Urging our nation's leaders to end hunger
 

Leaning Into Revival at Bread for the World’s 2014 National Gathering

Derek
Recent graduate of Yale Divinity School, Bread for the World board member, and former Hunger Justice Leader Derick Dailey opens the 2014 National Gathering. (Laura Elizabeth Pohl/Bread for the World)

Starting where Bread for the World always starts, we began with the Word of God. 

In a sermon delivered at the opening of our 2014 National Gathering, Bread for the World board member and former Hunger Justice Leader Derick Dailey invited the audience – and all Bread advocates – to break the cycle of hunger and poverty. To do that, Dailey preached, believers must also break the cycle of complacency; we must exhibit grace and spiritually renew one another.  We must also revive Congress, which makes the policies and programs that can end hunger, both here at home and abroad.

Forty years ago, Art Simon founded Bread for the World to live out God’s vision that all have enough to eat. The National Gathering, being held this week in Washington, D.C., is a time of listening and learning as we work together to end hunger by 2030.  Dailey’s sermon reminded the audience that hope is integral to this work.

Two biblical narratives that illuminate hope and healing can guide the faithful in today’s world, where hunger and poverty persist. In Exodus, the Israelites come out of what seems like a hopeless sojourn in the dessert.  In Acts, the Apostle Paul revives after a sentence of stoning for healing a crippled beggar. 

Hope comes in realizing that we are not alone – we are partners with God in this work. Dailey reminded us that we worship with a “God of hope, and not a God of hopelessness. Not a God of scarcity, but a God of more than enough. Not a God of foreclosure, but a God with arms big enough for everyone and able to do more than we can conceive.”

Like those who have struggled in the biblical past, Bread for the World members face a wilderness. Sometimes the work to end hunger seems impossible because of the climate of brinksmanship in Congress. But, Dailey reminds us, that church can and should be a beacon of hope. God is bigger and better than politics, Dailey said.

“Congress is alive because it belongs to the American people, not big money and Super PACs. And the Church is definitely alive because it belongs to a risen Savior. “

Revival, says Daily, is the key, and only requires believing people "to surround us, revive us, resuscitate us, and breathe life back into our broken and crippled situations.” The faithful gathered today in Washington, D.C., and all across the nation, are shepherding a spiritual revival of renewed hope. And we take a message of hope and healing to Capitol Hill tomorrow as part of Lobby Day, shining God’s light in this broken world.

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Read the full sermon delivered by Derick Dailey during today’s at Bread for the World’s National Gathering after the jump.

Believers who aren't in Washington D.C., today can still help spread hope and take a stand against hunger. Join us today! And remember to follow all of the happenings at the Gathering on Twitter and Instagram by following the hashatag #BreadRising.

 

“In Lystra there was a man sitting who could not use his feet and had never walked, for he had been crippled from birth. He listened to Paul as he was speaking. And Paul, looking at him intently and seeing that he had faith to be healed, said in a loud voice, Stand upright on your feet. And the man sprang up and began to walk. But Jews came there from Antioch and Iconium and won over the crowds. Then they stoned Paul and dragged him out of the city, supposing that he was dead. But when the disciples surrounded him, he got up and went into the city.”

I invite your attention this morning to these words “Breaking the Cycle”

Pray:

“Give ear, O heavens, and I will speak,
and let the earth hear the words of my mouth.

2 May my teaching drop as the rain,
my speech distill as the dew,
like gentle rain upon the tender grass,
and like showers upon the herb.

3 For I will proclaim the name of the LORD;
ascribe greatness to our God!

A biblical generation is 40 years. That sums up what this National Gathering is partly about. We’ve come this week to celebrate a Generation of Grace! We praise God for all God has done for all those God has done it thru, those remaining here today and those among the dead. You, Art Simon, paved the way, you crafted a vision, began the work, God blessed it and today we give God thanks for your ministry; yet well aware of the fact that the work goes on, the cause endures, the hope still lives and the dream has not died; the dream of ending hunger around the globe. And now, a new generation of hunger activists and advocates are on the scene, and we must join this race, we must catch the vision; a vision to end extreme hunger and poverty now; a vision to do it by 2030 and so we stand asking God, “Will we, too, become a generation of grace?

In addition to representing a biblical generation, the number 40 symbolizes earthly trials and tribulations: It rained on Noah for 40 days and nights, Nineveh had to repent for 40 days, how long did Jesus fast in the wilderness? 40 days. There are other examples of the biblical importance of the number 40 that we could go into but for now I invite your attention to the scripture in Acts. Many of you may be asking what does the Exodus story and the passage in Acts have in common? What alignment exists between these two passages, what does Moses and the Israelites have to do with Paul and a lame man?

Israel turned an 11 day journey to the Promise Land into a 40 year process of meandering in circles, going nowhere.  One setback after another; trial and tribulation were endemic for Israel. And similarly, this lame man represents a life time of struggle; a health struggle as it was, for he could not walk, a generation of crippled-ness. Both are narratives of initial difficulty, despondence, depression, and desperation.  At first glance, you would think that the Exodus and the lame man are examples of biblical hopelessness. Hearing that the Israelites go from one hurdle to the next and that the lame man has never walked in his life may have you think that these passages are passages of deep, dark, despondence. However, the good news this morning is that we are partners with a God that is today and is always a God of hope and not a God of hopelessness. Not a God of scarcity but a God of more than enough. Not a God of foreclosure but a God with arms big enough for everyone and able to do more than we can conceive; so I am sure you can guess that the initial hopelessness meets you in the Exodus and in Acts with the lame man is not where the story ends.

