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Pastor's Notes from The Scribe (June 2013)

posted Jun 12, 2013, 3:47 PM by Pastor Russ Crouthamel

On June 6-8, the Northwestern PA Synod will hold its annual assembly.  There are many matters the assembly will discuss and vote upon, with the major issue being the election of a bishop.  Nevertheless, I want to share with you the theme for this year’s assembly: “Loaves Abound!  Still the Hungry Cry for Bread.”  This year’s theme, educational forums, and keynote presentations will be centered on hunger and hunger-related issues.  The Rev. Daniel Rift, Director for ELCA World Hunger and Disaster Appeal, and the Rev. Amy Reumann, Director of Lutheran Advocacy Ministry in PA, will be the keynote speakers this year.

The first part of the theme title, “Loaves Abound!” reminds us that there is more than enough food (in fact, all resources) to support the people on this planet.  All you have to do is look at the fully stocked shelves of a grocery store or view the many items on a restaurant menu to know there is abundance.  Since the time of Creation, God has made sure there is an abundance of resources so that no one will be in need.  God fed his chosen people manna in the wilderness and water from a rock.  The psalmists declare that God constantly provides and the prophets declare that we enact true justice by feeding people with their daily needs.  Jesus reminds us that we should share the abundance God entrusted to us with those around us.  And then, when we feel like we may not have enough to provide for ourselves and others, Jesus reminds us that God will continue to provide (look at the birds of the air, God gives them food; will not God do even more for you?). 

If there is abundance on God’s creation, then why do the hungry still cry for bread?  If there is more than enough for everyone, why do so many people in this world suffer from physical hunger?  We see pictures of impoverished, starving children in Africa, Central America, Southeast Asia, and many other locations.  We see people lined up at food pantries and soup kitchens, just trying to get one more meal or additional food for their families.  We hear stories in our own country of people not earning a living wage to put food on their tables and pay their bills.  We are told of “food deserts” in the U.S. – places where people have to travel miles to find stores with good food and fresh produce, or pay exorbitant prices from local stores.  People go hungry every day… people die from hunger every day… people are not being nourished properly… people are lacking their daily needs within God’s abundant creation. 

At the end of John’s gospel, there is an interesting conversation between Jesus and Peter.  Now, remember that Peter had promised Jesus he would follow him anywhere, even into death.  Yet, when Peter was tested, he denied knowing Jesus.  But Jesus did not give up on him.  When Peter is standing on the beach with the resurrected Jesus, Jesus days to him, “Peter, do you love me?” Peter replies, “Yes Lord, I love you!”  Three times Jesus asks Peter this question.  Three times Peter answers “Yes.”  And three times, Jesus responds with, “Feed my lambs,” “Tend my sheep,” and “Feed my sheep.”  For you see, loving Jesus is not simply about declaring our love for him.  Loving Jesus is about caring, loving, and laying down our lives for the ones Jesus cared, loved, and laid down his life for. 

Hunger will be a part of this world until Jesus comes to right it.  Nonetheless, while we wait for Jesus to return, we can do our part.  Whether it is bringing cans of food to a food pantry or donating our time at a soup kitchen or filling a World Hunger box with our extra coins, we have been given the task to feed and tend Jesus’ sheep.  For even though God’s kingdom will come on its own, every work we do in the name of Jesus will bring the glory of God’s kingdom into the hearts and lives of God’s people. 

In Christ ~ Pastor Maureen

Prayer: Gracious and Holy Spirit, open our eyes to the needs of this world and to respond to them in any way we can.  Guide us to feed and tend to Christ’s sheep, so they may know the love of God and experience God’s kingdom.  Amen.