Dear Friends                     

I have just watched a television quiz programme where by a process of elimination one contestant is left, at the end, to answer questions to try to win the jackpot. Interestingly for us, the viewers, if they fail to win the jackpot then they have an opportunity to ‘gamble’ the money that they have won—which is already safely theirs– for a chance to win the big prize. If they fail then they lose everything. But if they win…. then they walk away with the jackpot of thousands of pounds . Some contestants take the money and wont gamble, , because they don’t want to lose what they have already won. A final twist in the show is that, of course, they are made to play out the game to see if they would have won after all. And so, I have just watched someone NOT win 20000 pounds. The contestant put a brave face on it, and we sucked in our cheeks but really what would we have done in those                 circumstances? A family man, he just wanted some money to decorate his house for his family and little baby. And so wouldn’t gamble what he had won. That is always the problem with               gambling isn’t it? You never know how its going to go and you can lose everything. I remember a catchphrase from years ago “Look what you would have won, Tony”. There is no such thing as a dead cert is there?

There is no doubt that gambling is a major problem in this country. Many people get into serious financial difficulty because gambling can become addictive, as can any distraction activity. It is now so easy to gamble on line and is made very attractive with extensive TV Advertising., think of the ads for bingo, poker and betting on football results. There have been some efforts made to regulate this coverage but with the Lottery ads as well, a huge amount of TV time is spent on pushing gambling. And making it seem normal and a fun thing to do. whereas the reality is that for many people and their families gambling makes a life of misery and insecurity.

Most Churches have some gambling in their fundraising somewhere and it is widely acknowledged that without it, they would struggle to pay their way. Our churches in Denbigh are no exception. And the odd raffle in itself is not harmful is it? Also it gives a chance for outside people to support and help the church as well. And we           appreciate the support they give. I think there is no harm in it so long as we recognise that it is gambling and not giving to the Church. It is accepted by many for people to have a little flutter to win a small prize for the small amount given. A bit of fun.

I am reminded of the story by Jesus of the man who sold everything he had so that he could buy the field with the hidden treasure in it. Or the dealer in pearls who sold all he had to buy the one great pearl. But they were not gambling everything they had to acquire something greater than they could ever imagine. They were prepared to let all they had go, all their   riches, all they possessed, for that one thing – their heart’s desire. Jesus likens this giving up everything as our response to the invitation to follow Him into the Kingdom of Heaven.

Are we prepared to offer everything we have, all that we are, for the great prize of the Kingdom? And of course—this isn’t gambling… it really is a ‘Dead Cert”.

Every Blessing

Canon Pauline