Just Eating: Practicing Our Faith at the Table
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Just Eating: Practicing Our Faith at the Table

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  • 1. ADVISORY COUNCIL D WRITER edicated to Ms. Neddy Astudillo, Jennifer Halteman Schrock, M.Div., is a Latina Eco-Theologian, freelance writer and active lay member people the world over Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) of the Mennonite Church U.S.A. She also who hunger this day Ms. Ann Briggs, works for Merry Lea Environmental Learning Center of Goshen College, a nature center for food and for justice, Parish Nurse Coordinator, Retired with a budding agroecology program and and to the memory of an emphasis on sustainable living. Jennifer Rev. Clare Butterfield, lives in Goshen, Indiana, with her husband Dr. Sondra King, Director, Faith in Place, Center for Neigh- and two sons. borhood Technology a participant in thecreation of "Just Eating," Dr. Barbara Giloth, Director, Program Development, Advocate Health Care PHOTO CREDITS and a tireless worker on behalf of poor and Mr. Tom Hampson, Coordinator for Con- © Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) gregational Development, Church World Photographer: David Young hungry people. Service Cover and Divider Pages for Unit 1, Unit 2, Unit 3, Unit 4, and Resources Dr. Sondra King, Associate Professor, Retired, School of © The Mennonite _______ Family, Consumer and Nutrition Sciences, Photographer: Laurie Oswald Northern Illinois University Divider Page for Unit 5 Rev. Dr. James Roghair, © Church World Service Former Moderator, Presbytery of Photographer: Annie Griffiths Belt I n memory of my mother, Chicago, PC(USA) Hunger Mission Team STAFF Divider Page for Unit 6 ARTISTS Perle Halteman, who Mr. Tom Hampson, Coordinator for Con- © Church World Service gregational Development, Church World taught me to cook, Service Artist: Eunice Cudzewicz, MMS Graphics for Daily Readings to garden and to feel Mr. Andrew Kang Bartlett, Associate for Design/Production: outrage when children National Hunger Concerns, Presbyterian Terri Gilmore go hungry." Hunger Program, Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) - Jennifer Halteman Schrock Rev. Kirsten Peachey, Director, Congregational Health Partner- ships, Advocate Health Care Ms. Janet Young, Northern Illinois Regional Director, Church World Service PILOT CHURCHES Berkey Avenue Mennonite Church, Goshen, IN Epiphany United Church of Christ, Chicago, IL First Congregational United Church of Christ, Waukegan, IL First United Methodist Church, Downers Grove, IL Primera Iglesia/First Congregational Church, Chicago, IL St. Michael’s Catholic Church, Orland Park, IL
  • 2. JUST EATING?Practicing Our Faith at the Tablebegan as a joint venture of Advocate Health Care’s CongregationalHealth Partnerships program and the Northern Illinois Region of ChurchWorld Service (CWS). Informal conversation about eating turned into a reg-ular meeting to explore how we might be able to sponsor a project thatwould unite Advocate’s interest in eating and health and CWS’s long history ofworking with hunger and justice issues.A Practicing Our Faith grant from the Valparaiso Practice Grant Program pro-vided just the right framework for our project. Faith practices are things that wedo that incorporate our faith commitments into the most basic parts of ourlives—for instance honoring the body, providing hospitality, and keeping sab-bath. The Valparaiso Program funds individuals or groups that help specific com-munities nurture a way of life shaped by Christian practices. (For more informationgo to www.practicingourfaith.org.) With a grant from Valparaiso we hired a cur-riculum writer, Jennifer Halteman Schrock, who created a seven-week study pro-gram around several themes we thought were important.Six churches piloted the draft curriculum and provided vital feedback to us abouthow it had gone. Their experience and responses were incorporated into extensiverevisions that were funded by grants from the Chicago Presbytery Hunger MissionTeam and the Presbyterian Hunger Program, Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). A grantfrom the United Church of Christ Genesis Fund provided assistance for the design andformatting of the material in preparation for printing. Finally, the Presbyterian HungerProgram designed and printed the curriculum.The development of this program has been a wonderful collaboration of many peopleand organizations. Special acknowledgement goes to Jennifer Halteman Schrock, thecurriculum writer, who was able to work gracefully with so many “cooks” and to skillfullyincorporate all of our ideas and passions.
  • 3. PROGRAM PARTNERSAdvocate Health CareAdvocate Health Care is a faith-based health system serving the metropolitan Chicagoarea. Affiliated with the United Church of Christ and the Evangelical Lutheran Church inAmerica, Advocate has eight hospitals with 3,500 beds and over 200 sites of care. Advo-cate’s mission is to serve the healthneeds of individuals, families andcommunities through a wholisticphilosophy rooted in our fundamen-tal understanding of human beingsas created in the image of God.Because Advocate is a faith-based organization, its relationship with congregations isan important part of its identity and service. These relationships are nurtured primarilythrough the Office for Mission and Spiritual Care and the Congregational Health Partner-ships (CHP) program. CHP works with faith communities to develop and support min-istries of healing for the congregation and community.Church World ServiceFounded in 1946, Church World Service is the relief,development, and refugee assistance ministry of 36Protestant, Orthodox, and Anglican denominationsin the United States. Working in partnership withindigenous organizations in more than 80 countries,CWS works worldwide to meet human needs andfoster self-reliance for all whose way is hard.Within the United States, CWS assists communities in responding to disasters, resettlesrefugees, promotes fair national and international policies, provides educationalresources, and offers opportunities to join a people-to-people network of local and globalcaring through participation in CROP WALKS, the TOOLS & BLANKETS Program, and the“Gift of the Heart” Kit Program.Presbyterian Hunger ProgramThe Presbyterian Hunger Program (PHP), a ministry ofthe Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), works to alleviate hungerand eliminate its causes, responding with compassionand justice to poor and hungry people in local communi-ties, in the United States and throughout the world.PHP provides grants for direct food relief, developmentassistance, public policy advocacy, hungereducation, and lifestyle integrity. PHP’s Joining HandsAgainst Hunger offers a new strategy for wholisticinternational hunger ministry; Enough for Everyoneprovides concrete ways for congregations to act as faithfuldisciples in the global economy; the Food & Faith initiative brings awareness aboutthe need to build food systems that are socially just and sustain the integrity of God’screation.
  • 4. I N T R O D U C T I O N JUST EATING? Practicing Our Faith at the TableJust Eating? While this phrase could mean only eating, the word, just, also means“being honorable and fair in one’s dealings.” This play on words captures a paradoxthat this curriculum addresses. Eating can be a mundane activity done with littlethought or reflection; or it can be an opportunity to thoughtfully live our beliefsabout justice — a vehicle for practicing our faith.What does it mean to practice our faith at the table? The Just Eating? curriculumwill help you better understand the relationship between our Christian heritage andour food. Drawing on Jesus’ story and the rituals of the Christian faith, this curricu-lum examines four aspects of our lives with food: • the health of our bodies • the access others have to food • the health of the earth which our food choices influence, and • the ways we use food to extend hospitality and enrich relationshipsYou will be challenged to think about each of these areas, to see how they relate toeach other, and to consider what changes your faith may ask of you. Together withother believers, you will reflect on selected scripture, pray together, dialog and cele-brate the Eucharist. You will also be invited to try spiritual disciplines that may benew to you, such as fasting, using food preparation as a time of prayer, engaging infood advocacy, or changing items in your diet.We all spend a lot of time thinking about eating, preparing to eat and eating, andthese habits reflect our values and shape our lives. Practicing Our Faith at the Table is anapproach that attempts to apply our Christian faith in wholistic and healthy ways.May God bless you as you explore Just Eating?, and may your life be enriched. 1
  • 5. CURRICULUM OVERVIEWT his curriculum aims to shape a way of life Readings for reflection and action organized in six units, with an introduction and five readings relatedwith food that flows out of a deep under- to each unit. Each day’s reading includes:standing of how food connects us with God • a faith practice named in the title at theand all of Creation. Food is a basic need, but top of the page • a suggested scripture readingit is also the stuff of reconciliation, healing, • a short reflection on the day’s scripturetransformation, comfort, courage, and justice. • a related reading labeled “From Our Own Times”Using the Christian practice of the Eucharist as • a suggestion for action or reflection called aour starting point, we will explore what it Faith in Action Step. Steps that deal with personal eating habits are labeled Healthymeans to eat well in relationship to our own Eating Tipsbodies, other people, and the earth. Additional Resources. A list of Healthy Eating Tips and more choices for Faith in Action Steps follow each unit. A bibliography and worksheets labeled “Resource” provide direction for those who want toObjectives of this work at an area in more depth.Curriculum An invitation to change. During the seventh ses- sion, you will be invited to commit to at least one • to bring into dialog our day-to-day eating change in your behavior related to food. For exam- habits, the Christian faith, and the needs of ple, one person might commit to buying fair trade the broader world coffee on a regular basis; another might work at a • to explore faith practices which encourage local food pantry; another might give up meat two healthful eating days a week. Your group will also discuss how to support each other in making these changes and • to support each other in taking personal and consider whether you feel drawn toward a group congregational action that reaches beyond action. this seven-week curriculumFormat Each Participant’s Role • to attend as many group sessions as possibleThe Just Eating curriculum includes and participate in discussionsfour components: • to read the offerings for daily reflection in theA series of seven group meetings. Group time will participant guideinclude discussion, thought-provoking exercises, • to try at least one Faith in Action Step and onesharing new ideas, and mutual support. Groups Healthy Eating Tip each weekmeeting during a Christian education hour will meet • to assist your group in making a decisionweekly, but a bi-weekly or monthly schedule may about future directions during session 7serve some groups better. The leader’s guide pro-vides suggestions for shared meals for groups whowish to eat together during the course. 2
