The Bible shows us again and again that God is on the side of the poor and the oppressed. People on the margins.
But too often, when we read scripture in our churches, we focus on other aspects of the story, or we are so familiar with the text that we don’t notice the challenging things it has to say to us.
Jesus’ parables are one of the best examples of this problem. When we read and think about the parables, we almost always look for allegorical, spiritual meanings.
But the parables are actually very earthly stories – and if we try to put ourselves in the place of their original audience, we discover very different messages in them.
These five Bible studies will challenge you to get alongside the people who are on the margins of our own society – and to speak out for justice. They will show you how the parables are subversive, dangerous stories.
Revd Al Barrett is vicar at Hodge Hill Church in Birmingham, and a member of a collective which helps Church Action on Poverty to reflect theologically on our work. We asked him to share a story about how his worship reflects the idea of an ‘outside-in church’.
St Leonard’s Church in Sunningwell, Oxfordshire, held a service recently to mark Church Action on Poverty Sunday. They kindly agreed to share their prayers with us here.
Our 2018 report outlining what the Government needs to do to establish a clear food and poverty strategy for the UK. Produced jointly with the University of Sheffield.
The shifts we need from Government
- Measure the problem
- Ensure everyone can access food
- Appoint a minister
- Listen to people with experience
- Step up and lead all stakeholders
This reflection on Matthew 22:1-14 and ‘voices from the margins’ was written by Revd Raj Bharath Patta. You could use it in your church or house group to mark Church Action on Poverty Sunday, 11 February.
We usually read Jesus’ interaction with the rich young man in Mark’s Gospel as being addressed to one person with wealth. Sue Richardson from Christian Aid suggests it could be interpreted as an invitation to the whole church, following Pope Francis’ appeal for “a poor church, of the poor”. This reflection includes questions for groups to explore the idea – why not use it on Church Action on Poverty Sunday?
Helen Hood, a member of our Council of Management, led us in a reflection at our 2017 conference on ‘voices from the margins’. Helen has kindly adapted her reflection so you can use it in your church – it’s suitable for Church Action on Poverty Sunday.