As I said, 40 Acts has been a disaster for me. I started off less enthusiastically than in other years, and quickly lost motivation, as the news of the pandemic became more serious and I started feeling anxious.
So, what did I do, if anything…You can click on the title of each section if you want to read the meditation from 40 Acts
ACT 7: You first
After you.’ It’s not something you hear very often in our preoccupied, me-first society. Yet, how easy it is to offer a higher place in the queue, your seat on the bus, the chance to go through a road junction first. And what a blessing to receive it!
Green: Everywhere you go today, hold the door open for anyone who’s following you.
Amber: Allow another shopper to go ahead of you at the checkout or let another driver out of a junction.
Red: Continue into the week, looking for opportunities to practice ‘preferring others’. Determine to make this a constant habit.
I do try to be considerate, to hold doors open, to let lesser loaded shoppers go first and so on…So today I continued to do this. I also tried very hard not to make sarcastic comments (only to myself) about drivers who I considered to be driving slower than they should be! Nothing world shattering, I’m afraid!
It did make me smile though, as I remebered last year…One 40 Acts day I was feeling right mardy, as I wandered the aisles of Lidl with my trolley filling up. I felt a prompt from somewhere, pointing out my less than charitable efforts.
“Oh alright then,” I grumped, “I’ll let anyone with a basket go first.” SIGH
I got to the checkout. Shortly after, a guy holding a couple of baguettes arrived behind me.
“Allez-y” I said, and he thanked me, and went next. As I prepared to unload my shopping onto the conveyor belt someone else arrived with a basket. Hah, God, I thought. Very funny.
“Allez-y” I said, and as she slipped by me (yes, you’ve guessed it) two more people with baskets arrived. By now God and I were in on the joke, so I was happy to let them past too…but it did make me wonder about God’s sense of humour!!
ACT 8: UNDER THE WEATHER
Coughs, sneezes or assigned to bed… if you live alone, it can be difficult to manage cooking or even making a drink; and if others depend on you, there’s the pressure to carry on, regardless of how ill you feel. Someone you know is going through a hard time with their health, so put aside time to help them in a practical way.
Green: Text or call someone you know who is unwell to see how they are doing.
Amber: Create a care package or ask someone if they’d like you to prepare a meal for them.
Red: Set aside some time for a hospital or care home visit, or relieve someone who cares for a relative full-time for a couple of hours.
This seemed a bit ironic, as the pandemic crept closer to us… But Mr FD wasn’t feeling 100% as he was nursing a cold. I felt that looking after him, and keeping my patience (he’s not the best of patients!) was a good effort.
I did also text a friend who wasn’t feeling well, with some Get Well Soon thoughts.
ACT 9 PREPAID
Imagine turning up to buy something, only to find you haven’t brought enough money. You apologise and start to move away, but the assistant says you can take it because someone else has already paid. The stuff of fantasy? Not if you become part of a growing momentum of pre-paying on behalf of the needy.
Green: Leave coins taped to a car-park ticket machine.
Amber: Check out websites like www.suspendedcoffee.com or search on Facebook for ‘suspended coffee’ to find an outlet near you where you can buy drinks for the homeless to collect later.
Red: Contact a Christian holiday centre and ask if they have a bursary scheme whereby you can offer to pay towards a guest’s stay.
I intended to do the green act, but never quite got round to it. The best I could do was leave a spare plastic jeton in the supermarket shopping trolley. Not even a 1€ coin, but a plastic jeton!! Still, I guess it would still be useful if you didn’t have your coins with you.
ACT 10 LITTERBUG
Every cigarette butt casually discarded, every sweet wrapper or takeaway container soon adds up to a big problem on our streets. Let’s care for the planet God gave us. Find a bin. It’s a win-win.
Green: Pick up five pieces of litter today.
Amber: Keep a pair of protective gloves in your pocket or bag, ready to remove debris wherever you go. You could even separate out the litter to recycle at home.
Red: Plan a community clean-up day. Advertise it as widely as you can and gather a team to systematically work through specific areas. Spread the word on social media with the hashtag #40acts.
Sorry. Did nothing…
ACT 11: FRIEND INDEED
We’re thinking of friendship in its thick-and-thin sense, today. Among our circle will be friends who are going through tough times and need someone near them. Sometimes, fear of saying the wrong thing makes us stay away, but so often all that’s needed is some company and a listening ear.
Green: Call a friend who you know is struggling and ask them how they are.
Amber: Give a small thing like a card or their favourite food to let a friend who is sad know that you are thinking of them.
Red: When you speak to someone, listen carefully to what they tell you and, if anything rings alarm bells, ask them if they’d like you to go with them to get extra support elsewhere.
We have friends in Rome – as the pandemic in Italy gets worse, and the restrictions more severe, I sent them a message assuring them of love and prayers. They joined in our Zoom church service today – it was lovely to see them!
Also, later on, after France was put under lockdown (allowed out only for a few reasons) I posted some Ninja notes into people’s post boxes – hopefully to cheer them up.
ACT 12: CHOCOLATE TUESDAY
It’s a rare person who doesn’t like chocolate, so this one is for lots of people around you. Wherever you go today, spread the love, chocolate style! You’re obviously going to need to work within your budget, but push the boat out and buy Fairtrade if you can.
Green: Buy a box or tub and leave it by the coffee machine at work, or at the school reception. Add a cheerful ‘help yourself’ note, with the hashtag #40acts (and your name if you want to encourage a response).
Amber: Arm yourself with chocolate and hand it out to those you meet as you go through the day.
Red: Keep an eye out and an ear open for God to prompt you about who to approach. As you offer them the chocolate, add an explanation about 40acts and see what conversations open up about Jesus.
I knew this was coming, as Chocolate Tuesday is a recurring Act, so I was already prepared! Chocolate bars for the students I was teaching, a box of chocolate for the staff at the Language Centre, and another left out for the students. A card and a 40 Acts sticker. While my students were surprised, they were happy to accept. And one bar left over for Mr FD!
I’m pausing in the mammoth catch up now, as I’m going to have a Mothering Sunday Skype (or equivalent) call to my mum.
More at a later date!!