I am a Trustee of two closely linked Christian charities, The Church Urban Fund (CUF)and Near Neighbours. Last Friday I spent the day with fellow trustees reflecting on what the charities are called to do, how we hope to make a difference in the next few years.
We began the day by reflecting on John Ch21 when the risen Jesus says to Peter if you love me feed my sheep. We thought about this call to care for the most vulnerable in society. We talked about how we might best equip churches on the ground to address poverty. For example, one of my fellow trustees works for the Trussell Trust as Head of Church Engagement and we talked about how many churches, like St Nicks, are involved with foodbanks and explored how CUF and Trussell could work even more closely together. We talked a lot about material poverty, such as lack of money for food, but we also talked about relational poverty. So many people are living without friends or family and are cut off from strong social networks. How can we help to bring people together, to build community? And we talked about the interfaith work Near Neighbours does, bringing together people from different communities to get to know each other and break down division and hostility. This sort of relational poverty is hard to address, especially at the moment with the situation in Gaza.
In Sunday’s reading we hear the parable of the sheep and the goats, it is clear that we will be judged in the end on how we put our faith into action. On our love for others, especially the most vulnerable. Jesus talks about addressing people’s physical needs, sharing food and drink, providing clothing, but also about relational needs, welcoming the stranger and visiting the sick and imprisoned. Kindness matters, neighbourliness matters.
We know this at St Nick’s and already do a lot, including our work with the foodbank. But there is always more we could do, together and as individuals. I wonder what Jesus is calling us to do, How we can put our faith into action to address both material and relational poverty?
If you would like to know more about the work of the Church Urban Fund and Near Neighbours visit https://cuf.org.uk/
With love and prayers,
Our service on Sunday 26th November begins at 10.30 am. We look forward to welcoming back Rev. Dr. K.Augustine Tanner-Ihm to preside and preach at our service. Our organist and MD, Ollie Mills will accompany the hymns and lead the singing. Here are details of the readings and hymns for the service: