Lent Event in Australia encourages us to give up something we can live without in solidarity with those who live with less, donating what we save to projects that fight poverty. But for our brothers and sisters living in Sri Lanka, giving up basic items is no simple 40 day challenge.
In the wake of the 2019 Easter bombings, the pandemic and crippling foreign debt, the country is facing an economic crisis that means food, water and electricity is in critically short supply.
“We are experiencing shortages of sugar, flour, milk powder, rice, gas and now fuel leading to unprecedented power cuts,” writes Rev Jospeh. “The poor and the vulnerable are most affected. Many suffer silently. Always remember that our little acts of sacrifice will contribute to relieve the pain and suffering of at least one other.”
What does Lent and Easter look like for Churches in this kind of context?
Rev WP Ebenezer Joseph, President of the Conference, Methodist Church of Sri Lanka, gives us an insight into the focused determination of the people he serves. In a pastoral letter to Churches he calls members to remember who they are and why they exist: as a caring community bringing solace, relief and hope to others, standing for truth and becoming the voice of the voiceless.
“We need to pray in faith, a faith that will disturb our comfort zones of complicity, a faith that will lead us to plunge into the miseries of our people and enable them to move ahead in hope,” he writes. “We need to take the first step in the assurance that God is ahead of us and God is with us.”
The pastoral letter, reproduced in full below, gives practical tips about avoiding food waste, using paper, water and electricity sparingly and making the most of available land to grow food for families. It challenges people to look at their lifestyles and make changes that reflect the priorities of John Wesley – simple, grounded, generous.
Rev Joseph’s letter is well worth a read for a compelling insight into the way our fellow Christians engage in the season of Lent and Easter in situations that feel far removed from our own.
“There is always a beauty in simplicity and a joy in sharing…” Rev Joseph concludes. “Lent is a season of preparation. As the days lengthen and green leaves begin to peek through the soil, we prepare for the both the darkness of Good Friday and the joyful flowering of Easter.”
You can support the work of Pastors like Rev Joseph in Sri Lanka and beyond by giving to our work. Learn more about the challenges of the global church, and celebrate their successes at Seven Days of Solidarity.