  • 6. U N I T 1 FOOD SHARING AS SACRAMENTAL Breaking Bread Together as a Guide to Eating WellB efore he was crucified,Jesus introduced a way of eat- communal meals requires calling new leadership. And, weing together that Christians all will read in I Corinthians 11:17-33over the world still participate in about a potluck that goes dreadfullytoday. In most churches, it is represented wrong.by sharing bread and wine or juice and is consid-ered a sacrament. Some churches call this ritual the We also see echoes of this ritual in the way theEucharist, a Greek word meaning “to give thanks.” writers of the Gospels tell us their stories. They doOthers call it the Lord’s Supper, which emphasizes its not give us one communion story: they give us acommemoration of Jesus’ last meal with his disci- plethora of stories. Writing decades after the Lord’sples the night he was betrayed and his sacrifice on Supper had begun to shape the church, these writ-our behalf. Among other believers, it is called Holy ers emphasize meals. Especially in Luke, Jesus isCommunion, a term that focuses on the sharing always eating a meal, coming from a meal, or goingbetween God and human beings that takes place. to a meal. The bread and wine is a shorthand for theSeveral times in the New Testament, it is referred to many meals that Jesus shared with his followers —as “the breaking of the bread.” Whatever we call it, meals with Pharisees, meals with tax collectors, thethis ritual of sharing carries more meaning than we feeding of the five thousand, the wedding at Cana,can easily comprehend. and the resurrection breakfast on the shore of Lake Galilee. Jesus taught us how to eat and drink, howWhat does it mean to break bread together? A bit of to share the fundamental necessities of life —New Testament history is helpful here. Today, most lessons we can apply when we break bread together.churches celebrate the Eucharist in a worship serv-ice – a practice disconnected from our everyday life, Perhaps sharing a meal seems like a small thing inbut this was not always the case. For the earliest a world wracked by hatred, despair and violence.Christians, breaking bread together was not a tidy But perhaps not. If we believe in the power of therite divorced from real eating and drinking. Then, holy sacraments to change lives, the key questionHoly Communion was part of a full meal that nour- we need to ask ourselves at the communion tableished the body as well as the spirit. Early Christian is this: Are we open to being changed by receiving this gift?life revolved around shared meals as well as sharedworship. We will see hints of these sacramental The Christian tradition affirms that when the bodymeals in Acts 2:46, where the church is described as of Christ gathers to share food and drink, God isa joyful community that breaks bread together. We there and is moving to transform us. May this affir-learn of the dilemmas that sharing meals pose for mation be true in your life as you struggle to graspthe first Christians in Acts 6:1-6, where managing the mystery of the bread and the cup. 3
  • 7. Unit 1: Food Sharing as Sacramental, Day 1 BREAKING BREAD TOGETHER: Recognizing God with UsA sacrament makes the we share food with others, aGod ishuman beings can presence of God visible in way grasp. When there.Luke 24:13-35 From Our Own Times The two travelers in today’s “During my days as presi- text are not just walking dent of St. Paul School of from Jerusalem to Emmaus; Theology in Kansas City, they are on a long walk Missouri, I had what I call a from the despair of crucifix- mystical experience of the ion to resurrection hope. Eucharist. It happened dur- The turning point in their ing a worship service in the story comes when Cleopas seminary chapel. As time and his unnamed compan- neared for the Eucharisticion invite a stranger to share their supper. This man liturgy, I had an unsettling vision. The communiontakes the bread, blesses, breaks, and gives it. Only table with the elements became superimposed onthen — as they break bread together — do they my desk in the president’s office, so that the tworecognize him as the risen Christ. became one, inseparably joined, an organic fusion. The elements now, as it were, rested on top of myJesus was not just remembered at this meal: he communion table/office desk-become-one. Thewas newly present. God broke in to Cleopas’ home bread and chalice touched everything on my deskin some mysterious way beyond rational explana- and everybody who entered the room. Nothingtion. Whatever happened was enough to send two escaped the embrace of the bread and the wine.tired people back out on the road to walk seven After that experience, I never administered the sem-miles in the dark. Mysterion, or mystery, is the Greek inary in quite the same way.”word that describes an experience like this. Sacra-ment is the Latin word that later Christians substi- – Abridged from William K. McElvaney, Eating andtuted. A sacrament makes the presence of God Drinking at the Welcome Table: The Holy Suppertangible in a way human beings can grasp. for All People. St. Louis, MO: Chalice Press, 1998, pp. 28-29.Cleopas’ story describes a personal encounter,but it is more than that. It is also the story of theearly Church, which knew Christ primarily in two Faith in Action Stepways: through the interpretation of scripture andthrough the breaking of the bread. These encounters This week, set an extra placewith the risen Christ at communal meals trans- at your table every time youformed a few discouraged Galileans into a world- eat to remind yourself ofwide movement. At its best, the Eucharist, today, Christ’s presence. Be openstill has this power to transform. to any unexpected guests who may drop in and fill your chair. Treat them as if you were entertaining Jesus Christ; listen as if they had come bringing a special message for you. 4
  • 8. Unit 1: Food Sharing as Sacramental, Day 2 BREAKING BREAD TOGETHER: Giving Thanks Cultivating the habit of thankfulness is essential to eating well.Acts 2:43-47 gifts from my students, who carried them from their hometowns on crowded trains. All week long, my One only needs to eat a students study English at XinXiang College in cen- meal with an average five- tral China, but when the call comes from their par- year-old to be reminded ents to return home, they do it without questioning. that being thankful is not They know they are needed, not merely wanted. Last the ordinary human state. month, several young men joined together to help a Each dish is viewed with student whose mother is widowed. They traveled by squinty-eyed suspicion. bus, standing-room only; slept three to a cot and Are there any onions in spent the weekend stooped in mud harvesting rice. the food? What’s this greenstuff? Why isn’t there any dessert? Adults have more “I am only beginning to understand thankfulnesssophisticated ways of expressing dissatisfaction and appreciation for the foods that are so necessarywith life. for life and the hard struggles to coax them from the ground. How easy it is to forget. This weeks EnglishOne of the functions of breaking bread together is lesson was about weddings in the West. The stu-to train our sullen spirits into thanksgiving. dents listened with rapt attention as I told aboutAlthough some Christians persist in celebrating the engagement ring, the cake, the dresses. We heldEucharist as if it were a funeral, the very word sug- a mock wedding, and all the students were giddygests that joy is central to this sharing around a and embarrassed and excited. Then, I did thetable. Eucharist is made up of two Greek roots, eu unthinkable. The wedding over, we tossed smallmeaning good or well, and charis, meaning gift or grace. handfuls of rice onto the smiling ‘couple.’These roots are also found in the traditional prayerthat Jesus and his disciples repeated at Passover “The young men were gracious. Infinitely gracious.and other meals: They did not stop smiling — but the touch of irony in their smiles did not elude me.” Blessed are you, O Lord our God, King of the Universe, who brings forth bread from the earth. – Ruth Leonard teaches English in XinXiang, China, Blessed are you, O Lord our God, King of the Universe, with China Educational Exchange who creates the fruit of the vine. Faith in Action StepThis expression of thankfulness underlies the Chris-tian Eucharist and is vividly portrayed in today’s For many of us, saying grace at the table feels awk-scripture reading. ward, trite, or even annoying. This is not because giving thanks for the food is aFrom Our Own Times stupid idea. More likely, it is because we have never “Three plastic bags sit in my devoted attention to making kitchen in an old basket. this ritual all it can be. Think One is full of freshly ground about how to bring meaning corn meal. One is full of and thankfulness to your peanuts, still showing the table. Write a prayer; dare to evidence of the ground they say grace in a setting that were grown in. The third is does not lend itself to prayer; full of rice. I received these try out a new family ritual. 5
  • 9. Unit 1: Food Sharing as Sacramental, Day 3 BREAKING BREAD TOGETHER: Dealing with Brokenness TheofEucharist lives. When wetobreak with suffering, death, and the broken brings us face facepieces our own bread together, we acknowledge God’s power to transform even these things.Mark 14:17-26 From Our Own Times The Last Supper – or the In her book, Honoring the first Lord’s Supper – was by Body, Stephanie Paulsell tells no means a perfect meal. about her friend, Diana, a semi- Never mind the soothing nary student who suffers from and orderly picture of the cerebral palsy. Although she had Last Supper that Leonardo many gifts for ministry, Diana DaVinci gave us some 1,400 was haunted by a fear that her years later. The actual event halting gait might cause her to more likely resembled a drop the cup she served duringfailed Christmas dinner with dysfunctional in-laws the Eucharist.than with the celebration of unity we seek when werepeat this event. “One spring Sunday, Diana served again as cup- bearer and walked from person to person kneelingFirst of all, there is Jesus’ troubling announcement at the rail at the front of her church, offering them athat one of his disciples will betray him. This news drink. ‘The blood of Christ,’ she said to each one,hangs over the table like a November sky, causing ‘the cup of salvation.’ And as she raised the cup towhispering, suspicion, and anxiety. Something is each person’s lips, taking the utmost care not to fall,dreadfully wrong. As if that wasn’t enough to ruin a she saw her own reflection in the shiny silver chal-festive occasion, Jesus follows up with an appalling ice. Over and over again, she saw the reflection ofliturgical breach. It was Passover: the night when her body in the cup. This is my broken body, sheJewish families ate lamb and unleavened bread and thought, serving this church. This is my body, teach-retold the story of the Exodus. At this holy meal, ing people what we do with brokenness in theJews gave thanks to the God who had conducted a church. Here in this cup is new life, and here is myspectacular showdown with Egypt’s imperial power body, expressing the truth of what this new lifeand won. They recalled the plagues that rained means!” 4down on Egypt and the parting of the Red Sea; they ©2002, Reprinted with permission of John Wiley and Sons, Inc.reclined on couches like rich people, remindingthemselves they were no longer slaves. Jesus offici-ates at this ritual Seder meal, but instead of passing Faith in Action Stepout the unleavened bread and recounting God’s vic- Do you see any failures in ourtory over the Egyptians in a blaze of wind and flame, food system? In the wayhe foretells suffering, not glory. He breaks the bread resources are shared in theand says, “My body, broken for you.” world at large? In your family’s approach to meals? In yourThis shift in perspective, from a God who swoops in relationship with your body?with armed angels to a God who knows suffering Describe what you see in afrom the inside out, is at the core of Christian faith. journal entry or to a friend. IfWhen we break bread together, we acknowledge nothing comes to mind, walkGod’s willingness to be with us in our brokeneness. around a public place in yourWe are reminded that though we cannot trivialize community. Ask God to showthe power of evil, God’s goodness enters into bro- you what’s broken.kenness and transforms it. 6
