Grace - fresh vital worship since 1993

Luxuries and necessities (words)

to be read with the 'luxuries and necessities' cards - these were real decks of cards in the service.

What controls us? How quickly do we allow nonessentials to take precedence in our lives?

Look at the pictures. Quickly sort them into two piles: essentials and nonessentials.

Consider how many of the things you called ‘essentials’ are really essential. Remember that 70% of the world’s population has never made a phone call, and that electricity has only been available for the last 150 years. But toilets with water flushing were around at least 5000 years ago, and even the most technologically primitive peoples have jewellery. What does this say about human needs?

What is necessary for you to survive? For you to take part in your society? For you to live a life of wholeness as a human? How different are these? What are you praying for when you say, “Give us this day our daily bread”?

Do we cover up what is inside us with food, drink, friends, computers and other good things? What are ‘good things’? Cigarettes and alcohol? [1 Cor 6:12]

The ‘desert’ of Lent allows us solitude and meditation time to consider our utter dependence on God, but Lent is often also associated with fasting.

Man shall not live [feminist proverb]
Man shall not live by bread alone [the Bible]
Man shall not live by bread alone, but it’ll do for an entrée [contemplative eater]

Some have exalted religious fasting beyond all Scripture and reason; and others have utterly disregarded it [John Wesley]

Is giving up chocolate for Lent a modern day joke or is it a serious attempt at following a Biblical commandment? In the Sermon on the Mount [Matt 6:16-18] is Jesus saying [assuming] that fasting should be a Christian devotion in the same way as giving or praying are?

In a different incident Jesus was asked why the Pharisees fasted but his followers did not. His answer is perhaps the most important statement in the New Testament as to whether Christians should fast today [Matt 9:15]. It seems clear from this passage that Jesus upheld the discipline of fasting and that he anticipated that his followers would do it. Jesus’ apostles understood him for there is reference to them fasting after his ascension [Acts 13:2-3].

Have we become so accustomed to ‘cheap grace’ that we shy away from more demanding calls to obedience? Grace without the cross? Why has the giving of money been unquestionably recognised as an element in Christian devotion and fasting so disputed?

Does fasting or denial of anything we ‘need’ involve a far larger sacrifice than the giving of money?

mike rose and steve collins

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