Church on the Corner

Church on the Corner is an Anglican church in an old pub in Islington, London


Interesting that the Lent challenge is challenging us to more than living on less.
To Quote Garmon “Hmm, God really isn’t going to be let this purely be a game or an interesting academic exercise. I would like not just to get by on £50 a week but also to try and live the experience more.”
I want to get to grips with the purpose behind Jesus teaching on simplicity & money. Its purpose is surely bring liberty and peace “You are truly blessed because you do not have the cares of this world”. To allow us to live for Gods Kingdom, instead of the cares of this world, and to discover the fulness of life that comes from relationship with God. It is the manna principle – that God provides for the daily needs of the birds, and how much more does he care for us, so stop worrying about those things.
Perhaps the main reason for our lack of real intimacy & knowledge of God is our lukewarm attitude to possessions and wealth.

What can we do to better live the simple life, and find real life?

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3 thoughts on “Interesting that the Lent challenge is challengin…

  1. sjm says:

    Day 15 – 18 – Wednesday 23rd – Saturday 26th February

    You know what, I’m slowly getting the hang of this now. Think I’ve put started to put a few of the things into place that means I’m not a posh London type trying to save a few quid but making a few simple changes to stop wasting money and live more sensibly. Over the last 7 days (Sun to Sat – though not an actual week in this Lent challenge) I’ve come in well under budget and it didn’t seem a particular sacrifice. Granted there were no unforeseen blips this week but here’s how things are falling into order: (Saturday would appear to be list day on the blog)

    1) Making my own lunch. Lump of cheese, 99p, Loaf of bread, 50p, you do the maths. Not perfect by any means but doing this 3 days out of 5 can really help get an expensive week back on track. I am well aware any normal person reading this will just laugh that some of us actually do spend £3+ each day on a few slices of bread at lunchtime. There’s probably whole socialist organisations dedicated to furthering the cause of sandwich shops in an effort to bring down the bourgeois elite by targeting their inability to judge the true worth of two slices of bread. Or as my mum would put it, A sandwich shop? That sells just sandwiches? Why would anyone want to buy a sandwich when you could just make one?

    2) Cooking. No, not like Nigella Lawson and looking for fennel and pomegranate to make “a modern twist to a classic dish” but you know actually taking a vegetable, a piece of meat and some carbohydrate and making a meal. No cooking sauces, no ready meals, no other shortcuts just actual real food. Slightly scary that I can make 5 meals with real ingredients for the same price as 1 or 2 with a jar of Lloyd Grosman. Also just because something says “Morrison own label” on it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s awful For example, 4 cans of Bettabuy lager for 88p, I mean how bad can it be? (I’m sure in future blogs I’ll be telling you exactly how much)

    3) Going to a reasonably priced pub. Why is it when we go out in London, we go to the most ridiculously over-priced places, where it’s £4 for a bottle of lager just because it’s imported from (insert name of most trendy country at moment) and then they have the cheek to put your change on a small metal plate as if you should pay even more for the surly service!??! Anyway, this week met up with a friend and I suggested Wetherspoons given the budget demands. And it was marvellous, forgotten why I’d spent the tail end of my university career in one of these buildings. Granted it wasn’t quite the £1 a pint it was in those days but £2 for guest lager and, as it was curry night, a curry and a pint for £6. Well weapon as Nathan Barley would say (ask your teenage kids). So whole night out for just about a tenner, or roughly half the price of a round after 11pm on a Friday night.

    Take a look back over that list. What does it say to you? Exactly, it says how much I have lost all concept of value and how the “money” vs. “sense” balance in my life is perilously close to the tipping point. Or as we euphemistically call it in marketing circles people who are cash-rich and time-poor. You see, all of it wouldn’t be so bad if all the poor people had got together and set up every lunchtime eatery, created every ready meal and ran every bar with a name that bears no relation whatsoever to it being a purveyor of intoxicating liquor.

    Which brings me to another interesting reaction to this challenge. Said friend who I met at Wetherspoon’s essentially played back to me what I’ve just mentioned to you above. He works for Barclay’s Capital so isn’t short of a bob or two but he then proceeded to bemoan the madness of his work colleagues who:

    Spend 85p on bottled water when the vending machine is beside a free water fountain
    Spend £3+ on coffee when it’s also provided free
    Spend £15 on food at lunchtime when he brings sandwiches to work

    Perhaps rather than just looking at what those living on £50 a week have to be like we should also look back at the ridiculous amounts of money we waste. Oh dear I really have sold out haven’t I.

    Time to end on a positive. As others had earlier in the week once he knew about it he stood an extra round and a side portion of bhajis (no! look I’m not really hard up, I’m just playing a game!). I’ve spent the week reading a book I’ve borrowed of someone and I’ve been listening to The Killers and Kill Bill Vol 1 at work which I borrowed of someone else. So come on let’s share some more! Let’s look after those who need it more in our group. If we can’t all afford to buy something pass it round!

