Lincoln Advent: 6 December

Advent Prayers, 6 December
Community Work, Stamford

Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord.
We bless you from the house of the Lord.
Psalm 118.26

There is a man who sits on the High Street. The first time I saw him – I confess – I tried to walk past him. Sometimes I speak, sometimes I bring coffee, but sometimes I walk past: choosing my plans over the unexpected moments of the streets.

Everyone was walking by him – not with the hurried, blind steps that say “I will not see you”, but in a wide wary arc, going far, far around. I tried to do the same, but as I passed, the air changed. All around him, there was a deep and compelling sense of peace. I found myself turning back.

It turns out he was praying. He smiled, and welcomed me in. He spoke of his life and the people who changed it for the better. He spoke of his regrets and the people he had hurt. He spoke of the grace of God, kindness and generosity, the beauty of light, and the tiny pink blossoms on winter trees. I got him some food, I think – but he was the one with riches. He was the one sent by God.

Vincent Van Gogh once wrote to his brother: “I cannot help thinking that the best way of knowing God is to love many things.” To act as Christ today, there are many things we might do: give food, give time, get involved in a local project. But it is possible to do all these things and never let ourselves be changed by them. It is possible to walk a wide arc around the people we meet, even as we convince ourselves otherwise. To change – to become Christ today – it is not that we need to do many things, but to love many things. God invites us to love the moment we find ourselves in, the conversation in the street, and the prayer unexpectedly given by the one sitting on the ground. We may not always know how to help – or know whether we are being asked for help or given help – but if we can respond to the invitation to love, we will be changed; and through us others will be changed too.

Today we pray for the Community Work of Christ Church, Stamford: pray that those involved will learn to love many things deeply and find God in all they do.

the original post is here.

Lincoln Advent: 4 December

Advent Prayers, 4 December
FareShare Foodbanks

The disciples said to Jesus,
“Send the crowds away, so that they may go and buy food for themselves.”
Jesus said to them: “They do not need to go away; you give them something to eat.”
(from Matthew 14.15-16)

There is a woman who stands up in church every week, and talks about socks. She talks about damp socks and smelly socks. Worn out socks and fluffy new socks. She is quite passionate about fluffy new socks. New socks are a wonder: a sign of God’s love.

This woman spends her days working among the homeless. She tries to build relationships with people who have learned to trust no one, and she does that – in part – by giving them socks. So, each Sunday, she speaks with her church community about socks, the people she’s given them to, and the difference they have made. Then, she asks for more socks. Every week. Always.

She is very clever. If she spoke every week of the horrors of homelessness, of hunger, cold, pain and fear, we would feel overwhelmed. But socks are OK. We can handle socks. Socks ground us in a human story, and we can see that it is a story we might share.

At the feeding of the five-thousand, the disciples nearly lost sight of the people around them. Instead of seeing people, they saw a crowd, and that crowd was exhausting. “Send them away. We’ve done so much already. Let them go and find food somewhere else.” But Jesus would have none of it: “You give them something to eat.” You, meet their need. You, share your food and your lives and your stories. Share, until God’s presence is known.

Today, we pray for the work of FareShare Foodbanks. Fareshare redistributes food that would otherwise go to waste and co-ordinates food donations across the country. Fareshare works with local community projects , so that the food is shared in ways that help address multiple needs in the community.

you can find the original post here.