Making peace by addressing root causes of poverty
Rev. Miriam Foltz
I will sing of loyalty and of justice; to you, O Lord, I will sing.
Reflection: As I left the grocery store, the mother and child asked me for Greyhound bus fare. With wrinkled clothes and wearied faces, they had barely a backpack between them, despite being hundreds of miles from home. I wrestled with all the implications, both on my bank account and the amount of truth in the details. As the grocery store employees ordered the woman to vacate the premises, she delivered a final plea, and I had to answer yes.
“I hear America singing,” wrote Walt Whitman, of industrial, productive America.
“I, too, sing America,” wrote Langston Hughes, of segregated Jim Crow America.
This mother before me sang of America — of tenuous employment and empty promises, limited education and broken families. This mother sang of poverty that I had not known personally, and regardless of the truth of her story, her story sang true.
It matters what songs we hear, especially as our society has grown increasingly siloed according to socio-economic status. How often do you interact with someone from a different class than you? When was the last time you shared a meal with someone who works a minimum-wage job?
Current reports show that 1 out of every 5 children in the U.S. lives in poverty. Expanding the qualifications to include low-income individuals, we see that almost 48% of Americans are singing this mother’s song. Scripture is serious about economic justice; we must be serious too. We cannot remain silent in this era of increasing poverty.
Action: Our work to end poverty in America begins with listening to the songs of Americans all around us. Singing God’s justice requires us to talk frankly and honestly about money and economic privilege. I invite you to join me in self-analysis today using this tool: https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2018/09/06/are-you-in-the-american-middle-class/
Prayer: God, you have given us the abundance of creation. We pray that everyone might have clean water at the turning of a tap. We pray that all might have safe shelter this night. We remember our neighbors who have experienced eviction this day. Open our hearts. Open our ears. O Lord, may we sing of your justice forever; may we seek it together this day. Amen.
Rev. Foltz serves as pastor for New Castle Presbyterian Church in New Castle, DE. She loves reading, making music, and expanding her understanding of God and her neighbors through everyday conversations and international travel when possible.
This year’s A Season of Peace Resources are designed to help Presbyterians explore different forms and lenses for peacemaking. From the personal level to global issues, these reflections and prayers will help grow the faith and witness of the whole church. Through the 29 days of this year’s Season of Peace, we are invited to reflect upon:
- What does it mean to commit to Peace?
- Making peace by addressing root causes of poverty
- Making peace by disrupting systematic racism
- Making peace by ending violence
- Making peace by supporting refugees and migrants
- Partaking in peace in worship and at table this World Communion Sunday and through the Peace & Global Witness Offering
Each author represents a variety of vocations and experiences in peacemaking efforts. Individuals and households are invited to make use of these daily reflections beginning on Sunday, September 1, and concluding on World Communion Sunday, October 6.