Give a Child a Future

schoolbook

There are quite a few blog posts floating around my head at the moment, but I have been too busy and/or too tired to actually write them. This is just a quick post to provide a link to the ONE campaign’s petition calling for education for refugees, the following is from an email I received earlier today:

Every child deserves an education. But right now, well over 3 million refugee children aren’t just away from their homes, they’re out of school.

The impact of this is devastating, with children often forced to work and, in some cases, having to agree to child marriages in order to survive.

These children have already lost their homes. They shouldn’t lose their futures, too.

This September, our leaders will be meeting in New York to discuss the global refugee crisis – they need to put education at the heart of that conversation. Sign the petition and let’s help these children get the future they deserve.

Thank you for reading, and thank you for signing.

The Kingdom of God Expressed Through Community

As I was listening to Luke 14, I was thinking about the means by which the representation of love expresses itself. In other words how we, as followers of Jesus, manifest His presence to those around us. What does this look like? Then I came to this part:

‘When [Jesus] went into the house of one of the rulers… to eat bread, they were watching him… when he noticed how they chose the best seats, [he] said to them, “When you are invited by anyone… don’t sit in the best seat, since perhaps someone more honourable than you might be invited… and he who invited both of you would come and tell you [to move]… Then you would begin, with shame, to take the lowest place. But when you are invited, go and sit in the lowest place, so that when he who invited you comes, he may tell you, ‘Friend, move up higher.’ 

…He also said to the one who had invited him, “When you make a dinner or a supper, don’t call your friends, nor your brothers, nor your kinsmen, nor rich neighbours, or perhaps they might also return the favour, and pay you back. But when you make a feast, ask the poor, the maimed, the lame, or the blind; and you will be blessed, because they don’t have the resources to repay you. For you will be repaid in the resurrection of the righteous.”

When one of those who sat at the table with him heard these things, he said to him, “Blessed is he who will feast in God’s Kingdom!”

extract from Luke 14:1-15 (WEB)

Blessed indeed. Aren’t we, as followers of Jesus, literally those who have ‘invited’ Jesus? Isn’t this what we profess as the root of our faith? How many times have you invited your friends round for dinner, or similar? How many times have you invited the poor, the maimed, the lame… or whatever might be the 21st century equivalent? I can’t think of a single time when I have done the latter. Can you? I bow my head knowing how far I fall short.

I am also struck by the idea of the concurrence of humility, kindness and generosity. One doesn’t stand on its own, not when we know Jesus. They are all part of the same, part of the great language of agape, as Brother Andrew puts it.

It seems to me that everything in the Kingdom of God is expressed through community, and that one of the greatest lies of our times is that the world revolves around ‘me’.

Reblog: A Beautiful Kingdom Warrior’s Perspective on Race Relations in America

Very interesting post.

I imagine there are many negative things within British culture that cause polarisation. For instance, there is widespread prejudice against gypsies in the UK (some people say one shouldn’t use the term ‘gypsy’ but as far as I know it is what they identify themselves as). When you’re close to it you don’t perhaps see yourself as prejudiced, maybe you see it as common sense. After all, gypsy communities are often involved in crime and social disorder… or so the story goes.

More generally, people will say ‘I’m not prejudiced’ but then will spout the rhetoric of overtly divisive political groups who blame either immigrants or the unemployed for everything bad that has ever happened in England since Alfred the Great. The stupid thing is that the UK has a long history of being ‘multicultural’, going back two thousand years when the Romans first invaded. Various different races/cultures have invaded/influenced/imposed since then, until we invaded half the world under Queen Victoria (which was without doubt inherently racist!). All of us have mixed ancestry.

That said, there are some things that are perhaps more noticeable by outsiders, and in relation to the US it seems to me that America is obsessed with labels and putting people into boxes right from childhood. There is also the (now universal, in the internet era) phenomenon of opinions being given the same weight as facts, which is troubling in and of itself. One of the pitfalls of freedom of speech? In this sense, ignorance is often as much at fault as prejudice… and that fact just makes me weary. :-/

The Beautiful Kingdom Warriors

rosaparks

Becky and I began The Beautiful Kingdom Warriors this January as a place to empower Christian women and to host redemptive (redemption: n. the action of saving or being saved from sin, error, or evil) dialogue on gender issues within Christianity.  We chose to name our blog “The Beautiful Kingdom Warriors” because we believe that our role as Christians is to partner with God in the redemption of the world’s brokenness, restoring God’s kingdom on earth.  When God presented Eve to Adam in the Garden of Eden, it was as his “ezer kenegdo” (Genesis 2:18, 20; ezer appears throughout the Old Testament to describe God’s help in warfare – i.e. the Warrior bit).

