In the last two years we have been living in unprecedented times. Our world seems to have been turned upside down and two years on we seem only now to be moving out of the restrictions that have been placed upon us as a result of the pandemic. My prayers have been with you all over this period and I hope that you are feeling more hopeful for the way ahead despite the difficulties that we have encountered. I want to take this opportunity to thank you for your generosity towards my Lent Call in 2021. I know that the projects we supported have been very much heartened by the amounts we were able to send towards their ongoing work. I hope that 2022 will see similar if not greater generosity for the important projects we are supporting this year.

During the pandemic we have been forced to spend more time at home. For some this has been a time of renewed connections with those with whom they live, for others this has been a desperately hard time as they live alone and have been unable to see their friends and family. For some, too, the pandemic has exacerbated their sense of not really having a home or not being secure in where they have been living. So, it is appropriate that this year my Lent Call is on the theme of home and homelessness.

I have taken as the theme for this year’s Lent Call these words from the prophecy of Isaiah, “My people will live in peaceful dwelling places, in secure homes, in undisturbed places of rest” (Isaiah 32:18).

In our world today so many people do not have peaceful dwelling places or secure homes and this is as true for some in our own Diocese as it is for many in our Link Dioceses in Zimbabwe and Jerusalem. We are featuring five projects working with those who need help around housing across the three Episcopal Areas. In addition, we are asking for your support for work to provide homes and shelter and food for those affected by the economic situation and natural disasters brought about by climate change in our four Link Dioceses in Zimbabwe and the displaced in Beirut in our Link Diocese in Jerusalem.

I hope that you will all be encouraged to observe this Lent in a prayerful way so that it deepens faith and refreshes the soul. Take time to think about what it means to you to feel at home and secure and how best we can help others to feel the same.

Next steps

We are releasing the Lent Call materials in stages this year as we hope that this will help us to keep the material in the forefront of people’s minds. Once again it will all be online, in a format that can be downloaded and printed should you wish. You will find the project sheets and poster already on the website here. In February, they will be joined by pages of fundraising ideas, as well as worship and project materials for our schools which you can use in Sunday School.

Finally, in March we will release the Lenten Reflections booklet which will focus on the Sunday readings for Lent and the project we are focusing on each week. During Lent, we will be encouraging people to use this material in their Sunday pew sheets and in services and Lent Groups. I hope and pray that by using the relevant project sheet and reflection each week they will find new understandings of what it means to feel at home and secure and be able to consider their response to all that they have read and prayed about the project.

I very much hope as well that you will find these resources useful as you encourage those in your care to use Lent well and to give generously to the Bishop’s Lent Call.

With my thanks and prayers for all that you do and for our partnership in the Gospel.

Find more information about the Bishop’s Lent Call, including details of how to donate, here.