The age of austerity

'Austerity'. Aren't you sick of hearing the word? The economy is in the doldrums for of a whole bunch of reasons. The way out, we're told, is austerity - austerity coupled with growth. Unfortunately there's not much growth going on, which leaves us with just that word 'austerity', & no clear path to recovery.


Part of me thinks a period of austerity wouldn't go amiss for some. We've got used to having what we want, and having it now. We get the new TV, the new sofa, now - then worry about paying for it later. We've forgotten what it is to wait for something, to save for something, to go without for a while so that we can have that something that we want.

But not getting what we want, when we want it, can be a good thing. It can make us appreciate the thing we want a little more. It can teach us that waiting is better than instant gratification. It can show us the value of sacrifice.


We're in the first week of Lent, a time when the church thinks about waiting and sacrifice. We're waiting to remember the ultimate sacrifice made by Jesus of Nazareth. Many people mark the 40 days of Lent by giving something up for the duration. It's a spiritual exercise: a self-imposed austerity, sacrifice. Something to help us to value more the thing we're waiting for - the death and resurrection of Christ.

For most of us the sacrifices made in Lent are not too great. But back in the wider world austerity seems set to dig deep, and to last a good deal longer than 40 days. My prayer is that those who impose this austerity do so with real care for those most affected; and that the rest of us help those worst hit in every way we can.