Urging our nation's leaders to end hunger
 

New Fact Sheet: Hunger in the African-American Community

Nadine
Nadine Blackwell of Philadelphia tells her story in the 2014 Hunger Report, Ending Hunger in America. (Joseph Molieri/Bread for the World)

“Dr. [Martin Luther] King gave his life fighting for economic opportunity—a fight that is still important today, as too many African-Americans continue to suffer from hunger and poverty. Ending hunger in America is possible, but in order to effectively address this issue we must honor Dr. King’s legacy by achieving economic opportunity and equality.”

 —Bishop Don DiXon Williams, associate for African American Church Relations at Bread for the World, in a press release today.

Bread for the World has released a new fact sheet, Hunger by the Numbers in the African-American Community: Employment, Wages, and Fairness, in commemoration of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s work on issues of economic equality. Dr. King was assassinated 46 years ago today.

The fact sheet looks at hunger in the aftermath of the Great Recession, noting that food insecurity has disproportionately increased among African-Americans, as compared to other groups, due to higher unemployment rates and other injustices.  Among the findings:

  • The unemployment rate for the African-American community is 12 percent, higher than the national average of 6.7 percent, and higher than any other major group.
  • In 2012, 5.4 percent of African-American workers earned below the minimum wage, while 13.3 percent earned below the median wage, compared to 4 and 8.7 percent of white workers, respectively.

  • Only 2 percent of African-American women work in the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (or STEM) industries, while white women make up 24 percent of the STEM workforce.

"The anniversary of Dr. King’s death reminds us that we still have a long way to go in ensuring freedom from hunger and poverty for African-Americans," said Bishop Williams. 

Bread for the World proposes a four-pronged approach to ending hunger in America; it is outlined in the 2014 Hunger Report.

Lenten Devotions: St. Benedict the African

This Lenten season, Bread Blog will be running a series of devotions written by Pastor Ron Glusenkamp, senior pastor at Bethany Lutheran Church in Cherry Hills Village, Colo. The reflections are based, in part, on the music of Peter Mayer, accomplished vocalist, guitarist, and songwriter. The theme for this year's series is "Mighty This Love," named for one of Mayer's compositions (Listen to a special welcome message from Mayer).

This post is reprinted, with permission, from Glusenkamp's site, h20 devos. Audio podcast versions of the daily devotionals are also available.

St-benedict

April 4, 2014

"We are blessed ...........every breath
We are blessed ............daily bread
We are blessed ...... blessed
be the blessing
Oh with every breath .....blessed
Take our hands and our footsteps ...........blessed
We are blessed to be the blessing

Blessed are those who mourn they will be comforted
Blessed are the meek they will inherit the earth
Blessed are those who hunger for justice for God will use their hands
Blessed are the merciful mercy will be there dance
Blessed are the pure in heart they will see the Lord
Blessed are those who live in Peace they are children of the Word
Blessed are you who walk through the fire and suffer for the road God shows you,
Through everything give thanks and sing for the Love of God that holds you

We are blessed ...........every breath
We are blessed ............daily bread
We are blessed ......blessed

—Lyrics from "Blessed to Be the Blessing," by Peter Mayer

I must say that I am not really acquainted with St. Benedict the African, who died on this day in 1589. I saw his name on the calendar for today and checked him out via various websites, specifically church websites. He was born to Ethiopian parents who converted to Christianity. He endured racial discrimination. I encourage you to do some research of your own to find out more about this saint. How cool it is for people to look at the family tree of saints and see folks who look like them? How wonderful it is for all of us to realize that God calls and has called people from every place and time?

Peter wrote the song "Blessed to be the Blessing" to celebrate the work and ministry of our congregation and an intern (now Pastor Jessica Harris Daum), who created a day of service for us where we canceled church on Sunday in order to serve the community.

Our tag line is, "Worship is canceled; join the service!" This year we are praying that 1000 people will take part in this wonderful event on June 1, 2014.

