Monday, September 27, 2010

Last Thoughts on Sunday's Lessons

Our pastor preached on the Gospel lesson, the story of the rich man and Lazarus. I don't blame him. I'd have found it irresistible. He even used it in the children's sermon. Several times throughout the morning, he came back to the statistic that 1 billion people would go to bed hungry Sunday night.

And Monday night and Tuesday night.

One billion people.

We've had decades of research that shows us that no one need go hungry. It's various structures that keep people hungry, not lack of food supply. We have food surpluses, which throughout human history is almost unheard of.

Our pastor took us back to the Lord's Prayer, where we pray for our communal daily bread. We are all inexorably linked. But like the rich man in the Gospel, so many of us are blind to the struggles of our fellow humans. We're not blind because we've never encountered Lazarus. We're blind because we choose to be blind.

The Good News: when we choose unwisely, God gives us a chance to choose again. Our blindness can be healed. We can be agents of grace and change.

Our pastor didn't go into the ways that we can be those agents, but I would have encouraged people to think about the distribution of their charitable dollars. After hearing scholars like Peter Singer tell us that our dollars go further in third world countries, I moved 1% of my charitable giving to Lutheran World Relief. Oxfam is another great charity that moves in similar ways: low administrative costs, great track record helping impoverished folks in the developing world.

And of course, that still leaves plenty of money to be spent here at home. Anyone who's ever participated in a feeding program can tell you about the glaring need on our doorsteps.

The Gospel is clear about the dangers of ignoring the poor. We ignore this message at our peril.

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