A simplistic summary of the story of the world is: the Creation (all was good, according to God’s plan), the Fall (all is broken and in need of redemption), and God’s Redemption Plan (encompassing all aspects of God’s restoration…

View original post 2,892 more words

A Voice for the Voiceless: The White Ribbon Alliance

Speak up for people who cannot speak for themselves…

Proverbs 31:8 (GNT)

Remove the chains of oppression and the yoke of injustice, and let the oppressed go free.

Isaiah 58:6 (GNT)

…your light must shine before people, so that they will see the good things you do and praise your Father in heaven.

Matthew 5:16 (GNT)

Immerse yourself deeply among people by sharing their life, by friendship and by love. Give yourself to them completely, like Jesus who came to serve and not to be served; you, too, become one with them. Then you will be like leaven which must lose itself in the dough to make it rise.

Little Sister Magdeleine (1898–1989)***

*** From Contemplative in the Mud

Choices: Making a Difference

During the lead up to Easter known as Lent the ancient practice of fasting is observed. Fasting is designed to reorient our focus back to where it should be, away from the distractions (and sins) we so easily find ourselves falling into. Isaiah has some very interesting words on the nature of fasting that God desires:

Look, you serve your own interest on your fast-day,
    and oppress all your workers…

Is not this the fast that I choose:
    to loose the bonds of injustice,
to let the oppressed go free,
to share your bread with the hungry,
    and bring the homeless poor into your house;
when you see the naked, to cover them,
    and not to hide yourself from your own kin?

Isaiah 58: 3,6,7 (NRSVA)

 

I want to focus here on the link between God’s ‘fasting’ and politics. Things can get pretty heated around election time. Who one votes for is almost on a par with whether one is a follower of Christ or not (or so certain people would have you believe). I personally am extremely wary of placing politics anywhere near on a par with Christ as I can see how easy it would be to fashion for myself something that becomes more important than Jesus himself, i.e. to make an ‘idol’ of politicians, political parties or political ideals. I also, personally speaking, prefer to keep my political inclinations to myself. I consider the right to a secret ballot just as important as democracy itself. Also worth noting is that this prized thing which we call democracy, and over which wars are fought and men, women and children have been killed, is not in any way ‘biblical’ (and ‘biblical’ is often a term used by those advocating ‘I’m right and you’re wrong’ so I generally steer clear of the word). To get to the point: democracy as we know it, where every adult gets to vote, is very much a 20th century invention.

Having said that, I cannot see how Christianity or Christians can be disengaged from politics. Like it or not, Jesus himself was a political figure. The occupied Israel of 2000 years ago was a hotbed of political resentment and various groups all searching for a new leader who would set Israel free. At that time, Jesus was perceived as a political figure despite his basic refusal to engage with those who wanted to attach to him their own desires and ideals (no wonder he got up people’s noses, he point-blank refused to engage with them in the manner they wanted). Jesus can even be said to have been a political subversive, but his subversiveness – being the embodiment of God’s Upside Down Kingdom – was totally unlike anything anyone had ever imagined. Jesus was subversive even to the subversives! We can confidently state that Jesus was a political radical. Even his death was that which was reserved for dissidents.

So what does that mean for those of us who claim to be his followers? How does this manifest itself in the 21st century? Our world is dominated by politics and although we must not allow politics to become our ‘idol’, we can’t escape the fact that we still live in a world where people are hungry, lonely, suffering, poor – a world where 19,000 children under the age of five die from preventable causes every day.

Every day.

God, help us.

How do we as Christians respond? Did Jesus have any words in this area? The answer is yes, quite a lot, actually. This is (in my opinion) his summary:

‘All the nations will be assembled before him and he will separate men from each other like a shepherd separating sheep from goats. He will place the sheep on his right hand and the goats on his left.

“Then the king will say to those on his right ‘Come, you who have won my Father’s blessing! Take your inheritance—the kingdom reserved for you since the foundation of the world! For I was hungry and you gave me food. I was thirsty and you gave me a drink. I was lonely and you made me welcome. I was naked and you clothed me. I was ill and you came and looked after me. I was in prison and you came to see me there.”

“Then the true men will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and give you food? When did we see you thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you lonely and make you welcome, or see you naked and clothe you, or see you ill or in prison and go to see you?’

“And the king will reply, ‘I assure you that whatever you did for the humblest of my brothers you did for me.’

