Dear Friends,

The negotiations to reach a trade agreement between Britain and the EU loomed large in the media throughout 2020. Together with the ongoing pandemic and the increasingly delusional utterings of Donald Trump, the news was pretty much dominated by this trade impasse which was thankfully concluded on Christmas Eve. There is one trade issue though which I think we can all agree on regardless of political persuasion, and that is – it is right to support Fairtrade Fortnight which begins on 22nd February and runs to 7th March.

Fairtrade Fortnight is of course not the only time we can buy or should buy fairly traded goods – this is something we can and should be doing all the time. However, Fairtrade Fortnight is an ideal opportunity to draw attention to the need to support small producers earn a fair price for their produce and fair reward for the labour that goes into its production.

In the book of Genesis in the story of Cain and Abel, when God asks Cain about his brother (whom Cain had murdered) he answers, “Am I my brother’s keeper?” (Genesis 4:9) To an extent we are all our “brothers and sisters’ keeper.” In as much as Christians are called to care for and help all those we possibly can – supporting fairly traded goods is of great value in living up to this calling.

Lasting not fourteen days but forty* days beginning on Ash Wednesday, which this year is 17th February, is the season of Lent. This is a time for Christians to reflect on the events in Jesus’ life leading up to Good Friday and Easter Sunday. Certain denominations encourage their adherents to give things up for this period and this can be very helpful for some. In our own Reformed Tradition however, fasting during Lent has never been mandatory. Personally, I think it is better to take something up for Lent rather than give something up. I invite you in this approaching Lenten season to give thought to what you can take up in your daily life that will bring glory to God and blessing to others.

Finally, another significant date in February (depending on how romantically inclined you are) is the 14th – St Valentine’s Day. The name of Valentine is associated with love and even if we are not particularly romantic, the feast of St Valentine is a good day to remind ourselves of the words of the Apostle John which is at the heart of the Christian Gospel and should be at the fore front of our minds everyday of the year.

“God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God and God in them.” (1 John 4:16)



*From Ash Wednesday to Easter Sunday is actually 46 days but the 6 Sundays don’t count as every Sunday is the Feast of the Resurrection and not technically part of Lent.