Our church is jumping into the space age, as we embark on our very first “on-line book discussion group”. The book we are studying is the new revised edition of “Living More with Less”. Doris Janzen Longacre wrote this book in 1980, and it became a Mennonite classic, influencing a generation of people looking to follow Jesus.
We’ve had a strong response to this; nineteen people in the church ordered books, with some people sharing copies. It looks like a third of our church might be participating. It might be that the new format of an on-line discussion is very attractive (it’s convenient for some of our members who live far from our church or have very busy schedules). Or it might be that this topic hits close to home. How do we live out our faith in a very materialistic culture?
I was surprised yesterday to read an article in the Globe and Mail that fits in quite nicely with the theme of our book study. A modern family deciding to pare down their possessions, and finding a better quality of life. Is “Living More with Less” becoming a modern trend? How does adding a faith component to the minimalist agenda change that agenda? These are all things that we’ll be talking about on-line, and in our two face-to-face meetings about this book. It’s not too late to join!
This week’s prayer: There are some things we need to think about. God, you know that sometimes too much is too much. Guide our discussion as we think about this together.
This week I’ve been reading about the early Anabaptists. They wanted to put their faith into practice, and to take seriously the witness of the early church from the book of Acts, where people held things in common.
The problem was that this turned out to be a very dangerous thing to do. Some Anabaptists were very generous to members of their congregation and the broader community. Other Anabaptist groups shared all their possessions with each other, and held things in common. The Anabaptists were preaching that Christians should not keep their wealth to themselves. God required that they share. Government authorities were alarmed. Was this a judgement upon them, that they should be required to give up their wealth? They were Christians too! The Anabaptists tried to explain that when God changes your heart, you want to give things away.
What does this mean for our generosity and offerings? Do we wait for our hearts to be changed, so that we want to give away more and more? Or does the action of giving actually change our hearts? Perhaps it’s the old common question, “Which came first, the chicken or the egg?”
This week’s prayer: Lord, how much should I give? How much does my heart need to change?
I took a mantel clock I inherited from my mother to a repair shop because it wasn’t working. It turned out it just needed a good cleaning. The repairman told me my clock was built in the 1930’s in Germany. He said, “Now that it’s cleaned, it should be good for thirty years or so.” Note to self: “2040. Take clock to be cleaned.”
The very same day I picked up the clock, I had spent a frustrating hour in the telephone store trying to buy a new battery for my two-year old cellphone. It turns out they don’t make batteries for a phone “that outdated”, as the clerk informed me. She showed me the vastly superior new models I could purchase.
How do I make faithful friendly-to-the-earth choices, in a world where so many tools I use are bound to be obsolete a few months after I purchase I them? I have resisted buying the latest things that come along, and have mostly only upgraded when something has broken down completely. But still, when I think of all the TVs, computers, tape recorders, stereos, telephones and digital whatevers that I have thrown away in the last twenty years, it would fill a good sized closet. Can you count how many computers your family has owned?
This Sunday we’ll be thinking about how our high-tech choices affect our relationship with God’s good earth, our mother earth.
Today’s prayer: Creator God, help me make creative choices about the technologies I use.