The Archbishop of Canterbury has endorsed as his 2015 Lent Book, ‘In God’s Hands’, by Archbishop Desmond Tutu. This looks at how, no matter what struggles and injustices human beings endure, we are in God’s hands and our names are engraved on his palms.
Drawing on Archbishop Tutu’s lifetime of fighting for justice and against oppression and prejudice in South Africa and around the world, In God’s Hands is an intimate meditation on the human condition: how each human being is created in the image of God and is infinitely valuable.
In his foreword to the book, Archbishop Justin Welby writes that Archbishop Tutu is ‘one of the most extraordinary Christian leaders alive today, or to have lived in the last century or more.’
The BBC has published a series of weekly online resources based on the themes of Archbishop Tutu’s book. Starting in the first week of Lent and ending in Holy Week, the resources provide readings, reflections and prayers for individuals and church groups inspired by its themes.
Anglican Board of Mission (ABM) has produced Bible studies, intercessions and a Lent smartphone app to resource devotions and prayer time. The intercessions are framed on the Anglican Five Marks of Mission and the weekly Bible studies encourage reflection on the Christian’s role in worldly issues.
ABM are also encouraging donations to their Lenten appeal, which provides the opportunity to reflect on and contribute to the work of the church in various regions across the Anglican Communion.
The Church of England has released a smartphone app to provide daily readings and prayers ‘on the go’.
Thomas Allain-Chapman, head of Church House Publishing, said: “By making Reflections for Lent available across a range of digital formats we hope that more people will find it easier to make time for daily prayer and reflection, however busy they may be. New technology can provide a great way into the Christian tradition of taking up good habits – as well as letting go of bad ones – for Lent.”
Written by a diverse group of leaders from the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion, the meditations focus on the five “I Believe” statements at the core of Episcopal Relief & Development’s 75th Anniversary efforts:
- I believe that everyone should have access to clean water.
- I believe that no one should go hungry.
- I believe that all children and families deserve a healthy start in life.
- I believe that no one should live in poverty.
- I believe that together we can heal a hurting world.
Sean McConnell, Director of Engagement, said: “Lent is a time to reflect on Jesus’ call in Matthew 25 to care for those in need, and to redouble our efforts to live compassionately and uphold the dignity of every human being … Christians take time during this season of reflection to consider how their lives mirror Jesus’ teachings of compassion, justice and sacrificial giving … We are grateful and proud to work together toward a thriving future for communities worldwide.”
Mothers’ Union has published reflective prayer activities for Lent as well as family activities for Lent and Easter. They have highlighted the verse, “Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you” (James 4:8), and focus on finding time aside from the busyness life to reflect and be renewed in our faith.
Their Lent resources are designed to be used both for personal reflection and in groups. The faith in the family activity can be adapted for use in various contexts.
Primate’s World Relief and Development Fund (PWRDF) focus their Lenten resource on the good things happening across the Anglican Communion in food security. They give reflections with prayers, actions and opportunities for giving, to connect individuals with issues and programmes that support access to a nutritious diet for all.
In Canada, a coin box is also included with this resource, which can be brought to the local church at Easter to donate to PWRDF. The resource encourages us to remember our own baptismal vows and consider their implications in light of how central a shared meal is in our faith tradition.
‘The Gospel in Action’ is the theme for resources from Us (formerly USPG) this year. A Lenten appeal, prayers and Bible studies focus on worldwide mission and the ways in which the gospel impacts our daily interactions with others. The work of churches in development and relief is the basis of a study each week, and opens our eyes to how we understand the gospel at work in our world.
Wau Diocese, Episcopal Church of Sudan and South Sudan has published a booklet called ‘Reconcile: Moving Forward in Peace’. The resource is particularly poignant after the suffering of the South Sudanese since conflict broke out in December 2013, and reminds us that reconciliation is possible no matter how impossible the situation seems.
Rt Revd Moses Deng Bul, Bishop of Wau Diocese, says: “Lent is a time of year that is specially set aside for Christians to grow and learn more about their faith. As a Church in South Sudan, in the North Eastern corner of Africa, we face many challenges but one of them is not enthusiasm for our faith.
“It gives me great pleasure to be able to offer this course of learning. This is an easy course to use and will work as well in North America as it can in South Africa or South Sudan.
“The course focuses on aspects of reconciliation and it draws on stories from the Bible to allow people to learn together and grow. Much of the learning is done through discussion, enabling the sharing of fellowship as well as knowledge.
“The world needs to look beyond peace to see how it will heal the wounds of conflict especially for us now in South Sudan. Reconciliation is a personal thing that we all need and need also between different peoples. Jesus brought this to us in his teachings and the Bible shows us too how important this is.
“I really hope that you will make time to connect with us in Wau during Lent, share your insights with us and everyone else trying this Lent Study course. In this way we can all reach out in fellowship and perhaps learn more from each other. It’s an exciting idea.
“Whatever you decide to do it is my prayer that this course will help you to grow in the knowledge and love of God and bring you closer to Jesus as the events of Easter approach. I wish you every blessing in your time of study this lent.”
In the picture: a community group in South Sudan after the conflict