As we reach the end of a Lent season that none of us could have expected, the cross stands within our sights as the ultimate symbol of love triumphing, freedom won and debt paid. Jesus told a powerful parable about a man who successfully pleaded to have his debts cancelled. Sadly, instead of modelling the grace and mercy he’d received, he went out and demanded repayment from someone who owed him relatively very little. Jesus’ sacrifice has released us from all that we couldn’t repay. Who owes you something? Can you extend mercy to them?
On National Siblings Day, our focus turns to the persecuted church worldwide: our brothers and sisters in Christ who risk everything to worship and serve him. At the time of writing, countries in the spotlight include India, Bangladesh, China and Nigeria. Our first reaction might be that we are powerless to help, but by partnering with one of the excellent organizations that work in these areas, we can add another voice to the campaigns and another pair of hands to the tasks.
When people fall out with each other, the pain of that broken relationship brings anguish to all parties which can then ripple out. Saying sorry is really hard, and sometimes doesn’t feel enough to heal the rift. What’s sometimes needed is mediation: listening carefully to both sides and steering them back onto common ground. Could you be that peace-bringer?
You’re on a stealth mission today – to donate gifts without being spotted. It might be more tricky, but if you’re fit and healthy, use caution and your imagination to see what you can do on the way back from your daily exercise or trip to the supermarket. No thanks expected. ‘Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.’ (Matthew 6:4)
Childhood should be a time of freedom, but many children lose theirs to crime. According to Youth for Christ, over 125,000 children and teenagers (under the age of 18) are arrested each year and over 20,000 under 25s serve at least one prison sentence annually. Meanwhile, an estimated 7% of all children have a parent in prison during their school years. There are organizations that offer specialist support to these vulnerable young people but we can help, too.
While we’ve been social distancing, social media has become a huge blessing and a lifeline for many. Perhaps now, more than ever, we can appreciate all the different ways to stay in touch – but despite that, it can be easy to lose contact with people you were once close to.
Why not choose now, when many might be feeling isolated, to put that right? If you’re worried your approach won’t be welcomed, start with prayer to prepare the way, then take the first step, trusting God to open the door.
Those who have devoted their lives to God in full-time ministry, whether at home or overseas, need our support. Especially now, when many of those who bring the Gospel to others may have had to pause or re-think the way they go about their work. Too often, they can feel ‘out of sight, out of mind’. It’s time to honor them for all they sacrifice for the kingdom, so dig deep and seek God for how you can make their burden lighter.
Our news bulletins are dominated by Coronavirus, but beneath the headlines there are stories of war continuing around the globe. Images of displaced people are commonplace, their buildings in ruins, the rubble-strewn streets carrying tanks and trucks of soldiers. Today is about playing a part, however small, in improving life for those caught up in conflict. This time, when we turn off the TV, it’s to act, not to forget.
We’re raising the bar on generosity, reminding ourselves to hold our possessions lightly and open-handedly. The challenge is to give away something that is precious to you, either in value or significance, being willing to surrender it for someone else’s benefit. In doing so, we are echoing David’s words to God in dedicating the temple: ‘everything comes from you’. (1 Chronicles 29:14)
Ask yourself who are the people that support your everyday life – the list may be a surprisingly long one. The milkman, postman, parcel deliverer, bus or train driver, checkout assistant, bin man: it’s so easy to take them for granted. Let’s turn the spotlight on those who are busy in the background and still needed to go about their jobs, even in this time of social distancing. Our message? We notice you, we thank you, we respect you.