Acts 435 Giving to anyone who has need

BBC Radio 4 Thought for the Day today was with the Archbishop of York, John Sentamu. The guest editor was former speaker of the House of Commons Betty Boothroyd. The Archbishop again highlighted the role Acts 435 has to play in the current economic climate and drew out one of our recent success stories.

The full text of what the Archbishop shared is reproduced below:

Good morning.

2011 has been a difficult year for many of us. We have faced many challenges assailing us on all fronts. This has left many people worried about the future.

Sadly, we are ending the year with a blight on our nation’s conscience: a million unemployed young people and the snail’s pace towards finding a long-term solution for the Social Welfare of Older people.

In 2012 it would be good to see a rediscovery of the Christian virtue of Hope, coupled with Faith and Love. Hope isn’t the same as blind optimism, or a wistful longing that perhaps God’s promises may be true. It’s a confident trust that they can’t be anything but true.

And because love is grounded in God, we seek nothing but people’s highest good; an invincible good will towards others, no matter who they are or what they do to us. As Karl Barth said, love is “the future eternal light shining in the present. It therefore needs no change of form”[1].

And faith is neither what a Sunday School child said to me: “Faith is believing what you know isn’t true.” Nor is it a crutch to lean on: it’s the very act of leaning. Always ready for adventure, patient, and forever looking beyond present circumstances to the ultimate reality – God.

As a country, may we recover genuine support of others in practical ways.

For example, this Christmas my charity Acts 435 has helped a lady called Eileen who had turned her heating off because she could not afford it. Money donated online gave her confidence to put her heating on. Her Advocate said, “We will never know if that money helped save a life or a hospital visit.

Not only that, but the gift has also made it possible for Eileen to travel to see her grandchildren.”

No matter who we are, the one thing we can give is ourselves, selflessly.

Every individual has the ability to transform and change and that is true of us collectively, as a nation.

There is a beautiful transfiguration analogy in the life cycle of the Dragonfly. It gains its perfect form, by shedding its old body. First a creature living out of sight, underwater, waiting for conditions to be right for its final transformation. Then moving out of the depths, shedding its skin and leaving an empty shell, and drying its delicate wings before taking off - a beautiful winged creature floating upon the air; one life, yet possessing from the first the potency of two forms.

We too have the potential for transfiguration. This is the exciting, hopeful truth of being human. So let’s take the opportunity the New Year gives us to become what we all could be.

[1] Karl Barth Church Dogmatics, IV/2, sect. 68, p.840