Yesterday was one of those afternoons that do little for your faith in humanity.
It began with a sad little funeral at the crem, funded by the Local Authority, for a man whose family were unable or unwilling to tell me anything about him at all.
I did my best, using John Donne's reminder that "no man is an island" to add some rightness to a situation in which as a stranger I found myself speaking about someone of whom I knew nothing but his name, his dates and that, of course, he matters to God more than we can ever grasp.
However, later on I made a start on collecting my Christian Aid envelopes and was startled by the way in which some people clearly feel absolutely no connection to people with loves, hopes and dreams just like their own, living in poverty across the world. There were, as always, those who claimed that they had never received an envelope (well, actually I delivered it myself...but that really doesn't matter) and those who said that they had already contributed to the disaster relief fund so had nothing to spare at all...but there was also the beautifully spoken man with the shiney cars in his drive who said
"I am my own charity" and another who, having asked what Christian Aid was about, said
"Why would I want to help people who are struggling to survive in another country?"
Ummmm...If you can't see that, I think we need more than a doorstep conversation.
Later I was chatting to a friend who reported a survey that claimed that (along with War on Want) Christian Aid was the country's most hated charity- perhaps because of a mistaken belief that it provides aid FOR Christians, rather than as an expression of Christian love.
Time for a rebrand perhaps?
But it's tricky...When we don't shout about church-led projects the claim is that "Christians are all talk but never do anything to make a difference".
If we proclaim that the work being done is part of our response to God's loving generosity, by giving it the label "Christian" we are presumed to be limiting our help to those who share the faith. Oh dear indeed - but The Man never said we'd be popular, did he?