to cool, if possible, until the next family meeting time. If urgent, call a special meeting.
33 - After family meetings, have "family fun time," an hour or so to talk or do something together that's not work. Take turns planning the activity and the treats. Many resources for ideas are available from Alternatives.
34 - Consider using fewer personal care products, like make-up. Or substitute organic make-up that involved no animal testing. Resist the advertisers who try to make you feel inferior so that you'll buy their product. Remember the fifth Life Principle of Voluntary Simplicity: Nonconform freely.
Sixth Sunday in Lent. Read Isaiah 50:4-9 and Luke 19:28-40.
35 - Read Luke 19:28-40. Following Jesus' triumphal entry into Jerusalem, he entered the temple to interrupt business as usual. How can you interrupt "business as usual" in the world today? Give 50¢ for each way.
36 - During Holy Week, Latin Americans identify with their suffering liberator. Jesus did not just die for their sins, rise and leave them. He continues to live, suffer and die in their lives. Does Jesus liberate us from oppression, removing idols that blind us from loving one another?
37 - Spend at least 10 minutes reflecting and praying about what you were able or not able to do this Lent to simplify your life for yourself, for others, for your relationship with God. Give $1 for each.
38 - Maundy Thursday. Read John 13:21-32 aloud at dinner tonight. In remembrance of the meal Jesus shared with his disciples, vow to eat more simple foods, like whole grain bread. Give 25¢ for each simpler food.
39 - Good Friday. Throughout his life, Jesus aligned himself with those who were oppressed. Even in his death, he was on the side of those who suffer injustice. How is Jesus with those who are oppressed today? How can we be on the side of the oppressed? Give 50¢ for each.
40 - Easter Eve. Jesus' death embarrassed those who valued success. Those few followers that didn't abandon him understood Jesus showed how far love will go to be faithful. Do we understand it is in dying that we are born to eternal life?
Easter Sunday. Today at breakfast, read Luke 24: 1-35 and/or the Easter Seder*. Consider by yourself, or discuss with household members, what you have done this year during Lent and what that means for your future as a follower of the risen Lord.
In celebration of Alternatives' 30 years of service, this guide is taken largely from previous Lenten calendars (cycle C: Luke), specifically 40 Days to a Simpler Life (1998), Rivers in the Desert (1995), Journey to Understanding (1992 adult), and Road to Jerusalem (1989).
*Most 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.
© Creative Commons (originally 2004, Alternatives for Simple Living)
To read 2002's calendar (the best of cycle A) "A Time to Reassess," and 2003's (the best of cycle B) "Taking More Time to Reassess," visit SimpleLivingWorks.org >> Archives >> Lenten Calendars
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