  • 10. Unit 1: Food Sharing as Sacramental, Day 4 BREAKING BREAD TOGETHER: Seeking Unity Godclass. Sharing afor a world fractured by wealthone way Christians desires unity and poverty, race and meal across dividing lines is express this dream.I Corinthians 11:17-33 From Our Own Times At the time the Apostle Turn to the Unit 5 divider Paul wrote I Corinthians, a and spend some time with variety of groups ate this photograph. You may together; clubs, civic asso- wonder how the two peo- ciations, trade guilds, ple pictured here came to funeral societies, and the be washing dishes together. devotees of various gods. They were two of over 7,000 What made Christian meals Christians from all over the unique was the range of world who met in Bul- people included at the awayo, Zimbabwe, for a conference in July 2003.meal. Two thousand years removed from Paul’s Mennonite World Conference planned the eventsocial world, we miss the high drama behind texts around the theme, “Sharing Sufferings and Joy.” Thissuch as this one from I Corinthians 11. Because the international fellowship of churches organizes “fam-Eucharist was a real meal at this time and not a ily reunions” every six or seven years where Chris-token bite of bread and ritual sip of wine, it forced tians can worship together, eat together, and learnearly Christians to wrestle with wealth and poverty, from each other.race and social class. Jews did not normally eat withGentiles and the poor could not afford membership Guests enjoyed traditional Zimbabwean stews andin many of the clubs and other societies that ate maize porridge prepared in gigantic cast-iron potstogether. Christian table fellowship was an eating over open fires. All dishes were washed by handadventure in uncharted territory! with help from the gathered community. For many local people, some of whom go hungry, the opportu-For example, how do you serve a group of equals nity to eat meat daily was the highlight of the event.when the layout of your house is designed to North American guests were struck by the amountaccommodate a dozen “first class” diners reclining of cornmeal served rather than the amount of meat,on couches in one room while everyone else stands but they too found the food tasty.or sits in another? When do you serve supper when - For more information, see the Mennonite World Conferenceyour well-to-do guests are finished with the workday website at www.mwc-cmm.org. Click on the World Assem-two or three hours earlier than those who are bly 2003 link.slaves? What do you do if the wealthy folk eat all thebeef stew before the poor, who come bearing a Faith in Action Stephandful of grain, even arrive? These are some of thequestions scholars believe underlie 1 Corinthians. Invite someone to eat a mealTo ignore these challenges is not the Lord’s supper, with you. Choose someone ofPaul says. It violates the very heart of what Christ a different race or social classdied for. or someone you would be unlikely to connect with if you did not share a common faith. Notice what issues come up for you as you attempt to bridge dividing lines. Did you succeed? 7
  • 11. Unit 1: Food Sharing as Sacramental, Day 5 BREAKING BREAD TOGETHER: Living in Hope When we break bread together,well as the present. will be with us in the we affirm that God future asIsaiah 25:6-10 “Several experiences have whetted her appetite … [M]ost significant is her memory of the high drama Each of the Last Supper of monthly coconut communion when our family accounts in the New Testa- was in the Philippines. There the United Church of ment is ripe with the hope Christ in the Philippines congregation welcomed of a bright future. “From her to participate along with adults. After the con- now on, I will not drink of gregation rehearsed the life-sustaining properties of the fruit of the vine until the coconut for Filipino society, the liturgy came to the kingdom of God a high point. Holding up the coconut, the presider comes,” Jesus says in recited, ‘The body of Christ which is broken for us,’ Matthew 26:29. He is speak- and then with a couple of loud whacks of a bolo ing out of a long Jewish tra- knife, cracked it open (a feat requiring considerabledition that depicted God as the host of a great feast. skill.) After letting the juice flow into a bowl, theThe most vivid description of this understanding is liturgist raised the bowl and proclaimed, ‘The bloodfound in today’s text from Isaiah, where the prophet of Christ which is shed for us.’ The stillness wasenvisions a banquet of rich food and well-aged filled with an awe that was palpable each time. Thewines. All the peoples of the world are gathered at gathered congregation, children and adultsthis feast, and all tears are wiped away. When we together, then came forward and joyfully partook ofbreak bread together, even when our circumstances coconut meat dipped in coconut milk.”seem dire, we affirm this hope. — From Gordon Zerbe, “Children and the Jesus Supper:Hope is rooted in memory. The wine of the Some Anecdotal and Theological Reflections,” in Vision:Eucharist challenges us to remember the glimpses A Journal for Church and Theology, Spring 2001,of God’s reign we have been privileged to see and Vol. 2:1, p. 84.promises more in the future. We are all like the childmentioned below, longing to join the reign of Godmore fully than our present state and our feeble Faith in Action Stepattempts at worship will allow. Like Silvie, weremember the richness we have experienced and we At the Last Supper, Jesuswait for something that has not yet arrived. asked his followers to remember him. Much ofFrom Our Own Times what we remember is pre- served in the form of sto- “My eight-year-old daugh- ries. During a shared meal ter, Silvie, is hooked on the sometime this week, take Jesus Supper, as our family time to tell stories that give calls the feast. No, she you hope. Invite each per- doesn’t participate – son to tell about a favorite directly – with adult believ- communion experience, a ers in our local congrega- favorite Bible story, or a per- tion. But she is enthralled sonal experience. with this communal ritual,and longs intensely to join in more fully as anexpression of her devotion to Jesus and his way. 8
  • 12. Unit 1: Food Sharing as Sacramental MORE FAITH IN ACTION STEPS1. As an antidote tofor the Eucharist somewheredayyour home: afood, preparereminds “advertisement” the many ads you see each in selling junk symbol that an you of what it means to eat thankfully and well. You and a child might make a chalice and a paten (small plate for bread) out of clay together or find and frame a picture of the Lord’s Supper.2. When do you find it easiest to for thankfulness? Ifdifficult? What conditions, physical or spiritual, cramp your capacity be thankful? Most living thankfully were your goal in life, what would need to change? Journal on these questions. Then make one of the changes you identified.3. Is there someone youill, away at school, or estranged from a former congregation? Be a because he or she is know who has not received communion for some time, perhaps shepherd or an advocate for this person. Invite him/her to attend a communion service with you if he/she is able, or find another way appropriate to your denomination to share a sacramental meal.4. Do you play a musical instrument or sing? Learn new communion hymns or enjoy those you know.5. If yourwhat issues might arise? How might your congregation change? Write about this meal, congregation began celebrating communion in homes within the context of a question or discuss it with another member of your group. HEALTHY EATING TIPS1. Changing your habits takes1-2, a worksheet on Food and Time,find reflecttoon changesthis curriculum? Use Resource time and attention. How will you to time complete you might make. Make a list of trade-offs you will need to make in your schedule in order to concentrate on this important area of life.2. Placing another way to bringbread andto a shared meal. grapes onto bake whole grain week is a loaf of homemade holiness a bunch of fresh Learning your table once a bread can also improve your diet. Take a look at Resource 2-3 on whole grains and bake a loaf of whole grain bread this week. Note that you can substitute whole grain flour for up to 1/3 of the flour in any bread recipe. Use your kneading time to pray and reflect.3. Where do you eat?eat well?list of all thediscourage you?you consume unnecessary ones encourage you to Make a Which ones settings where Many of our food. Which calo- ries are munched while we are alone — for example, at a computer or TV, or in the car. This week, make eating a social experience as often as possible.4. Take stocktea,your drinking habits. When you drink somethingworst culprit. A 12-ounce coffee, or of it adds calories to your diet. Soft drinks are the other than water, black soft drink has no nutritional value and contains 7-9 teaspoons of sugar. One can a day adds an extra 150 calories or an extra 15 pounds per year if you drink it without cutting back on food. Boycott soft drinks this week. 9
