Lent challenge

Lent Challenge – “Give”


Part of the Lenten discipline is to give – to charity, of your time, of yourself, help to others – and this picture represents one of those.

It’s not always possible for me to give cash to charity, but something that I’ve been trying to do is to crochet some hats to give to a homeless charity here in Manchester. They probably won’t be needed much now that the worst of winter has gone, but I have given some already and there will be some more to give when autumn comes around again later this year.

I wish I did have the cash to give, but like Jesus taught us, giving what you can is enough. Paul wrote of it too, and said: “For if the readiness is present, it is acceptable according to what a person has, not according to what he does not have” (2 Corinthians 8:12). Put another way Paul is saying that you should give in proportion to what God has given you. God has given me the gift of creativity and at the moment it’s the best way I can of contributing and making someone’s life better somewhere.

 

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Lent challenge

Lent Challenge – “Remain”


This verse from Deuteronomy reminds us that we ought not to take more than what we need, and to leave remains for those who cannot fend for themselves. A great reminder in our times of over-indulgence and greed.

Lent challenge

Lent Challenge – “Retreat”


Ever wanted to just get away from it all? To retreat into that space that God created just for you? Me too.

Lent is a time to explore that space in between God and ourselves, whether it is in active prayer or silent retreat, giving to others or simply trying to be a better Christian and a person who better reflects the image of God than the one we were yesterday.

 

Lent challenge

Lent Challenge – “Friendship”


 

In any friendship there is an element of vulnerability, and when we declare ourselves Christian and therefore friends with God we have to also admit to our vulnerability. Other elements of friendship are when we put out a hand either to accept help or to give it it, and when we cheer each other on in whatever quest we are undertaking. God is with is in all of them.

Lent challenge

Lent Challenge – “Questions”


As a Christian minister in the church I have been involved with quite a lot of people who have questions about God – what’s he like? How did he make the world, surely that’s just Science? Can he hear my prayers? – and so on. But the most common questions are ones about the God who “lets” bad things happen. Why did my child have to die? Why won’t God stop the wars in the world? If there is a God, why does he allow cancer to kill people? Why do floods and earthquakes destroy so much of our world?

I’m not sure I can answer those questions, and even though I have a lot of training and experience to come, I’m not sure even with 50 years service under my belt I could answer. But what I can say is that I believe in a  God of compassion and love, who feels our pain at such things just as much (and even more so) than we do. I believe that when we are standing at the gravesides of our loved ones he is there with us, shielding us. And I believe that when it comes to war and destruction, he is with those who are caught up in it.

I can’t imagine what my life would have been like if at the darkest moments of it God wasn’t there with me in the middle of it all. I realise that not everyone sees it the same way as me, and there is a lot of angry questions directed at God along the lines of “allowing” or even “causing” bad things to happen. My prayer is that one day, most people would try to walk alongside him instead of running away from him, and maybe they will see him at work bringing comfort and love to those who need him. The taxi drivers taking people home after the Manchester bomb, the people who feed the hungry in soup kitchens and homeless shelters, the people who run towards disaster to help others when their instinct is to run away, the nurses and doctors who tend to sick children and their families, those who donate to charity… the list is endless, and so too – thankfully – is the love from God.

 

Lent challenge

Lent Challenge – “Endure”


 

“…being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience,”

Colossians 1: 11

 

Lent challenge

Lent Challenge – “Fear”


This has been a tricky one today because it has meant delving deep to pinpoint my biggest fears and I have uncovered some uncomfortable and painful things about myself that I don’t want to post about here today on my blog. However, it did make me think about what fears I have about the things around me, and this cartoon accurately illustrates one of the biggest fears about our world today.

As a Christian I believe that God is working through us to recreate the earth all the time, but day after day we see stories of yet another way in which the human race is destroying our planet. If it isn’t pollution by plastics in our oceans and our drinking water, it is destruction of rainforests and species after species becoming extinct because of the loss of habitat. If it isn’t disruptive weather patterns because of disturbances at the polar ice caps then it is unbreathable air in our major cities.

God needs us to be his hands and voice but sadly we put our own needs before those of others and the result is, it seems, destruction and pollution wherever we look. My prayer is for those who stand up and fight against practices and systems that make it so easy to damage our world, that their voices are heard and their actions are fruitful.