It never seems to stop, that drip, drip, drip of bad news about our economy. Today,as I write, inflation, boosted by higher fuel prices, has reached 5.4% and even that high figure feels like a gross underestimate to me.
God's take on money
This morning, I was giving an assembly at Newlands School and my subject was 'wealth and prosperity.' I began by asking the question, 'why is the vicar talking about this subject?' Surely an accountant or a merchant banker would be better? All the vicar is going to do is put up some pithy quote from the Bible like 1 Timothy 6:10 - 'The love of money is the root of all kinds of evil.'
But life is more than money-making. Jesus said: 'Take care! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; for one's life does not consist in the abundance of possessions.' On the other hand, poverty is abhorrent to God. If you were to take a Bible and cut out all the verses about God's concern for the poor and all the verses berating the rich and powerful for exploiting others, then the book would simply fall apart. Bishop David Shepherd once called it God's 'bias to the poor’.
At times when our personal budgets are getting tighter, it's all too tempting to reduce or cut out our giving to relief and development charities. Following God's bias, we should resist this temptation - if our living standards are being squeezed by rising world prices how much more are theirs? Although they have been much criticised for doing so, I think it is a good thing that our government is increasing the national overseas aid budget.
But what of our own neighbourhood? Maidenhead Foodshare, an initiative of registered charity Open Kitchen is backed by Churches Together in Maidenhead. It reports: 'Last year IN MAIDENHEAD ALONE, 700 people, who were in severe poverty and could not feed themselves every day, went to the Citizens Advice Bureau.
'It is estimated that we would need to give out around 175 food parcels a week to feed everyone who needs it. A bag consists of around £20-worth of food for the week.'
Beneath the affluent ambience of our area, some families are really struggling. Are you willing to help?
A way forward
Starting in November, in all three of our churches, we will start collecting non-perishable food items for distribution by Maidenhead Foodshare.
Could you buy one more item each time you go food shopping to help someone who is struggling to feed their family properly? Or maybe you could donate the free item from that buy-one- get-one-free offer. Welcome items are - breakfast cereals, tea coffee, fruit juice (carton),tinned meat/fish, rice/pasta, pasta sauces, soup, jam, UHT milk, sugar,tinned vegetables and fruit, instant mash, tinned puddings (rice/ sponge), biscuits/snack bars and toilet paper. There will be a drop off point at the back of each church. I do hope that you will feel able to contribute.