Urging our nation's leaders to end hunger

41 posts from March 2011

Lenten Devotions: Day Eighteen

Saturday, March 26

On Saturdays we invite you to write a short reflection on your experience of Lent. Consider what your reflection might sound like and where it is similar or different from the thoughts below.

“Christ Jesus … though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited, but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness.” Philippians 2:6-7

In Jesus’ final hours, we see so much of the human condition, both the suffering and joy. He received kindness from the woman who anointed his body; he was betrayed by his disciples; he celebrated the Passover meal with his friends; he prayed; he sang; he experienced disappointment; he endured suffering; he was accused falsely; he was physically and psychologically abused; he begged to be spared and gave over his life.

We often skip over the humanity of Jesus and say this was a “God” event rather than a “human” event. Actually, it was a “divine/human event.” Yet, we put this outside ourselves, as if it has no connection with our lives. We, too, experience; we receive; we are betrayed; we celebrate; we pray; we sing; we ensure; we are accused, and we are abused. We beg, and we give over our lives.

Actually, it is in the manner in which Jesus lived his life that we are called to live our lives—treating violence with nonviolence, hate with love, disloyalty with fidelity, and betrayal with understanding.

Today, as we consider the union of our humanity/divinity, can we live more attentively to the manner in which Jesus lived his life?

Sister Margaret Mary Kimmins, OSF, is Catholic church relations associate for Bread for the World.

‘Getting by on Water and Prayer’


Cartoon by David Horsey / Hearst Newspapers

David Beckmann wrote earlier today about the fast he, Tony Hall, and others are starting next Monday. The Seattle Post-Intelligencer’s David Horsey created this cartoon and wrote a story about the fast, as well as the budget cuts Congress is considering.

“Getting by on water and prayer,” Horsey writes in “Tea Party Budget Hatchets are Aimed at the Poor,” “Beckmann hopes his fast will grab the attention of senators and representatives and make them contemplate the misguided selfishness of the cuts they are proposing.”

For more information about David’s fast, the spiritual basis of fasting, and other resources, check out our website.

Cartoon by David Horsey.

Fast, Pray, and Protect Programs for the Poor

On Monday, my friends Tony Hall, Jim Wallis, and I will begin a fast in response to the budget debate that now dominates Congress. The three of us, with many coalition partners who support the effort, plan to form a circle of protection around programs that benefit hungry and poor people here in America and around the world—programs that new budget proposals threaten to cut in the name of reducing the deficit.

Ironically, the United States spends just 14 cents for every dollar in the federal budget on domestic social safety-net programs, except for health insurance and Social Security. Beyond that, less than 1 cent for every dollar is spent on foreign assistance aimed at helping hungry and poor people. Cutting these programs would do far more harm than good.

I believe strongly in the need to balance the budget, but there has to be a better way. People at risk of hunger in the United States will feel the impact right away—in their supermarket carts—and hungry parents in developing countries will see the impact when their children ask for rice they can’t afford. Does it bother us that millions of people across the globe stand to be impacted by these cuts? It should. The debate about the federal deficit is really a debate about our national priorities. It’s time we reshape those priorities, and my colleagues and I are inviting God to help us do it.

Our plan next week is to focus attention on exactly how people in need would be affected by the proposed budget cuts. We’re going to urge members of Congress to make hungry and poor people a priority in the budget, instead of slashing the systems that support them.

I invite you to join us in this fast—but do it in a way that’s right for you. We have developed a guide that describes the spiritual basis of fasting and various ways you can participate—by skipping a meal, praying for hungry and poor people, taking only water, and/or speaking to your members of Congress.

We can’t cut the support systems in place for vulnerable people without a plan to replace them. This is our moral imperative—but also a practical one. Ending hunger sounds ambitious, but it is possible if we first change the politics of hunger. I invite you to join us in this effort and make a difference for people in need.

David Beckmann is president of Bread for the World.

Lenten Devotions: Day Seventeen

Friday, March 25

Truck Einstein’s general theory of relativity suggests that light travels at a different speed in a vacuum than in real space, where large objects are present. Quantum theory takes us a step further, suggesting that the very act of observation changes reality.

We are never merely passive observers. Peter hoped to just be a casual onlooker during the trial of Jesus, but his presence as an observer changed the situation.

Objectivity is illusory. The pretense of neutrality is comforting but deceptive. Our very presence impacts and alters. The question is how.

David Maus is Upper Midwest and Plains field organizer at Bread for the World.

Lenten Devotions: Day Sixteen

Thursday, March 24

We continue following the story of Jesus’ final hours, as recorded in the Gospel of Mark, with Mark 14:66-72 (NRSV).

While Peter was below in the courtyard, one of the servant-girls of the high priest came by. When she saw Peter warming himself, she stared at him and said, “You also were with Jesus, the man from Nazareth.” But he denied it, saying, “I do not know or understand what you are talking about.” And he went out into the forecourt.

