Last week we celebrated Harvest and took a collection for Bicester foodbank. Harvest is a time for all of us to be thankful for God’s provision in our lives and particularly to thank God for our food. It is also a time to give.
In the UK today the Trussell Trust is the main provider of foodbanks. Set up in 2000, they now support 428 foodbanks providing food to those in crisis, including the Bicester foodbank. The reality of the amount of donations needed has been brought home to me since volunteering at Bicester Citizens Advice Bureau where we are able to give out foodbank vouchers. The demand for the vouchers is always high and even more so over the school holidays when children are not receiving school meals.
I have been reminded of Jesus’ words: - “For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.” Matthew 25 v.35-36
This week was also Prisons Week – when the church is encouraged to pray for prisoners and their families, prison staff, victims and those working in the criminal justice system.
You may be interested to read the prayer material at https://prisonsweek.org. There are several prisons local to us, and a Bicester Prison Fellowship Group meets monthly at ECB to pray and support these prisons. The difficulties in prison are well publicised but many prisoners are also coming to know Jesus. Tom recently attended a Harvest Celebration chapel service in HMP Bullingdon where 8 men were baptised.
One project the Bicester group runs is Angel Tree, which includes buying Christmas gifts for the children of prisoners. The prisoner says what gift he would like and writes a personal message. The child gets a gift from ‘daddy’ and is not aware that Prison Fellowship was involved. The Bicester group aims to buy approximately 60 gifts on behalf of Grendon and Springhill prisoners and the Oxford Prison Fellowship group 130 gifts on behalf of Bullingdon prisoners. Prayer, financial donations, and practical help buying and wrapping gifts is welcome.
As we look at the topic of stewardship in our current morning sermon series, may we give out of what we have been given