So, Peter takes the theme that God said to Abraham and Sarah that "they were blessed to be a blessing" (Genesis 12). In turn, we have adopted that theme to be our motivation for doing what we do: "We are blessed to be a blessing."

Benedict the African, often referred to as Benedict the Moor, was blessed; but when you read about his life, you realize he was often "cursed," allegedly because of the color of his skin. But, when you think about it, that rationale or idea of causation is really blaming the victim. One must deconstruct the situation and come to the conclusion he was "cursed" by others because they didn't realize or understand that he was blessed, just as they were blessed. Rather, the sin of racism distorted how people saw each other. Consequently, there were insults and condemnation.

We are "blessed to be a blessing."

Take that blessing, that wisdom, that attitude to heart today.

Photo: Statue of Saint Benedict the Moor, in the front of the Church of Our Lady of the Rosary and Saint Benedict, Cuiabá, Mato Grosso, Brazil. (Wikimedia Commons)

Ryan Budget Threatens International Programs that Save Lives

Refugee_camp_classroom
Children inside a classroom at Za’atri refugee camp, host to tens of thousands of Syrians displaced by conflict, near Mafraq, Jordan. (UN Photo/Mark Garten)

By Alyssa Casey

Since the crisis in Syria began more than three years ago, nearly 9.5 million people—almost half of Syria's population—have fled their homes. More than 2.5 million Syrian refugees have relocated to neighboring countries, including Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey, and Iraq. Their needs—for shelter, food, medical care, education, and employment opportunities—are great. At this critical time, what Syrians do not need is reduced support and assistance from the international community, including the United States. Unfortunately, under the budget proposed by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.), this would likely be the case.   

Ryan’s fiscal year 2015 budget resolution, released this week, proposes deep cuts to programs that provide relief to those affected by conflict in Syria, and other parts of the world. Ryan’s proposal cuts the International Affairs budget by a devastating 11 percent. As the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition points out, this funding level would mean a 24 percent decrease in the total International Affairs budget since 2010.

We all acknowledge the current tough fiscal environment, but we cannot let the poor and hungry bear the largest burden during these difficult times, as they so often do. As Bread for the World has previously noted, sequestration has already cut funding for life-saving international efforts, such as child and maternal health and international food aid. Now is not the time for additional cuts.

The International Affairs budget funds poverty-focused development assistance programs that provide emergency relief to those affected by conflict and disasters, saving countless lives. Last month, the World Food Program reported that food aid is now reaching previously inaccessible areas of Syria, providing much-needed relief to tens of thousands.  The U.S. Agency for International Development helps fund critical programs that provide immediate needs such as food, water, shelter, and vaccinations to Syrian refugees.  This funding also achieves longer-term goals such as education, psychological care, and job training to help refugees rebuild their lives.

Unfortunately, Syria is not unique. Crisis and conflict continue to fan the flames of hunger and poverty in South Sudan, Ukraine, Venezuela, and other countries across the globe. Fortunately, we can help. As a nation, we must continue to offer life-saving assistance, and as individuals, we must continue to urge our members of Congress to support robust funding levels for international humanitarian and poverty-focused development accounts.

At a time when U.S. foreign assistance is saving lives every day, we cannot risk the progress that has been made by abandoning the funding that makes it possible. Rep. Ryan’s budget resolution is not the solution.

Alyssa Casey is a government relations intern at Bread for the World.

Pray for a Hungry "Stranger"

Woman prays"Then the king will say to those at his right hand, ‘Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me..."

                                          —Mathew 25:34-35

Immigration is a hunger issue. Our broken immigration system in the United States leaves too many without access to resources they need to live. Poverty and hunger have been major forces driving immigration to this country; for those who live here as undocumented immigrants, their status means a precarious life in the shadows.

