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  • Count Your Blessings: Day 20

    This week, the focus shifts to 'women' which follows on quite neatly from the fact that last Friday was what used to be called The Women's World Day of Prayer, nowadays re-branded World Day of Prayer in an attempt at inclusivity, but it is still mostly women who do it!


    70% of the world’s poor are women.

    Give 10p for every woman in your family who has a job.


    OK, bit of semantics here - I am assuming they mean 'a paid job', because I have yet to find a woman who has no jobs to so, unless she is so frail or ill that she is unable to fend for herself. Cooking, cleaning, child-rearing, grandchild-caring, home-making, these are all jobs, just not ones which attract financial reward.

    Also more semantics - what do we mean by family?  Is it a 'we four and no more' which would mean I would give 10p for myself only.  Or should we read family in the extended way that would be true of the world's poorest communities.  I have one sister, who is paid employment, and two nieces of working age (which I am interpreting as 'over 18') one of whom is in paid employment.  I also have one sister-in-law who is in paid employment.  I think, therefore, it would be reasonable to say that the tally is four, which makes a pledge of 40p... which is almost half the amount the world's poorest people will have to live on today: scary!


    My Pledge

    Today - 40p

    Total - £20.65, three prayers, a rant and one e-petition signed

  • Third Sunday in Lent

    Today, being the first Sunday of the month, it was Communion, which seems to allow me to pick a hymn for today which is less 'Lent' and more 'Passiontide'.  It is a very lovely Roman Catholic hymn, based in Isaiah 53, with the delightfully named tune Yellow Bittern, BPW No 229

    See, Christ was wounded for our sake,
    And bruised and beaten for our sin,
    So by his suff'rings we are healed,
    For God has laid our guilt on him.

    Look on his face, come close to him-
    See, you will find no beauty there:
    Despised, rejected, who can tell
    The grief and sorrow he must bear?

    Like sheep that stray we leave God's path,
    To choose our own and not his will;
    Like sheep to slaughter he has gone
    Obedient to his Father's will.

    Cast out to die by those he loved,
    Reviled by those he died to save,
    See how sin's pride has sought his death,
    See how sin's hate has made his grave.

    For on his shoulders God has laid
    The weight of sin that we should bear;
    So by his passion we have peace,
    Through his obedience and his prayer.

    Brian Foley (1919-2000) © 1971 Faber Music Ltd, London.

  • The Wise and Foolish Preachers...

    Once there were two preachers who were going to use the parable of the wise and foolish builders as part of the all age bit of the service. 

    The wise preacher found lots of lovely images online and created a wonderful PowerPoint presentation to accompany his telling of the tale.  The foolish preacher took a plastic tray, a flat piece of rock, some 'sand', some wooden building bricks and a watering can.

    The wise preacher regaled the congregation with the exploits of the two builders.., even having the audacity to accuse the foolish builder of laziness or slipshod work (neither of which is in the original story), before announcing the moral of the tale.

    The foolish preacher invited the children forward, tried to encourage them to build two identical 'houses' from her bricks, one on the rock, one on the sand.  A child was entrusted with watering can to  simulate rain... and the uppermost block toppled from the house on the rock, while that on the sand stood firm.  After a hasty rebuild of the house on rock, the intensity and direction of the rain was switched to undermine the house on the 'sand'.  No neat moral lesson to deduce from the tale, but rather 'I wonder what happened next'?  What if the wise men helped the foolish man to build anew house?  And a new 'moral' that sometimes we mess up, but Jesus gives us each other to help us start again...


    Three times in the last decade or so I have attempted this.  Three times the house on the rock has collapsed under 'light rain'... is someone telling me something?



    * The 'sand' I used today was sawdust made by adding water to wood-based cat litter, as I didn't have any sand.  In the past I've used both play sand and builders' sand with the same effect.

  • Count Your Blessings: Days 18 and 19


    With the UK hosting the annual G8 summit (a meeting for the government leaders of eight of the world’s most powerful economies) this year, 2013 represents a historic opportunity in the fight to end world hunger. That’s why Christian Aid is joining together with other agencies to call for a fairer food
    system that works for all. Visit christianaid.org.uk/campaigns to say you’ve had enough of people going hungry and call on our leaders to act.


    There’s enough food in the world for everybody to eat, but right now, millions of people still go hungry. This year, lots of organisations like Christian Aid are joining together to ask politicians to stop so many people being hungry. This weekend, write a letter to your Member of Parliament (MP) telling them that you think it’s really important that everybody in the world has enough to eat. Ask an adult to help you find the address for your MP, and make sure you include your own address so that they can write back to you!

    This week I have received a fair few emails asking me to petition my MP about issues relating to poverty, both at home and overseas.  In a delightful and slightly unusual coalition, The Joint Public Issues Team of BUGB, URC, and Methodist Church along with the Church of Scotland have an e-petition we can sign.  More info here   It is also Fairtrade Fortnight, and you can create a 'mini marcher' here

    This morning the radio news reported a government minister essentially saying we should cut benefits to pay for bombs (or in more PC language, that the short fall in the defence budgets could be redressed by reducing the benefits budgets).  I'm not naive enough to think balancing a nation's books is easy, or that we can just have whatever we want and hang the cost (though as I said yesterday I'd happily pay more tax if it meant more/better/sustained services, but it did make me pause for thought.


    My pledge

    Today - sign one e-petition related to issues of poverty (today I chose the JPIT/C of S one)

    Total - £20.25, three prayers, a rant on voting and an e-petition to my MP (kind of liking that having voted I can also make my MP do some work!)

  • Count Your Blessings: Day 17


    Guatemala has the fifth highest percentage of malnourished children in the world, despite being a middle-income country. Tax dodging by companies means that it has insufficient income to tackle the problem of hunger.

    Give £1 if you have ever grumbled about having to pay tax.

    That's an interesting thing to contemplate... my immediate reaction was 'no I haven't', indeed I've always been of the view I'd rather pay an extra 1p in the pound income tax if that would safeguard services.  But then I thought a bit harder and I realised that I have (a very long time ago now!) grumbled about VAT being charged on "feminine hygiene" products which are hardly an optional extra.  In recent months I have been shocked and disappointed to hear ministers telling how they pay for accountancy services that enable them to reduce (or even avoid some of) the income tax they pay... "if you do 'X' you can legally offest it against tax..."  Oh dear, I am sounding like kind of pious prig!

    On balance, and given my choices earlier in the week, I think I can justify not paying today's 'fine' without it being avoidance, evasion or grumbling!!

    My Pledge:

    Today - zero

    Total - £20.25, three prayers  and a call to 'use your vote and pay your taxes!'