Matthew 25:32-40 (JB Phillips)

 

What is interesting in the context of the 21st century is that all of these things are affected by, and shaped by, the decisions of those in power. Which leads us back to politics.

While I personally find it impossible to align myself with any particular political affiliation (because there will undoubtedly come a time when one’s faith or one’s conscience clashes with the party political line) I do believe that Christians should be actively involved in politics. You may be wondering how one does this without political affiliation. I am ‘politically active’ in that I am a member of several pressure groups involved in lobbying both the UK parliament and overseas governments on cross-party issues. In particular I support Avaaz, CAAT, 38 Degrees and Tearfund (Tearfund engages in both helping the poor and lobbying parliament on their behalf). I have just come across another group called Labour Behind the Label, which seeks to promote awareness of the conditions in which garment factory workers carry out their work. I have just written an email to my local Member of Parliament (MP) asking him to sign a motion calling for the companies involved in the Bangladesh garment factory disaster in 2013 to pay the compensation the victims are due. Several big brands, including Benetton and Matalan, have yet to pay a penny. You can read more here.

If you find you’re not in a position to actively do very much by way of caring for the hungry/homeless/lonely, etc. (see Matthew 25, as quoted above), because you have other commitments or find yourself, like me, feeling the effects of ill health, one way you can still be active is by signing petitions and communicating with your government representative (here in the UK it is my MP whom I write to). It doesn’t take more than a minute to read the details of a petition and add your name. It doesn’t take more than a quarter of an hour to write an email or letter to your MP. For me, it’s good to know I can do something.

Two_Roads_Diverge_in_a_Green_Park,_In_the_Middle_Stand_an_Obelisk_01

I shall be telling this with a sigh

Somewhere ages and ages hence:

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I-

I took the one less travelled by,

And that has made all the difference.

from The Road Not Taken
by Robert Frost

 

Tripling in foodbank usage sparks Trussell Trust to call for an inquiry. (Trussell Trust press release)

Foodbank usage has risen 300% over the last year. This is a very worrying situation for one of the world’s richest countries. It is even more worrying when senior government figures tell barefaced lies as to the reasons people turn to foodbanks, and the way that foodbanks work. I have been utterly shocked by the statements of such senior politicians as Edwina Currie, Lord Freud and Michael Gove. They have blatantly twisted the facts. They must be held to account.

Jack Monroe

20131016-082130.jpg
Photo: The Guardian.
Over 350,000 people received three days’ emergency food from Trussell Trust foodbanks between April and September 2013, triple the numbers helped in the same period last year. The Trussell Trust says that UK hunger is getting worse and the charity is calling for an inquiry into the causes of UK food poverty and the consequent surge in foodbank usage.
Chris Mould, Executive Chairman of The Trussell Trust says: ‘We said in April that the increasing numbers of people turning to foodbanks should be a wake-up call to the nation, but there has been no policy response and the situation is getting worse. The level of food poverty in the UK is not acceptable. It’s scandalous and it is causing deep distress to thousands of people. The time has come for an official and in depth inquiry into the causes of food poverty and the consequent rise in…

View original post 456 more words

Operation Christmas Child

It’s that time of year again… time to dig out your shoeboxes and fill ’em up with TOYS.

 

I LOVE DOING THIS!

 

This year we have three shoeboxes left over from buying start-of-school-year shoes, and over the past week we have been buying all manner of delights to fill them with, ready to send to a child who would not otherwise get anything for Christmas. Operation Christmas Child is run by Samaritan’s Purse, an American organization. You fill your shoebox with toys, sweeties and gifts and then take it to a collection point. Many churches and schools collect shoeboxes. It is easy to do and great fun. It is also a wonderful way to teach children about those less fortunate than themselves. For most children in the UK, the idea of a child getting nothing for Christmas is unimaginable.

 

Here’s what we have been filling our shoeboxes with:

Bar of soap

Sweets (voluntarily bought by my lovely Fluff out of her own pocket money!)

Toothbrush

Toothpaste

‘Magic’ Disney flannel:

It expands into a flannel on contact with water

Skipping rope, bouncy ball or beach ball (one for each box)

Pencils with rubbers on top

 

Sharpeners

Colouring pencils

Colouring books

Miniature farm animals

Finger puppets

How cute are these?!

 

and

Marbles

To find out more about how you can bless a child in the developing world this Christmas, please click here.

Why am I Here?

‘The place God calls us to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.’

Frederick Beuchner, as quoted in Kisses from Katie

Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

John 8:31,32

I am in awe as I read this book. Most inspiring book I have read since Wess Stafford’s Too Small to Ignore. I can’t recommend it highly enough!