Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Not Buying It: My Lenten Discipline

I don't always "give up" or "take up" something at Lent. I've read blogs from a lot of folks that will tell you about their deep theological reasons for not engaging in such a Lenten discipline, but I can't claim anything so thoughtful as my reason. I just haven't. Procrastination, lack of discipline, disinterest - those reasons are more likely!

This year, though, I've been thinking about trying something out for a few months. A blog I read, called Fake-it Frugal, has done a 31-days-of-nothing - buying nothing - for the last couple of years. As I mentioned in my sermon a couple of weeks ago, I just haven't been able to get this out of my head this year. I just keep thinking about it. And so I've decided, after a little back and forth about when and how, to try this as my Lenten discipline this year. For the season of Lent, I plan not to buy anything except gas and necessary groceries. I've stocked up my pantry, so I can cook at home (something, if you know me well, you know I do not actually particularly enjoy doing!) I've let friends and family know of my plans, and I told my congregation about it - as insurance that I will actually follow through and do it now!

A few people have asked me about my reasons for undertaking this task. I've been concerned about how I've been spending my money. I've been blessed to be appointed, this past July, to a larger church, with a larger salary. I don't know what I have to show that's of any real value for my extra income. Sure, I bought a house. But my mortgage payments aren't a lot higher than my rent was in my last setting. I eat out way too much. It's not only unhealthy for me personally, but it doesn't fit with what I believe about sustainability and the environment either. How we spend our money says a lot about our ethics, what we believe, and what we really prioritize regardless of what we've claimed to believe. I want my spending to better reflect the life of a Jesus-follower, a description I claim for myself. Yes, I'll save money this month. But I'm not planning to just go on a shopping spree after Easter. I have some things I've wanted to do to help others, to use my money as a blessing. I am hoping I can unplug myself from the relentless message of our culture that tells us, "I shop, therefore I am."

It's about 5 o'clock on my first day in. Already, I've longed for my Diet Coke fountain soda that I usually buy on my way to work. At the cafe where I hang out for my weekly open hours, I put a donation in the jar instead of buying some of the yummy desserts. I deleted my daily emails from Groupon and Living Social. I'm amazed, already, at how many times we're encouraged to spend, to buy, to consume in a single day.

My focus verses for my Lenten journey come from Isaiah 55:
"Ho, everyone who thirsts,
come to the waters;
and you that have no money,
come, buy and eat!
Come, buy wine and milk
without money and without price. 
Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread,
and your labor for that which does not satisfy?"

I will appreciate your prayers and encouragement in the coming weeks! 


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