  • 13. U N I T 2 NURTURING THE BODYF or many of us, the foodissues we struggle with most whether the body Jesus lived with was lean or stocky, butoften involve daily decisions we do know he sufferedabout which foods and how hunger and thirst, felt painmuch of them we should eat. and fatigue, sweated andThese considerations occupy wept. According to Luke andsome of us every waking moment. We are too fat, John, the risen Christ had a scarred, imperfect bodytoo thin, too compulsive, scarred by our childhood – a detail that some people with disabilities findconditioning, or simply unhappy with the genetic especially meaningful.cards we were dealt. Messages from secular cultureare a mixed bag at best. Bodies are big business. Third, the biblical record celebrates the body in sto-People spend billions on cosmetics, deodorants, ries of intimate healings and God’s attention tosoaps, fashionable clothing, jewelry, fitness equip- human hungers. God listens to hungry travelers inment, and other items to make their bodies appeal- the desert and provides manna. God multipliesing. Meanwhile, our high-tech and high cost loaves and fish for a famished crowd of 5,000. In themedical system extends our lifespans, as doctors New Testament, Jesus is not just a teacher of ethics,patch up our bodies when they fail. he heals bodies that have turned their owners into outcasts and touches untouchables.Christians of earlier eras have responded to ourphysical embodiment in various ways. Some fought Fourth, the Bible includes stories of physical pas-passionately to prevent Christianity from drifting off sion. In the Song of Songs, an unnamed coupleinto the realm of disembodied, lofty ideas; others delights in each other’s bodies without ever reveal-struggled to subdue their desires for food, warmth, ing their exact size and shape to the reader. Whatand sex. Some were better at rejecting the ways cup size, pray tell, would a woman whose breaststheir society over-emphasized bodies than they were like twin fawns have worn? How big was thatwere at embracing the ways Christianity is with and delectable heap of wheat that reminded the man offor bodies. What can Christianity teach us about the his beloved’s belly? The Song of Songs praises bod-body? ies, yet conceals more than it reveals. No particular body shape is held up as the ideal.First of all, Christianity affirms that the physicalorder, this world of birthing and dying, eating and If Christianity affirms the physical in all these ways,dancing, is good. Life in a body is not just a prelude then body issues are significant issues. To beto some heavenly afterlife; it was created and unable to enjoy moving freely, to feel ashamedblessed by God. of one’s body, to taste only the flavor of guilt in our food, to be controlled and consumed by ourSecond, God dignified bone and sinew, muscle and own lack of self-control: these are tragedies. Theyfat, by wearing them. Every time we participate in a are worthy of attention and serious theologicalEucharist that uses the traditional words of institu- reflection. Learning, also, how to avoid excess is ation, we are reminded that Christ had a body: “This faith issue, and the obesity epidemic – growingis Christ’s body, broken for you.” We do not know worldwide – is one of the critical issues of our time. 10
  • 14. Unit 2: Nurturing the Body, Day 1 BLESSING OUR BODIES Jesus touchedwhom blessed found unworthy.— even bodies and people’s bodies others Matthew 8:1-4, excerpt below, she tells how her husband’s acceptance and patience taught her to run again: 19:13-15 “He suggested we start out slowly, running a mile These two texts give us a and a half, twelve laps around the track. I had never brief, tender picture of run a mile and a half in my life, but okay, we started Jesus caring for others’ running. Within two laps, my lungs were burning. bodies. In both cases, he But within four, I was starting to feel my stride overrode voices of protest lengthen as we ran side by side; I started to feeland took the time to physically touch someone: in myself speeding up. By the time we began closing inMatthew 8, he touches a leper, and in Matthew 19, a on our twelfth lap, I was panting and groaningnumber of small children. Blessing children would loudly enough for everyone on the track to hear, butbe pleasant enough if the line wasn’t too long. But Kevin kept saying, ‘You’re doing great, let’s finishone wonders how clean Jesus’ lap was when he was big, let’s speed up at the end.’ And in a burst ofdone. All those little bodies played in the dust of energy, I did. I sprinted down the last half of thePalestine before the era of disposable diapers and track, Kevin matching me stride for stride, and feltrunning water! in every muscle the pleasure of exertion, of pushing my body beyond its boundaries. It was a physicalLeprosy was another matter. Although curable pleasure, the pleasure of feeling myself whollytoday, in the first century it often progressed from embodied, of feeling blood and breath movingscaly red patches and lesions on the skin to slow- through me. It was a spiritual pleasure, the relief ofgrowing swellings, deformity, and nerve damage. feeling old fears and inhibitions drained of theirSometimes fingers or arms had to be amputated. power, a feeling of freedom and possibility. And itSince the disease was contagious and the conse- was a sexual pleasure, the pleasure of feeling some-quences grim, leprosy made someone a social out- one I love drawing out my strength, urging me on,cast. Presumably, Jesus could have healed this man matching his body’s rhythm to mine. It is one of mywithout touching him—he heals at a distance in husband’s enduring gifts to me that he reintroducedother stories—but here, Jesus chooses to make me to the joy of bodily exertion. Through honoringphysical contact with a person whose body others my body and its strength, he helped me begin to dofound repulsive. His open arms remind us of God’s the same.”compassion for our whole being, no matter what ©2002, Reprinted with permission of John Wiley and Sons, Inc.our bodies are like. Faith in Action Step From Our In a journal, write about an experience that shaped your Own Times body image for better or for worse. Write a prayer giving In Honoring the Body: Med- thanks for this experience or itations on a Christian asking God to heal it. Practice,7 Stephanie Paulsell describes how an embarrassing junior high experience kept her from running for years. In the 11
  • 15. Unit 2: Nurturing the Body, Day 2 NURTURING OUR BODIES A basic is stewardship ofofanutrition helps us — our bodies. understanding us eat well. Good nutrition gift God gave Isaiah 55:1-2 staying away from bad ones — is second only to weight control on the list of healthy nutritional Every day on my way to strategies.” Fats high in unsaturated fatty acids work, I see a McDonalds bill- are liquid or soft at room temperature and board. “It’s about value,” the include olive, corn, soybean, safflower and canola ad proclaims. Yes, the food oils. Fats high in saturated fatty acids are found is inexpensive, but what especially in dairy products, red meat, coconuts, about the fact that a 12- and chocolate. See Resource 2-2 for more infor- ounce soda has no nutri- mation.tional value? Or that the closest thing to a vegetable 3. Substitute whole grain carbohydrates for thosein your combo (besides a pickle slice) were the made with refined grains. Eating more wholefrench fries, loaded with trans fats? Or the fact that grains has been shown to protect people againstyou would have to walk seventeen miles to burn off diabetes, to keep heart disease at bay, to improvethe calories in one large combo?8 Is this value? gastrointestinal health, and to reduce theAlthough written in a very different context, Isaiah’s chances of developing certain kinds of cancer.invitation to abundant life is still poignant today. Replace white bread, white rice, and pasta with“Why do you spend your money for that which is not brown rice, whole grain breads, and whole wheatbread?” he queries. “Listen carefully to me, and eat pasta. Eat whole grain cereal or oatmeal forwhat is good, and delight yourselves in rich food.” breakfast.These few verses remind us that God wishes gen- 4. Choose healthier sources of proteins. Trade reduine nourishment for us and that choosing well will meat for nuts, beans, chicken, and fish. Animalbe a pleasure, not a sacrifice. proteins such as beef or whole milk dairy prod- ucts come with a heavy helping of saturated fats. Vegetable proteins come with plenty of fiber andFrom Our Own Times vitamins. Walter C. Willett, an M.D. and 5. Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables. Following chair of the Department of Nutri- this timeless advice can decrease the chances of tion at Harvard, describes most having a heart attack or stroke, protect against a nutritional debate as a “lively but variety of cancers, lower blood pressure, help you mostly evidence-free food fight.” avoid intestinal ailments, and guard against In response, his book, Eat Drink cataracts and macular degeneration. Five servings and Be Healthy,9 provides a day should be a minimum goal. More is better. advice grounded in studies that Eat a wide variety of fruits and vegetables tracked the health and eating because each contains a different set of nutrients.habits of thousands of people for more than twenty years.According to Willett and many other nutrition professionals,the most important things you can do for your health are: Faith in Action Step1. Keep your weight in the healthy range. Next Which one of the above recom- to whether you smoke, your weight is the most mendations do you need to important measure of your future health. It is work on most? Choose one of more important to your long-term health than the points above and design a exactly what mixture of fats, carbohydrates, and plan for making changes in your antioxidants you consume. eating habits. Suggestions are2. Replace saturated fats and trans fats with provided for each of these areas unsaturated fats. “Eating more good fats — and on Resources 2-2 through 2-6. 12
  • 16. Unit 2: Nurturing the Body, Day 3 ENGAGING THE POWERS Powerful economic forcessheep to undermine our desirefaith need seek to eat well. Following their lead like is dangerous. People of to be aware of and engaged with these powers. I John 2:15-17, From Our 3:16-17 Own Times In the feisty epistle of “I first became aware of I John, the Church and the the food industry as an “world” are sharply drawn influence on government opposites. John describes nutrition policies and on the world as full of human the opinions of nutritionself-seeking and pride in riches. (2:16) In contrast, experts when I moved to Washington, DC, in 1986believers are those who have love for each other; to work for the Public Health Service. My job was toa self-giving love willing to sacrifice for others as manage the editorial production of the first — andChrist sacrificed for us. (3:16) Other New Testament as yet only — Surgeon General’s Report on Nutri-writers speak of realities similar to John’s “world” as tion and Health, which appeared as a 700-pageprincipalities and powers. Parallels today include book in the summer of 1988. This report was ancorporations, governments, and other social struc- ambitious government effort to summarize thetures. Although most Christians don’t see these entire body of research linking dietary factors suchentities as enemy territory, it is hard to argue that as fat, saturated fat, cholesterol, salt, sugar, andself-giving love is the spirituality that governs alcohol to leading chronic diseases. My first day onmost multinational corporations. the job, I was given the rules: No matter what the research indicated, the report could not recommendWalter Wink, who has written a three-part series on ‘eat less meat’ as a way to reduce intake of satu-the powers, titles his last book, Engaging the Powers. rated fat, nor could it suggest restrictions on intakeHe says he chose this title rather than “combating of any other category of food [such as sugar]. In thethe powers” or “overcoming the powers” because industry-friendly climate of the Reagan administra-they are not simply evil. God created social struc- tion, the producers of foods that might be affectedtures good, but they are fallen and in need of by such advice would complain to their beneficiar-redemption like all of us. As John says in 2:17, ies in Congress, and the report would never bethey represent a way of life that is not sustainable published.”and will pass away. — Marion Nestle, Food Politics: How the Food Industry Influences Nutrition and Health.Eating is a politically and economically charged Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 2002.act, and attempts to change our lifestyles push upagainst a larger reality that is different from Christ’sloving community. We cannot be naïve about the Healthy Eating Tippowerful forces that benefit from humanity’s badhabits. John calls us to recognize the spiritual core This week, boycott TV orof the social structures that make up our food sys- watch less of it. Watchingtem and evaluate them against the Christian stan- TV invites the powers intodard of self-giving love. We may also be called to your living room. It givesconfront them, resist them, or work to transform food companies access tothem. your mind and makes you vulnerable to the power of suggestion. At minimum, mute the commercials. 13
