Urging our nation's leaders to end hunger

36 posts from April 2011

Opening Space for the Holy Spirit: Lenten Devotions

Sunday, April 10

There are two weeks left until Easter. But as Easter plans are made and dinner guests invited, sometimes I find myself jumping past the final days of Lent and straight to the hope and promise of the resurrection and the celebration of the holiday.  

Regardless of how you’ve decided to recognize Lent in your life, I encourage you to reflect on your Lenten journey to date. Consider if you’d like to change or add to your own Lenten experience. What have you done that has opened a space for the Holy Spirit? What has been a distraction you could remove during the next two weeks?

Take a moment to pray for an openness of spirit to follow you through Easter.

Sarah Rohrer is North Central field organizer for Bread for the World.


Lord, Make My Lent Yours: Lenten Devotions

Saturday, April 9

As we continue the story of Jesus’ final hours, read Mark 15:21-24, focusing on verse 21: “They compelled a passer-by, who was coming in from the country, to carry his cross; it was Simon of Cyrene, the father of Alexander and Rufus.”

In the wrong place at the wrong time.

I had Lent under control, basically. Pretty regular prayers, some quiet devotions, in the spirit with it all.

And then … this. Minding my own business, coming in from the country, on my way. And suddenly waylaid. Like Simon.

A friend’s untimely death. Work is driving me crazy. An argument with my child. Forgetting a date night at home. Worries about money. Tsunamis and nuclear meltdowns. Protestors shot. Why me, why now?

Each weighs down with all its might. No one thing is exactly like cross-bearing. But it still feels like heavy estrangement … from wholeness, from relationships, from peace, from God.

Not what I had in mind for Lent. This was to be about closeness and a smooth, cool path.

Then the soldiers grabbed me and stuck this load on my back and whipped me through the streets, weeping. My two strong sons, Alexander and Rufus, weren’t there to help. It was just me, an old man staggering as people laughed at me, spat on me, reckoning I was the criminal.

But one Son was there. He was somewhere in the crowd as I struggled to drag this enormous cross through the streets.

He prayed for me … then, and he prays now. I feel like an accomplice in a way, wounded, on my knees with fear and exhaustion and disappointment. My dreams of a sweet, simple journey long gone.

Lord, make my Lent yours. Amen.

Larry Hollar is North Central senior regional organizer with Bread for the World.

Turn to the Light: Lenten Devotions

Friday, April 8

Hibiscus watches sunset hr  5164

I love the joining of this beautiful photo—taken by songwriter, photographer, and peace activist Jerry Leggett of Hawaii—with the lyrics to a hymn written in the early 20th century by Ida L. Reed of West Virginia. As different as these setting are, both capture ways in which nature and people turn to the light—a thought that undergirds the biblical passages in this week’s blog posts.

From “Lift Thy Face to the Light,” by Ida L. Reed (1906)

Lift thy face to the light,
Lift thy face to the light,
Soon all clouds will pass away,
Soon will dawn the perfect day,
Lift thy face to the light!

Kathy Pomroy is director of organizing at Bread for the World.

Photo: Jerry Leggett ©2011, used with permission.

Hunger in the News: Biofuels Contribute to Higher Food Prices

Rush to Use Crops as Fuels Raises Food Prices and Hunger Fears. Soaring food prices have caused riots or contributed to political turmoil in a host of poor countries in recent months, including Algeria, Egypt and Bangladesh, where palm oil, a common biofuel ingredient, provides crucial nutrition to a desperately poor populace. [The New York Times]

U.S. Invests $5 Million to Improve Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has announced that USDA will award grants to improve access to and increase participation in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). [GovMonitor]

Senate Defeats Efforts to Stop Climate Change Regulation.The Obama administration and its Senate allies beat back a months-long effort by congressional Republicans to strip the Environmental Protection Agency of its ability to regulate greenhouse gases, the heat-trapping emissions most scientists believe is the main contributor to global climate change. [The Los Angeles Times]

Green Economy for Africa’s Development. A green economy that results in increased human well-being and social equity, while significantly reducing environmental risks and ecological scarcities, is the economic vehicle for sustainable development, and not an alternative to it, said an expert at United Nations Commission for Africa. [The Nation]

Poor People Did Not Cause the Budget Deficit

In this video, Bread for the World President David Beckmann talks about proposed budget cuts and their impact on vulnerable Americans with Spotlight's Jodie Levin-Epstein.

The amount of money we spend on poor people is not very much. They did not cause the budget deficit. We should reduce our budget deficit. But not by hurting hungry people. -David Beckmann

Midwives in Mexico

Pregnant mothers in Chiapas, Mexico, die at a rate of more than 100 per 100,000 live births. It's a travesty that a group of midwives in Carmen Zacatal is combatting to great effect: The maternal death rate there has dropped to almost zero. Maternal and infant nutrtion and health are closely linked, so in recognition of World Health Day, check out this video about the Mexican midwives.

