There is a striking aptness about the way in which Fairtrade Fortnight (29 February – 13 March) falls within the season of Lent.
If fair trade is about the reconciliation of “consumer and producer, which is a relationship distorted by injustice” then we might wish to think about the practical implications of Jesus’ words from the Gospel reading for 13 March.
Rebuking Judas for his criticism of Mary, who had just anointed Jesus’ feet with precious ointment, Jesus says: “Leave her alone. She bought it so that she might keep it for the day of my burial. You always have the poor with you, but you do not always have me.” (See John 12: 1-8) As the writer of Fairtrade’s lectionary notes observes:
Jesus tells us that the poor will always be with us. For sure, that is not a laissez fair statement just accepting reality. Rather it is a statement of his continuing presence in the world. Jesus is present in the poor, and continues through them to face the realities of crucifixion.
Many individuals and groups work hard to spread the word about Fairtrade in their local church congregations. There is something about the fundamentals of Christianity that we see reflected clearly in the aims and values of the Fairtrade movement: love, justice and an equal sharing of God’s gifts to us. So as well as lots of information on the Fairtrade website, also included are:
- Church Action Guide with prayers and activities
- Notes on lectionary readings for 6 March (also Mothering Sunday) and 13 March
- Also see our own lectionary hymn suggestions for 6 March and 13 March
As well as the Gospel reading for Sunday 13th already mentioned, food features heavily in readings for 6 March – in particular in the Hebrew Scripture, Joshua 5: 9-12.
“The Children of Israel have been provided with manna in the wilderness, when they were unable to feed themselves. As their circumstances change, so does their capacity to prosper through their own efforts. They needed God’s intervention on the road to freedom but that did not take away their agency in determining their own destiny and wellbeing.”
Our own hymn suggestions for this reading (which also suggest you take a look at Singing the Faith’s hymns for harvest) reflect these thoughts well. Ian Worsfold remembers the way God has shown love to us (“You showed compassion when we were so helpless… you gave us hope when we were despairing” StF 488). It’s a way of being that we, by implication, must share with those who suffer injustice.
Even more directly, Timothy Dudley-Smith (StF 684) writes:
May we, your children, feel with Christ’s compassion
an earth disordered, hungry and in pain;
then, at your calling, find the will to fashion
new ways where freedom, truth and justice reign.