Immigration reform is part of the exodus from hunger for which Bread for the World members advocate and pray. Yet, as legislation to reform immigration languishes and the House of Representatives fails to act, frustration on the part of advocates mounts and people continue to suffer. A Christian response requires us to use our voices and advocate for our brothers and sisters both here and abroad, but a faithful response to hunger also includes prayer. 

Today, we join with our partners in the Evangelical Immigration Table, and other people of faith, in praying for our leaders in Congress, the congregations and pastors who care for immigrants and their families, and for the millions of people hurt by an outdated immigration system.

Take a moment during your day, or at any point over the next 24 hours, and pray for those who hunger for reform. Use the prayer below or one of your own choosing. Ask other in your church, campus, or community to join you, and help make this day of prayer a powerful one that moves hearts and minds. If you are a Twitter user, ask others to join you in prayer and action by using the hashtag #Pray4Reform.

All things are possible through Christ who strengthens us.


Prayer for a Hungry "Stranger"

Lord Jesus Christ, Giver of abundant love,
guidance and protection,
our hearts are filled with gratitude.
Your love empowers us to do your will,
to be your hands and feet in this world,
for your purpose.
Your grace enables us to recognize injustice
and to partner in the restoration of brokenness in our
own lives and of unjust systems.
There is hunger and poverty in our world
that displaces our brothers and sisters from their homes and homelands.
Lord Jesus, we seek your shelter and protection.
Migrant workers harvest the food on our tables yet suffer
unsafe labor conditions and empty cupboards.
Lord Jesus, we imagine your harvest
to be rich and plentiful for all people
and that all people are fed and have a place at the table.
The decisions of lawmakers in this nation impact
the flourishing of millions children created in your image.
Lord Jesus, may we witness a change in this nation’s priorities so that
hunger is no longer acceptable.  
May we see the dignity
of every person upheld, especially their right to food.
Lord Jesus, may we be strengthened by your example
to welcome the stranger, love our neighbor and feed the hungry
so that our brothers and sisters everywhere will flourish.

—Krisanne Vaillancourt-Murphy

 

Photo: A woman prays during a worship service in Guatemala. (Joseph Molieri/Bread for the World)

Lenten Devotions: "Banana Nut Bread"

Banana nut bread  pretzels 007
Banana nut bread baked by Pastor Ron Glusenkamp.

This Lenten season, Bread Blog will be running a series of devotions written by Pastor Ron Glusenkamp, senior pastor at Bethany Lutheran Church in Cherry Hills Village, Colo. The reflections are based, in part, on the music of Peter Mayer, accomplished vocalist, guitarist, and songwriter. The theme for this year's series is "Mighty This Love," named for one of Mayer's compositions (Listen to a special welcome message from Mayer).

This post is reprinted, with permission, from Glusenkamp's site, h20 devos. Audio podcast versions of the daily devotionals are also available.

"I'm a lonesome chord looking for a song

Still not sure I know where I belong
You're a tired word looking for a rhyme
Feel as though you're running out of time

They say Joy will be
Just around the bend
'Til I'm there
It's good to have a friend

You're a quiet whisper dancing in the breeze
I'm a hurricane tumblin' toward the Keys
You're a wild dream on a falling star
To me the destination seems too far

They say happiness
Is just around the bend
'Til I'm there
It's good to have a friend"

—Lyrics from "Good to Have A Friend," by David Bailey and Peter Mayer

*

One of the things that I love about doing the Lenten devotions is the "timeliness" of it all. I usually write them the day before they appear. I often refer to it as being like baking daily bread. I know it's gotta go or we don't have it out there. I feel really good that you get that fresh baked smell each and every day.

Father Dominic Garramone, who write Bake and Be Blessed: Bread Baking as a Metaphor for Spiritual Growth, talks about having the "wind knocked out of oneself." Basically, this also happens when kneading the dough takes place. It's a necessary process in order for the rest of the baking process to unfold. Father Richard Rohr speaks of "falling upward." No matter what we call it, when it is all said and done, it's about suffering.

