Yesterday i took down a post, it wasnt meant to be overly negative, but on reflection it could have come across in that way, and so i took it down. Over the past 18 hours ive reflected on it, and if you were someone who read it i apologise. So instead of writing about what the church could give up in lent, ive reflected on what the church could give during lent, give that would, or might change the world.
- Time. Yes simple one this one, but how many people in every community across the UK could do with someone giving them time. time for a conversation, time to listen, time for a cup of tea. Its the most significant moment in youthwork, when actually giving time to young people who wonder why when no one else does.
- Fruit. Oh yes the fruits of the Spirit. Hmm, they’re not for the church. They’re to share around. How might a local church love its community, be kind, be gentle, be good, be faithful, peace enacting and the rest.
- Gifts. Whilst the ‘asset-based-community development’ people talk about trying to recognise the gifts in local community, what gifts in the church – practical, personal, artistic or poetic might brighten, enlighten and renew a local space, a relationship, a persons day, a need.
- Money. Yes I said it, but what would it be to be a financially generous church to a local family, local charity or need. Not just the mission project a thousand miles away, but the mission in the midst, just for the sheer goodness and spontaneity of it.
- Space. More and more the informal space of the church is a place where people encounter; its in the open door, the cathedral, the candle and the imagery. Its in the space, so how might spaces be opened up for personal reflection, for collective grief, for community creativity or thought.
- Solidarity; How might the church stand alongside in lent, alongside the gay young person bullied at school, or the family suffering with benefit changes, or the mental health sufferer. Solidarity with the person and solidarity to challenge the causes of the suffering.
- Grace; In what way would a church act with grace during lent? does it have local wrongs to right – has it acted for its own sake and not considered its effect on local families, does it need to apologise? But how else might it act beyond the perceived deservedness of people and model grace, forgiveness.
- Humility; Might a humble church be one more in tune with real life, real life failings, struggles, challenges, and one on an ongoing journey, walking humbly with God. How might a humble walk be reflected in our song, in our actions, in mission.
- Hope. We know its needed, but how might the church embody hopefulness, and the hope of change, of something better, of future, even that hope might be needed, before an understanding of eternal hope.
- Love; none of the above is even possible if love wasnt part of the gift. As Friere argues, without love there is no dialogue. In creating space, humility, grace and giving, there is love.
Theres the old addage of not giving up something in lent, but doing something positive instead, and following on from this what might the church, and the people of God within it be able to give during lent, truly give (thats not giving in expectation to receive) but give as God gave.
As Volf suggests ; “But we were created to be and act like God. And so the flow of Gods gifts shouldnt stop as soon as it reaches us. the outbound movement must continue, indeed in addition to making us flourish, giving to others is the very purpose for which God gave the gifts” (2005)
What can I give? What can you give?