  • 17. Unit 2: Nurturing the Body, Day 4 LIVING WITHIN LIMITS Setting limits that fit our values is part of eating well. Leviticus 11:1-12 What dietary limits would benefit our community? What would happen if a congregation chose two or Many modern Christians three simple limits consistent with current knowl- find the food laws in the edge about health and justice, and lived by them? book of Leviticus bizarre. Imagine. Why, they wonder, is eating clams such an abomina- tion? What’s wrong with From Our roast pork? You can con-sult commentaries on Leviticus if these questions Own Timesintrigue you, but perhaps the most important ques-tions to glean from a trip through this ancient policy “The single most importantmanual are these: first step in rediscovering the traditional, healthy dietHow are our faith life and our food life con- is changing where younected? Levitical laws teach us that the pursuit of shop. As long as you areholiness permeates all of life, even its most mun- wading through 15,000dane corners like the breakfast table. The same choices in a supermarket, coming up with some-rules about what and what not to eat will not work thing healthy will seem like an incredible challenge.in all times and places, but all people of faith need But if you are shopping in a community cooperativeto struggle with how their beliefs and their behavior store filled with whole foods and foods from localat the table fit together. producers, all your senses will be tantalized -- but in the right direction for your health.”What guidelines govern our consumption of — Frances Moore Lappé, Diet for a Small Planet,meat? The Jewish philosopher, Philo, believed that 20th Anniversary Edition, NY: Ballantine Books,God had forbidden pork because it was so delicious 1991, pp. 138-139.that eating it would lead to gluttony. Others seeenvironmental or public health benefits underlyingthe Levitical code. Whatever the reasons for thefood laws in Leviticus, one of the main conse- Healthy Eating Tipquences of keeping them was a limited access tomeat. Only a few species could be used as food and This week, set a limit forthese animals had to be brought to the priest to be yourself that feels right,offered to God. Anything else was bloodshed. (See and live by it. For example,Lev. 17:1-4) Ancient Hebrew priests had few opin- consider where you buyions about how to cook a turnip, but they devoted food. Make a list of all theextensive regulation to sacrificing the life of an ani- businesses you patronize,mal. Nearly a quarter of the laws in the Torah deal including restaurants,with animal sacrifice. Today’s kosher laws speak to grocery stores, vendingthe sharpness of the knife, the placement of the cut, machines, convenienceand even the character of the ritual slaughterer. stores, etc. Where wouldThese limits result in dignified treatment of animals you like to spend moreand emphasize the seriousness of taking a life. Con- money? Less? Eliminate businesses which youtrast the kosher approach with the way early Euro- don’t wish to support or which discourage healthypean settlers slaughtered herds of American buffalo. eating. 14
  • 18. Unit 2: Nurturing the Body, Day 5 HONORING CHRIST’S BODY To eatbut also to considerand weaknessesownothers. needs well is not only your body’s the needs of I Corinthians 8:1- From Our Own 13, 13:1-7 Times: Facts About The Apostle Paul’s Obesity thoughts on food offered • Today, over 64% of Amer- to idols are not nearly so icans are overweight and popular as his “Love over 30% are obese.12 In Chapter” in I Corinthians contrast, only 13.3% of Americans were obese13, but both passages deal with what it means to in the early 1960s.13 About 16% of childrencare for one another within the body of Christ. In ages 6 to 19 are overweight, while in the earlyCorinth in the first century, most meat was slaugh- 1960s, about 5% were in this category.14tered in temples as part of a religious ritual and wasoffered to one god or another before it made its way • Excess body weight results in an increasedto the marketplace. Furthermore, temples often had risk of heart failure. The risk is 34% higher forbanquet rooms attached to them where people overweight individuals and 104% higher forcelebrated events such as birthdays, weddings, obese people.15 Obesity also increases theor a healing attributed to the god of that particular chances of developing Type 2 diabetes, hightemple. Dinners like these would have been a rou- blood pressure, high cholesterol, gallstones,tine part of the social life of the wealthier members asthma, and many other illnesses.16of the Corinthian church. Some members claimedthat since these gods didn’t really exist, there was • The medical costs of being overweight andno reason to give up eating meat or attending these obese may now rival those of smokers accord-meals. Others, who took the Greco-Roman gods ing to a new Health Affairs study. In 1998,more seriously, saw this practice as a disturbing overweight individuals paid an average ofcompromise with the powers of evil. 11.4% more in out-of-pocket medical costsAlthough the original context of chapter 8 is unfa- than their thinner peers did. Obese indivi-miliar to us, Paul’s conclusion sounds eerily rele- duals paid 26.1% more.17vant. He argues that what is important is acting forthe well-being of fellow believers. “But when youthus sin against members of your family, and woundtheir conscience when it is weak, you sin against Faith inChrist,” Paul says. “Therefore, if food is a cause of Action Steptheir falling, I will never eat meat, so that I may notcause one of them to fall.” Where in your food lifeWhat kinds of foods are appropriate when the body would you need to makeof Christ eats together at potlucks or shares meals changes if you took Paul’sin homes? Given the serious risks that accompany words about the weak-obesity, how can we support each other in our nesses of others seriously?attempts to pursue a healthy diet? These are the Think of three things youquestions Paul might ask Christians today. could do differently; act on at least one of them. 15
  • 19. Unit 2: Nurturing the Body MORE FAITH IN ACTION STEPS1. This week,body a blessing awhen youexercise you enjoy. Revel in the bodily pleasure of it. Give your devote time to form of finish.2. At a sharedthese things together. to name three things his or her body does well. Give thanks for meal, ask each person3. Find out if and how food companies are and fast food companies represented in theto school officials. Are soda pop machines involved in your local schools. Visit or talk hallways? Are educational materials offered “free” with a heavy dose of advertising? Organize to stop these practices.4. In Matthew 7:7-12, of a father offering his hungry child afor what they need“Surely not!” an amusing image Jesus urges his followers to ask God stone or a snake. and gives us Jesus says. Reflect on this passage and ask yourself, “Who can help me change my diet? God? My family? My faith community? My grocery store?” Summon the courage to ask for what you need.5. Do you sometimes give gifts of rich food to people who obviously don’t need them? Curb this habit. MORE HEALTHY EATING TIPS1. It’s easyandthink that what we eat at aMeasureisyour food to get a week, keep a measur- ing cup to postal scale at the table. sitting one serving. This sense of how much one serving really is. Follow the portion size recommendations on processed food. When sautéing or stir-frying, measure the oil rather than just sloshing it into the pan. One teaspoon of oil is considered a serving of fat and is enough to stir-fry about 2 cups of vegetables. Other single serving sizes: Protein/Dairy: 1 cup milk, yogurt or soymilk, 1-1/2 ounces cheese, 3 ounces meat or fish, 4 ounces of tofu; 2 tablespoons nut butter, 1 large or two small eggs Carbohydrates: 1/2 cup pasta, grain or cereal, 1 slice bread Fruits: 1/2 cup sliced, 1/2 cup juice or 1 medium apple, orange, banana Vegetables: 1 cup leafy, 1/2 cup solid2. In 2005, thethat high consumption of red and processed meatan extensive study which confirmed American Cancer Society reported the results of increases your risk of colon cancer, the third most common cancer that annually kills 56,000 men and women in the U.S. High consumption was defined as only 3 or more ounces per day for men and 2 or more for women. Consider eating less red meat. See www.cancer.org for more information.3. Plan your lifethat that moremake as few tripsin athe grocerymore unnecessary Marketers have shown so the you time you spend to store, the store as possible. food you will buy.4. Assess yourDoes coffee houreating habits, orsugary sweets? habits of another group you belong to. congregation’s always feature the corporate Are options available for dia- betics at potlucks? Are ingredients labeled for people with allergies? Small changes, such as a healthy alternative in addition to cookies, may be better received than large ones.5. Remember that Resources 2-2 to 2-6 contain more suggestions for reshaping your diet. 16
