The Covid-19 crisis is an opportunity to share of ourselves and our resources
By Eileen Schuhmann | Presbyterian Hunger Program
Many of us have experienced the anxiety of seeing the toilet paper isles empty in the grocery store. The flour shelf empty. The egg cooler empty. And probably many of us have struggled with the urge to buy more than we need when we see items magically reappear, overstocking our pantries and our freezers.
The fear generated by the Covid-19 pandemic seems to be feeding many of our negative tendencies towards individualism. But this kind of individualist thinking that is so visible in grocery stores in the United States is also surfacing worldwide. For example, small farmers in India, who have traditionally shared seeds with their neighbors, are scared that if they share seed now, they might not have enough seed for future needs.
During this Covid-19 crisis, we can see the extent to which so many of us are operating out of a scarcity mindset. Fr. Richard Rohr, a Franciscan friar and author, says that we block the flow of grace “when we are living inside a worldview of scarcity, a feeling that there’s just not enough.”
When Jesus multiplied the loaves and fishes on the shore of the Sea of Galilee, ensuring that thousands of people had enough to eat, the real miracle may have been opening the hearts of his followers to God’s grace and a spirit of generosity.
Pope Francis states, “This is the miracle: rather than a multiplication it is a sharing, inspired by faith and prayer. Everyone eats and some is left over: it is the sign of Jesus, the Bread of God for humanity.”
God performs miracles through regular people, just like you and me, every day. God uses us for good works on earth when we cultivate a prayerful attitude of surrender and openness to be instruments in God’s hands.
“Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it” (NRSV, 1 Corinthians 12: 27). We are the hands and feet of God on earth.
“Christ has no body now but yours. No hands, no feet on earth but yours.
Yours are the eyes through which he looks compassion on this world.
Yours are the feet with which he walks to do good.
Yours are the hands through which he blesses all the world.
Yours are the hands, yours are the feet, yours are the eyes, you are his body.
Christ has no body now on earth but yours.”
~ Teresa of Ávila
During this time of crisis, more than ever, we need to re-awaken to our interconnection. Together we make up the body of Christ. If one member of that body is left to suffer, then the whole body suffers. In some ways this principle has become exemplified in the current crisis – leaving some people vulnerable to disease leaves us all vulnerable to disease.
As a church that is focused on Matthew 25, we are called to embody Christ’s love through our outreach to the most vulnerable among us. And today there are many more vulnerable due to the Covid-19 pandemic and the resulting economic shutdowns.
In April, more than 25 million jobs were lost in the U.S. Many low-income families are now having an even more difficult time affording food with the widespread business closures.
Around the world, small farmers are struggling to get the necessary inputs for seeding their fields, and they can’t get their produce to market due to lockdown. Internally displaced persons, who largely rely on food assistance, have been cut off from lifesaving supplies.
The needs are great. And God calls us to do great things!
There are so many examples of Presbyterians, Presbyterian churches, and other organizations doing great things to address the Covid-19 crisis. Presbyterian food pantries are working harder than ever to meet the increasing needs of their communities.
At the beginning of May, the Presbyterian Hunger Program (PHP) awarded $113,000 in small Covid-19 grants, which afforded assistance to congregations that are providing emergency food relief in their communities and helped partners increase their capacity to meet the increased demand for services. Also, PHP has reached out to its international partners to work with them to reallocate some of the funding that they received this year towards Covid-19 response in their communities.
And $300,000 in Presbyterian Mission Agency funds are being set aside to provide Matthew 25 grants to congregations struggling to survive the hardships of the pandemic.
What You Can Do
Pray. Pray for those who are suffering the most during this crisis, whether they have lost loved ones, jobs, homes or stability.
Share a kind word or a smile from a distance. One of the most important things we can do is continue to connect with others and share kindness. We can check on our neighbors and call family and friends that live alone. This doesn’t cost us any money.
Give generously. Continue to support your church and the organizations that you care about financially, as you are able. Transfer some of the overstocked food from your pantry to your church’s food pantry. And give of your time to good causes.
The work of the Presbyterian Hunger Program is possible thanks to your gifts to One Great Hour of Sharing.
For Covid-19 resources, visit https://www.pcusa.org/covid19/