Pause for Thought: Being a Channel
Consumers or channels?
by Janice Ross
Suitable for Whole School (Sec)
To consider whether we are consumers or channels.
Preparation and materials
- Optional: you may wish to display an image of the English Channel, in which case you will also need the means to do so. An example is available at: https://tinyurl.com/5dtcdbnn
- Ask the students, ‘What does it mean to be a consumer?’
Identify that we tend to link consuming with food and buying things.
- A definition of the word ‘consumer’ is ‘a person who buys goods or services for their own use’.
Let’s consider our consuming habits this week.
Ask the following questions, pausing to allow time for thought after each one.
- Have we eaten or overeaten?
- Have we shopped for what we needed or what we wanted?
- Have we recycled and cared for the planet’s resources or wasted them?
- Are we happy to be called consumers?
- We live in a consumer society and sometimes it can feel too much. Even now, in September, adverts for Christmas have appeared!
A definition of the term ‘consumer society’ is ‘a society in which the buying and selling of goods and services is the most important social and economic activity’.
Ask the students, ‘Are we happy with that view of our society?’
- Consider the meanings of the root word, ‘consume’. It means ‘destroy or expend by use’, ‘spend wastefully’, ‘absorb or engross’ and ‘use up’.
These are rather negative words, wouldn’t you agree? Would they sum up our spending?
How do we feel about being called ‘consumers’ now?
You may like to ask students to discuss this question with a partner or in groups.
Time for reflection
Consuming is what many of us do, especially during highly commercialized parts of the year, such as Christmas. However, Christians believe that Jesus was not a consumer, but a channel. Jesus is not someone who used things up, spent them wastefully and destroyed them, and he doesn’t want us to live like that either.
Let’s consider the meaning of the word ‘channel’.
Optional: show the image of the English Channel, if available.
- In communication, a channel is a medium through which a message is transmitted to its intended audience.
- In geography, a channel is a body of water that is wider than a strait and joins two larger areas of water, especially two seas.
Christians believe that God sent Jesus to be a channel in both of these senses. First, Jesus’ task was to communicate the message of God’s love to a broken, needy world through his words, his life and his actions. Second, Jesus’ task was to bring God and humans together again in a relationship with one another. Jesus was a channel of blessing.
Please help us to be channels of blessing to other people.
Please help us to be more concerned about the needs of others than with what we can get for ourselves.
‘The prayer of St Francis (Make me a channel of your peace)’, available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OnhhLWOKUeA (2.36 minutes long)