by Christine Sine
You are probably sick of me telling you that Lent begins on Valentine’s Day and Easter Sunday is April Fools Day and that we have chosen For Love Of The World God Did Foolish Things” as our Lenten theme. However, I am s strong believer in our need to transform the celebrations of the culture into celebrations of our faith and this seems like a perfect occasion on which do to this so I will not apologize for mentioning it again.
Here is what I am considering doing for Lent that you might like to try or suggest to your congregation.
For Valentines learn about and buy fair trade chocolate
Some of us are conflicted about giving up chocolate this year but as you do bite into that luscious Valentine’s chocolate give more than a thought and a prayer for the people who produced the cacao that it is manufactured from. It is estimated that more than 15,000 child slaves work on cacao farms in West Africa, farms that have also stripped thousands of acres of rainforest. We can make a difference however. Here in Seattle we are privileged to have Theo’s Chocolates, the first Organic and Fair Trade certified chocolate factory in North America. If you live in the Seattle area think of doing a factory tour during Lent to educate yourself. If you don’t, plan a chocolate party with fair traded chocolate products (there are lots of brands out there) and watch The Dark Side of Chocolate,
or watch Chocolat in which a woman opens a chocolate shop in a small French village at the beginning of Lent and shakes up the rigid morality of the village. It is one of my favourite Lenten movies and I love to watch it every year at this time. It is a great foundation for talking about chocolate, and the real meaning of sacrifice during Lent.
What could you do during the season of Lent to make a difference not just in fair trade chocolate but in other areas of inequity too?
Do a Bible study on the “foolish things” God did for us.
Read 1 Corinthians 1: 18-31. Death and crucifixion seems such a foolish thing for God to do to a beloved Son, yet it was the wisest thing that God ever did for humankind. Talk about the foolishness of God in this walk towards Jerusalem and the Cross and how it impacts your life. What other scriptures come to mind when you think of the foolishness of God? Get each person in your small group or congregation to come up with a list of verses that talk about different aspects of God’s foolishness. Talk about each of these and siscuss the implications for your lives.
Talk about all the “foolish” things God has done for us.
The death of Christ by crucifxion was not the only “foolish” thing God has done in the history of the world. It seems foolish to me that he chose a group of runaway slaves as special and chosen people. It seems foolish that Jesus chose a group of fishermen rather than scholars or religious leaders as his disciples. What else comes to mind for you? Discuss the “foolish things” God has done in the history of humankind, and in the history of the church that have unveiled the wisdom of God. How have these impacted your life?
Talk about the foolish things you have done for God.
It is not just that God has done foolish things. God also asks us to do foolish things. In my own life it seemed foolish to leave a successful medical practice in Christchurch New Zealand to join a seemingly derelict ship in Pyraeus Greece. I had the privilege of building a hospital on board this ship, the M/V Anastasis and establishing the medical ministry of what has become Mercy Ships, still impacting the lives of thousands around the world. What are the foolish things you have done that show the wisdom of God?
Think too of the foolish things Christ followers throughout the centuries have done too. St Francis foolishly gave up his wealth to work amongst the poor. St Kevin reputedly stood with his arms outstretched for days because a bird had laid its eggs in his hand. Foolish monks and nuns who ministered to the sick, exposing themselves to contagion and often dying as a result. So many foolish people who have followed Christ and kept the faith alive and vital.
What foolish things might God ask you to do this year? Lent is a great season not just for giving up trivial things, but for helping us and our congregations refresh our faith and refocus our lives. The suggestions above may not appeal to you but I do challenge you to take Lent seriously this year and consider ways to make a difference in your neighbourhood and our world.
For those in the Seattle area don’t forget our Retreat day this coming Saturday.