Then the cock crowed. And the servant-girl, on seeing him, began again to say to the bystanders, “This man is one of them.” But again he denied it.

Then after a little while the bystanders again said to Peter, “Certainly you are one of them; for you are a Galilean.” But he began to curse, and he swore an oath, “I do not know this man you are talking about.” At that moment the cock crowed for the second time. Then Peter remembered that Jesus had said to him, “Before the cock crows twice, you will deny me three times.” And he broke down and wept.

Are there words or phrases that impact you in this passage?

Imagine you are Peter in this scene. What are you thinking and feeling in the courtyard? Why did you deny knowing Jesus?

What do you think of Peter’s denial?

Lenten Devotions: Day Fifteen

Wednesday, March 23

Action Challenge: Naming our faith and fears. We invite you to prayerfully consider what positive and negative names you call Jesus and other people, both audibly and by your actions or inactions. When I do not trust him and when I take life into my own hands, my actions call him “unfaithful.”

Believing all people are created and loved by God, I call them “valuable” and “precious.” Yet, my inner thoughts and outward actions at times communicate just the opposite. “Lazy.” “Hopeless.” “Not worth my time.”

On separate, small pieces of paper, write down one positive and one negative name you call Jesus and one positive and one negative name you call others. (You will have four names total.) Confessing the two negative names, picture yourself placing them in Jesus’ nail-scarred hands. Then, tear up these pieces of paper, committing and asking God to help you speak them no more. Carry the two positive names with you, in your pocket or purse, and incorporate them into your prayer life and your social interactions this week.

Zach Schmidt is the Central Midwest field organizer at Bread for the World.

Lenten Devotions: Day Fourteen

Tuesday, March 22

Leaves Is Jesus who he says he is? We ask that at times, in one form or another, audibly or silently. Are you the One? The Messiah? The Savior? Can you help me? Will you be with me? Will you heal?

We invite you to focus your mind on the reality of who Jesus is, the many “will you’s” and “are you’s.” Think of names that speak of him and his character and work. Redeemer. Deliverer. Comforter. Brother. Emmanuel. Think of names that tell of his greatness. Christ. Lord. Holy One. Alpha and Omega.

Is there a name that impacts you personally? Thank him and praise him for who he is. Is there a question you have for him? Ask.

Zach Schmidt is the Central Midwest field organizer at Bread for the World.

Lenten Devotions: Day Thirteen

Monday, March 21

 We continue following the story of Jesus’ final hours, as recorded in the Gospel of Mark, with Mark 14:61-65 (NRSV).

Again the high priest asked him, “Are you the Messiah, the Son of the Blessed One?” Jesus said, “I am; and ‘you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of the Power,’ and ‘coming with the clouds of heaven.’”

Then the high priest tore his clothes and said, “Why do we still need witnesses? You have heard his blasphemy! What is your decision?” All of them condemned him as deserving death. Some began to spit on him, to blindfold him, and to strike him, saying to him, “Prophesy!” The guards also took him over and beat him.

Are there words or phrases that impact you in this passage?

Try to visualize this scene. Now, put yourself in Jesus’ place. What do you see? What do you hear?

Lenten Devotions: Day Twelve

Sunday, March 20

  Pink abstract On Sundays, our Sabbath day of rest, we invite you to find refreshment through quiet reflection and prayerful breathing. Each week, we will offer a simple exercise to help facilitate this process, and we invite you to try these or your own.

Find a quiet place where you can pause to consider your inner life. Try to quiet your soul. It may be helpful to take several deep cleansing breaths to help quiet your soul. Then, try to become aware of your feelings, both positive and negative. What are you feeling? Whatever your feelings, offer them to God with open, upward palms: “Here, You have them.”

 Photo by Margie Nea

Lenten Devotions: Day Eleven

Saturday, March 19

Mangos On Saturdays we invite you to write a short reflection on your experience of Lent. Consider what your Saturday reflection might sound like and where it is similar or different from the thoughts below.

What is it that others might testify against you?

Have you ever overhead people describing you to others? What adjectives do they use? What actions do they point to that are typical of you? Does your utter dependence on God shine through or is it overshadowed by your tendency to want to control or to have numerous back-up plans in case God doesn’t come through? Do they get a glimpse of the face of God?

One year for Lent my family decided to focus on growing our awareness and practice of the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23). At dinner each night, one person would draw a card with a picture of a fruit on it and a corresponding component of the fruit of the Spirit. (I loved the cherries with the word “gentleness.”) We then each described how we had seen that fruit and how we had demonstrated that fruit during the day.

While the fruit of the Spirit comes from the Holy Spirit within, it is possible to intentionally cooperate with the Spirit in living out our fruitfulness. This exercise helped us to glimpse the face of God daily.

Nancy Rhodes is vice president for finance and administration at Bread for the World.

Photo by Margie Nea.

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