Lent 2020

Felixstowe Lent Course Week 3 Compassion in the darkness

Please watch the video below which shows Daniel, Katie and the children visiting the foodbank.

Do reflect on the following questions

How did you react when you saw this scene?
Have you ever experienced food poverty? Can you imagine what it could be like?
Have you been involved in a food bank? Have you ever thought why so many food banks exist today?

Now watch the second clip which shows Daniel’s encounter with a Jobcentre interviewer, Sheila.

Please reflect on the following questions.

You may recall, in Week 2, Daniel was helped by a kind Jobcentre worker, Ann. Now Daniel encounters Sheila. Why does Daniel receive such different responses for the two workers?

Contrast this with the scene in the foodbank. What is stopping the second DWP worker from acting like the foodbank volunteers?
Do you have any sympathy for the second DWP worker? What would you do if you had her job?

Please read the Broader Discussion and then the story of the Rich Young Ruler/Good Samaritan and the passage from Matthew 25 on pages 68 and 69.
The Broader discussion refers to a soldier called Roger who disobeyed orders to prevent Yugoslav refugees falling into Soviet hands after World War 2 and explores current examples of people who fall foul of the law through helping refugees.
When do you think it is right to disobey orders, break the law or ignore cultural conventions and help someone instead of “walking by on the other side?”
How might the principles of compassion from the Bible passages help us in understanding and addressing current influxes of refugees?
How might the principles of compassion help us address current issues relating to the Coronavirus emergency?
Please finish the study by confessing our shortcomings by saying the Litany of Mercy and the Leader’s item after the Matthew passage.

Do reflect on the Act section to close and pray the Mother Theresa prayer for compassion at the end.

Felixstowe Lent Course Week 4: Fighting back or giving in? (Pages 77-95)

This week we see a contrast between Daniel’s attitude to the situation he found himself in and that of Katie’s. But were either of them right to act in the way they did?

Have a look at the clip of Daniel getting arrested.

• What were your reactions to this scene?
• Do you think Daniel’s action will change anything?
• Is his action pointless?
Katie has also come to the end of her tether, and as we saw in the film, ended up in prostitution.

Let’s watch her encounter with a concerned Dan.

• How do you feel about her choice.
• Why does she send Daniel away?
• What will her actions mean for her future and that of her children?
• Was there anything else she could have done?
• Do you agree or disagree with Daniel’s and Katie’s actions?
• Can you imagine acting as they did?
• What may have been the other options open to them, and how effective may they have been?

The Broader Discussion section explores how Christians react when their faith is challenged. In some countries right now, being exposed as a Christian means death, worshipping means persecution and in some countries, even though being a Christian is legal, it means that one is treated as a second class citizen.
• Can you imagine how you would react if faced with living in these circumstances.
• Would you resist the system? How?
• Would you consider collaborating? Would you judge someone for being a collaborator?
• Do we as Christians have a responsibility to resist?

CONFESSION AND ACTION
Please read Luke 23:54-62 which is the story of Peter denying Jesus. As we reflect on this, consider how we sometimes respond when someone asks “awkward” questions about our beliefs? We may have religious freedom in our land, but there are many who do not agree with us and make their feelings known, and even their opposition vocal? How do we respond in a country where we are empowered to deal with it?

Take some time confessing those times when you didn’t stand up or stand out. Or those times when you saw others facing injustice but said and did nothing. Or those we betrayed by not standing with them. By all means use the Litany of Mercy on page 54.

Read Mark 11:15-19 then the quote by Detrich Bonhoeffer:
We are not to simply bandage the wounds of victims beneath the wheels of injustice, we are to drive a spoke into the wheel itself.” How might we do this?

Look through the Act section and think of the ways we can resist injustice. The book mentions the Faith and Resistance League but other organisations like Open Doors and the International Justice Mission also do this kind of work and are supported by some churches in Felixstowe. If you know of any other similar organisations, by all means post them on the CTF Facebook page.

Close by committing yourself and the needs to speak and act justly both in this country and through the freedoms we have to demand justice for the oppressed in other lands. You can use the prayer on page 86 for this purpose.

 

Felixstowe Lent Course Week 5: The Suffering Servant

There are some heavy issues brought out in this session. If you could find a way to discuss this with someone at home or online it would be good. You may discuss less personal issues on the CTF Facebook page if you wish.

We have seen the ways in which Daniel and Katie have suffered in this film: enduring humiliation, poverty, lack of control. The story ends in tragedy as we see Daniel broken by the failures of the system. We now see a change from the self-assured man to a recluse, hidden in his flat.

• How did you feel when you watched this part of the film?
• Why do you think Daniel is reacting like this?
• Have you ever felt such despair? How did you recover?
If this is how you feel right now, particularly in the light of isolation during the Coronavirus crisis, take this opportunity to find help from someone you trust, or if your depression is intense, get professional help.

Now we come to the saddest part of the film as Dan goes for his Tribunal.

• How did you feel at the beginning of the scene?
• What was your reaction to Daniel’s death?
• How must Katie have felt (remember what happened last week)?

• Why did you think Daniel died? Could his death been have prevented?
• Do you believe God allows suffering and why?

BROADER DISCUSSION
At the end of the film we see Katie delivering Dan’s Eulogy, using his own words intended for his Tribunal. Here they are:
I am not a client, a customer, nor a service user. I am not a shirker, a scrounger, a beggar nor a thief. I am not a national insurance number, nor a blip on a computer screen. I paid my dues, never a penny short, and was proud to do so. I don’t tug the forelock but look my neighbour straight in the eye. I don’t accept or seek charity. My name is Daniel Blake. I am a man, not a dog. As such I demand my rights. I demand you treat me with respect. I, Daniel Blake, am a citizen, nothing more and nothing less. Thank you.”

The request to be treated as a citizen is a cry that has been heard throughout history.
• What does it mean to be a citizen?
• What happens to a society when some are excluded from citizenship?
• Can you think of examples in Britain today of people not being treated as full citizens?
• How should Christians respond when people are denied their human rights?

RESPONSE
Read Isaiah 53:6-12 which tell us of how Jesus was the Suffering Servant. God Himself was the victim of gross injustice, and experienced deep suffering as described here.
• Give thanks to God that Jesus suffered injustice for us: God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. (2 Corinthians 5:21).
• Pray for forgiveness for when we have ignored or not responded as we should have to the sufferings of others
• Let’s take time in prayer to remember those we know who are suffering in different ways; those coping with depression, people recently bereaved, those caring for someone they love who are in pain. Pray for healing, wholeness and comfort.

Read Matthew 11:28-31 which is an invitation from Jesus to come to Him and find rest. It’s sometimes difficult for us to get the perspective right, to see how things may get better and sees like God had abandoned you. Hove you ever felt like that? How did you get through?
If you feel like that right now and don’t have somebody with you to talk to, then take the opportunity to lift up the phone to someone who will listen and pray with you.
To finish, do use the prayer on pages 105-106.