2 ½ years ago Mrs McCall and I decided that it was time to buy a new car. Our plan was to give our old car to our adult son and work out a payment plan for him (we’re still waiting for the first payment!) and to buy a new car. Buying a car is both stressful and exciting; stressful because you want to get the right car for you needs, for a good price, but exciting because you get a new car! I wanted to buy the Hyundai i30N and both my sons supported me in my choice! It does 0–100km/h in 5.9 seconds, faster than a Golf GTi, and is super-fast for a front-wheel drive car around the Nürburgring race-track in Germany. This would be an exciting, exhilarating choice. Mrs McCall didn’t let me buy it, instead opting for a hybrid because she wants to “help save the planet”, so we bought a snooze-mobile hybrid: 0-100 in, I don’t know, because I fell asleep timing it.
Wednesday marked the start of the Christian season of Lent. Lent is a challenging time of the year, because it is all about living simply. We symbolise it in our tradition by having pancakes the day before: using up all the rich ingredients, so that they’re gone for the start of Lent, forcing us to eat more basic food in Lent, the time of preparation for Easter. Living simply in Western society takes self-discipline. It requires us to focus on what truly makes us happy, instead of what we think will make us happy. It is particularly important in Western society, because we are told that the latest and greatest purchase will make us happy.
It’s like me with my current bike: this bike is perfectly fine. It’s a few years old now, but it’s pretty light, even by today’s standards, it’s made of carbon fibre, and suits me perfectly. But then I started eying off a new bike. The frame was more aerodynamic, it had electronic gears and state-of-the art disc brakes, a relatively new thing for road bikes. I could have bought one for $7300 from a shop in Rundle Street. I hesitated, because I thought to myself, “Do I really need this? Would this new bike actually make me happier?” I hesitated too long, because in the meantime someone else bought it: probably a good thing, because I didn’t really need it!
Ash Wednesday is a reminder to live simply, to take joy in the simple things of life. At our Ash Wednesday service I invited the students to come forward and have a cross traced in ash on their foreheads. The person tracing the cross on your forehead said the words, “Remember that you are dust: commit yourself again to Truth, Respect, and Service.” It is a symbol of committing ourselves to what is important in life: putting aside our obsession with accumulating possessions, and, instead, focus on living simply, on serving others, and on the simple joys God gives us every day. Another way of expressing this is to be grateful for the beautiful things in life, to thank God for the miracle of life and to rejoice in that life every day.
The Reverend Dr Theo McCall