March 5, 2015

not just a dreamer

I’m not just a dreamer. I am a hopeaholic.” — Gloria Steinem

What a great quote. My first thought on seeing it was that someone has been reading my mail. I freely admit that I too am a proud charter member of hopeaholics anonymous.

I believe in hope. I live in hope. Hope is a way of life that makes the difficult easier and the impossible possible.

I am a hopeaholic because hope is so closely connected to faith, and to be totally honest, I am also a card-carrying faithaholic, as well.

Like Ms Steinem, I am not just a dreamer. I have an unshakable hope in the possibility of good, and an even deeper faith in the grace and mercy of a loving Creator.

I have experienced God’s faithfulness enough to know I can depend on it. That’s why I know we can end hunger in our lifetime.

God ‘s love and mercy is everlasting, and I have the faith to believe that love and mercy will bring us to a day where there will be true justice. There will come a day when no child will have to cry themselves to sleep from the pain of an empty belly, or live stunted lives from lack of proper nourishment.

I live for that day.

But, I am not just a dreamer. I will not stop working to achieve that  day. What keeps me going is the hope and the faith that we can turn that vision into a reality.

March 4, 2015

the same Christ

In Holy Communion we have Christ under the appearance of bread. In our work we find him under the appearance of flesh and blood. It is the same Christ. — Mother Teresa

This past Saturday’s blog post (entitled a good question) focused on Shane Claiborne’ s question about the dichotomy of worshiping a homeless man on Sunday and ignoring a homeless man on Monday. Shortly after posting that blog I came across this quote from Mother Teresa. Both quotes heavily influenced my Communion message on Sunday morning.

As Christians we believe that when the Communion elements of bread and wine are consecrated they become the body and blood of Christ. We call Communion a Holy Sacrament because we believe it is a divine means of grace. Christ comes to us in the form of bread and wine.

Mother Teresa tells us that as Christ comes to us in the bread and wine on Sunday, He comes to us in the guise of one of the least of these every day during the week.

Every opportunity we have to draw closer to the oppressed, the poor, the hungry, the homeless, those in prison, and those despised by society is then a true means of grace.

And that brings us back to Shane Claiborne’s question: “How can we worship a homeless man on Sunday and ignore him on Monday?”

It really is a good question, isn’t it?

 

 

March 3, 2015

nourished on the blood of sinners

William Sloane Coffin, Jr. (1924–2006) was a clergyman and long-time peace activist. Ordained in the Presbyterian church, he later received ministerial standing in the United Church of Christ. He was an athlete, a talented pianist, a CIA agent, and later chaplain at Yale, where the influence of Reinhold Niebuhr’s social philosophy led him to become a leader in the civil rights and peace movements of the 1960s and 1970s. He went on to serve as Senior Minister at the Riverside Church in New York and President of SANE/Freeze (now Peace Action), the nation’s largest peace and justice group.

Coffin prominently opposed United States military interventions in conflicts such as Vietnam up to the Iraq War. He was also an ardent supporter of gay rights.

In his book, The Courage to Love he wrote:

The temptation to moralize is strong; it is emotionally satisfying to have enemies rather than problems, to seek out culprits rather than flaws in the system. God knows it is emotionally satisfying to be righteous with that righteousness that nourishes itself on the blood of sinners. But God also knows that what is emotionally satisfying can be spiritually devastating. 

Pointing a finger is far easier and far more emotionally satisfying than offering understanding and having the courage to search out the root causes of social ills. Many among us even blame the poor for their poverty rather than search for the flaws in system that perpetuates their poverty.

The growing number of poor and the hungry in our country are not our enemies. They are the living and suffering symptoms of a flawed and spiritually devastating economic system that we refuse to address.

With less self-righteousness and  more courage to love we might come to a place where we are willing to look at the system rather than just continue pointing our fingers. Until then, however, we just continue to be nourished on the blood of sinners.

 

March 2, 2015

frugality is a beautiful word

Frugality is one of the most beautiful and joyful words in the English language, and yet it is one that we are culturally cut off from understanding and enjoying. The consumptive society has made us feel that happiness lies in having things, and has failed to teach us the happiness of not having things. — Elise Boulding

We live in a world obsessed with acquisition and consumerism. It’s an obsession that pervades every aspect of our lives.

In a world where more is better and “super-size it” is a way of life even a mention of frugality seems awkward and out of place. Yet Boulding is absolute correct when she points out that there is a far deeper happiness, even a true joy, in not having things.

The more material possessions we have, the more our life is controlled by them. We actually become the possessed rather that the possessor.

True joy can never be achieved through more stuff. Trust me on this. It is just never going to happen.

Here’s an easy challenge. Go through your closet and take out two or three shirts/blouses that you haven’t worn in a year (or three). Do the same with just a couple pair pants that you know no longer fit. Throw in a couple pair of old shoes you know you are never going to wear. Give them away.

Not only will someone in need benefit from your donation, you will experience the joy of giving. You will also have a little more room in your closet.

Repeat the challenge until you are comfortable with the idea that less is really more, and that frugality is indeed a beautiful word.

March 1, 2015

keep us busy, Lord

O Powerful Father,
Please make me a diligent worker in your Kingdom. Help me not to be lazy or selfish with my time, energy and money. You are a God of action and intervention in the problems and troubles of people. Help us to pattern our lives after your example and become involved in the struggles of our neighbors. Give us the heart to walk into difficult situations, and make a difference for hurting people. And make us fully aware of your presence with us at all times. We know that we are weak and ineffective on our own, Lord, but with your help and power behind us, we can move mountains in your service. Keep us busy in the joyful labors of mercy and justice.  Amen

a prayer taken from For They Shall Be Fed, edited by Ronald J. Sider.

February 28, 2015

a good question

“How can we worship a homeless man on Sunday and ignore one on Monday?” — Shane Claiborne

Claiborne poses a really good question, doesn’t he? On Sunday morning we praise the name of Jesus. We glorify Him. We exalt Him. We openly declare our love for Him and call ourselves His followers, His disciples.

Yet, on Monday morning, on our way to work, we quickly take another sip of our Starbucks double-expresso latte as we avert our eyes from the raggedly dressed man holding the crudely lettered “WILL WORK FOR FOOD” cardboard sign. We struggle not to let him make eye contact.

The man is filthy. He smells. We can tell that even in the confines of our well -heated car.

Only yesterday we claimed we would follow this man to the cross. Today we shudder at the thought of having to look at him. Talking to him is out of the question.

Good questions call for good answers. What’s the good answer to Shane’s question?

“How can we worship a homeless man on Sunday and ignore one on Monday?”

February 27, 2015

worth a thousand words

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All life is sacred. Allowing such suffering is an obscenity.

This Somalian child is a member of our human family, created in the image of God.

He is my brother.

There is no spiritual tradition, no faith path, no religion that condones, tolerates or allows such misery. Every hungry and starving child in the world is an indictment against superficial spirituality that ignores the reality of this unnecessary evil.

When will we decide it’s time to become human enough to erase the obscenity of hunger once and for all?

If it’s not today it’s not soon enough.

 

February 26, 2015

something to eat and a little love

You’ve got to have something to eat and a little love in your life before you can hold still for any damn body’s sermon on how to behave — Billy Holiday

AMEN!

We do far more sermonizing about love than practicing it. That’s why so many of our sisters and brothers still live in the shadow of hunger.

As Billy Holiday powerfully states, we all need something to eat, and we all need to be loved. That’s where we need to start.

Let’s stop preaching so damned much and start really loving those most in need. Let’s look into the eyes of the poor as we feed them. The eyes of our Master will be looking back at us.