    Don’t worry, like the sandwiches, I realise this may be a lesson that everyone else except me already knows.

  2. sjm says:

    Day 13 & 14 – Monday 21st & Tuesday 22nd

    Well, I’ve made it to the end of week 2 and under budget (just) with 97p to spare. Bit of a close call with the luggage zip issue at the start of the week but thanks to a combination of bringing my own lunch to work (nearly complete disaster when I burnt today’s) and the exceptional generosity of others it’s two down with 4 ½ to play.

    Been great over the last few days to see people prepared to by me a drink etc. knowing I can’t get them one back. And given that I’m not really poor and only playing a game they’d have had even more right to insist I get my own / stick to this ridiculous pretence I’m playing at. You’ve made a poor man slightly merrier than he would have been.

    Anyway it’s almost Wednesday and another £50 will find it’s way into my wallet. I already have plans for it as I need to collect that suit from the dry cleaners, buy some washing up liquid and invest in some deodorant. (I’m sure a hair cut can wait another week.)

    Good to hear some feedback from Mark and Garmon. Are there any others out there on this? Be good to hear your views, especially if you’re reading all this gubbins and wondering what on earth I’m banging on about. And as for the London for free website, how come I never knew about this before! I see a plan for the weekend ahead

    With regards to the simple life it seems to me over the last 2 weeks that it was having money that bought freedom from not having to worry about it. With less I have had to think about it and ration it. Is that because I actually care for all my little luxuries in life? Is that because underneath it all I don’t trust God or, being very generous to myself, have never had to trust God on this issue?

    There’s also the uneasy feeling on this that I can’t really trust God to provide for me if I really needed something beyond my budget. To be frank, it isn’t beyond my budget and God has already provided. Can a rich person really put all their money to one side and pray for God to send more? Noble as this cause may be it wouldn’t feel right taking something I really don’t deserve or need. Somebody actually on minimum wage may need to pray for a gift for an emergency but I don’t because I can just call game over at any time.

    Does this make sense to anyone reading this? This is all too philosophical for this time of night. Think I’d better leave it there for this week.

  3. Garmon says:

    Some great issues raised Steve and Mark. To follow on some of your points:

    a) The simple life.
    I’m sure that a choice to follow a simple life with Jesus our focus could be more satisfying than one devoted to filling our lives with possessions and wealth and worries about our status. Yet it must be more than just living a simple life – money and material wealth somehow needs to become a non-issue, rather than something we worry about whether we have loads or whether we have little (I think Chris’ point on Sunday about the rich perhaps being spiritually handicapped is good and very relevant – but being poor can equally be a handicap. You can be worried about what you DON’T have as much as worried about what you do have! I don’t know – would a poor widow have reacted any differently to the rich young ruler when asked to give up everything?, Everything is everything, whether you have a lot or a little).

    I think what I’m discovering more acutely is that I don’t really, truly, trust God’s promises. He will provide; Knowing Him is better than living in luxury; I should focus on treasures that moths and thieves cannot destroy. Yes, yes, I know that. But do I KNOW it so that I actually live it? Harsh, difficult lessons. But I guess as the rich young ruler discovered, Jesus isn’t interested in easy and painless choices. How can I start trusting God’s promises more?

    b) Steve’s point about practical actions eg lobbying for fairer interest rates:
    Church Action on Poverty have been trying to raise the issue of fair interest rates – there is a bill going through parliament (I think) next week concerning debt and interest rate issues. Most other European countries have an interest rate cap, which Church Action of Poverty have been lobbying for here. Unfortunately the government doesn’t seem to want to introduce one, and so companies prowling on the most vulnerable in society will still be able to charge interest rates 400% (!!!!) and above.
    “Speak up and judge fairly, defend the rights of the poor and the needy,” Proverbs 31:9.

    Additionally, Church Action on Poverty have a couple of other campaigns. One is the Living Wage Pledge. I think everyone doing this challenge would welcome that at the moment – living on £6.00 per hour rather than the £4.85 we’re doing at the moment (http://www.church-poverty.org.uk/_html/_livingwagepledge.htm).

    They also have a booklet “22 ways to tackle debt and financial exclusion” (http://www.church-poverty.org.uk/PDF/22waystotackledebtApril%2003.pdf). Would be interested to know what people think we could do regarding these as a church or as individuals.

    c) Doing things that don’t cost money:
    There are loads of good things to do for free/cheap. http://www.londonfreelist.com/home.asp for really cheap stuff, or http://www.dolke.co.uk/events.htm for a mixture of cheap and expensive. And invite me if you’re thinking of going to anything. Please.

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