Calendar - Living Simply with God
A 40-Day Hunger Calendar - User's Guide
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What is this “calendar”? What is this calendar for?
What is “simple living” about? What does God’s word say about this? How to use this calendar Contributing money What is this “calendar”? [top]
Any calendar helps you mark your days on Earth, comparing them to each other, making sense out of each one. This calendar is about hunger that God wants us to abbreviate, alleviate, eliminate. The calendar is also about how you can live a joyous and abundant life, filled with generosity towards others. A life modeled on Jesus’ own. A life that’s lived simply so that others can simply live.What is this calendar for? [top]
The 40-day calendar is a simple way to:
What is “simple living” about? [top]
- Take stock of your life;
- Simplify how you spend your time;
- Move God’s version of the good life into your life;
- Help change the lives of people whose personal “calendars” hold unending hunger, bone-crushing poverty and insulting injustice every day;
- Find hope for your life and the lives of others.
What does God’s word say about this? [top]
- Complexity and simplicity are close to each other. One action may change your life just enough to tip you to a new way of living.
- Too much of life is characterized by too much. Too much stuff, too many activities -- even too many just causes? -- might be clogging your life, your spirit.
- Your brain, body and life are limited. You’re human, after all, and not a minor god come to earth. Everything in life comes to its ends, its fences, its maximum stretching points. You may already be there.
- Overtaxing your capabilities results in (slow) death. Dying with the most toys still leaves you dead. The grinding stress of a harried/hurried lifestyle robs you of vitality, energy, health, connection to God and hope.
- Giving away your life isn’t simple. It’s not easy to give up some parts of your lifestyle on the strength of God’s promise that you’ll actually be richer. Living the theology of the cross means tough choices about what’s really important.
- What’s simple is what’s joyful and freeing. What’s simple is sustainable because it’s manageable. Think of it: Being able to live without the constraints of “too much!” Imagine it: An uncrowded day, an uncluttered life allowing you to live in unfettered gratitude towards God and generosity toward others. Are you smiling yet?
- Everything is connected to everything else. Your life bumps up against the lives of others. Some of what God does in your life rubs off, and someone else’s life is changed. Eventually, economies will change because of millions of decisions and actions like yours. Eventually consumerism dissipates, selfishness stops getting rewarded, justice prevails, the world’s wealth is shared, hunger diminishes.
- Simple living is both contextual AND context-free. You can live simply anywhere, anytime, with anyone. Now is a good time to start.
The prophets, priests, evangelists and Jesus are pretty clear:
How to use this calendar
- God is a God of abundance, not scarcity. (John 10:10)
- You don’t save yourself by the way you live, by what you have or keep, by how big you build your barn or how tall you stack your CD’s. (Luke 9:25)
- God isn’t exactly all that pleased with hoarding, selfishness or fear about dying. (Luke 12:32-34)
- Be satisfied with what God gives you. (1 Timothy 6:5b-10)
- The only question about “giving your life away” is “How will I do it?” (Matthew 16:24-25)
- The reason you have anything is to get God’s work done, not to make yourself into God. (1 Timothy 6: 17-19)
- The blessings around you? They’re given to you for redistribution. (Proverbs 19:17)
- Most of the important things in life are simple at their core. If you’ve been following along in the Bible, you already know what they are. (Philippians 4:8-9)
- For answers to questions, pray. (Isaiah 65:24)
- For courage, bind yourself to the community of believers around you. (Isaiah 43:1-3; John 17:15-19)
Try some of these ideas to make the calendar part of your way of life for 40 days:
- Use the calendar as a starting point for personal or family time each day. Insist on a ritual or routine that slows you all down, brings you into a quiet moment, gives you the chance to look at yourself and others, and to engage in important conversation.
- At work or at home, use the calendar as a large horizontal poster when taped together. Post it where you can see the suggested activities easily. Form prayer thoughts around each day’s suggestions, and find someone with whom to talk.
- Fashion prayer thoughts around each day’s activities, and offer them as informal starting points for devotional times in your family, at meetings, in small groups, during Sunday worship.
- If you use this calendar on a church bulletin board, add some of your own thoughts; new art, comments and suggestions for other readers/viewers. Think of it as an organic, growing “collector of congregational wisdom.”
- Pull pieces of the calendar into your personal Web site, your personal prayer life, your conversations with friends, family or colleagues. Make mantras – repeated maxims – out of what you read, and recite them to yourself at tough moments in your day.
- Keep a journal concurrently with your use of the calendar. Record your thoughts and reactions from Day 1 through Day 40.
- Give the calendar to a harried friend. Offer to engage your loved one in daily conversation for 40 days in a row. Think of this as witnessing to the Gospel of God in Christ Jesus.
- Carry it with you in your briefcase, school notebook, or purse. At meals, during study times, at times of rest – take out the calendar, unfold it partially, and focus on the activities for any day you have chosen. Now, think how that activity – and all that it means – intersects with what you’re experiencing in the middle of your daily life ministry. What do you notice? What else would you like to do? What do you want to tell someone else?
- Use the calendar as a disciplined way to contribute money to the ELCA World Hunger Appeal. Include as part of your calendar display area a coin bank or other receptacle to hold money. Think of your calendar time as a thank-offering time, a chance to bless others through the money and the life God has given you.
Contributing money [top]
This calendar includes a number of activities where “living simply” is hooked together with “living generously.” As you live more simply, you find more of God’s abundance available for doing what you really want to do: Diminish hunger.
Look around your congregation, and most likely you’ll see places where the ELCA Hunger Appeal is explained, where you’re invited to participate. When your donations join those of millions of other Lutheran Christians, you do together what you could never do alone.
The quick way to say it: Lives are saved. The longer story: Together with others who contribute to the ELCA World Hunger Appeal, you do whatever it takes to eliminate hunger, immediately and long-range; you counter the effects of sudden and lingering disasters; you work against the canker sores and evils embedded throughout the world; you give people who are poor a way out of their poverty; you speak up when injustice seems to be the only voice that’s heard.
We invite your gifts. We use them carefully. We work around the corner and around the world. We’re part of your church, and we know you. The ELCA Hunger Appeal is a good way to get God’s work done.
Your gifts to alleviate hunger and injustice here and around the world may be sent in these ways:
- Give your ELCA World Hunger Appeal offering through your congregation, or send it directly.
- The direct address is ELCA World Hunger Appeal, P. O. Box 71764, Chicago, IL 60694-1764. Please do not send cash. For credit card gifts, call 800.638.3522.
- For electronic contributions, visit the ELCA direct giving Web page.
- To simplify your giving, consider an automatic monthly gift (see "Automatic Withdrawal") to ELCA World Hunger Appeal. Your “first fruits” gift each month will help others live throughout the year.