CHRISTIAN LIFE IN LONDON | February 2024 EDITION
This Month’s Prayer Prompt AMEN TO GENEROSITY & SACRIFICE
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February 2024 Prayer Prompt
AMEN TO GENEROSITY & SACRIFICE
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Published March 2023



A recent conversation with a preteen offered an interesting perspective about the word AMEN that we often use to finish a prayer. Many of us would likely describe “amen” as an affirmation, a “so be it”, an agreeing with and a submitting to God’s will. She asked this question “So it’s kind of like shouting WOOHOO when my parents tell us that we are going to order pizza for dinner?” Hmmm, yes, it is…sort of…but on a much, much larger, more profound scale! As the discussion progressed however, it was good to actually consider what enthusiastic WOOHOO’s we should or could offer to God more often.

This may seem a bit discordant or incongruent to some as a Lenten prayer response leading up to Easter, which is generally a more somber season of lament, reflecting the sacrifice Jesus made for us on the cross.

But Philippians 2 describes this amazing example of the extravagant generosity of both Jesus’ life and death: “Think of yourselves the way Christ Jesus thought of himself. He had equal status with God but didn’t think so much of himself that he had to cling to the advantages of that status no matter what. Not at all. When the time came, he set aside the privileges of deity and took on the status of a slave, became human! Having become human, he stayed human. It was an incredibly humbling process. He didn’t claim special privileges. Instead, he lived a selfless, obedient life and then died a selfless, obedient death—and the worst kind of death at that—a crucifixion. Because of that obedience, God lifted him high and honored him far beyond anyone or anything, ever, so that all created beings in heaven and on earth—even those long ago dead and buried—will bow in worship before this Jesus Christ and call out in praise that he is the Master of all, to the glorious honor of God the Father”. Inexplicable, mysterious love of God.

For those raised in traditional church settings, pastors often spoke this phrase “And all God’s people said…” which was then followed by a hearty “Amen”congregational response. Maybe a heartfelt WOOHOO shout to God could be a very appropriate ‘call out in praise’ as you pray this prompt – on your own, with others in your prayer group, or with a prayer partner. In our current angry culture, it is fairly easy to be overwhelmed by injustice, hatred and evil; it is easy to harshly criticize leaders, bosses, pastors or partners; it is easy to become more self-focused when under many stresses, or life is not going the way we expect; and it is always easier to mad instead of sad.

So let us pause for a few minutes to reflect together about what God is doing right here in London Ontario. Then let’s shout some “Woohoos” to our Almighty God in praise for God for all the good things that have happened in the past month …and for those things we pray will happen in future days, holding on tightly to Jesus’ example of sacrifice and generosity beyond measure. Join us in praise of God together:

WOOHOO, God for those who work daily with vulnerable and burdened people and for the many selfless volunteers who give of themselves to helping people in need – in our hospitals, in social work, in shelters and on the street, in long-term care homes and addiction recovery programs, in health clinics and in research, in schools, literacy programs and job-training, in meal provision and in planning. Bless their work, guard their minds, hearts and bodies – injustice takes its toll over time on all. Protect them, Father. We thank you for blessing our city with many wise voices and caring hearts. Help us to express sincere appreciation, caring and acknowledgement for them.

Likewise WOOHOO to businesses, non-profits, and workplaces who are stepping up and expressing greater concern and taking action to care for those with mental health challenges or experiencing economic hardships. May we not take this compassion for granted….it does not happen everywhere automatically. Thanks especially God to local individuals who champion these causes – a gift to us as a community. It is exciting to hear of the variety of supported and and affordable housing solutions being proposed – some in beginning stages, some ongoing and some being completed. Much needed.

WOOHOO to whoever the generous community member is who recently donated $25,000 000 to help those living in poverty. An amazing offering of incentive to help bring relief and spur action. A fund has been created at the London Community Foundation, the “Health and Homelessness Fund for Change” https://www.fundforchange.ca/ This anonymous donor is willing also to match additional funds given up to $5 000 000 more. WOOHOO to each who will come forward to also contribute to this fund, large and small gifts from caring hearts - as every dollar can make a significant difference in providing for those most in need. God, we ask that you bless both each contribution and each giver, multiplying it for good for all Londoners.

WOOHOO to Mayor Josh Morgan and city council for being willing to also step forward to make caring for those who are vulnerable a greater priority with more housing, with mental health supports, with food and shelter where needed. Not just talk, but actual actions. Not a simple task at all – not accomplished in a week or a month or a year.

Likely never completely here on earth – even Jesus acknowledged that reality in a fallen world. But taking steps in that direction is critical. Give these city leaders wisdom and discernment, physical and emotional strength of body, mind and character to stay the course. Too often we can cynically characterize all politicians as uncaring villains and fail to commend them for the good they seek to do. There are multiple complex issues. Give the leaders access to wise counsel locally, from across the country, and around the world. Our problems are not unique to London and solutions to poverty reduction, addictions, mental health challenges can come from many places. The voices of frontline workers, people living in the midst of poverty and oppression with the wisdom of lived experience, academics, experienced leaders, fresh young thinkers – all are needed. We pray for the forums taking place where a system transformation process is being discussed that involves nearly 70 local organizations across sectors – community health and social services, institutional healthcare, education, emergency services, business and economic development, land and housing development and multiple levels of government. May the dialogues, ideas and many curious questions that are shared, be woven together to find better solutions. Empower each individual at these “tables” to be open to greater collaboration and demonstrations of mutual respect. No one person or group has the perfect answer.

