Give us this day our daily bread. (Matt. 6:11, RSV)
Today, Mary Beth and I, along with nine others from Pine Street Church and around 200 from other churches, walked the 32nd annual Boulder County CROP walk. This is a fund-raiser event for hunger relief both at home and around the world. About a quarter of the money raised stays in Boulder County to support Community Food Share, which gathers excess food from farmers, restaurants, bakeries, and grocery stores, and distributes it to partner agencies that serve low income and homeless persons, as well as directly distributing food to families needing assistance. Three-quarters of the funds go to Church World Service for relief around the world. The mission of Church World Service is to eradicate hunger and poverty and to promote peace and justice; it is an ecumenical ministry that provides food, water, shelter, blankets, and recovery kits to people affected by disasters such as the recent hurricane in Haiti and to refugees displaced by war, as well as development work in impoverished areas. A small amount, 1% of the funds, goes to Bread for the World, a nonpartisan Christian lobbying group that works to change policies, programs, and conditions that allow hunger and poverty to persist.
CROP walkers Rev. Duncan Miller and Bob Stacy (center) from Pine Street Church
When we pray the Lord’s prayer, for most of us, most of the time, the line “give us this day our daily bread” is a metaphor for God’s provision of whatever we need right now, whether it is material goods, health, success at work, restoration of a damaged relationship, or inner peace. For many people around the world, however, it is literally enough food to avoid starvation for another day. In the United States, we expect to be able to go to the store at any time, day or night, and purchase items from the roughly 50,000 items stocked. This is not the case for much of the world. Famines, such as drove the brothers of Joseph to Egypt, still exist in many places. Refugees fleeing war or poverty face food shortages in refugee camps. At home, many children get their best meal of the day as a school lunch and families would go hungry without food banks.
Another line from the Lord’s Prayer, “Thy will be done on earth,” surely applies to this situation. “Man shall not live by bread alone” demonstrates that it is not the will of the gracious God that all of our life is simply scrambling to find our next meal; yet millions of humans do just that. Not one of us would deny sharing half or all of our peanut butter sandwich with a starving person next to us, but can we have that same compassion for a person far away, one whose face we cannot recognize? I cannot feed a million hungry persons, but by combining my efforts with those of a million American Baptists, I can do just that. Church World Service and many other worthy food charities help alleviate hunger for those with whom we cannot share a sandwich.
I pray that American Christians and others will support these organizations. Let us see the face of Jesus in every hungry person.
Lord of the harvest, let us be laborers in your fields to provide food for all who are hungry, food for both body and soul. In the name of the one who fed the thousands, Amen.
Ministry and Mission Coach