One evening a couple of weeks ago as I went to enter my parish church, I almost tripped over a homeless person sleeping on the ground in the church porch. It was a cold night in our fairly-prosperous middle-class town. Sheep and goats — parable. Real people — in a desperate situation. What can we do?
As the new liturgical year begins on the First Sunday of Advent, Thinking Anglicans will once more be publishing a series of reflective pieces from a number of writers. We hope that this will challenge all of us to proclaim God’s love to the world, and also to take some practical action.
Much of what we publish and discuss is about sexuality and gender, whether that is women in the clergy or LGBT issues — so this is a reminder to us all that following Jesus Christ has other aspects too. It isn’t to diminish the importance of those topics, but there are other critical issues as well. This falls within the broad remit of the social gospel, and the very firm belief that the proclamation of social justice and the social gospel — and actually doing it, not just talking about it — is important and is a crucial part of our mission as Christians, as thinking Anglicans. Intelligent, considered discourse and engaging with such discourse in the rest of life (not just with other Christians), is something we can do to help proclaim God’s love for everyone, in a world which for some people is a very difficult place.
Over the next few weeks as we prepare to celebrate the mystery of the Word-made-Flesh, society around us indulges in a frenzy of consumption. And alongside publishing some pieces on a general theme of homelessness we want to give our readers an opportunity to do something about it. We invite you to make a contribution to the Church Urban Fund, which helps local groups work among the homeless and destitute, and tries, through local projects, to help them turn their lives around. At this time of year the CUF mounts its Advent Sleepout Challenge. It may be too late to join in the Challenge itself, but we invite you to donate money via their secure page www.cuf.org.uk/donate/advent-appeal/24/credit-card.
‘ “Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not take care of you?” Then he will answer them, “Truly I tell you, just as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.” ’ (Matthew 25.44,45)