Here is a minute for mission I didn’t do this morning because I instead took someone to the emergency room (which seems to always take at least two or three hours). It is here to spark ideas for your own message at church next week to let your congregation know about the fast and to invite their participation. Feel free to borrow from this or be inspired because you certainly can devise a better one!
A Minute for Mission on the Global Food Crisis and Churchwide Fast
I’m here to talk about the global food crisis. I’ll try not to be melodramatic, but given how serious the situation is, I don’t think that is possible.
As Christians we believe that God created life. Life is sacred. Food, water and air are the essential elements that sustain life, and therefore they too are sacred. We humans have managed to forget this and through ignorance and greed have created systems that provide some people – like you and me – access to these critical components of life. Others, if they don’t have the power or money to obtain them, go without. Many people suffer, get sick, and die. Most of them are children. In fact, one child dies every 5 or 6 seconds. (wait five seconds) Now another. (wait 5 seconds) Another.
This spring, the food riots in 40 countries around the world were responses to rising prices, which put food out of reach of poorer folk. This global food crisis has reminded us of the shameful tragedy of hunger in God’s world.
I can never eat a meal and feel satisfied knowing that others are going without. I can try to ignore it, but the hunger of neighbors near or far haunts me consciously or unconsciously. I have no doubt that the same is true for you.
Hunger is a complex challenge before us. Therefore, Presbyterians are engaging in a spiritual practice of fasting to try to gain clarity about the food crisis and our role. Fasting can create the space we need to pray, repent, and, together with others in our congregation, seek ways to respond that is fitting as followers of Christ.
The fasting idea actually came out of this congregation back in the spring. The 3-day fast we did in May inspired several people around the country including Nancy Lister-Settle, a Presbyterian Hunger Action Enabler in Des Moines, Iowa, who initiated a General Assembly Action from her presbytery. The G.A. Action calls on all Presbyterians to urgently respond to the global food crisis using spiritual practices such as fasting.
The next fast begins on Friday evening, October 31st, and will be broken with communion on Sunday, November 2nd. If you cannot or wish not to fast from food during that time, you can skip one meal, have simple meals, or give up something else during those 40 hours.
While fasting will not solve the food crisis, the hope is that it will open us and allow some space for God to work on us – to help us change in ways we may want to, but often find too difficult. And for the Holy Spirit to work through us and give us the courage to confront the systems that perpetuate poverty and hunger. We will learn how to do that together. After the 12 monthly fasts, next year in October 2009, as a congregation and perhaps as a denomination, we may come up with a way or ways to respond that we never dreamed of.
Will we not try to address hunger and poverty because it is difficult? Or, shall we act together–supporting and finding strength in each other and God–and fast, pray, repent and act as faithfully as we can?
Please join us in this year-long journey!