Clive and Glynis Challis wrote to me recently about the Winter Fuel Payments (WFP) - the lump sum payment made by the government around this time of year to everyone receiving the State Pension. They wrote this
"The Department of Work & Pensions have started sending out letters about the Winter Fuel Payment (£200 per household). Last year we donated ours to Christians Against Poverty (CAP) to help with clients in fuel poverty. We will do the same this year.
It dawned on us that, although for many the WFP is an important part of household income, for others it is less important & wonder whether it’s worth making an appeal for those where the WFP is nice to have, but not essential to donate to CAP/Crisis Intervention to help those who really do struggle with winter fuel bills."
If you're a pensioner, and you are able to do what Clive & Glynis has suggested, then please can I encourage you to think about following their lead. You can either give on a Sunday via the offering envelopes (just write on the envelope that this is for the work of CAP), or you can give online. In fact I'd encourage all of us whenever God blesses us with something beyond what we need, whether that is a benefit, a bonus, an inheritance or a lottery win(!), to not only feel blessed but also to think how you can use it to be a blessing.
But can I also make an appeal to those in our community who desparately need the WFP, and whatever other money you are receiving, not to feel in any way guilty about that, but instead just to thank God for his provision for you. In fact I'd encourage you to be open about your need. One of the signs of God's grace being on the early church was that there were no poor among them, and that needs to be true for our church community too. Our pastoral team regularly meet with the leaders of TMTL, our ministry to the retired, to make sure that the pensioners in our community have homes which are well heated and maintained, and that their other needs are being met. We're just about to spend over £3,000 on food vouchers to give to families and individuals in the church who we know are going to struggle over Christmas. If you're in need please let someone in leadership know, so that we can have true biblical equality, as expressed by Paul in these words to the church in Cornith:
Our desire is not that others might be relieved while you are hard pressed, but that there might be equality. At the present time your plenty will supply what they need, so that in turn their plenty will supply what you need. The goal is equality, as it is written: “The one who gathered much did not have too much, and the one who gathered little did not have too little.” (2 Corinthians 8:13-15 NIV)