Tag Archives: Hunger

Snow Days and Daily Bread

sleddingsnowblastwebYesterday was a snow day for many school districts in the Twin Cities area. The foot of snow was a fun excuse for many families to be outdoors, sledding on hills and building snow forts. Afterwards they could warm up with hot cocoa or bake fresh cookies.

But the school districts in Saint Paul and Minneapolis did not have snow day. Instead the buses took their time delivering these urban children to their school. I don’t know all the reasons they stayed open, but one of them was probably hunger. For many children in poverty, school is the one place where they are assured of getting a nutritious meal. According to Bread for the World, 16.2 million children struggle with hunger every day. You can learn more about hunger through the new documentary, “A Place at the Table.”

BreadAs a Christian I pray the Lord’s prayer daily. In it I pray, “Give us today our daily bread.” I am not simply praying, “Give me today my daily bread,” but for OUR daily bread. I am praying for my brothers and sister in Christ who need food today. After all the book of James cautions,

What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but do not have works? Can faith save you? If a brother or sister is naked and lacks daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and eat your fill,” and yet you do not supply their bodily needs, what is the good of that? (James 2:14-17)

I am thankful for the efforts my congregation (and many congregations) who work to fed others. Efforts like the Cure Ministry that serves meals at East Emmanuel Lutheran in St. Paul and the Christian Cupboard that provides food to many families in the Woodbury area. But I sense that more can be done. What do you think?

Lord Jesus, give us today our daily bread, especially for the hungry children in our midst.

R U Hungry?

This coming Sunday at Resurrection our Gospel reading will be Mark 6, Jesus’ feeding of the 5000. It is a familiar story that is in all four gospels. On several occasions when food was running low at a church event, people would approach me as pastor to duplicate Jesus multiplying the loaves and fishes. I have failed every time to perform some magic trick. However, I never remember anyone going away hungry. Usually we “s-t-r-e—t – c—h” out the food to feed whomever is needy.

Like many stories in scripture this is open to various interpretations as to how it impacts our lives. I don’t believe the story has only one meaning to it, that once the reader discovers it, the story is finished. Rather the story rubs up against my life, challenging, enlightening, guiding my life.

A primary interpretation is that Jesus is like Moses in the Exodus, providing manna in the wilderness for the people of God. In fact Jesus is God himself, since he did not need to consult God about the people’ need, but simply blessed, broke and gave the bread to the people, a foreshadowing of his “blessing, broke and gave” sequence at the Passover meal (Mark 14:22). Jesus is the one who feeds us. John 6 is a lengthy teaching on Jesus as the bread of life.

But I think a second interpretation is the calling of the disciples to feed the people.

Jesus said to them, “You give them something to eat.” (Mark 6:26)

Jesus gave the loaves to the disciples that they might feed the people. As followers of Jesus we are called to be people who feed others, literally. The church has often been an agency that works to feed the hungry. Whether it is the hungry in the horn of Africa or local hunger of our city streets, we are still called by God to feed the hungry around us.  God has blessed us that we might give to others in Jesus’ name.

Lord Jesus, teach me how to feed the hungry in your name.

Surprise Ending or Not?

Feeding of the 500 by artist Justino Magalona

About five thousand were fed. As soon as the meal was finished, Jesus insisted that the disciples get in the boat and go on ahead to the other side while he dismissed the people. Matthew 14:21-22

The surprise finish to the feeding of the five thousand story is how the crowd reacted.  Or more accurately did not react.  After most miracles the crowd or disciples or religious officials reacted verbally to what they have seen. For example in Matthew 12 when Jesus healed a blind and mute man two reactions came forth:

 All the crowds were amazed and said, “Can this be the Son of David?” But when the Pharisees heard it, they said, “It is only by Beelzebul, the ruler of the demons, that this fellow casts out the demons.”  Matthew 12:23-24.

 Yet there is no exclamation after feeding five thousand.  Is this because the disciples did the work of distributing the loaves and fishes and the people didn’t recognize Jesus’ participation?  Or is it because they didn’t see the wonder, assuming the disciples simply had access to lots of food? Or is bread and fish something that people just took for granted?

 I don’t know the answer, but it creates in me the desire to be more grateful for the food I eat and to look for opportunities to help feed others.  This Wednesday at noon  a group of us are going to help pack food for Feed My Starving Children in Eagan, MN.  And the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America recently sent me an e-mail regarding the famine in the Horn of Africa.  Jesus still needs our hands and dollars to feed our hungry neighbor. 

 Maybe that is why there is no reaction; the story is not finished.  Only when all the people are feed will we stand in amazement at what God has done through his people.

 Lord Jesus, there are still hungry people in our world.  May you use my loaves and gifts, my dollars and cents, to feed those who need help.  And teach me the art of being grateful and gracious with the bountiful food you have given me.