— by Denise Lilly —
Last year, the average American spent $145 on Easter, primarily on sweets and new clothes. Together, our country spent just shy of $17 billion dollars.
All on a holiday that has nothing to do with consumerism.
Before I had a blue-eyed boy who flashes animated grins at the sight of treats in eggs, it was easy for me to resist the consumerism of Easter. Bunnies are not particularly appealing to me. Pastel eggs don’t grab my attention at stores. (Though, admittedly, I have a weakness for Starburst flavored jelly beans.)
But now it’s different. I have a hard time resisting anything that makes my son shriek, and his blond head looks darn cute capped in a driver hat.
But what do eggs and bunnies and hats have to do with Christ? At the core of Easter is Christ’s redemption, and I must find a way to convey this to my child and to celebrate it myself.
For the past few years, my husband and I have taken the 50 Day Challenge as part of The Overflow Project. Starting on Easter, we simplify our lives in order to give generously to those in need. The money we save helps provide access to clean water.
As people who try to live simply most days, I’m amazed by how much excess we can actually cut out. We’ve given up coffee and other drinks. We’ve stayed home instead of traveled. We’ve walked to anything within a few miles of our house. We’ve tried our best to curb our spending, recognizing that we live in a land of excess while so many people do not.
By taking the 50 Day Challenge, we take the story of Easter’s redemption to our consumeristic culture. We seek to move into our spending habits and alter them, using our overflow for good instead of our own self-gain.
The statistics leave no doubt that our consumerism is in desperate need of redemption. 20% of the world’s wealthiest consume over 75% of the world’s resources, while 20% of the world’s poorest consume only 1.5% of the world’s resources. In the U.S., we spend $8 billion a year on cosmetics. In the entire world, it’s estimated that an additional $9 billion a year could provide water and sanitation for all, meaning every single human being on the planet. (More statistics are available here.)
I don’t doubt that my son will open plenty of eggs this Easter. Even if I don’t spend a penny on the holiday, his grandparents can’t say no to his charming smile. And I don’t blame them. But in light of the world’s disparities, I can’t stand by pretending I’m removed from the solution. It’s clear that small changes, made collectively, won’t just make a difference, they’ll make the difference.
After Christ rose, he remained on the earth for 50 days demonstrating how to live well. This year we’ll choose to display the hope and redemption of Easter by giving up some of what we don’t need in order to provide others with what they can’t survive without.
Beginning on Easter, let’s redeem our consumerism.
This is the third post in a Friday series about The Overflow Project leading up to the 50 Day Challenge starting on Easter. Periodically during the 50 days, various Challenge participants with share how they are taking the challenge and what they’re learning.
If you decide to take the challenge and would like to share your story, please contact us at Mustard Seed Associates.