THE second video from the Church of England’s JustPray campaign — the first of which was rejected by three cinema chains (News, 23 November) — has been released to mark the beginning of Lent.
The first campaign focused on the Lord’s Prayer; this year’s campaign draws on Psalm 22. Five short “teaser” films will be released over the next five weeks, and feature five Christian men and women reflecting on the psalm and prayer.
All five — who have struggled with issues such as homelessness, drug addiction, and crime — have recently come to faith through a fresh expression of church in Halifax, the Saturday Gathering.
On Easter Day, the full two-minute film will be released, featuring the five individuals interpreting a scene from the film The Passion of the Christ.
On Ash Wednesday the first video was released. It showed Emma, a 24-year-old praying: “Why have you forsaken me?”
In a podcast recorded to accompany the film, Emma says that she might have been dead by now if she had not become a Christian.
“Having faith is really hard,” she says. “It’s not easy to pray when you think no one is listening; it’s not easy to wake up knowing you’re going to go through the same stuff every single day.
“Without God, I’d still be drinking, taking drugs. I don’t even know if I’d be here, because I was a self-harmer. I would have probably taken my own life at some point.”
The C of E’s director of communications, the Revd Arun Arora, said: “Lent is a time of self-examination and struggle. It’s part of the Christian journey that comes as a time of testing and honesty about who we are before God. The Psalms accompany us through life with their raw honesty, joy, and despair at life, love, and God.” The films are available to watch at www.justpray.uk.
An image from the first Lord’s Prayer film was installed as a two-and-a-half-metre-tall advertising hoarding at Hereford railway station yesterday. The Bishop of Hereford, the Rt Revd Richard Frith, who was due to spend time yesterday handing out flyers to commuters promoting the JustPray website, said that he wanted people to have the chance to try praying for themselves.
In the diocese of Winchester, 140 parishes have signed up to join a Lent course, i-Witness, to inspire churchpeople to “bear witness to their faith.” The five-week course takes parishes through different ways in which they can serve their communities. The first part helps churchgoers to consider “how to be stewards of creation” and help their churches be greener. The next week looks at acting justly — for example, by volunteering to help mentor ex-offenders.
The principal of the diocese’s School of Mission, Canon Mark Collinson, said: “It’s easy to talk the talk, but we need to walk the talk, and put into practice the good news of Jesus in ways that contribute to society.”
The animal-rights organisation PETA has reported that more people than ever before have signed up to adopt a vegan diet during Lent. This year, 1200 people have taken the pledge “Go Vegan and Feel Great for Lent” — more than double last year’s number.
Yvonne Taylor, from PETA, said: “Every year, PETA hears from compassionate Christians who are eager to take a Lenten pledge to improve their health while embracing the Christian values of compassion and respect for all creation. After 40 days, many people are so hooked on cruelty-free eating that they go vegan full-time, and celebrate with delicious plant-based Easter treats.”