This week we reach Ash Wednesday, 14 February, which as we know is also St Valentine’s Day, and the start of Lent and it is time to consider how we are going to engage with this season. Last year Christ Church took part as a church in the 40 Acts Challenge. For those who are not aware, this is a generosity challenge for Lent created by the UK Christian Charity, Stewardship. Their vision is for the world to encounter Jesus through the generosity of His church. To accomplish this they facilitate ways to give to causes they care about and they challenge and inspire us to think about ways in which we can make a difference.
We all observe Lent in different ways but by and large people see Lent as a period of time in which they give something up, chocolate, alcohol or social media for example. 40 Acts encourages you to do something generous during Lent too and take the challenge to make a difference in some way for 40 consecutive days. During 2017 over 100,000 individuals and groups signed up for the 40 Acts challenge and this in turn created more than 4 million generous acts in 180 countries around the world. How exciting is that!
It is really simple to get involved, you just sign up as an individual, family or group and you will receive daily emails to your inbox (you get Sundays off!) You will wake up to a new challenge and short Bible-based blog. Some of the acts are small and relatively easy to do, others are more challenging, but they are all designed to stretch your generosity and your faith. I liked the fact that last year there were three challenge levels and so this made it achievable – even on the days when my own energy levels felt low.
Groups can receive resources via email to help, so for teachers, small group leaders, Christian Unions at schools, colleges and universities etc. it is easy to take part. There are even specific ideas for families so that you can do things together. I know some Home Groups are taking up the challenge, perhaps mention this to your Home Group Leader to see if it is something you could do together. The link to join is https://40acts.org.uk/join-the-community/.
I think we would all like to be people who bring hope and goodness into our world and this is one way of allowing Jesus to transform us into being more like Him. I found the challenge last year hard but extremely rewarding. Some days I failed completely, others I felt I had made a difference, albeit usually small, but alongside hearing other people’s stories I was encouraged to keep going.
I have just signed up, I hope you will too. As I just saw on the 40 Acts Facebook page …. ‘Change starts with you’. (https://40acts.org.uk/signup)