WOOHOO for congregations and groups who seek to practically help those in need beyond their walls and within their walls…providing meals, running tax clinics, offering warming spaces, coffee, listening ears, welcoming hearts, collections of clothing and much needed basic needs, raising funds… all those who take very seriously your words, Jesus, recorded in Matthew 25: “Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the creation of the world. For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home. I was naked, and you gave me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me.” We ask your blessing on each of them and the sacred part we can all play in some way. And God, bless those in London from other religious traditions or from no faith base at all who also act as good Samaritans in caring for the vulnerable. It all matters….Humble each of us to work well together.

WOOHOO to all those who are working at being generous good neighbours in this city, not just those who are well-off but also those with limited resources – we can all help one another. Jesus, you came not only to provide a means for us to belong to a future kingdom, but also for all of us to start to bring your kingdom here in the present, here in London Ontario. In 2 Corinthians 8, Paul beautifully describes the Macedonian Christians to the Christians in Philippi to encourage them: “You are familiar with the generosity of our Master, Jesus Christ. Rich as he was, he gave it all away for us—in one stroke he became poor and we became rich. So here’s what I think: The best thing you can do right now is to finish what you started last year and not let those good intentions grow stale. Your heart’s been in the right place all along. You’ve got what it takes to finish it up, so go to it.”

Canadian author Preston Pouteaux in his book “The Neighbours are Real” categorizes these kind of people like this: the Celebrators, the Repairers, the De-stressors, the Activators, the Caregivers, the Includers, and the Discoverers.” We need them all, God! May we seek to be one of those kind of people in our neighbourhoods or our workplaces, in our schools or apartment buildings, in our sports teams or our fitness classes, in our friendships and in groups of strangers! Imagine the difference that this generosity of spirit could make in London. It is not always just financial - it is an attitude of the heart.

You tell us God that you want to bless us for this. Proverbs 11:25 says: The generous will prosper; those who refresh others will themselves be refreshed. Deuteronomy 15:10 also says this: Give generously to the poor, not grudgingly, for the Lord your God will bless you in everything you do.

We must also say a whole-hearted WOOHOO to all who have generously responded to Türkiye and Syria relief following the recent devastation of multiple earthquakes. Many Londoners have relatives living in this area of the world. God, stir hearts to help. And WOOHOO to all who continue to support those in the Ukraine who also need ongoing help, funding and prayers after a year of ongoing conflict. We pray for the conflict to end peacefully somehow, and for those still displaced, affected and in need after the attacks. Give NATO world leaders especially much wisdom, courage, perseverance, and informed understanding in days and weeks to come. WOOHOO also to those who step in to help countries experiencing heavy rains and floods like Brazil and Philippines... and to those experiencing too little rain and desperate drought conditions like Kenya, Somalia, Ethiopia.

Sometimes God, for many of us, it feels like too much to comprehend and care. Let our hearts not become hardened. Maybe saying WOOHOO can sound very trivial when we recognize the enormous loss of lives in these places, homes, safety, and the suffering both now and for many years ahead. But if a gentle AMEN is indeed agreeing with you God, affirming that we need to feel and act with compassion and attentiveness when crisis happens, not turning away from hard issues in the midst of busyness of our everyday lives. We pray for aid to come to these countries quickly. If we are able to give financially, may we be willing to give. We pray for families who are grieving and for those who still don't know if they have lost loved ones. We pray for fair distribution of food, clothing, medicine, shelter when and wherever needed – bless all those who devote themselves to this diligent exhausting work, ensuring needs are met to the best of their abilities in hard places all around the world. May we be more willing to engage in caring globally in some way - in the midst of the abundance so many of us enjoy here in London. We are humbled when we consider their deep losses as nations, as families, as people whom you love God. They need our financial support too. Remind us of this, heavenly Father, when we see images of their suffering...we confess that we still gripe about the cost of butter and lettuce, or mutter about the inconvenience of waiting on hold on a tech support line, or whine about the rising cost of the vacation we think we somehow deserve. You are a God of all comfort who meets people's needs through the compassionate generosity and sacrifice of people like us... may that be true, hands and hearts wide open.

I John 4 reminds us: “This is how God showed his love for us: God sent his only Son into the world so we might live through him. This is the kind of love we are talking about—not that we once upon a time loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to clear away our sins and the damage they’ve done to our relationship with God. My dear, dear friends, if God loved us like this, we certainly ought to love each other. No one has seen God, ever. But if we love one another, God dwells deeply within us, and his love becomes complete in us—perfect love!”

God who loved us so abundantly, generously, sacrificially, that he gave Himself to us and became like us, so we might know Him and be known by Him. This easter season, Jesus is the reason that all of God’s people around the world can say Amen, shout Woohoo, say ᐁᑯᓯ ekosi or amin or амінь or 아멘 or 阿門, and so many other languages. God is actively moving in our city in wonderful way.

AMEN.

Begin to pray now for the week of prayer for London coming in mid-May. Watch for more details to come or contact info@ccnl.org.

We can’t wait to see you and your staff at our next Network Gathering on March 9at 12 PM.

CCNL is excited to have Johnathan Murray as our guest presenter. He is the Canadian Director of Training and Outreach for Scripture Union Canada. Sports are a great bridge to our communities, and experience has found that the majority of children who attend Sports Camps are not part of a local church. Sports camps and clubs have been developed to help make it easy for your church to run a fun sports event while focusing on sharing Jesus and allowing your team to build relationships with the families that attend.

Take a look at the brief video introduction below and be sure to register early. Registration cut off is Thursday March 2 at 11 AM. This is set by YFC as we have to given them numbers a week in advance. Also, don’t forget to bring your children’s and youth leaders with you for this unique opportunity.