The relevance of making time and space

Dr Martin Warner'Bishop of Chichester
Dr Martin Warner'Bishop of Chichester

The season of Lent is a period of 40 days when Christians prepare to celebrate the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ at Easter.

This preparation is done by renewing attention to prayer, fasting, and giving to charity. These three disciplines are part of the Christian tradition, and are found in Judaism and Muslim practice.

Christians base their understanding of these disciplines on the teaching of Jesus in the Bible. What is so striking about his teaching is its freshness and relevance.

When we look at his teaching on prayer, we find that it explores wellbeing, meditation, inner-peace and self-knowledge.

Jesus explores our inner-selves as needing to love and to be loved. The teaching is direct and simple; it begins with recognition of God as our creator, and moves to how we handle relationships in which saying sorry and rebuilding trust is an essential skill.

Fasting is a discipline that some people follow by giving something up for Lent and giving the money you save to charity. That’s neat, as far as it goes. But there is also a more demanding aspect.

The 40 day fast is an extended therapy session in which you are invited to assess the balance of your lifestyle. This is where a review of the use of plastic has featured this year.

This therapy invites us to look, rather uncomfortably, at how we are damaging ourselves and our planet by what we consume – energy as well as food. Plastic wrapping is closely linked to marketing and the massive production of wasted food.

Finally, giving to charity has to be more than a celebrity stunt, and charities have to be confident about the quality of how and what they claim to achieve.

Jesus asks us to be compassionate in how we relate to people in need, because that is what will ultimately make us fulfilled as human beings. Your happiness cannot thrive in the soil of other people’s misery.

What is most relevant in all this is the outcome: a story of death and resurrection. The threads of resurrection are part of our DNA as human beings, discovered through faith in Jesus Christ. A church near you will provide further details.

Faith Matters:

Church of England announces Digital Labs winners

The Church of England has announced the winners of their first Digital Labs, held in East London on Saturday 24th February 2018. The event brought together Christian coders, techies and creatives who have passion for using technology to equip and enable our 16,500 local churches. Delegates travelled from across the UK, Europe and USA to look at two broad themes: how to bring people to faith and how to grow people’s faith. The winners of the first Church of England Digital Labs event were:

Ask the Church – a chatbot to enable people enquiring about faith to ask the Church questions through Facebook Messenger, Twitter and the new www.churchofengland.org website and, in future phases, Alexa, Google Home and Siri

CofE House – a site to allow the sharing of high quality new and existing resources and digital assets, to support lay leaders and clergy across the Church.

Spring Talk on Sat-7 Talk in Petworth

SAT-7 ​broadcasts to 500 million people in the Middle East and North Africa. They produce a whole variety of programmes from children’s game shows to deep theological studies; lifestyle magazines to sports programmes – but woven through them all is the thread of God’s transforming love for the world through Jesus Christ. Their programmes are produced by Middle Easterners living in the region. Spring lecture Friday 13th April 7.30pm at St Mary’s, Petrworth GU28 0AD. There is ample parking within a 6 minute walk for those tarvelling further. Free Entry, all welcome - Canapes & Drinks Served. See: www.petworthareachurchestogether.com