It is just over two weeks until Lent begins, traditionally a time of prayer and fasting, where we focus our minds and hearts on the centre of our faith; the death and resurrection of Jesus.
Jesus often used the image of food and banqueting as an image of heaven, where there was plenty for all. We see in the miracle of water turned into wine and in the feeding of the five thousand that under God’s provision there is enough for all. It is fascinating that in both of these miracle stories others participate to bring the miracle to people. In participating they get to be the hands of Jesus as he blesses and instructs.
Recent research reveals that in the UK that there is not enough for all with an increasing number of families relying on the use of Foodbanks and other assistance:
“Half a million people are now dependent on food aid, relying on a rapidly expanding network of food banks and support programmes . One in five mothers report regularly skipping meals to better feed their children and 5,500 people were admitted to hospital in the UK for malnutrition this year compared with 3,000 in 2008 .” (‘the growth of hunger in the UK’- )
Jesus taught us to pray ‘Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.’ If a sign of the kingdom of God is enough for all then how can we partner with Jesus to see this become a reality in our communities?
Keith Hebden, former curate within Gloucester Diocese and now Pioneer Minister for ‘Seeking Justice’ in Mansfield, has launched a national Lent Campaign called ‘End Hunger Fast.’ The campaign calls people to pray, fast and call for social change to end hunger in the UK.
In response to this call we are going to participate in this campaign by hosting a couple of prayer spaces.
The first is a 40-day prayer installation in Gloucester Cathedral that journeys through the Lord’s Prayer. Each week we will use a different phrase of the Lord’s prayer to help us pray and participate in ending hunger fast. Alongside this we will also host a 24 hour prayer room in the Lady Chapel from 7am on Sunday 6th April to 8am the following day.
You can check out the End Hunger Fast Website (not currently available) for information and creative ways to pray and campaign during Lent.
by the Revd Steve Clarke, Pioneer Minister in Gloucester city centre and curate at Gloucester Cathedral