As the remnant of a historically laboring class, people of color in America are the recipients of our fore-parents craftsmanship, domestic skill, organizational prowess, agricultural acumen, and creativity at making something wonderful out of nothing. They were crafty men and women, handy-men and women. They could create something wonderful out of nothing. That is the task for us, the old and the young, the contemporary worshippers, hip-hop, and the traditional worshippers, the black, brown, and white, the Protestant, Catholic, Orthodox, and people of all faiths—we are challenged at the end of this biblical generation, that is Bread for the World, to help create something wonderful out of nothing. The nothingness of Congress and political brinksmanship has called us to retrieve these gifts of old and in order to break the cycle of gotcha politics that create and sustain food insecurity and generational poverty, its necessary, absolutely necessary that we figure out a way to create something wonderful out of the stuff of the world; creating something wonderful out of nothing.

Now, creating something wonderful out of nothing is quite difficult to do, because like the Hebrew people in the Exodus, Congress and the Church are meandering in circles, going nowhere, getting nothing done. Not living up to their potential and settling for mediocrity. Congress and the Church are crippled and supposedly dead; much like Paul in our text. So, how do you create something wonderful out of nothing? How do you get global, federal and local policies that protect the least of these and support the upward advancement of all people irrespective of zip code and social status? How do we people of faith, finally finish this race to end extreme hunger and poverty in our world by 2030? So, how do we prevent our work from becoming void, non-life giving and all together irrelevant and lacking the spiritual power and authority required to finish the work? How do we ensure that our work does not morph into a work that is capitalistic, individualistic and is more concerned with the self than with the rest of the world?  I can tell you that the job isn’t easy for if it was it would have been completed by now. I can also tell you that the work is difficult and demanding, for scripture reminds us that the race is not given to the swift nor the strong but to the one who endures to the end.

My friends, the question today is, how do guarantee that our work, the work of legislative advocacy does not become equated with the workings and the systems of the world rather than the workings and systems of the Kingdom; not just any kingdom but God’s kingdom. Apart of answering this question and the others posed, is having a clear understanding of the work. This work has little to do with your denominational affiliation or your church doctrine and hierarchy. It does not care about your patriarchal institutions, your structures of power that enslave free people while at the same time masquerading itself with God-language and with Christ’s cross. This work is not related to your androcentric treatment of creation, where men and women pollute the earth, rape God’s creation and leave the spoils for future generations. This work not about your bishop, priest, or your pastor, and it is most definitely not about your history or your personal future.

Simply put, in order for us to finish this race and finally end extreme hunger and poverty around the globe, we, people of faith, must embrace a work that aggressively leans into a fresh spiritual revival, not mediated by political climates and society’s futility. Congress and the Church are crippled but not dead. Congress is alive because it belongs to the American people; not big money and super-PACS, and the Church is definitely alive because it belongs to a risen Savior. 

If Congress and the Church embraces its crippled nature, the world continues in its 21st century wilderness experience; meandering in circles, going nowhere. 25,000 people will die unjust deaths every day, worldly systems will continue to thrive, the rich will get richer and the poor will get poorer and our ability to breathe life back into our world’s crippled state will remain under threat.

When we go to the Hill tomorrow, we mustn’t do what they do, we mustn’t talk like them or act like them or do busy like them. We mustn’t treat them how they treat us. Speak to them in love and say that you are moved by God’s grace to loose the chains of injustice, and to untie the cords of the yoke, and to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke?
 Let them know that your faith informs your work, and that you are here to stay rather than simply passing through. Let them know that you serve a God that is bigger and better than politics. Let them know that you have no hidden agenda and that your only agenda is to feed hungry children in American and across the globe.

The good news or “euangelion ” rest in the Exodus story and that small Roman colony named Lystra in the book of Acts. God hears our cries out from the wilderness and God longs to revive our crippled situations through the spiritual power granted to each of us. The believers in Lystra revive the very person who initially revived the physically crippled man and intended to revive the mentally crippled crowd. When Paul appeared to be at his lowest—dead and dragged out of town—his fellow believers encircle him and revive him. The wonderful news is that we can revive each other. Part of the true meaning of revival is the knowledge that through the power of God, we can disable our various crippled states. Or better yet, the nature of revival is the understanding that although all of us are crippled in some way, we serve a God who desires our healing and our wholeness.

Our work for 40 years has been fruitful, God-inspired and blessed and like any work, any God work, it is in desperate need of constant revival. The wonderful news is that revival is available. It doesn’t require a week full of preaching with expensive hotel stays and lavish honorariums, revival only requires believers. The Bible says, “But when the disciples surrounded him, he got up, and went into the city.” Revival is a good thing. It’s a necessary thing. And every now and then we need believers, not perfect people, but believing people to surround us, revive us, resuscitate us and breath life back into our broken and crippled situations. And so before we take to the Hill, let us commit to reviving one another. Before we can revive Congress we must undergo spiritual renewal and a fresh dose of spiritual awakening. Let us lean in to revival this day. Will you grab the person’s hand sitting next to you and pray with me.

Squeeze love, peace, joy, confidence, boldness in those hands!

With God, it is so!"

 

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