As we approach the first Sunday of Lent many of us will be thinking about what we are ‘doing for Lent’. It might be that we are giving something up or that we are taking something on. Whatever you are doing please think about how you might be able to help to raise money for those projects and places that the Bishop’s Lent Call is supporting this year. Over the years the monies raised by the Bishop’s Lent Call has supported projects from right across the world and especially in places such as our Link dioceses in Zimbabwe and when the Bishop and the Dean have taken Pilgrims to the Holy Land (as they are this Lent) projects there too.
Here in this Diocese as well as in places around the world in Lent there are people in great need. As part of our Lenten discipline we are seeking to help to show God’s love and compassion to those who have less than we do.
This Sunday in our churches we will be hearing that most evocative of readings from Mark 1: 9-15: the story of Jesus being baptised by John. As the Bishop and the Dean lead the pilgrims on their journey through the religious sites of the Holy Land they will renew their baptismal vows in Banias, one of the sources of the River Jordan. As they do this they will be reminded of their call as Christians to ‘turn from their sin and follow Christ’. These words from the Ash Wednesday service remind us of all that Jesus, who was baptised by John in the River Jordan, has done for us. It should remind us too that we are all called to share the Good News with those around us. We read at the end of Sunday’s Gospel reading that: ‘after John was arrested, Jesus came to Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled and the Kingdom of God has come near; repent and believe in the good news’.’ (NRSV)
Through our generous acts we can help those who are in most need to experience God’s love in tangible ways. That is so very important for those who live in places were there is unrest and struggles both politically and economically. The peoples of the Holy Land and surrounding areas do not find it easy to live together and there are times when it looks as if the situation might overflow again and become ever more difficult. Then in Zimbabwe it is not always easy to see what lies in the months ahead as they face a General Election. When he visited London in December Bishop Chad said that one of the questions that the peoples of Zimbabwe ask is ‘will these elections be free and fair?’. Will people be able to vote for whomsoever they wish and know that their vote will be respected? It is very difficult to answer this question in advance but we can pray about the situation in Zimbabwe as the country prepares for an election and we can pray for the peoples of the Holy Land as they seek to work out a way to live and work together.
We can pray too for our own Diocese and for the work that many of our churches do with the homeless and we are sponsoring one example this year. In addition, we are raising funds for a piece of work with people with mental health difficulties and also for the different groups which Bede House focuses on. The breadth of the projects here and abroad reminds us that we are all God’s children, that we must all seek to recognise our responsibility for each other and to be generous in response to God’s generosity to us.
So as we progress in Lent, and in these next posts think about the work in the Holy Land, please consider carefully and prayerfully what you might be able to give to support the Bishop’s Lent Call this year.
Perhaps you could save money in a Smarties tube or in a small tin which you can collect your donations. Maybe you have given up your daily coffee or favourite food (like me) and the money that you might have spent on that could be donated. Alternatively you might look out on the green open spaces of leafy Surrey and be able to give thanks for another year of pleasure from looking at that.
Whatever you do please pray and act carefully and prayerfully that those who are so much in need may know that God cares for them through the good things that we can do this Lent.