  • 20. U N I T 3 HUNGERT here is food enough for all,yet hunger persists. Hunger • Violence and Militarism: Civil conflict disrupts agricul-continues to plague our world ture, uproots people, destroysbecause people either do not infrastructure, increases debthave access to food or they can- from military expenditure,not afford to buy the food that is and drains precious resourcesavailable. Over 852 million people from social programs. Ataround the world receive insufficient present there are almost 15nutrition. One in five of them is a million refugees and 25 million inter-child. Most live in the so-called “develop- nally displaced persons worldwide.ing world.” But hunger haunts us at home • Population: Increasing populations testtoo, and the number of poor and hungry among our the limits of fragile environments and furtherfellow citizens continues to rise. While the world tax impoverished nations abilities to meet theirhas made great strides in the struggle against peoples education, health, and nutritionalhunger, we are a long way from realizing the goal of needs. On the other hand children, especiallythe last World Food Conference to cut hunger in half male children, are the only form of social secu-by 2015. The roots of hunger are found in poverty, rity many will ever know. So in Africa, where awar, inequitable trade patterns, ignorance, disease, child is 20 times more likely to die by age 5 thanand environmental degradation. in the U.S., it makes sense to have a large family.Why, in a world of plenty, are so many hungry? 18 • Economic Globalization: The integration of societies and economies, characterized by the • Poverty: 1.2 billion people in developing coun- opening of borders to foreign investment and tries live on an income of $1 a day or less. While trade, has stimulated growth and opportunity for poverty has declined in some areas, especially some, but caused poverty, unemployment, and East Asia, in other regions, especially Africa, the food insecurity for many others. The benefits number of persons living in extreme poverty has tend to accrue to the strongest and wealthiest increased. Living at such a marginal level means countries and companies, and the gap between an incredible vulnerability to changes in climate, rich and poor increases daily. crop prices, and health problems. • AIDS: AIDS has killed around 7 million agricul- • Powerlessness: Hungry people often feel, and tural workers since 1985 in the 25 worst-affected are, unable to affect their circumstances due to African countries. illiteracy, political oppression, or lack of access to land, credit, education, and political decision- • Environmental degradation: Healthy ecosys- making. Gender discrimination also plays a role. tems produce abundantly; abused land does Despite the fact that women are often the pri- not. Misused land, depleted soils, and scarce mary producers of food, seventy percent of those fresh water contribute to hunger and spark con- who suffer from hunger worldwide are women flicts that add to the problem. and girls. The next time you take communion, know that you • Debt: Debt obligations, often amassed by are enacting an alternative to the harsh face of long-gone leaders, leave vulnerable nations with hunger: a world where resources are shared, where vastly reduced resources to meet peoples leaders are servants of all, and where all have needs. Despite recent efforts at debt relief, some enough to eat. This ritual is also a call to engage the countries are still spending more on debt repay- world, that the reality we enact at communion ment than on education, health care, and nutri- might become a reality for hungry people around tion combined. the world. 17
  • 21. Unit 3: Hunger, Day 1 HEARING THE CRIES OF THE HUNGRY Opening ourselves totoward the voices ofthis painfulsuffer hunger is hear those who the first step addressing reality.Lamentations 1:11, 2:11-12, 4:2-4 From Our Own Times In 586 B.C.E., King Neb- “It wasn’t my turn.” - a U.S. uchadnezzar destroyed the child when asked if he had eaten city of Jerusalem. The city breakfast that morning, quoted was besieged for a year and in Grace at the Table. a half until its inhabitants (See bibliography.) were starving; then the “Lack of work worries me. Babylonians breached the My children were hungry walls, burned the build- and I told them the rice is ings, looted the temple, cooking, until they fellslaughtered the princes, raped the women, and asleep from hunger.” - An Egyptian parent quoted inmarched long lines of captives into exile. A few poor Voices of the Poor, www.worldbank.orgpeople were left behind in the rubble. “I pray for a home of my own, that I do not want,In five poems, the book of Lamentations explores that I can eat, have enough clothes to wear. It is notthis horror and the hunger that accompanied it. The enough to hope and pray. This I ask of God and hefirst four poems are acrostics: the first stanza begin- does not reply.” - A Bangladeshi elder, quoted in A Dryning with the first letter of the Hebrew alphabet, the Roof and a Cow: Portraits of Our Neighbors. Akron,second stanza with the second letter, and so on. PA: Mennonite Central Committee, 1994.One wonders whether the author needed a rigid “My husband knew he was going to be in the fieldstructure to hold his grief, lest it explode. Within for three weeks. He also knew that I would be herethis format, he spares us none of the details: treas- by myself with very little money and no dishes orures sold for food, children fainting in the streets pots and pans. So he went down to McDonald’s onfrom hunger, women boiling their own babies. The Sunday when hamburgers were thirty-nine centspoet weeps and wails to a silent God. Praise and and bought twenty-one of them. I’ve been eatingwords of assurance typically found in Hebrew poetry one hamburger every day for the last twenty days.”— even in laments — are absent. Have the people - A young marine wife, quoted in a chapter on “Hunger andof Jerusalem been utterly abandoned by Yahweh, if the Military” in Loretta Schwartz-Nobel, Growing Upsuch a being exists? Empty, NY: HarperCollins, 2002.In her book, Lamentations and the Tears of the World,Kathleen O’Connor weighs the value of this kind of Faith in Action Stepprayer. Even though the poet’s grief and rage borderon blasphemy, she sees this expression of pain as a Set aside a time to listenhealthy form of faith. First, because it can only occur to the voices of the hungryin a genuine relationship, and secondly, because it several times this week.tells the truth about human suffering. Hope is one Imagine yourself in theof many voices that emerge out of the depths of shoes of the people whopain, and to deny those other voices — despair, made the comments above.rage, alienation — would be a lie. Ponder the introduction to this unit and the facts in the hunger quiz on Resource 3-2. Use your heart as well as your head. 18
  • 22. Unit 3: Hunger, Day 2 PLANTING MUSTARD SEEDSOatverwhelming problems like world hunger must be addressed one small step a time. Such actions, committed in faith, can have far-reaching effects. Matthew 13:31-33 church’s outreach ministry. Wells became hooked, and continues to walk, striving each year to raise We can best appreciate more money than she did the year before. In the these simple parables 2003 WALK, she raised $2,660. about seeds, trees, yeast, and the ordinary acts of Sarah Dougherty walks almost every day — three baking and sowing by days a week in her neighborhood and three days a focusing on the details. week at the YMCA. One day, she heard a presenta- The mustard Jesus was tion about the work of Church World Service andtalking about was probably common black mustard, how the CROP WALK helps so many people aroundwhich has seeds considerably smaller than what we the world. “It inspired me,” says Dougherty. “Ithink of as mustard seed. This wild mustard is a decided to put up a table at the Y and just see iflarge herb that can rapidly grow over ten feet tall in people would sponsor me.” Dougherty’s goal thegood conditions, with a stem as thick as your arm. first year was to raise $500. She raised $1,501, a sum three times her goal.The woman baking bread in Jesus’ parable does notend up with just a few loaves. “The three measures Reverend Joanne Mitchell, 94, walks part of theof flour” that she leavens with a little yeast is equiv- Kenosha, Wisconsin, CROP WALK and is pushed inalent to about fifty pounds of grain. This is enough her wheelchair the other part. She enjoys the oppor-for over a hundred loaves of bread or a slice each for tunity to go up and down her street and meet neigh-over a thousand people! God’s reign is like that, bors when she collects pledges. She also likes theJesus says. A small act, a tiny glimmer of hope can ecumenical aspect of the CROP WALK, bringingexpand into something wondrous. churches together for a cause. In Greensboro, North Carolina, a special Children’sFrom Our Own Times CROP WALK takes place every year on the grounds of St. Pius the Tenth School. Some 300+ children CROP WALKS are a fun and don CROP WALK T-shirts and walk as many times as easy way to learn about hunger their legs will carry them around the school’s out- and begin making a difference. door track. Church World Service sponsors these community-organized fund raising events nationwide. Walk- Faith in ers pledge to complete a several Action Step mile walk and find friends and family to sponsor them. The Take a small step in your money is usually donated to own community. Visit aChurch World Service for its international relief and develop- soup kitchen, homelessment efforts or to a hunger agency of the sponsor’s choosing. shelter, or other service toA portion of the proceeds also support local hunger agencies hungry people a few times(www.cropwalk.org). Meet a few of the walkers, below, who this month. Talk with andparticipated. get to know the people you meet there.Alma Wells, Topeka, Kansas, began walking as a wayof supporting a local agency that is a part of her 19
  • 23. Unit 3: Hunger, Day 3 BEING AN ADVOCATE Faith empowers us to speak for the hungry. Persistence brings change. sional district across the land has convinced our nation’s leaders to act in ways that make a huge dif- Mark 7:24-30 ference for a large number of hungry people. The story of Jesus and the “Consider Africa, where hungry people have few Syro-Phoenician woman is defenders in Congress. Bread for the World’s 1995 a difficult one. Many a campaign to protect crucial development aid to scholar has tried to make it Africa mobilized approximately 70,000 letters and more comfortable for us, reduced by about $100 million the cuts that took but the fact remains that in place. In this case the average letter leveraged more this story, Jesus at first than one thousand dollars to Africans in dire need. refuses to heal a woman’sdaughter because of her race. Maybe we could “In 1991 Bread for the World mobilized 100 thou-excuse Jesus since he is on vacation. A careful read- sand letters and helped get the U.S. State Depart-ing of the New Testament reveals that Jesus was not ment to mediate a peace agreement in Ethiopia thatjust the all-powerful healer and teacher; he was also saved half a million lives. By any reasonable calcu-very human and exhausted half the time. He fell lation, each letter in that campaign saved at leastasleep in boats and snuck off to the desert to be one life.alone every chance he got. “One person can make a difference for the hungryOn this much-needed getaway in a foreign town, people in this country, too. In 1998 Congress andJesus is bird-dogged by a woman on a mission. “Let the president acted to restore food stamps to aboutthe children be fed first, for it is not fair to take the 250 thousand of the most vulnerable legal immi-children’s bread and throw it to the dogs,” he tells grants — children, elderly and disabled people. Thisher. Most of us have made similar decisions about [gave] them $818 million in food assistance over apriorities and limited resources, but coming out of five-year period…Each letter to Congress on thisJesus’ mouth, it is disturbing. issue had the effect, on average, of helping two or three immigrants receive their daily bread for fiveHow did a story with a line like that make it into the years — quite a return for writing a letter.”scripture? I believe this text was included to help ussee the potential for good in the leaders we may - David Beckmann and Arthur Simon, Grace at thebadger on behalf of those in need. In this case, a Table: Ending Hunger in God’s World. Mahwah,nameless woman from Tyre had faith that was NJ: Paulist Press, 1999.greater than Jesus’ energy at that moment. Because Used with permission of Paulist Press, www.paulistpress.comof her persistence, she received what her childneeded. May our persistence do the same for uswhen we fight for children’s bread. And, for those ofus who hold the keys to the coffers, may this deter- Faith in Action Stepmined person remind us to go a step further than Bread for the World is a Chris-we think we can. tian citizens’ movement seek- ing justice for the world’s hungry people by lobbying From Our our nation’s decision makers. Own Times Visit Bread for the World’s website at www.bread.org. Find “…Every year since 1975, a out about pending legislation relatively modest number of and write a letter. letters from each congres- 20
