The Rev. Jerome Devine thanks Michigan congregations for the many generous ways they are loving and feeding their hungry neighbors.
REV. DR. JEROME DEVINE
Superintendent, Mid-Michigan District
“I was hungry, and you …”
How would you finish that sentence? How might federal, state and local governments finish that sentence? In a blog entitled “Feeding the Hungry Is Our Moral and Social Responsibility” Monica Brown Moss puts forth this affirmation:
“Speaking as a Christian, I embrace this fundamental truth – what you do to the least of my brothers and sisters, you do to me. Jesus fed the hungry. He clothed the naked. Feeding one another is part of the love we have as Christian people.”
In the passage from Matthew 25:35-46, Jesus makes it very clear that for there to be integrity in saying that we follow him then we are to embody and extend the compassionate abundance of God to other human beings. In a world where economic and governmental systems often prevent people from getting the basic essentials for life, we are to also embody and act upon God’s justice for all.
Providing basic nourishment to all persons and communities is both an act of mercy and an act of justice in our faith tradition. The author of the blog quoted above has raised deep concern about a proposal coming from the current White House Administration that would severely limit regular access to food assistance from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).
Think of all the stories in the Bible that center around providing food for others.
When messengers from God came to Abraham and Sarah to tell them they would have a son, Abraham and Sarah quickly provided them a meal to strengthen them on their journey. (Genesis 18:1-15)
When Moses was told to prepare to lead the Hebrew people out of bondage in Egypt a special meal was to be prepared, and it became known as Passover. (Exodus 12) And, in that story, every family was to be provided for.
This reminds me that many of our local United Methodist Churches provide full holiday meal boxes for low-income families in their neighborhoods. These Christians embody God’s compassionate desire that all will be cared for.
All four Gospels have a version of the well-known story of the Feeding of the Five Thousand. In John’s version of the story, Jesus tests the readiness of his disciples to share their resources. (John 6) In Luke’s Gospel, the disciples appear to want to “send the people away” but Jesus says, “You give them something to eat.” (Luke 9) Then, in Mark, we read that as Jesus looked upon the crowd “he had compassion for them because they were like sheep without a shepherd.” (Mark 6) In each version those who would be disciples of Jesus are called to be in relationship to the community around them, bringing the bread for life and the Bread of Life for all.
I am grateful for the multiple food supply ministries congregations make possible. From food pantries to community meals, United Methodists are embodying and extending God’s compassion and justice for all. Thank you for what you do!
~Monica Brown Moss is a member of the board of directors for the Greater Chicago Food Depository.