And they ALL hurt.
The organization Bread For The World estimates that 12 million children and 19 million adults in the U.S. go hungry each day and cannot afford the food they need to maintain physical health.
I am the Deacon-In-Charge of In the Garden Ministry housed at Trinity Church on Capitol Square. We are a community consisting of homeless, minimally housed and low-income friends gathering every Sunday afternoon for worship, sharing and a good meal. About a third of our community live ‘on the land’, and some of them do not have the resources to purchase their own food. We occasionally see families with small children who haven’t eaten (on Sundays there are not the soup kitchens serving that normally serve during the week). If you have ever encountered hungry child ‘up close and personal’, you will never forget it. All these people know hunger because they live with the physical hurt of hunger every day.
For thousands of years, bread has been the symbol of necessary food and the sustenance of life. It is easy to understand why. It is nutritious, providing carbohydrates, starch and protein to the body. It is easy to make and, in some form or other, is a part of every culture. Bread is essential. Our problem in this overdeveloped nation tends to be that we get too much to eat. How ironic, that in a nation with TWO TV channels devoted entirely to food, obesity for children and adults is a growing national problem.
- And yet we have millions going hungry each day?
And yet, people are dropping dead in the Sudan for want of food?
For most people in the world, most of the time, the problem is that they have too little to eat. They may subsist on only one meal a day, often times less than that.
Mahatma Gandhi once said: “There are people in the world so hungry that God cannot appear to them except in the form of bread.”
And the only thing that can remedy that hunger is bread . . . physical bread. And bread is more than nutrition. It’s comfort. The texture, the weight, the taste, all combine to make bread both the staff of life and the number one comfort food.
People are starving to death, literally and figuratively – in Sudan. . . in Yemen. . . in Syria. . . in Appalachia. . . in Columbus Ohio. . . – while often we do everything in our power to make it someone else’s problem, often blaming those very ones who are hungry.
It’s a radical thing we are called to do in the Christian faith. We are instructed to:
- feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, to welcome the stranger, to clothe the naked, to shelter the homeless, visit the imprisoned. (Matthew 25:35-36)
We, as the body of Christ and as individuals, call upon one another to care for others, to share our earthly goods; to support the church, food bank, missions and/or missionaries; and to work for social justice in our cities, state and world. It is not light work or easy work, but the church and her people are often the last refuge for those who are sad, angry, alone, sick, and worried about whether they will be able to survive one more month. We are a refuge for the elderly and the sick, those who may be alone, for children who have lost their parents, for the disabled who need a helping hand and acceptance, for the abused, addicted, the lost, the strayed.
Each of us must undertake this work, not only out of the goodness of our hearts, but as builders of the Kingdom of God here on earth. And at the same time, we must care and feed each other with love, hope, joy, compassion, and community. For through this work we come to emulate Christ, and to know the heart of Jesus, who is the ‘bread for eternal life’.
NOTE: I serve on the Board of HungerNet Ohio and offered this meditation for Holy Week on our Facebook page.