Just after Easter, I realised that I needed to go to a foodbank. I didn’t want to but had to. While I was there, I was given a voucher to come to the café that’s attached to the Church. I didn’t come with any intention of joining the Church. When I was having my meal, I asked the person who was there what sort of church it was. I told him I have beliefs but wasn’t sure in what. He said that, as Christians, we believe in Jesus. Something just clicked.
“I came to the food bank, I still had my car and I was well dressed. As I entered the building I overheard people say – “what is she doing here?” That’s why it is so important to me that people don’t judge a book by its cover. We never know what is going on in someone’s life, behind closed doors.”
I recognised myself moving from orphan to son. People don’t think that they are worth something, worth anything. You can encounter poverty in so many places.
For John, prayer and kindness are at the heart of Christianity and his choice of Bible readings reflects that. John chose the book of Ruth from the Old Testament – a book he has come across recently as his church are reading through the Old Testament. He read it straight through in 20 minutes. He said: “I was really drawn to this book. I liked the way Ruth looked after her mother-in-law, Naomi. If someone hadn’t helped me I wouldn’t be here today.
Sometimes I thought that Jesus was so perfect that I couldn’t go to him with the stuff that had happened to me. But when you do, you find yourself literally set free.
‘When I was thinking about a Bible verse or story that I wanted to share there was one that kept popping into my mind. It is a verse that was very important to me about five years ago. At that point my marriage had ended traumatically and my husband had left me with nothing. I had lost my job, lost friends, and after many struggles and deeply troubling circumstances reached a place where I found myself with just £2 in my pocket.
Giving something up is really all about entering into God’s abundant mercy on a deeper level. It’s about being freed from all that binds us and it helps us experience the new life we so deeply seek.
I've heard a number of stories recently of deacons experiencing burnout, or whose situation is very challenging and exhausting. The church's pastoral care of deacons can be sadly lacking. And it's so easy for deacons to neglect themselves, especially when our work is demanding. Here are some practical and spiritual pointers for looking after our own needs as well as the needs of others.
The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity kicks off today (Wednesday 18 January) on the theme of racial justice, as churches around the world join the event aiming to strengthen the ecumenical ties between denominations and encourage a sense of mutual support.
So the Deacons’ Network Steering Group would like to invite you to take part in what we're calling 'Love your DDO 2023'. Taking into account just how busy our DDOs are, it may be helpful for us to offer to be resource people for them, on behalf of the diaconate.
Here are a few practical suggestions for your consideration: feel free to adopt or adapt, according to your situation!