“You can give without loving, but you can’t love without giving.” So said Victor Hugo in Les Misérables, that epic tale of love and sacrifice which recently hit the big screen.
If you had to choose one word to sum up the Christian faith, you couldn’t do much better than to choose ‘love’. God is love... God so loved the world that he gave his only Son... As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you... Let us love one another, for love comes from God...
Love of God and love of neighbour are – according to Jesus – the summary of God’s law. And to love our neighbour means to seek their wellbeing. Christian Aid, whose work is highlighted in May every year, seeks to do just that amongst the poor of the world.
Christian Aid was founded in the aftermath of World War II when British and Irish church leaders were determined to do everything possible to help European refugees who had lost everything. These days the work to bring an end to poverty has extended beyond Europe to around 50 countries around the world. Christian Aid tackles the root causes as well as the effects of poverty, through relief, development and advocacy, acting to change an unjust world through practical love and care for those in need, regardless of religion, ethnicity or nationality.
Harwell and Chilton have been supporters of the work of Christian Aid for many years and continue to be so. In Harwell, the door-to-door collections will cease for various reasons, but door-to-door collections continue in Chilton, along with other fundraising initiatives, such as the popular Plant Sale and Coffee Morning. For Harwell residents wishing to donate to Christian Aid, envelopes can be found in St Matthew’s Church and returned via the wall safe near the door. Alternatively, it is possible to give online via http://www.christianaid.org.uk/give
The eradication of poverty is a very Christian activity and a large portion of God's Word is dedicated to the topic of poverty. Obviously, the poor are very close to God's heart. The ministry of Jesus could be even described as poverty eradication – when considered in its widest sense. Humans can be impoverished in their relationship with God and with their fellow humans, oppressed by unjust structures and selfishness, and weighed down by disease and anxiety.
Jesus’ made clear at the beginning of his ministry that he had a clear manifesto: “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed” (Luke 4:18).
We should care about poverty, because God cares about poverty. To support the work of Christian Aid is one way to engage with a great act of practical love in which we don’t just love our neighbour, but join in with the very activity of the God of love. As Victor Hugo also said, “To love another person is to see the face of God.” There can surely be no greater act.
Revd Dr Jonathan Mobey
Rector of Harwell with Chilton