The Cross: Lenten Devotions

Thursday, April 7

Cross and cupola We continue following the story of Jesus’ final hours, as recorded in the Gospel of Mark, with Mark 15:21-24 (NRSV).

They compelled a passer-by, who was coming in from the country, to carry his cross; it was Simon of Cyrene, the father of Alexander and Rufus. Then they brought Jesus to the place called Golgotha (which means the place of a skull). And they offered him wine mixed with myrrh; but he did not take it. And they crucified him, and divided his clothes among them, casting lots to decide what each should take.

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

“Were you there when they crucified my Lord?” This well-known hymn asks a provocative question and one that is relevant today.

Like Simon of Cyrene, have you encountered people on the painful walk to Calvary?

What cross did they bear along the way—hunger, poverty, illness, or something they could not share?

Would you step in to take up their cross with a helping hand, a voice of witness, or an open heart?

Marco Grimaldo is Mid-Atlantic and Central Southern regional organizer with Bread for the World.

Photo credit: gwilmore


The Budget as a Path to Penury

CBPP graph House budget committee chairman Paul Ryan calls his FY 2012 budget resolution—which he announced with great fanfare yesterday—“The Path to Prosperity.” For hungry and poor people, it would be the path to further penury.

Initial analysis by the independent Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) reveals that the Ryan plan would get about $2.9 trillion of its more than $4 trillion cuts over 10 years from programs that serve the most vulnerable and needy people.

“The Ryan plan … (turns) its biggest cannons on these people,” writes Robert Greenstein, federal budget expert and CBPP founder. The plan is at odds with the recommendations of the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, which established the “basic principle that deficit reduction should not increase poverty or inequality or hurt the disadvantaged,” he writes.

“… [I]t’s a cowardly budget in a crucial respect,” Greenstein wrote in a statement . “It proposes a dramatic reverse-Robin-Hood approach that gets the lion’s share of its budget cuts from programs for low-income Americans—the politically and economically weakest group in America and the politically safest group for Ryan to target—even as it bestows extremely large tax cuts on the wealthiest Americans.”

Greenstein warns that if this budget proposal passes, it would produce the largest redistribution of income from the bottom to the top in modern U.S. history.

In the News: U.S. Budget Battles

Critical Budget Day Dominates D.C. Congress enters a critical day of budget negotiations Wednesday, with the White House standing by to intervene if it “deems it necessary” and Sen. Chuck Schumer saying there’s a “glimmer of hope” that a deal will be reached before a deadline for a government shutdown on Friday. [Politico]

What a Government Shutdown Would Look Like. The White House and the U.S. Congress have until Friday to reach agreement on an elusive federal spending-cut bill or face a partial shutdown of the U.S. government beginning the next day. [Reuters]

U.S. Budget Stalemate: Talks Intensify to Avoid Shutdown. Talks are intensifying on Capitol Hill as congressional negotiators attempt to reach an agreement over federal spending cuts in order to avoid a looming government shutdown. [BBC]

Protests over Education Cuts Flood Pa. Capitol. Lobbyists and legislators had to squeeze through the corridors and doorways of the Capitol on Tuesday as students and education advocates flooded the building to protest Gov. Tom Corbett's proposed funding cuts for public schools and universities. [Forbes]

Hunger Pangs: Lenten Devotions

Wednesday, April 6

Yesterday I walked out of the house without eating breakfast. This isn’t out of the ordinary, as I usually eat while I’m driving, or when I get to work. Yet instead of coming to work, I went to take a test for admittance into a fellowship program. As I took this test, the hunger set in, and I could not concentrate. All I could think about was the granola bar, yogurt, and banana I had in my purse—things I would eat as soon as I was done.

Yesterday I experienced what many children in the United States experience every day as they head to school—they are hungry and cannot focus on anything but the hunger pangs they feel. Yesterday I got it, not because I read the facts, not because I researched the statistics, but because I lived it. The only difference between me and these children was that my hunger could be satisfied by opening my purse and pouring out its contents or opening my fridge when I got home. For many children and adults, there might be a fridge, but it’s empty.

What are we doing to meet the needs of children like these? How are we helping to alleviate hunger and poverty around the globe? Such reflection is perfect during Lent, where God desires that we “loose the bonds of injustice, undo the thongs of the yoke, let the oppressed go free, break every yoke and share our bread with the hungry” (Isaiah 58:6-7).

The opportunities to lend our hands and our voices to satisfy the needs of the hurting abound. We can volunteer at soup kitchens in our neighborhood, we can give food to those who are homeless, we can support a child in a foreign country, we can write letters to our members of Congress, urging them to sponsor legislation in favor of hungry and poor people. We can even donate our time, our talent, and our treasure. The only thing we cannot do is do nothing.

Ebony Adedayo is former Upper Midwest and Plains administrative assistant for Bread for the World.

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