As I wrote yesterday, you know that my colleague Pastor Ruth Ann and I are in the midst of a season of ministering to families who have suffered. They have had the wind knocked out of them. And I know myself well enough to know that in the midst of giving and also receiving, the "wind," i.e., SPIRIT, has been knocked out of me, as well.

I write those words not to elicit pity or praise, but rather to say to you all that pastors, teachers, nurses, doctors, moms, dads, aunts, uncles, cops, architects, secretaries, butchers, bakers, cash register folks, students, everyone is at risk of feeling the impact of life's ups and downs at times.

Peter sings about the value of friends in this whole experience. He also directs us to something "just around the bend." I really like that and know it to be so very, very true.

Father Dom has a great section in his book that calls for self-reflection and awareness. Basically, it asks, "What kind of bread are you?" He wrote this long before all of the Facebook quizzes asking us to figure out what kind of car, character from a movie, rock band, etc., we are.

Father Dom writes:

"One more kind of bread: banana bread (you were already thinking of it, weren't you?). You probably know how to make banana nut bread: you use the bananas that have gone bad, that are too old and spotty, too bruised to put on the table, bananas that someone else might throw away. Unfortunately, our society does that with people sometimes. We can look at others and say, 'You're no good. You're the wrong color. You're too old and spotty to be of any of use. You don't belong because you are not like us.' But the banana nut bread person doesn't think that way. The banana nut bread Christians go in search of the people who are bruised, the ones who seem to be going bad, the people who are a different color, the ones who are old and isolated. They seek those people out and they say, 'We're going to make something special out of you. You belong here. You have a place and a purpose.' And to do that, you have to be a little bit nuts. But in my cookbook, banana nut bread is the best kind of bread to be. It is the bread that Christ has called all of us to be." 

Bread for the World's 2014 National Gathering: Join Us!

5958110491_fb77c3fe85_z
Bread for the World members at evening worship at the 2011 National Gathering. (Jim Stipe)
 
By Rev. David Beckmann
 
Please join us in Washington, D.C., June 9-10 for Bread for the World's 2014 National Gathering and to celebrate 40 years of working together to end hunger. We have a special $40 anniversary rate to say "thank you" and to encourage you to come.
 
Our Gathering will take place at Georgetown University Hotel and Conference Center and will include exciting speakers, new learnings, and inspiring worship. The official celebration of our 40th anniversary will be a dinner on Monday, June 9. The Gathering will conclude with Lobby Day visits to our members of Congress on Tuesday, June 10. Register for one or all of the events at www.bread.org/40.
 
http://www.bread.org/event/national-gathering-2014/images/bread-rising-logo.jpg
 
When: June 9 to 10, 2014
Where: Georgetown University Hotel and Conference Center, 3800 Reservoir Road NW,                 Washington, DC 20007
 
Hotel reservations may be made by calling 888-902-1606 or booking online. A special rate of $169 per night is available for reservations made by May 6.
 
Theme: Bread Rising: Working Together to End Hunger and Poverty by 2030
 
Tentative Schedule
 
Monday, June 9

Working Together to End Hunger and Poverty by 2030
8:30 a.m.  Registration and Continental Breakfast
10 a.m. – 5 p.m.  Worshiping, Listening, and Learning Together

40th Anniversary Dinner
6 p.m. – 9 p.m.  Reception and Dinner

Tuesday, June 10

Lobby Day
8 a.m. – 8 p.m.
Briefing session followed by pre-arranged visits to members of Congress on Capitol Hill. The day concludes with a reception and worship.

Early-bird registration, before May 6, is only $40 per person (lodging not included).
 
I look forward to seeing you in June!
 
Rev. David Beckmann is president of Bread for the World.

