Through a measuring tool called Global Footprint, humans are able to assess the impact of various lifestyles upon the Earth. It is a complex process, but a simple formula. At present, there are more than 6.5 billion people on the planet. If we were to divide the Earth equally among all of us, 4.5 acres would be available to each person. 4.5 acres is what we are each entitled to use. It is a fair share.
From that 4.5 acres each of us would have to find the wherewithal to cultivate our food, the space and materials to construct our home, the energy to heat and cool it, the water for our lawn and toilets, a place to dispose of our wastes, the timber or plastic to put together our furniture, the fibers to produce our clothes, the metals to manufacture our appliances and cars, the petroleum for our transportation, and anything needed to make our gadgets and “stuff.” 4.5 acres would be each person’s fair share. Yet, as you can imagine, not every country gets their 4.5 acres.
Regardless of our personal habits of consumption, anyone who lives in North America benefits from the infrastructures, food choices, travel options, medical advantages, and conveniences of a standard of living that demands a lot more than 4.5 acres. (22.3 to be exact. However, if 4.5 acres is our fair share of the planet’s resources, then others must do with less so we can maintain our level of affluence.
Lent 4.5 is a seven week faith formation program which inspires and informs Christian communities on how to use the traditional Lenten disciplines of prayer, fasting and alms giving to protect God’s creation, embrace Gospel justice and nurture spiritual fulfillment. It offers practical opportunities for people of faith to apply the values of Christian Simplicity to their everyday lives.
Through a series of hand outs in the bulletins and optional small faith group reflections, you and I are invited to journey this Lent in a way that does the work of justice. There will be groups that meet on Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday evenings and one group that meets on Wednesday mornings. Next weekend, there will be people in the back of the church to answer questions about Lent 4.5. They will also be happy to sign you up for a small group of your choice. Let the bulletin inserts be an invitation to reflection this Lent. Prayerfully consider joining one of the small groups – they are wonderful opportunities to challenge and support one another to be good stewards of the resources God has given to us all.