Lent

Yes, my refrigerator can talk. Among other things it tells me that it’s carrying too much weight: old, empty bottles of spicy sauces, rice that has been prayed over a couple of times, half-opened cans of sweets, manioc roots that are getting petrified, discolored heads of broccoli, sticks of butter piled like trophies, avocados that are no longer green inside, and yes, jarlsberg cheese, lots of it. A lot of this cataclysmic scene, I have to confess, is a direct result of my own shopping habits…

My fridge speaks of privilege. A couple of jugs of 2% milk. (I have milk and can pick the grade!) Sandwich meats packed in hermetically closed plastic bags. (Turkey meat. Gotta watch my cholesterol!) And plastic. (I am doing my best to leave a long trail of trash behind and plastic is a great way to do it!)

My fridge tells me I can eat whatever I want whenever I want. I open the door and it is like flipping through the remote in search of a T.V. show. I close the door and decide to go to Burger King instead. (There is nothing in my fridge for me!). And the fridge says, “I may be cold, but I have feelings too!”

Lent for me is a time to think of things like my fridge – what it tells me about the choices I make, whether responsible or not. My fridge reminds me of those who live without one. If somehow I managed to place my fridge in the middle of one of the Pygmy villages I visited in Africa, the people would have no clue as to what it was they were looking at. They would know, however, that only a rich man could afford so much stuff, even if they took an exception to my taste in food. In those villages, for all practical purposes, I would be Bill Gates.

Part of the reason I started thinking of my fridge as a “theological” subject was a graph I came across recently showing how much energy the average fridge in the U.S. consumes compared to citizens of several other countries in the world. I was shocked to see the numbers. To see this and other charts put together by The Center for Global Development click here. 

We are accustomed to this. We keep water warm inside pipes, delivering comfort almost to the touch, because we can’t stand waiting for 5 minutes for the water to get hot while we stand under a lukewarm shower. I order my coffee at Starbucks with the precision of a doctor instructing a nurse in the operating room – “Grande, one less pump, non-fat, no whip, 180-degree mocha.” And I do it because $4.40 per cup gives me the right to do it. Sad to admit, when it comes to coffee, I am a snob. Access to cash can clash with one’s classless constructs. Guilty as charged.

No easy answers to the agonies caused by complicity to an unjust system, but we can speak of incremental changes. You pick yours. One man is going without food for lent this year to call attention to the plight of thousands who suffer from hunger in Great Britain. You don’t have to go that far, but remember that fasting gives you an opportunity to get closer to God and do something tangible for a neighbor who is suffering.

As for me, with my wife’s blessing (she does so much better than me when it comes to this and many other topics!), I resolve to trim my refrigerator. And hope it will start talking to me in warmer tones.

Scripture

“If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.” (1 John 3:17-18).

Prayer:

“Father, I often feel discouraged by the inconsistencies in my life. I have a love/hate relationship with material possessions and feel confused and bewildered sometimes. I pray that this state of insecurity will not lead me to paralysis. I ask you to forgive me for neglecting to think of others who are not as privileged as I am. And please, Lord, help me find a balanced way to live a compassionate and responsible life, for your glory. Amen.”

CRU devotional: to read today’s devotional, click here.

Pastor Ivanildo C. Trindade.

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