Xtreme Lenten Series: Simplicity
March 15, 2020 (click here for PDF version)
Overarching theme: In 2020, FUMC will be a Go church!
When using this material as teacher, feel free to pick and choose the point you want to emphasis in the lesson. The format of the curriculum is designed to have an abundance of information in which to refer as desired.
The past is the past. There is nothing that can be done about it. The past can only be used to gain wisdom for the future. What can change is the future. When we, as God’s people, are willing to follow God in our daily lives, God will make a good way in the future. The way may be bumpy at times and have curves, but the process will be filled with God’s love and grace.
Lent 2020, the period of 40 days before Easter (excluding Sundays), begins on Ash Wednesday, February 26, and ends at sundown on the Saturday, April 11, before Easter. The penitential season of Lent is a season of the church year which commemorates the forty days Jesus fasted and prayed in the wilderness before he began his public ministry.
During Lent, we enter into a season of preparation, which includes self-reflection and repentance. Ideally, we seek to literally “turn around” and realign our lives and focus towards God. Most people think of Lent as a time to give up things, however, it can be a time to take on new life-giving practices. Lent helps rid ourselves of distractions and our own selfish desires to focus more clearly on God. For example, a person may give up sweets for 40 days and when the temptation to eat a sweet hits, that person instead prays to God for strength.
Practically speaking, Lent is a good way to form a new habit that helps an individual to live and love as more faithful disciples of Jesus Christ. I use to hear that it takes 21 days to form a new habit. Actually, for me, it took longer. Only you know how long it takes you to form a new habit. So, the intentional practice of incorporating a new Godly habit during Lent allows time for that habit to become a part of your life.
During the Sundays of Lent, we will focus on the following practices: Compassion, Prayer, Simplicity, Forgiveness, Servanthood, and Discipleship.
Gospel of Luke:
The Gospel of Luke was written sometime after 60 A.D. and before 70 A.D. The Gospel narratives were probably written to help people remember the story from actual witnesses. Most likely, decades after the death and resurrection of Jesus, the stories about Jesus had morphed into half-truths. Each Gospel had many similar stories but with a unique perspective from the eye witness. The author, Luke, was most likely a physician and worked with Paul on a missionary journey. Luke wrote a companion letter, which is called Acts, after the Gospel of Luke was written. Both letters, Luke wrote to Theophilus which means “God’s Friend.” There is speculation that Theophilus was a wealthy influential believer, or a name for a group of people receiving the letter. We really do not know for sure. The purpose for Luke writing the Gospel letter is explained in chapter 1 verses 1-4. Luke wrote to give an orderly and researched account of what was fulfilled in the eyewitness account of Christ Jesus. The people that received the Gospel of Luke were most likely gentile Christians struggling to journey as a Christian and understand the fullness of Jesus.
Reflect on this Scripture:
Luke 12:13-21 (NRSV)
Someone in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the family inheritance with me.” 14 But he said to him, “Friend, who set me to be a judge or arbitrator over you?” 15 And he said to them, “Take care! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of possessions.” 16 Then he told them a parable: “The land of a rich man produced abundantly. 17 And he thought to himself, ‘What should I do, for I have no place to store my crops?’ 18 Then he said, ‘I will do this: I will pull down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. 19 And I will say to my soul, Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.’ 20 But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life is being demanded of you. And the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’ 21 So it is with those who store up treasures for themselves but are not rich toward God.”
Questions to ponder about the passages:
What jumps out at you from this passage?
What does this passage say to you?
What is greed?
What does greed look like according to the scripture and your experience?
What is the result of greed?
How is greed a separate master from God?
This third week of Lent, we are going to focus on simplicity. In the Luke passage, we see Jesus being questioned by a person in the crowd. Jesus responded as if he was saying, “why are you asking me that question?” Interesting how Jesus took that question as an opportunity to teach on how to handle possessions instead of being the arbiter. It is up to us on how we are going to handle money, possessions, and things. We can either hoard, spend, or be grandiose with what we have. Any of these actions is a form of greed, or ill use of possessions. The result of this behavior is demeaning to others, boastful to many, and distancing to God. In the end, possessions end up meaning more to the person than God does.
Practically speaking, the more we have, the more we have to take care of. The more we have, the more we are enslaved to what we have. We have to keep working on our stuff. We have to keep updating our stuff. We have to keep paying on storage for our unused stuff. Our stuff can become a distractor in our relationship to God. How many times have you heard, or have said, “I am so busy, I can’t tell whether I am coming or going.” Our activities for family and play have moved many people to only attend church an average of once a month. If church helps keep us connected to God and the faith community, then how do think the depth of our connection is? Remember, our possessions enslave us and our wealth can distract us from our main relationship with God and lead us to be spiritually lazy. Maybe a move to be more simplistic with our possessions will help us live less distracted lives before God and one another.
Questions to Ponder for accountability in the group:
How are we greedy?
What do we allow our possessions and wealth do to us?
What does it mean to live a life of simplicity in our community?
What does it mean to live rich towards God?
What do you have to change in order to live rich toward God?
Activity of for the life of a disciple:
1. Remember to find encouragement for the day by reading the daily devotional from FUMC.
2. Ponder and pray on this scripture this week:
Luke 12:15 And he said to them, “Take care! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of possessions.”
3.Think on what you need to re-order to be rich toward God and relevant in our community as a Christian?