Season Reign of Christ/Thanksgiving
Scripture Deuteronomy 26;1-11
John 6: 25-35
Prayer Loving Christ, we come to the table hungering and thirsting. Give us this day the food that satisfies and the drink that quenches. For it is in your holy name that we trust. AMEN.
Hunger, Thirst and Satisfaction
This morning, the front of our sanctuary is full of food. Food that will fill the stomachs of so many hungry children and adults in Chittenden County. Food that will find its way to tables on Thanksgiving and beyond. We celebrate our ability to offer food to those who struggle to feed their families. It is not unusual for our church to donate hundreds of pounds of food to the Chittenden County food shelf every month. We can be satisfied that we are doing good work here at home.
Throughout the world, however, food insecurity is on the rise, particularly in almost every African nation, and it is growing at an alarming rate in South America. Worldwide, 1 out of 9 people is undernourished.
Lack of nutrition is not the only way our world is starving. We are hungry people living in a hungry world. It seems that even more than 1 in 9 people is looking for something that will sustain and nourish them. More than 1 in 9 people is looking for the bread that satisfies.
Think about the kinds of bread being eaten in our world today.
- The bread of violence and war in the Middle East and Africa.
- The bread of anger, dishonesty and hostility among our political parties
- The bread of depersonalization that sends legitimate asylum seekers to other countries
- The bread of unrest that is shaking countries like Colombia, Chile and Bolivia and China
- The bread of hurt feelings and resentment
- The bread of loneliness and isolation
- The bread of fear in a world that seems to become more complicated every day.
The bread we eat tells us something about our appetites. And although the world is full of bread, too many live lives that are hungry, empty and searching.
That may be that we are most concerned with our own appetites. The appetites that yearn for the food that satisfied yesterday and yesteryear.
“Very truly, I tell you, you are looking for me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves,” Jesus says to them.
Will our thanksgiving feasts cure our hunger and our thirst? Will that meal satisfy our cravings? Do we even know what we crave?
Is it turkey and stuffing, gravy and potatoes we crave? Or is it a closer walk with God?
Will we be hungry again on Black Friday, rushing out the door to shop as soon as the stores open their doors?
Like strugglers and stragglers everywhere: in animal shelters, homeless shelters, refugee camps, rehab hospitals. All of us reaching for a sign, that there is reason to hope in tomorrow, to keep going on the long journey.
That hope comes in the food that satisfies? The food that is Jesus Christ. The food that is broken so it might be shared with the entire world. The drink that never runs dry.
But, we say, how will that stop the worldwide hunger that ravishes the world?
When we believe in the teaching of Jesus Christ, when we experience Christ fully, even to the extent of eating, drinking, ingesting and taking him into our whole lives, we begin to live differently. We can never again depersonalize another due to their country of origin, their immigration status, their sexual orientation, language, political party or anything else. Instead, we grant them dignity. The dignity of their personhood, as one made in the image of God. We turn to prayer instead of debate, we turn to forgiveness rather than anger and hostility. Hurt and resentment are transformed into intimacy and vulnerability. We seek life for all of God’s creation, including protecting our natural resources of air, water and soil, for all the world.
“I am the bread of life,” Jesus tells the people. “Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.” Jesus is the imperishable food and drink that provides imperishable Life.
What might happen if we decided to work together for the well being of all the world?
Let’s just take a moment and look at what might be accomplished if we could end world hunger:
- Save the lives of 3.1 million children annually
- Mothers would give birth to healthier babies
- Increase the Gross Domestic Product of struggling countries by 16.5%
- Proper nutrition early in life could mean a 46% increase in lifetime earnings
- Ending nutrition based mortality could increase a country’s workforce productivity by 9%
- Ending world hunger means a safer, more prosperous world for everyone.
I can’t change the world alone and neither can you. However, I believe with my whole heart that if all of us, together, simply followed the instruction of Deuteronmy 26, if we brought our first fruits, our tithes, before God in whatever manner we deem most appropriate, we could begin to change the world. We could read out to even more of the people of South Burlington and Chittenden County. We could reach throughout Vermont and beyond into a country and a world in need of food and drink. We could do good in the world around us beyond anything we can possibly imagine, because we live, love and trust in the God of our ancestors, the God of gratitude, the God of hope.