From Abundance to Scarcity and Back
April 24, 2017
Then Jesus looked up at his disciples and said, ‘Blessed are you who are hungry now, for you will be filled.” — Luke 6:20a, 21a
At my parish this year, our Sunday Lenten Series focused on poverty, specifically on issues of homelessness, hunger, and health. We had a mix of outside speakers along with parishioners speaking from their own experience.
One theme we addressed was hunger — both from a global and personal perspective. The most compelling talk was from a parish leader who shared her own experience with hunger growing up in Boston..
Holly spoke powerfully and poignantly about how the imprint of food scarcity leaves a permanent mark; that the fear of not having enough never entirely fades. Despite considerable academic and professional accomplishments, the sense of insecurity has remained throughout her life. When you experience life on the edge, Holly explained, you never feel as if you are far enough away from that edge.
This is an important perspective, especially in an affluent community where most will never know what it means to live without a safety net. Holly’s voice is one that must be heard and heeded if we are to truly stand with those on the margins, as Jesus so fervently calls us to do.
It also helps us engage with Scripture in a less theoretical and precious manner. As Holly herself puts it, “‘Blessed are the hungry and the poor’ does not feel like a blessing to most who experience it. It feels more like a curse.” And you see the heavy toll of poverty even upon those who have left its most immediate clutches; an important lens through which to view “the least of these.”
Hunger and the experience of poverty no doubt does leave a permanent mark with many painful ramifications. But I also see and hear in Holly’s deep and abiding faith, the indelible mark of her relationship with Jesus Christ that has been forged through the water of baptism. She has been marked as Christ’s own forever, not just in good times but in trying circumstances as well. And I remain ever inspired by her witness and her utter reliance upon God’s love.
This week’s author is the Rev. Tim Schenck, rector of the Episcopal Parish of St. John the Evangelist in Hingham, Massachusetts and creator of the wildly popular Lenten devotion Lent Madness. When not tending to his parish, drinking coffee, or blogging at Clergy Confidential, he’s likely hanging out with his family that includes his wife Bryna, two teenage sons Benedict and Zachary, his dog Delilah, and a ferret named Mimi. Friend him on Facebook or follow him on Twitter @FatherTim.
Hunger and poverty are everywhere, not just in the South. Northern urban hunger and poverty are worse. Holly is blessed to be out of that situation, but everyone needs to know that the South doesn’t have a monopoly on hunger and poverty.