Lenten Devotions: "We Are Changed"

This Lenten season, Bread Blog will be running a series of devotions written by Pastor Ron Glusenkamp, senior pastor at Bethany Lutheran Church in Cherry Hills Village, Colo. The reflections are based, in part, on the music of Peter Mayer, accomplished vocalist, guitarist, and songwriter. The theme for this year's series is "Mighty This Love," named for one of Mayer's compositions (Listen to a special welcome message from Mayer).

This post is reprinted, with permission, from Glusenkamp's site, h20 devos. Audio podcast versions of the daily devotionals are also available.

'[ V ] Diego Velazquez - Kitchen Maid with the Supper at Emmaus' photo (c) 2011, Playing Futures:  Applied Nomadology - license: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

April 2, 2014

“We are joy, we are broken pieces
Upon a spinning, changing world we are borne
But for the love that will not release us
Our Rock of ages and our carry home
And we’ll sing it to the hills and the valleys
From every land ‘cross every sea
We will sing it when our hearts are breaking

And rejoice in the song of victory.”

Lyrics from "We Are Changed," by Peter Mayer

We have a saying at church: “deaths come in threes.” Perhaps you have expressed those sentiments or experienced that reality as well. Recently, our congregation has gone through a time where we have felt that reality to be more than doubled, and almost tripled, in recent weeks. In other words, we have been working with individuals and families who have had a loved one die. The words we proclaimed on Ash Wednesday, just four weeks ago,  are ringing in our ears: “you are dust and to dust you shall return.”

Just yesterday, I stood with a dear family in the ICU, and we commended their loved one to God. I read the words of Simeon who sang, “Master, now you are dismissing your servant in peace, according to your word; for my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel” (Luke 2).

I shared that with them on my way into the hospital I sat for a moment and looked up at the mountains. That view led me to read for them these words of Psalm 121:

"I lift up my eyes to the hills —
from where will my help come?
My help comes from the LORD,
who made heaven and earth.
He will not let your foot be moved;
he who keeps you will not slumber.
He who keeps Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.
The LORD is your keeper;
the LORD is your shade at your right hand.
The sun shall not strike you by day,
nor the moon by night.
The LORD will keep you from all evil;
he will keep your life.
The LORD will keep
your going out and your coming in
from this time on and forevermore."

I spoke directly to their loved one in the bed, not sure if she could hear me or understand me or not (but I always assume they can), and said, “this is a time of going out and coming in--there is a very fine line here, but you are surrounded by a circle of love.” We prayed the Lord’s Prayer and then each person--a husband, two daughters,  and a sister plus myself--all said something that we loved or admired about the person.

She died less than four hours later.

Peter sings, “We will sing it when our hearts are breaking
/And rejoice in the song of victory.”

I find myself in that space today. My heart is broken, but I am also confident and certain of the final victory.

The painting at the top of the page is in the National Gallery in Dublin. It was painted by Diego Velazquez. It is simply titled, “The Maid at the Supper at Emmaus.”

There is something going on with her. She is being changed. Through a tiny window one sees Jesus and a guest at dinner.

I like it. We don’t always get to see the whole picture but we receive hints, reminders, and glimpses along the way.

“We are joy, we are broken pieces
Upon a spinning, changing world we are borne
But for the love that will not release us
Our Rock of ages and our carry home."

 

Pope Francis and Obama: When Faith and Government Meet

Pope_francis_president_obama
Pope Francis meets President Barack Obama at the Vatican on Thursday, March 27. (Getty)

By Billy Kangas

For President Obama, leader of the one of the wealthiest nations in the world, and Pope Francis, leader of the Catholic Church, to come together to discuss the need to address poverty and income inequality is historic. But what exactly does last Thursday’s meeting at the Vatican mean for hungry and poor people? Will it help shift Obama’s narrative on income equality from a focus on the struggling middle class to one on the hungry and impoverished in the United States and around the world? Does the fact that the two men were able to set aside any differences in opinion and find common ground in a desire to help the poor hint at a larger sea change?

