I received the final daily prompt from 40 Acts today:
Congratulations on completing 40 Acts
I feel a fraud as I haven’t completed them – when we went to the UK I didn’t have internet access at mum’s, so wasn’t picking up the prompts. So I stopped joining in with 40 Acts on Wednesday 9th…still, I have stored the emails that I received in my absence and am considering revisiting them later on, and completing the 40 Acts a bit after Easter!
Those Acts that I have completed I have found really quite liberating – and they have changed my viewpoint a little…I have found that, in being generous, the cost of giving has been outweighed by the pleasure of seeing someone receiving. I have become a little braver in my giving, but I am particularly enjoying the anonymity of the stealth “Ninja Notes” which I have taken to leaving in shopping trolleys when I go shopping! I have no idea who picks these up, but I trust to God that the person who finds one of them is the person who needs one of them! Sometimes they are copies of the Father’s Love Letter (in French!) tucked inside a card, sometimes they are encouraging or motivational quotations, and sometimes they contain a 5€ note with a message saying “Let me help you pay for your shopping”. I don’t hang around to see who finds them: I just leave them and go. I don’t need to know who they are for; I simply need to trust in God’s provision for others through me.
I found that the prompt that I received on Easter Saturday summed up what this Lent has been about, and what it has been teaching me… I want to share it with you:
|from Mike O’Neill, CEO, Stewardship|
Two thousand years ago, thanks to the generous act of a wealthy man, the body of Jesus lay in a borrowed tomb. Though dead, the body was still guarded by Roman soldiers who were fast approaching the end of their shift. In a matter of hours, everything would return to normal and the guards would be free to leave their post.
Jesus claimed he would rise from the dead on the third day. The chief priests and Pharisees, experts at following and interpreting the law, could not accept his heretical claim. The Romans thought it crazy. A body couldn’t rise from the dead. Or could it?
They knew that on the morning of the third day nothing, or everything, would change.
Our final challenge today is to gather with your neighbour(s) and celebrate. It could be a party, dinner, movie, walk etc. How you gather is unimportant. The goal is relationship. After all, The Father’s goal in sending Jesus was to restore relationship with us.
But what about tomorrow? And the days after?
Tomorrow, believers in Jesus will gather the world over. Some will gather in cathedrals, churches, halls, cinemas, warehouses, and front rooms. Others will gather secretly in basements and back rooms forced into hiding by persecution and intolerance. Others will even gather in cars to avoid suspicion, and drive around with no destination in mind other than to worship The Lord in safety with other believers.
Some of the previous 39 acts have been easy. Others were more challenging. Some were light-hearted and fun, whilst others were deeply personal. Just like our authentic relationships should be.
For those of us who believe in the resurrection, our goal in the days ahead is to live each day deeply rooted in the significance of the resurrection and to consider the daily opportunity to be generous in our relationships. As Jesus taught, I hope it has become easier to joyfully share our possessions and build habits of generosity. But, has it become easier for us to share the reason for our hope, our joy and generosity? Perhaps now is the time to take a risk and share that reason with those you’ll be with this weekend and in the weeks and months to come.
Many of you who have joined 40acts are not believers in Jesus, or are unsure of what you believe, and we’re so pleased that you’ve joined us on this journey through Lent together. I suspect something about the campaign was attractive. Something about living for others spoke to you. Something about the message of generosity sparked an interest. May I urge you to consider the resurrection? I believe Jesus did rise from the dead on the third day and by doing so gave us the opportunity to come into a very real relationship with God, the Father and creator of the universe.
What about you?
Did everything, or nothing, change on the third day?
“For those of us who believe in the resurrection, our goal in the days ahead is to live each day deeply rooted in the significance of the resurrection and to consider the daily opportunity to be generous in our relationships.”
So be it. Amen