Tag Archives: charity

Lent And How To Give It Up

The 40 Days of Lent

The 40 Days of Lent

This morning I finished my Parochial Placement with St Thomas’ church in Fair Oak and Horton Heath. It has been a useful and at times challenging experience with much to reflect on; but more of that in a later blog. However, today, Ash Wednesday, I was given the opportunity to preach at their 10am morning communion service and I took my reading from Matthew 6:1-6, 16-21

May I speak and may you hear through the grace of our Lord; Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Amen

Today sees the beginning of the Lenten season, when we concentrate our thoughts on the journey toward the cross. I would hope that our focus is always centred on the passion of Christ and ultimately his resurrection, but for the next few weeks we are asked to try to set aside and deny ourselves some of life’s worldly pleasures. But how might we do that?

Well I wonder how many of us have started the day having already been shriven? … In order to be shriven we need to have made a confession – a confession that we’ve not always got things right; that we’ve held back our love from those most in need of it; that we’ve failed to live up to what is expected of us as followers of Christ.

Do we need to shout out how sorry we are from the rooftops? No, our confession is to be done quietly, honestly and simply between God and ourselves and although he already knows everything we’ve done, by admitting it before him he will know just how repentant we are. We need to have done this so that we can approach Lent unburdened, forgiven and with open hearts and minds.

Of course a good many people have translated this unburdening to mean an emptying of the larder… To deny ourselves all the goodies such as sugars and fats in chocolates, biscuits, cakes, etc.  I suspect that fewer people would have known yesterday as Shrove Tuesday – rather it was Pancake Day – and jolly nice they were too!

But we shouldn’t feel smug that we know it more than as a chance to lose a few pounds in weight, because it is hard to give up things we love; and don’t you find that the more we deny ourselves the more the shops, magazines and television seems to be full of images and examples of our favourite treats – no wonder we might look dismal instead of joyful.

I wonder also if we don’t – and you’ll pardon the pun – ‘make a meal of it.’ How many times when we’ve been offered a forbidden treat have we answered ‘Oh I can’t eat … I’ve given it up for Lent’ thus declaring to the world how good we’re being, rather than a simple ‘No thank you.’

This period is also a time for considering offering financial support with a donation to a charity or cause – perhaps with the money we’ve saved on buying all those goodies?  Maybe there’s a special Lent appeal, or Lent programme that puts a cost against the many blessings we already receive – and there’s absolutely nothing wrong in doing something like that – in fact I would encourage us all to take this opportunity to review our sacrificial giving – but an anonymous donation will mean so much more than an official thank you note.

We undertake this journey with Christ just as his disciples did on that first Lenten journey and I don’t expect Jesus was worried about how much sugar the disciples were putting on their breakfast cornflakes. He was more concerned that they understood what was going to happen, what they needed to know about and how they were going to continue his work – because time was running out.

We also only have a limited time, and I don’t just mean these six weeks, the rest of the year or even our lifetime, in which to make a difference and to really appreciate what we are being called to do. That time starts right now when we need to draw closer to God and so begin to gather up those imperishable treasures of goodness, mercy and love. In that way we will not only discover our own hearts but God’s as well.

Amen

I would like to finish by reading you a poem called Lenten Days

Lentern Window

Lenten Window – from the old to the new – from death to life

Thoughts of a Christian Aid Collector

Christian Aid Week 2014

Christian Aid Week 2014

We have just come to the end of the annual Christian Aid week, and all over the country collectors will be tearing open red envelopes, spilling out coins and plucking out paper money, counting it and sending off their collections to Christian Aid. Those same people will have been tramping the streets in all kinds of weather, opening and closing millions of front gates and greeting their neighbours and mostly strangers with the oft repeated greeting “I’m here to collect the Christian Aid envelope” all the while flashing their collectors badge just to show that they really are official volunteers. I love being a Christian Aid collector, but this year, for various reasons, I was unable to do so… and I’ve missed it.

 What I haven’t missed is the variety of postures you have to adopt to initially post the envelope through people’s letterboxes; or the people who swear that they never received an envelope when you both know darn well that (a) you put one through their door two days ago and (b) that they’ve probably recycled it into the waste bin…still smile! Or others who tell you to hold on, fetch the envelope and then hand it back to you… empty….. keep smiling!

I quite happily accept the “No thank yous” or “We already give to other charities” because I never feel that anyone should be under any compulsion to give to any charity they don’t or can’t support or to feel obliged to just because you’re standing there expectantly right in front of them on their threshold with your bright red collectors bag.

However, it’s great when their donation is there, ready and waiting to be dropped into the bag. or they pick up the envelope with profuse apologies for not having prepared it, then dash off to find their purses and wallets, while you often have to try and make small talk with their young children or pets on the doorstep; till they return with the envelope, which they are desperately trying to seal (I believe that the sealing of a Christian Aid envelope is one of the harder challenges in life) before handing it over with a huge smile. After all, God loves a cheerful giver!

Each of you must give as you have made up your mind, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver (2 Corinthians 9:7)

I even like the bulging envelopes, which you know are filled with pennies emptied out from various jars and pots, handed over apologetically because they think that it’s not very much but that you know will still make a difference; despite the fact that by the end of your collection round you know you’re going to need muscles like Channing Tatum!

But best of all, I love the fact that at least once a year Christians get out there, around the streets and homes in their neighbourhood, and become the human face of the Church. Door to door collections are very rare nowadays in an age when it’s probably easier and more economic to let your fundraising be done through the internet. An impersonal click of a button and an automatic email to acknowledge your donation is still valuable but showing people that you care enough about the work that is being done by Christian Aid to spend a few hours doing the legwork can be even more valuable.

So well done to all of you who did just that this year, your efforts will be greatly appreciated by the charity and by all of the projects that it supports – and well done to everyone who donated generously. I only hope that I can be part of it again next year.

In the meantime if you want to find out more about the work that your money and efforts could be involved in have a look on the Christian Aid website 

Donate to Christian Aid

Donate to Christian Aid