Tag Archives: Feeding the Hungry

Feeding the Hungry by Doing Justice

Living in the Spirit
August 5, 2017

Scripture Reading: Matthew 14:13-21

When it was evening, the disciples came to him and said, ‘This is a deserted place, and the hour is now late; send the crowds away so that they may go into the villages and buy food for themselves.’ Jesus said to them, ‘They need not go away; you give them something to eat.’ –Matthew 14:15-16

Not having enough food to eat is not a resource issue in most instances; it is a justice issue. I support through my local church a food pantry at a sister congregation; the Regional Food Bank, a not for profit; a backpack weekend food program for our local inner-city school; the City Rescue Mission, a not for profit; and a sister congregation that primarily serves the homeless. While desperately needed these are bandages on infected sores.

  • Everyone who works should have the resources to feed his or her family. About 70% of food stamp recipients work. In some of these households, more than one person works, or one person may have more than one job. In some instances, people work at the convenience of their employer. Thus their hours of work vary from week to week. I find it shameful with the amount of money we spend on the military industrial complex every year, we have soldiers whose families qualify for food stamps. The ceiling for food stamps is 133% of poverty. Food stamps are wage supplement for big business including the US government paying inadequate wages.
  • Our mental health services system is broken. People with mental health issues who get the right supervision, treatment, and medication can become self-supportive. The opioid problem in our country is extreme and growing. Many with mental health issues live on the street with routine stops at the local jail for minor offenses. The jail may be the only place they have a safe bed and routine food. Crime records are often not welcomed by employers.
  • The poverty level serves as the base for computing the amount of Social Security received by people who have a disability or are aged. Raising the base for Social Security to 133% of poverty would provide a higher level of income for these people and reduce the cost of administering the food stamp program for them. Of course, 133% of poverty is a bare necessities income. The base could be increased even more if we raised income for the program by eliminating the cap on income taxed for Social Security. For earnings in 2017, this base is $127,200. Why was the cap created in the first place? No one knows.

While we do our good works, we must remember to seek justice also.

Prayer: God of the Harvest, grant us the wisdom to provide from your bounty the food that all need to sustain life in fulfilling your call to do justice. Amen.

All scriptures are quoted from the New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright 1989, 1995, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights are reserved.

On Being Poor

School_Lunch_ProgramsLiving in the Spirit
August 31, 2015

Scripture Reading: Proverbs 22:1-2, 8-9, 22-23

A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches, and favor is better than silver or gold. The rich and the poor have this in common the Lord is the maker of them all.

Do not rob the poor because they are poor, or crush the afflicted at the gate; for the Lord pleads their cause and despoils of life those who despoil them. –Proverbs 22:1-2, 22-23

My mother was a life-long champion of the poor. Even in her dementia when she was 95+ she kept wanting me to do something about the little boys who lived “back there” who had no one caring for them and were hungry. I always assumed it was a family with which she had worked in West Virginia during the depression whose desperation still haunted her. I finally had to tell her the children were being fed to set her heart at peace. It should come as no surprise having been raised by my mother, I learned to recognize the poor as just people like everyone else. It is an important realization for it alters one’s perception of people trying to see the Christ in everyone.

Because I worked primarily with poor women, I had a relative who would go out of her way to find me at every family gathering to tell me bad things about women who were having babies just to get welfare. I truly doubt if she really knew any of them. Watching and condemning someone with several children paying for her groceries with food stamps is not knowing them. Did you know that many of the members of our armed services who have families must supplement their incomes with food stamps?

No one who works full time at any job should earn less than a living wage—no one. No child should advance through our public school system without the education he or she needs to support themselves—no child.

Prayer: Lord open our eyes to see you in everyone. Amen.

All scriptures are quoted from the New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright 1989, 1995, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of Churches of Christ in the United States of American. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Give Me Oil in My Lamp

Oil in my lampLiving in the Spirit
November 8, 2014

Scripture Reading: Matthew 25:1-13

‘Then the kingdom of heaven will be like this. Ten bridesmaids took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish, and five were wise. When the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them; but the wise took flasks of oil with their lamps. As the bridegroom was delayed, all of them became drowsy and slept. But at midnight there was a shout, “Look! Here is the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.” Then all those bridesmaids got up and trimmed their lamps. The foolish said to the wise, “Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.” But the wise replied, “No! there will not be enough for you and for us; you had better go to the dealers and buy some for yourselves.”— Matthew 25:1-9

The weather forecast today said the first cold spell of the season was coming next week. We might even get some winter precipitation. I made a mental note to go to the grocery store this week and stock up. Back in the 1980’s, I failed to respond to the warning of an impending blizzard and got iced in for four days. Now I was far from starving, but I was also very hungry for fresh fruit and vegetables by the time I was able to shop. The recent Ebola scare has resulted in hospitals beefing up their contagion precautions and it seems we now must be alert to terrorist attacks as a normal part of our everyday life.

In such an atmosphere of fear and self-preservation is it any wonder that we do not invest a lot of time and energy in awaiting the coming of Christ much less making preparations for it? The irony of this reality is that if we invested our time and energy in doing our part to be the Body of Christ in the world today our concerns about self-preservation would dissipate.

There is a ninety year old man in Florida who is actively engaged in waiting for Christ. He has recently been ticketed for feeding the homeless in places in the city that make the presence of the homeless inconvenient for the tourist industry. The man has pledged to continue feeding the homeless wherever they need to be feed so he may go to jail for his actions. He has been doing this for 20 years. Isn’t it sad that after twenty years the community has not seen the needs of the homeless until they interfered with the tourist industry? This man has the extra oil he needs to wait however long it takes for Christ to come. Do the rest of us?

Prayer: Lord, help me to understand what it means to be actively engaged in waiting for your future. Make your future mine and help me live the future that is yours today.
Give me oil for my lamp, keep it burning
Give me oil for my lamp I pray*, Amen.

*http://www.hymnlyrics.org/hymns_camp/give_me_oil_for_my_lamp.php

All scriptures are quoted from the New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright 1989, 1995, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of Churches of Christ in the United States of American. Used by permission. All rights reserved.