BY HANNAH BARR
We begin Lent with Ash Wednesday, the day we remember that from dust we came ‘and to dust we shall return.’ It’s a time to remember that the world is in a broken state; that its citizens are daily subjected to appalling horrors and terrors.
Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury, says of Ash Wednesday and Lent:
“This time of year is a moment in which we are called afresh to look at the reality… of human sinfulness and evil – and to reflect that that lies deeply within ourselves, all of us without exception…
“A good Lent takes hold of that and, in an extraordinary way, makes space for the hope of Christ… not only in our individual lives but also in the life of the household and family, in the life of the Church and of local communities and, I would suggest in the life of society generally.”
Lent gives us reason to be expectant of the living God. One of the ways we encounter God and demonstrate our expectance is through prayer. Psalm 5:3 says, ‘In the morning, Lord, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait expectantly.’
In the Lord’s Prayer, the reality of life, the hope of Christ, and the expectation of the living God which Lent encompasses, are beautifully realised and offer to us both challenge and encouragement.
During this six-part blog series, we’ll be reflecting on each line of the Lord’s Prayer, its impact on us personally, and how it relates to Viva’s global work in changing children’s lives.
Today: ‘Our Father in Heaven.’
It can be challenging to call God ‘Father’, and yet, it is one of the most profound names we have for God. That we begin the Lord’s Prayer this way demonstrates that we are God’s children and he wants us to enter into his presence.
God loves his children and the Bible is full of examples of how we should treat children as a result. The most famous is in the gospels where Jesus says, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the Kingdom of God belong to such as these.”
At Viva, the importance and value of children to God is the catalyst for our work. We work to release children from poverty and abuse worldwide and we’re not content with the status quo but rather we’re expectant for God’s working in the world and to follow where he leads us to work.
There’s a stunning picture of the prodigal son and his father by artist Charlie Mackesy. In it, the father embraces his son and holds him tight. Sometimes, Lent might feel like it’s you against the world: as you give up something, you reflect on your life.
But it’s our Father we pray to; not only do we have God in all this, but we have each other as the body of Christ. We are dependent on each other. And children around the world are dependent on us.
We cannot pray the Lord’s Prayer in a vacuum, we have to pray it and bring before God all the children around the world whose lives we want to see transformed.
God, thank you that you are our Father and that we can enter into your presence.
Help us to live this Lent expectant that when we call on you, you hear us and that you are a living God who is active in this world.
Thank you that you love all of your children and help us to show this love to all we meet, especially the youngest and most vulnerable in our world.
WHERE IN THE WORLD?
In Uganda, our partner network CRANE has helped over 1,700 children out of institutional care and back into the care of a safe, loving family – sometimes extended family of that child or otherwise foster families.
With support from local churches, CRANE listens to and mentors these families, and trains them in income generation. It also works with 35 orphanages to help them make a shift to places of short-term care, rather than being permanent homes for abandoned children. Read more about this work by clicking here.
Photos: Dev Benjamin, charliemackesy.com