  • 24. Unit 3: Hunger, Day 4 CALLING MINISTERS Finding and nurturingofthe gifts of people who will work against hunger is one the Church’s responsibilities. Acts 6:1-7 right in our country. The commitment to feed all its citizens consumes less than 1% of Belo’s budget. The Lappés meet What today’s text lacks in Adriana Aranha, who oversees Belo’s food programs. They flash, it makes up in rele- also visit some of her projects: a produce market, a People’s vance to contemporary Restaurant, a day care center, all with low cost, wholesome problems. Here, we see the food. Spirit of Christ at work in “At the end of our visit, Anna and I sit down again the mundane and everyday with Adriana in her cheery office. We tell her howadministration of a faith community. Although this moved we’ve been by how much has developed inearly church is committed to sharing food (see Acts so little time, just since 1993…2), rapid growth has caused some glitches in man-agement, and a group of Greek-speaking widows is “…I ask, ‘When you began, did you realize hownot getting what they need. These women were important what you are doing was? How much dif-probably Jews who spoke Greek rather than the local ference it might make? How rare it is in the entireAramaic because they were from other parts of the world?’Roman empire. A language barrier may have been “…I see her eyes moisten and try to guess why.part of the problem. Through our interpreter, I learn.In Acts, the Gospel spreads outward from Jerusalem. “‘I knew we had so much hunger in the world,’ sheIn this passage, we see it spreading through a trans- said. ‘But what is so upsetting, what I didn’t knowfer of leadership. Up until Acts 6, the leaders of the when I started this, is it’s so easy. It’s so easy to endJesus movement are Palestinian disciples who knew it.’” 19Jesus personally. Now, a group of people with Greeknames is commissioned for a task that is too big forthe original leadership. Likely they were selectednot only because they were wise and full of the Faith in Action StepSpirit, but also because they knew the Greek com-munity. Do you know someone who works with hungry people inThis text raises a number of thought-provoking some way? Send a note ofissues for the Church today. What roles do we call appreciation this week. Orleaders to fill? Are ministries to the poorest of the check websites that listpoor and the hungry on that list? Do we recognize hunger-related employmentthe gifts of those who work in these ministries? How opportunities20 and invitecan we find and support committed people in our someone you know to con-own communities like the Brazilian woman below? sider a vocation related to hunger. Do any of these opportunities fit you?From Our Own Times In their book, Hope’s Edge, food researcher Frances Moore Lappé and her daughter Anna Lappé tell about a visit to Belo Horizonte, Brazil’s fourth largest city. In this city, food is a right of citizenship just as education is a 21
  • 25. Unit 3: Hunger, Day 5 REFUSING TO CONFORM Choosing a simpleyour friends, family, colleagues, genuine needs andiscan diet frees up resources to meet provoke dialog with and neighbors. It one way to stand in solidarity with the rest of the world. Daniel 1:1-21 From Our Own Times Our culture prides itself on The author of the following freedom. Food, like religion excerpt is a food nonconformist and speech, is regarded as who advocates Christian vegetar- a matter of personal ianism. See his book for the full choice. But if you have ever rationale. been the weird mom who “There is power in thebrought tofu treats to the Little League game, the blood of meat, a deep crav-vegetarian at the beef barbecue, or the lone non- ing for red and juicy fleshdrinker, you know what an awkward and disturbing that can blind meat lovers to the consequences ofthing it is to refuse the accepted diet. their diet… Seventy percent* of all the grain in theThousands of years ago, a group of young Jewish United States goes to feeding herds of livestock. Itmen were selected as privileged foreign exchange takes up to sixteen pounds of grain to produce astudents after their nation was reduced to rubble by pound of beef. In fact, the world’s cattle alone con-the Babylonian army. Although they accepted for- sume a quantity of food equal to the caloric needseign names and a Babylonian education, they drew of 8.7 billion people — more than the entire humanthe line at the dinner table and begged for simple population on earth. Such an inefficient use ofvegetarian meals. Scholars differ in their opinions resources explains why President Truman, on Octo-about why Daniel and his friends refused to eat the ber 5, 1947, asked the American people to foregoking’s rations. Some say the Babylonian food vio- meat on two days a week in order to save preciouslated Jewish purity laws. Others say the meat on the grain for distribution to starving Europeans.”royal menu had been offered to foreign gods. Sur- - Stephen Webb, Good Eating. The Christianprisingly, few commentators make the connection Practice of Everyday Life Series. Grand Rapids,between the hunger described in our reading from MI: Brazos Press, 2001, p. 24.Lamentations and Daniel’s resistance to a luxuriousdiet. * Pimentel (1997) calculates more than 50% worldwide;Although the book of Daniel was written years later 40% in the U.S..than Lamentations, the story is set at the same time— when Daniel’s hometown of Jerusalem was laid towaste. Elite Jews sent to serve the personnel needs Faith in Action Stepof Babylon likely lived with the knowledge that their Make a list of situationskindred were hungry, and that the obscene abun- where you conform to the eat-dance of the king’s court had been extracted from ing habits of our culture withconquered nations. mixed emotions. How wouldDaniel’s story offers us more than a generic model you like to eat instead? Whatof someone who had the courage to take a stand. would happen if you did notTwo and a half millennia later, the specific issue he conform? Choose a situationstruggled with is still current. How do we in North this week and try out a behav-America handle our “right” to eat like kings? Even ior that fits more comfortablyasking the question is rare. The attempts to answer with who you are and what you believe. Donate anyit are likely to provoke dialog and disagreement just money saved to a hunger organization.as happened to Daniel. 22
  • 26. Unit 3: Hunger MORE FAITH IN ACTION STEPS1. Organize a CROP WALK. Thesecontact Churchawareness about hunger and money(1-888-297- related causes. For resources, WALKS raise World Service at 1-888-CWS-CROP for hunger- 2767) or see their website at www.churchworldservice.org. CWS is a cooperative ministry of 36 Protestant, Orthodox, and Anglican denominations, providing sustainable self-help and development, disaster relief, and refugee assistance in more than 80 countries.2. Plan a vacation Bible school or other group activity for children Better World: Activities forUse your denomination’s hunger education resources, or request Build A centering on hunger. Children from Church World Service. For intergenerational activities, request What Do You Know About Hunger? Hunger Activities That Work and CWS’s Facts Have Faces leaflets. See the contact informa tion above.3. Subscribe toMost denominations use Breadpoverty, and health information and advocacy e-mail list serves. your denomination’s hunger, for the World www.bread.org as one way of advocat ing around hunger concerns through Offerings of Letters. Church World Service also provides a Speak Out e-mail list serve which provides updates and alerts on public policy issues related to hunger and related issues. You can sign up at www.churchworldservice.org.4. Call upofyour middle governingyour denomination’s hunger website. For example,involved in the cause ending hunger. Visit body or national staff to learn about ways to get the Presbyter- ian Hunger Program has developed innovative approaches to addressing the underlying causes of hunger and related injustices, such as their Food & Faith Initiative, Enough for Everyone, and Joining Hands Against Hunger. All of these can be accessed through their website at www.pcusa.org/hunger/.5. International tradenations. Learn how just trade can help fightthreatenand poverty. Greatof people and entire rules that affect agricultural products can the food security hunger places to begin are the websites of the Presbyterian Church (USA)’s Just Trade www.pcusa.org/trade, Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance www.e-alliance.ch, Church World Service www.churchworldser vice.org, and the U.S. Interfaith Trade Justice Campaign www.tradejusticeusa.org.6. If Americans were toof grain for human consumption – oronly 10 percent for one year,people free 12 million tons reduce their meat consumption by enough to feed 60 million it would (Robbins, 2002). If you do eat meat, talk with your household about why you eat meat, any concerns, and what limits you might want to put on your consumption. For example, some people buy only meat that is certified humanely raised; others avoid beef but eat fish and chicken; others limit quantity; others, of course, get all their protein from plant sources.7. Find a copy of your churchto hunger? What percentage of your budget reaches people who How is your church connected budget and review your congregation’s financial commitments. are needy enough to struggle with hunger?8. Learn what it isprogram ofand Virginia Interfaithwhile living in poverty. See the innovative “Poverty Diet” like to eat the feed your family Center for Public Policy www.virginiainterfaith center.org. A free, full curriculum including personal stories and statistics concerning hunger and poverty is available for download. (Continued on next page . . .) 23