The meeting raises many questions, but it also underscores the pope’s enormous potential to impact global politics, global leadership, and global priorities—including hunger and poverty. Exactly what does the so-called "Francis factor" contribute? Here are some observations to put Francis in perspective, and give some context to the life and ministry of this cleric, who is changing the world through small acts done with great love.

He's a leader from the developing world

This point is so key to understanding Francis. His voice has continually reminded me to look beyond my own cultural concerns and obsessions to see who the truly marginalized in this world are. As much as disparity and inequality remain significant and heart-wrenching issues in the United States, the inequality that ravages so many U.S. communities is often more acutely felt in the communities of the developing world. It is from these places that Francis emerged; it is in these places that he has spent his life of ministry. He reminds us to take our gaze away from our navels and to look into the pleading eyes of those who suffer under our indifference. 

He brings a different narrative 

Our political system often only gives us two stories to choose from: the narrative from the left, and the narrative from the right. The stories from these two sides can become all-consuming, blotting out all else and creating an environment in which one is judged solely on where they fall on the continuum of conservative to liberal. Francis emerges with a different kind of story—it is not one driven by politics, wealth, or power, but humility, grace, joy, and sacrifice. It cuts us to the heart, and brings a challenge. His message is simple: God's glory; neighbor's good. There is little room for self-aggrandizement in that equation, and I have been convicted time and time again of my own sin and of my need for the transforming Grace of God in my life.

He has a different kind of power

Francis wields a significant amount of power, but it is not the kind of power that we have grown accustomed to in our contemporary world. He does not have the power of the nation-state, he does not have the power of a global corporation, he does not even have the power of a radical revolutionary. His power lies in his ability to remind millions that their allegiance is to the God who demonstrates love in Christ laying down his life. Francis has been a great communicator of that message. He has been an example of what Christ looks like, and that is a power we have rarely had to contend with in this modern age.

He is bringing to bear a tradition

Another reason the “Francis factor” must be taken seriously is that he is more than just a prophet, he is a pope. As a pope, he brings with him a tradition that is deep and rich and beautiful. He does not bring ideas that are his alone, which will flash in the pan of world history and be forgotten, but represents a movement grounded in 2000 years of theology, philosophy, and social teaching, from which countless others have given their lives to demonstrate the radical love of God in Christ. Francis will not be pope forever, but we can be sure he will not be the last to bear this radical call. The message Francis preaches is not his own, and it will continue long after he has gone. It is the message that continues to sustain us.

It remains to be seen exactly how the “Francis factor” might influence the agenda of Obama—and vice versa. But hopefully, at the very least, last week’s meeting signaled to the world the importance of coming together to address issues of hunger and poverty in our world. 

*

Living out the mandate to work for God’s glory and neighbor’s good includes ensuring that all are fed. Bread for the World’s 2014 Offering of Letters, “Reforming U.S. Food Aid,” seeks smart forms to U.S. food aid programs—changes that would help feed millions more each year, at no additional cost to U.S. taxpayers. Visit http://www.bread.org/ol to learn more.

Billy Kangas is Bread for the World's Catholic Relations fellow.

Job Market Still Weak as Congress Debates Unemployment Benefits

Unemployment3
Photo credit: www.LendingMemo.com

By Robin Stephenson

Federal Reserve Chairwoman Janet Yellen says the U.S. labor market is still unhealthy, making it difficult for many who lost their jobs during the recession to find adequate employment. In December, Congress failed to extend emergency unemployment (EUC), a program that helps job seekers meet basic needs as they look for work.

Yesterday, during public remarks at a conference in Chicago, Yellen said that although the unemployment rate has dropped from a high of 10 percent in 2009 to a federal average of 6.7 percent, the nation’s unemployment levels are still way above pre-recession levels. And more than 7 million people employed in part-time work would like full-time positions. The slow recovery, Yellen made clear, has still not reached everyone on Main Street.

