SEVENTH DAY OF LENT:
TUESDAY MARCH 7th 2017
Friends of ours were up on the Malvern Hills the other day. And from their sharing on Facebook (yes, I do look at Facebook from time to time!) came this beautiful photograph. I have their permission to share it with you, dear reader. It is Hope, pictured. Last night, I was watching an inspiring TV program about the history of British photography. In it, celebrated newspaper photographer and picture editor Eamonn McCabe took us back to the beginning of this wonderful art form... all the way back to the 1830s when the first photograph was taken. He reminded us that the word photography means, quite specifically, 'drawing with light' - from the Greek for light (photos) and drawing (graphe). In the days before digital (only so recent really), the art and science of photography was all about using chemicals and plates which turned a negative into a positive.
Light-drawing is a wonderful way of thinking about photography.
Might it be for us, this Lent, a way of describing our vocations as Christians. We are called to be image bearers who draw or animate our lives with the light of Christ.
Where might we see such image bearers animating the light of Christ? Here is one story. This evening, at the Warley Deanery Synod we heard of an inspirational charity - Safe Families for Children - where volunteers from 563 churches nationwide are supporting 766 families (1,874 children) who are struggling. The charity has spread to Sandwell. And Kay, its co-ordinator in the Black Country, told us stories of the kind of vital befriending and support opportunities there are to help families back on their feet.
Social workers in children's services are so hard-pressed these days that they only have time to prioritise children where intervention (such as taking children into care to protect them from harm) is needed in an emergency. Safe Families is working with the council to provide a safety net for families to prevent that kind of intervention from happening further down the line.
Safe Families for Children supports families going through difficult times, reducing the flow of children into foster care. Single parents dealing with unemployment or illness can be lifted simply through one kind act of helping to clean the house or taking the children out to play in the park. Light-bringers can help a hard-pressed mother who simply needs a cup of tea and a chat. Such volunteers are having life-changing effects on many families.
Hope: picture that! (And all at a Deanery Synod - who says such meetings are dry, boring and irrelevant?)