This year I want to start that exercise – simply by reflecting on some things which over very many years, in church and in family life, have taught and given focus though the season of Lent.
- Statistically speaking about one in ten people go to bed hungry each night. This is an improvement. It used to be one in seven. When this was the case for a number of months – and on and off actually for years – I took myself to bed hungry one night in seven and used the discomfort to pray for those who had had nothing to eat that day, most especially children. It is why I still, all year round, use the Share the Meal app and give money to other organisations who feed the hungry.
- In Lent – there being 40 days – a 1:10 ratio might mean going to bed hungry 4 times during lent and praying for the hungry and those who work to eradicate hunger.
- A more useful variation might be once a week, as a family, to replace one meal with plain soup and a slice of bread and to give the money a meal normally costs in your home to a food related charity like Brot für die Welt – I have found this to work in family and church and even in a boarding school community.
- Statistically the leading cause of death around the world is ‘Water Borne Diseases’ I have many, many times during Lent put money in a jar every time I washed hands / had a shower / went to the toilet (you decide the activity and the amount). The money can then be given to Water Aid and/or Toilet Twinning Once again this is a project that has worked for both family, church and even in a primary school. As a church, last year, St Catherine’s, in partnership with two other churches, raised 1600 euros to help build a well in war torn Yemen. And – the toilet in the Anglican Centre was ‘twinned’ in 2018.
- The Carbon Fast idea I joined only a couple of times – once by myself and once as a church activity. Through Fridays for Future the concept of a Carbon Fast is hopefully becoming more mainstream?
- Some people now have a Social Media Fast… using the time saved for prayer or even family time…..
- For many years, Christian Aid produced a Count your Blessings resource which again worked well in the family and in the church. The basic concept is that on a given day their is a prompt which might be: Sophie in Tanzania would like to go to school but her family need her to care for younger siblings while they work on their farm – count how many years all the members of your family have spent in education and give 10 cents for each year (or in our context Burhan picked up some T-shirts from a local Kleiderkammer – count how many T-shirts there are in your home and give 5 cents for each one) – all the money then goes in a pot and is sent off to Christian Aid, plus you pray for those who are denied access to education / basics like clothing because of poverty….. Our family used the paper based resource for many years and then it went all high tech, but as an App was harder to use collectively.
- Have I ever ‘given up’ something – yes, for sure, because ‘self discipline’ is part of the fruit of the Spirit. Giving up sweet things was easy, giving up bread was the hardest…
There are other things / examples of projects I remember over the years but there is enough of a range here…
The money that was raised has never been for church funds. It was always given to those who endure life on the very edge of survival.
For me praying for the people or issues alongside possible raising of funds has been a really important ‘both sides of the same coin’ feature…. but I have known people who don’t have a faith who have joined in such projects to raise and give, but for whom the prayer would not have been important though relieving of suffering was……
Next year during the season of Lent – I would like to gather snapshot stories of what the people of St Catherine’s have experienced during Lent in their spiritual journeys….. – tell me over coffee and I will gather these stories over the next 12 months.
- for these couple of weeks of Ordinary Time and those who will bring us God’s word
- for our Prayer Breakfast (Sat. 8th Feb.) – those who attend and the people and issues they pray for
- for our Council – as they reflect on a further year of service or a break from it and as others, including those new to St Catherine’s consider stepping up and take up some of the reins
- for those considering and preparing for Baptism or Confirmation
- for the sick and the dying and for those who care for them
February’s newsletter is now online with dates for your diaries and other information around church life. Newssheet_February
As Jackie, our bookkeeper, prepares the budget for the coming year if you are new to St. Catherine’s or have never returned a Planned Giving Form – they can be downloaded here.