Over 2 million people are classified as long-term unemployed, meaning they’ve been out of work for more than six months. This figure is the highest it has ever been. And the obstacles this class of workers face to find employment is even more difficult than it was pre-recession. "Research shows employers are less willing to hire the long-term unemployed, and often prefer other job candidates with less or even no relevant experience," said Yellen.

The root problem is a lack of jobs. "No amount of training will be enough if there are not enough jobs to fill,” Yellen stated. A maximum sustainable employment rate should be between 5.2 and 5.6 percent – we still have a long way to go.

For the last several months, I have followed the Twitter hashtag #RenewUI, where many unemployed workers gather for mutual support. As I read stories from people who need Congress to act immediately, the urgency to pass legislation is apparent. For many without benefits, finding work has given way to keeping their homes and their families together.

I met Tracey from Pennsylvania after she tweeted about a job interview she was hoping would bring good news. Tracey said she lost her job in 2012. She is worried about losing her home. As finances got tighter, her children moved in with her parents. Tracey, who worked in staffing for 10 years, told me, “There just aren’t jobs out there.” As the Senate argues about costs, Tracey and the #RenewUI community make it known that their basic needs that can’t wait for months of negotiations and partisanship. “I don’t want to lose my house,” she told me. “And I want to bring my kids home.”

This week, senators continue working on H.R. 3979—a bill to extend benefits through May and make them retroactive to the Dec. 28 expiration. With 30 hours of debate to go, a final vote is expected to come as early as Wednesday. This will be the third time the Senate has voted on a reinstatement. The attempt to pass the extension through bipartisan effort is a testament to mounting pressure from a vocal grassroots. As the bill moves over to the House, even more pressure will be needed to push the it through.

Congress must renew emergency unemployment insurance today. Call 800-826-3688 and tell your senators and representative to act.

*

Behind every statistic is a story – and telling those stories can move hearts and minds to action. If you have a story of how the ongoing budget battles have affected you, we invite you to share with us through our Faces and Facts site.

Robin Stephenson is national social media lead and senior regional organizer, western hub, at Bread for the World.

Lenten Devotions: "Foolishness"

This Lenten season, Bread Blog will be running a series of devotions written by Pastor Ron Glusenkamp, senior pastor at Bethany Lutheran Church in Cherry Hills Village, Colo. The reflections are based, in part, on the music of Peter Mayer, accomplished vocalist, guitarist, and songwriter. The theme for this year's series is "Mighty This Love," named for one of Mayer's compositions (Listen to a special welcome message from Mayer).

This post is reprinted, with permission, from Glusenkamp's site, h20 devos. Audio podcast versions of the daily devotionals are also available.

'Jester- Joker Card' photo (c) 2012, GoShows - license: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/April 1, 2014

"For the day will come
when you leave this dusty town
And your cross will take its place
by your father's in the ground

Love is not just a fable
that Hollywood bought and sold
Oh let me tell you now love is the only road"

Lyrics from "Blue River," by Peter Mayer and Vince Varvel

I have always thought and felt that these lyrics of Peter's reflect a deep, conscious spirituality. They are mindful of our mortality. They also reflect and point to something greater and much larger than ourselves, namely love.

Today is a day for foolishness. Psalm 14:1 reminds us, "The fool has said in his heart there is no God." So, I'm not advocating that type of foolishness, but rather the folly that St. Paul wrote about to the Corinthians. Check out this message from 1 Cor 1:

"For the message about the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written,

'I will destroy the wisdom of the wise,

and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.'

Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, God decided, through the foolishness of our proclamation, to save those who believe. For Jews demand signs and Greeks desire wisdom, but we proclaim Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For God's foolishness is wiser than human wisdom, and God's weakness is stronger than human strength."

 Jesus' words often sound like foolishness, don't they?

"Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven."

"Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted."

"Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth."

"Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled."

"Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy."

"Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God."

"Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God."

"Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven."

"Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my accountRejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you."

Try these on for size today. I bet you find they fit. No foolin'.

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