Living Lent

Lent!

Do you observe it, or not?

Do you give something up for Lent, or not?

In the past I’ve argued strongly that as it’s not taught in the Bible we don’t have to worry; yet my experience of observing Lent has been spiritually and physically beneficial as a preparation for Easter.

But what to give up?

  • Alcohol?
  • Chocolate?
  • Social Media?
  • Netflix?
  • My phone? – Come on be realistic!

One year a friend of mine gave up spoons for Lent. Madness!

‘Living Lent’ is a new initiative challenging Christians and churches to make personal commitments to changing lifestyles for the climate.  Those involved are invited to explore what it means to open ourselves up to whole life change…for the climate.

Have a look at their website here:

https://livinglent.org/

It means approaching Lent quite differently, by being prepared to make significant personal commitments to changing our lifestyles for the climate, such as:

  • Giving up single use plastics
  • Going meat-free, or even free of animal products
  • Committing to finding alternative modes of transport.
  • Giving up electricity for an hour every day
  • Committing to buying food produced as locally as possible
  • Buying nothing new for the whole of Lent.

Opening ourselves up for whole life change for the climate is very biblical which is why I’m so inspired by it. It’s about hungering and thirsting for righteousness, in our relationship with God and with the world. It’s about exploring the Lenten wilderness. Lent is a time of self-discipline in order to grow in our discipleship. Our environmental damage is making more of our earth barren wilderness; we should travel there to have our eyes opened for our need for renewal.  It’s about being transformed by and in our relationships. Doing this together matters, because a community encourage, challenge and grow. It’s about our Christian call to love our neighbours. Climate change impacts the poorest and most vulnerable people in the world already. Our Christian call to bear the burdens of our weakest members means that those of us in the affluent west need to recognise our own abuse of the earth’s resources.

The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it. God created this planet and declared it very good. The creation – and everyone in it – is precious to God, and this should be reflected in the way we treat it too.

I’m following ‘Living Lent’ personally this year, but the challenge is to pursue this together as a church. What do you think? Imagine the impact of our whole church family getting behind this idea, even if we only do it for 40 days the impact could be felt forever.

I’d love to hear from you, so take a moment to look at the ‘Living Lent’ website and let me have your thoughts and ideas on what you are doing for Lent and what we could do together as a church.

I look forward to your comments and suggestions

See you Sunday


Shelter

I’m really pleased that we will be hosting the winter night shelter at RBC as it’s something I’m really passionate about.   In our last church Mairi and I ran the night shelter for two years and found it to be the extraordinary, profoundly culture changing experience. We had not long opened our shiny new refurbished church hall which looked absolutely fantastic. Gone were the nasty stained carpets and curtains from the 70’s, replaced by lovely natural, neutral wall tones, window blinds and a surprisingly soft functional carpet. Rather than be precious after the considerable investment that had gone into the renovations, our church held it lightly and encouraged the hall to be used and put through its paces, which it certainly was.

When we welcomed our night shelter guests, they came into this lovely new environment, we bought Ikea lamps and plastic stools as bedside tables. On arrival, each guest was given ear plugs, a bottle of water, a toothbrush and tooth paste to make their stay as comfortable as possible. The meals together were the best bits, as we all sat down and enjoyed some hot food before most of the guests bedded down for the night.

I met some great people including a guy called Carl who I baptised in one of my last services at the old church. Carl volunteered as my right hand man for year two of the shelter.

We even had the ex-guitarist of Showaddy Waddy come down to entertain the guests on a couple of occasions! He could tell some stories.

But so many of the guests were just normal, regular people for whom life had been pretty rubbish, ex squaddies, ex-cons, people in debt and a surprising amount of people who worked in catering and hospitality – I don’t know why!.  Normal people like me or you; for whom a few bad decisions or circumstances out of their control had left them homeless and vulnerable. One guy was a top rugby player in his school with big plans and ambitions felled by alcohol and debt. He died later on the streets- we were gutted.

At lot of worries were proven to be unfounded and stereotypes broken through those evenings. People were pleased to be given a bed for the night, nothing was nicked, all the rules were abided by and nothing got damaged. For a few short weeks, we were able to provide some shelter from the bitter February evenings for some of the most vulnerable people in our community.

This is why I’ve signed up as a volunteer this year when we host the shelter, because I’ve seen the difference it makes in people’s lives and I get something from serving in this way. When I serve like this it feels, right … what I should be doing, it puts my faith in action.

If you’re not signed up to help this year, we’ve got an extra volunteer training session this Monday evening at 7:30, come along and find out more and discover how rewarding and life changing the night shelter can be.

Have a great weekend

RBCM

Image result for acronyms

The big news is that today we are going live with the Church Manager job advert.  We are looking for a strategic, well organised and highly motivated person to join the team and take a lead in the organisational and administrative areas of church life.  You could sense the electricity in the air at last night’s CLT meeting when we read through the final touches of the job profile and commissioned the next step in the process. At January’s church meeting Emily told the story of how this role has been in discussion since 2012, which is why last night felt like such an achievement. What a great leadership team we have at RBC, I really look forward to our meetings and time together.

I eagerly anticipate this appointment because organisational management and systems are really not my bag. I can do it and I do it, but it doesn’t exactly fill me with champagne popping excitement, so to have someone with a sense of call and purpose to this post will be tremendous.  If you are interested, details about the Church Manager role are now available on the RBC website.

While we were in our meeting last night, the newly named Facilities Management Team arrived to run a premises inspection and carry out a few minor repairs.  This is brilliant and just what we set the team up to do. I’m getting teased though because my idea was to commission different ‘action’ teams to be active in their areas or expertise and to be known as an action team.  I love acronyms and I was getting excited at the prospect of; OAT: Outreach Action Team, MAT: Mission Action Team, JAT: Justice Action Team, PAT: Premises Action Team, CAT: Children’s Action Team, YAT: Youth Action Team.  Some acronyms work better than others, but you get the idea. However, at the inaugural PAT meeting the guys were concerned that PAT sounded like an electrical testing team and they certainly were not going to be a Facilities Action Team! So FMT it is.

Before I sign off this week I’ve got to tell you about the recent sermon series uploaded on our website. ‘Teach us to pray’ was the autumn evening service series last year focussing on different aspects of what we know as the Lord’s Prayer.   This is some of the best preaching and teaching on the Lord’s Prayer I have heard for a long time, I highly recommend you to download and listen to them on your commute, in the car or just around the house. Every week a different preacher took on a different aspect of this seminal biblical teaching and came out with some truly inspiring insights. Have a listen (you can skip week 1 – that’s just me setting the scene) you won’t regret it and a big thanks to all the speakers that got involved last term.

See you Sunday