In just a few days, our children will be scouring the streets looking for candy. Or more precisely, they will be knocking on doors, visiting businesses, and shouting “trick or treat!” while dressed like Elsa or a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle. As much as this may remind us of scavenging and their child voices telling us “But I’m starving!” we know there is a difference between this kind of hunger and the other.
The kind of hunger that comes from having nothing. And with that, as we know from the gospel stories, being treated as if they were nothing.
What we actually do about hunger takes many different forms.
Many of us think and give locally, with private donations and in the form of food baskets at Thanksgiving.
Many of us also give globally, with donations to Episcopal Relief and Development, who provide mosquito nets, pigs, and healthcare to people in need all over the world.
Many of us seek to act to deal with the systems that create and reinforce hunger.
Our usual options don’t help us see the bigger picture, as the modern parable reminds us. The parable goes something like this. There was a group of church people, out for the annual church picnic at the park. They worship together, have lunch, and then have fun time. Many of the people play games: volleyball, cards, and egg races. One group goes on a nature hike through the woods. They marvel at the beauty of the trees and flowers and the sounds of nature. They talk about the worship readings and the camp songs they sang. They are distracted by their own conversation and goings on when a sharp call for “Help!” pierces their bubble.
The group runs toward the voice, which sounds as if it is coming from the river. When they get there, they see a young man splashing about in the river. The people leap into action, finding a large piece of wood for several church members to hold as they wade out to where the young man is caught in the current. They are able to reach the young man and pull him to safety.
As they breathe a sigh of relief, they hear another cry for help, this one coming from up the river. With their wood and their numbers, they prepare to save this young woman being pulled down the river. As she comes closer and they move to rescue her, they hear another cry from up the river. Another man, this one older is in danger of drowning.
This group of church people do their best, rescuing person after person from drowning. It is about all they have, and they are getting tired out. And yet the people keep coming down the river.
At what point do the people, with all their concern for these strangers, move up the river? At what point do they start to wonder who or what is throwing these people into the river?
As Christians, many of us are expert rescuers. This is essential to our faith. Also essential to our faith is building a better system. This isn’t done only through local rescue, but through engaging our local, regional, national, and international communities to protect those in need. Doing this, we can end hunger.
With some action, we can end hunger by 2030. World hunger. Everywhere. In the next decade and a half.
It may seem like a pipe dream, but we have already cut hunger in half. And we can do more. I didn’t believe it myself when I heard it. But this interview with Billy Kangas from Bread for the World made me see it.
There are so many ways we can participate in dealing with need and we are blessed to have several opportunities in front of us. First Congregational Church is collecting for Thanksgiving food baskets and the Salvation Army is collecting for Christmas baskets. We can give our time, focus, and money to the Food Pantry, and other local feeding ministries.
We can also participate in the local chapter of Bread for the World, who are hosting David Miner, former National Board Chairman of Bread for the World at their November meeting. Mr. Miner will be speaking to the challenges and opportunities for addressing world hunger now. If you want more information about this event, see Dorothy Drummond or join us Monday, November 3 at 6 pm at United Campus Ministries.
I hope you consider the form of service that suits you and what you might be called to do to help!