Monday, August 1, 2011

Just Love

The steps are clean as I open up. Small miracle. Andre is the first to arrive. As usual. he tells me thst he feels he now can make it on Sundays without my wake up call. I go to pick up the bulletins. When I return, Hope is at work sweeeping up the sanctuary and John has arrived too. 9Let this be Sunday John.) I’d love to know what attracts him to us. Why he prefers fist bumps to hand shakes. (Reminds me of Amanda.) Amy has arrived and is working throuhg the music for the day.
Today I’m going to focus on the loaves and fishes story, (Matthew 14:  13-21) the feeding of the 5000 (not to mention the women and children.)  But I begin by asking who can explain to me ewhat’s going on with the debt ceiling crisis. The Wasington impasse. Micah in Berlin has asked me what the hell is going on. He admits his cyncism, but this seems beyond. Way beyond. We have a global economy. What the US does has global implications. And we dither on in arrogant ideological ignorance. 
Hugo of course puts it all in perspective as part of the crisis of international captalism. As we dicsuss, Jane comes in, sits in the back. I say it has to do with  living responsibly, faithfully, in the world...Jane quietly slips away to go to her own service. 
Then there is the Norway tragedy. And Bill O’Reilly’s meltdown over referring to the accused killer as a Christian. How he sees this as more perscution of Christians. OK then,so why is he so free to speak of  Muslim terrorism? And on the weekend of the anniversary of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, with terrorism defined as random violence intentioanlly directed against innocent civilians, no group or country has come anyhwere near to matching the US in massive terroism.
And I say this all has to do with loaves and fishes.
 We have two great stories today. First, the feeding of the 5000 +. It’s late in the day. The disciples approach Jesus. What is to be done? Their attitude? As usual, somebody ought to do something..They appeal to him: Jesus, Jesus, do something..And his response, No, you do feed them.
Raises serious questions for us. Considering hunger alone, whta we are coming to call food justice, we have to ask?
  • What do we eat?
  • Sometimes, like in the Saigon Grill situation, where do we eat?
  • Where does what we eat come from? 
  • How does it get to us? What does it take to get it to us?
  • What is the  impact on others?
Wednesday at my meeting with the American Jewish World Service Committee, I learned that worldwide, a billion people go to bed hungry every night.. One out of every six childen. And according  to Ruth Messneger, AJWS President, there are more than enough resources to feed the world twice over. 
Last week, I met with national and regional Bread for the World staff people. Their current agenda includes:
  • The Circle of Protection: seeking to draw a circle  around those federal programs that protect the most vulnerable among us, protecting them from massive cuts in the budget negotiations 
  • The 1000 Days campaign, recognizing the importance in the first 1000 days from pregnancy thorigh 18 months of a child’s life
  • And tying International aid to food sutainablity for poor nations. 
I recall our visit to Nicaragua last November. The issue of the systematic  destruction of the earth’s  seed heritage, the Monsantoization of food production, like the infant formula crisis ofyears’s past makimng global farmers dependen as crack addicts  on agribusiness seeds instead of what the earth has naturally provied. How a country like Nicaragua, the second poorest country in the hemisphere, has soil rich enough to feed its own people. 
And the demand  of the global economy, forcing land into economically driven land usage and away from food sustainabilty, even in countries like Cuba. All citrus products pushed into export, and land pushed into coffee production. The devouring nature  of corn based agriculture. The destruction of rural life leading to urbanization and catasrophization of natural disasters mutiplied by policy decisios. When the fact is countries can feed themselves...
The point is, the gospel story is a  miracle of distribution, not  production. But we only have five loaves and two fishes.  OK, you feed them. You feed them. You do something.
What somethings do we do? Significant for this small congregation: 
  • We provide regular support for WSCAH, and the food panttry at Jan Hus
  • Our participation in the work of Bread for the World. Amazingly, we have been one their most consistent congregations, thanks to Carol Wadsworth.
  • Our monthly volunteering in the SPSA shelter
  • Our founding of and continued participation in the Interfaith Assembly on Houisng and Homelesness
  • Our work witj Justice Will Be Served
  • Our founding role and and conintued particiapton in our Industrial Areas Foundation  local, Manhattan Together.
  • Our participation in Dos Pueblos and the founding of the Presbyterian Nicaragua Network..
These issues,  when you think about them are hard. They require us to wrestle with God, like Jacob. He wrestles with an angel all night long. Doesn’t give in. And gets a new name. from Jacob to Israel because he has striven with God and man and prevailed...
It has not been easy. His hip has been thrown out of joint. But I love the image, Jacob exhausted and hurting, but still strong, limping resolutely into the sunrise.
What counts is the courage to bring what ever we have to God, five loaves and two fishes, and allowing God to work with it. Bless it....that is our call.   
When the service ends, the session meets.  Looks at a worship schedule through January. The need for consitent dependable music. Volunteer liturgists. Planning.  

Then Marc arrives and we work on identity. The new tag line: Just Love. I remember how in the 90’s, a PCUSA committee recommended a new sexual ethic based in justice love.  Well, that didn’t work out so well. But the idea was right. Just like Dream. Real. Hard., Just Love has a resonace and constellation of meaning. The poeple like it. It’s been a long, good, day.

No comments:

Post a Comment