  • 27. (Continued from previous page . . .) MORE HEALTHY EATING TIPS 1. Review Resources 2-2 through 2-6 for more healthy eating tips or continue the ones you tried last week. 2. Find whathow muchout, see Resource 2-6 forby keeping a list ways todiet. If you are not pleased with out you find meat you eat this week suggestions on of your reduce the amount of meat in your diet. This month, try one new vegetarian recipe each week. 3. Get acquainted with your ownorhungerInthis week. Whenreflectfeel hungry for a you may wish tolive with your hunger for an hour two. Unit 6, we will you on fasting, but snack, wait and try skipping a meal or fast for a day. Before you eat and while you are eating, ask yourself, “Am I hungry for this or am I just eating?” Our bodies know what we need and don’t need if we learn to listen to them. 24
  • 28. U N I T 4 FOOD AND THE ENVIRONMENTE ating is an environmental act.No matter how insulated we might shaped by you: the consumer. Because you eat, you occupy an hon-be in office cubicles and urban orary seat on the earth stewardshipstreets, no matter how little time we committee.spend outdoors, each and every oneof us is tied to the earth by the food Why should Christians be especiallywe eat. The simple act of breaking passionate when it comes to caringbread together in church could link about the earth and the way theirus to erosion problems on a wheat food is grown? The most obvious rea-farm in the Midwest or pesticide poi- son is our affirmation that God cre-soning among grape farmers in Chile. ated the world and that bats andA quick pick-up from a fast food restau- wombats, tigers and tree toads, are allrant can put us in touch with the shrinking examples of divine creativity and delight.number of potato varieties grown in the U.S. This fundamental Christian affirmation takesand the excess manure produced by a factory on a more profound and intriguing meaning iffarm. Every time we buy food, we participate in envi- we apply it to our day-to-day planetary housekeep-ronmental degradation or support practices that ing. Habitat destruction? Species extinction? This issustain God’s creation or, perhaps, we do some of how we’re treating God’s creation? Should this beeach. tolerated?Because of the amount of land agriculture covers, the Theologian Sallie McFague suggests another reasonworld’s farmers play a critical role as land stewards for engagement with environmental concerns in herof our current and future well-being. How we raise book, Super, Natural Christians: How We Should Loveour food has an enormous impact on the health of Nature. She claims that a Christian nature spiritual-our planet, especially now with more than six billion ity is simply Christian practice applied to the earth.mouths to feed. While less than five percent of U.S. “Christians are those who should love theland is urbanized, about one third of our three billion oppressed, the most vulnerable of God’s creation,”acres is farm or ranch land. 21 Agricultural water she says, and in our times, it is the natural worldusage and waste production also have a huge that is sick, oppressed, and in need.25 Just as 19thimpact on the environment. While California has its century Christians failed to recognize slaves asshare of homes, golf courses, and swimming pools, worthy people God cared about, so we need helpagriculture consumes 83% of its water supply. 22 seeing the extent of God’s passionate love for otherHuman waste is an environmental problem in some species. If we see rivers and mountains as fellowplaces, but in the U.S. farm animals produce 130 members of God’s choir as they are described intimes as much manure as we do.23 Psalm 98, then earthworms and ecosystems deserve our deepest love and care.Yet farmers are only one small part of our food sys-tem: they receive less than 10 cents of every dollar The daily readings in this unit focus on familiaryou spend on groceries, and if you bought a loaf of Christian virtues: hope, humility, gratitude, lovingbread this week, you paid as much for the wrapper your neighbor, and intercession. Probably you seeas for the wheat in the bread.24 Farming practices are human faces when you hear such words. Whatshaped by the corporations who sell the seeds, pes- would happen if we also applied these Christ-liketicides, and fertilizers; who buy, process, package, virtues to our relationship with the earth? To theship, and market the food. They are also choices we make about food? 25
  • 29. Unit 4: Food and the Environment, Day 1 HOPE Christians live with hope for a future that includes a redeemed creation.Romans 8:18-27 three milkings a day starting at 3 a.m. and a lot of pampering with antibiotics to keep stressed cows In today’s passage, Paul healthy. Even with good care, today’s dairy cows claims that through the gift only last 2-3 years. The farmers were stressed as of the Holy Spirit, Chris- well. “A lot of people feel totally out of control when tians have a basis for hope: they’re farming because the milk price is so beyond they are given glimpses of your control,” Brent says. what whole relationships When they bought their own farm, the Beidlers with God, others, and cre- opted to go organic. They still work hard and experi- ation look like. Because of ence stresses, but are pleased to sell their milk to athis, they can more easily imagine God’s reign cooperative that pays them a fixed price, based onencompassing all creation at some future time. In the cost of production. Brent and Regina are votingRomans, this hope is not in a spiritual salvation in members of their cooperative and have input intoanother realm; it is in a redeemed creation here on decisions. If you live in Vermont and drink Organicearth. All of creation is in partnership with us, long- Valley Milk, you might be one of their customers.ing and straining toward this hope. Hope is embed-ded in creation. It is evident in every sprouting seed, Brent and Regina also find that organic dairyin every green leaf straining toward the sun; in the farming gives them the kind of lifestyle they want.dependable rhythm of the seasons; even in the They have time for a few sidelines they really enjoy:wood decomposing on a healthy forest floor. sustainable logging with draft horses and offering sleigh rides in the winter. Also, because their farmIn the face of environmental degradation, it is easy has no dangerous machinery or chemicals, theirfor us to feel cynical and hopeless. But hope is not daughter accompanied them everywhere in a back-just an emotion; it is a faith practice. We practice pack when she was a baby. At two, she knew eachhope when we teach younger generations to care for cow by name and could tell which was its stall.the earth. We practice hope when we support busi-nesses and nonprofits that care for the earth. We Unlike cows in confinement operations, thepractice hope when we recognize and cherish flour- Beidlers’ cows spend warm days outdoors grazing.ishing ecosystems and healthy farming communi- “It feels like you can farm with dignity,” Regina says.ties. Faithful action defeats despair. “You look at a herd lying down together, licking each other and socializing and you say, ‘This is how GodWhen you find a farm, market, or company that created cows to be.’”demonstrates love for the earth, people, and futuregenerations, celebrate hope. Buy their food, eat itwith gusto, and thank God. Faith in Action Step Learn more about a farmer, store, or group with a From Our vision for environmentally friendly food. Commit to buying their food or support- Own Times ing their work. Search in your Brent and Regina Beidler, community for farmers’ mar- Randolph Center, VT, kets, Community Supported worked on a conventional Agriculture (CSA) farmers, dairy farm before they and organizations working to owned their own organic build a healthy, local food dairy farm and have a economy. You can also visithealthy respect for the hard work conventional farm- www.localharvest.org to searching requires. On the conventional farm, cows were for these and other local foodmanaged for maximum production. This required resources. 26
  • 30. Unit 4: Food and the Environment, Day 2 HUMILITY We are not the only creaturesrelationships.we are part of an intricate God feeds; web of Psalm 104:10-30 hundreds of species of floral visitors — are required to pollinate the 100 or so crops that feed the world. Genesis 1 is not the only Only 15 percent of these crops are serviced by account of God as creator domestic honeybees; at least 80 percent are polli- in the Bible. Psalm 104, nated by wild bees and other wildlife. Who are the Psalm 65, Job 38-40, and pollinators? Our recent analyses of global invento- Psalm 8 are other exam- ries of biodiversity indicate that more than 100,000 ples. While human beings different animal species — perhaps as many asare given a prominent role in Genesis 1 and Psalm 200,000 — play roles in pollinating the 250,0008, in this Psalm, as in the latter chapters of Job, kinds of wild flowering plants on this planet. Inhumans are simply one species in the vast choir of addition to countless bees (the world contains ancreation. Psalm 104 describes an intricate system estimated 40,000 species of bees) wasps, moths,where all creatures are dependent on God for food. butterflies, flies, beetles, and other invertebrates,Here, the interplay between water, the landscape, perhaps 1,500 species of vertebrates such as birdsand the rhythm of seasons sounds like an ecology and mammals serve as pollinators. Hummingbirdstextbook, and the human race receives no more are the best-known wildlife pollinators in the Ameri-attention than lions or wild goats. In the eyes of this cas, but perching birds, flying foxes, fruit bats, opos-hymn writer, the appropriate response to creation is sums, lemurs, and even geckos function as effectivenot dominion but humility and praise. pollinators elsewhere in the world…Psalm 104:27-30 reminds us that we are not the only “…According to the U.S. Department of Agriculturecreatures God feeds. All creation is dependent on (USDA), there is an ‘impending pollination crisis,’ inthe breath of God and food from God’s hands. Nor which both wild and managed pollinators are disap-does nature exist to serve humanity; indeed most of pearing at alarming rates owing to habitat loss, pes-the creatures mentioned have no economic value. ticide poisoning, diseases, and pests.”Wild donkeys, wild goats, storks, and lions are all - Buchmann, Stephen L. and Gary Paul Nabhan.described as part of God’s good creation with value The Forgotten Pollinators. Washington, D.C.:independent of how they might benefit human Island Press, 1996.beings. Even Leviathan, a fearsome sea monster, isnot a predator or pest; it is God’s plaything, formedto “sport” in the water. Faith in Action StepThe reading below describes the tiny creatures thatpollinate our food. Humans can control what crops Spend 10 minutes several daysare planted, and what machinery rumbles over the this week watching anotherearth at harvest time, but we are still totally species eat: birds, bees, bugs,dependent on thousands of species we barely lizards, whatever. Give thanksnotice. Only because these living things exist do we for these creatures and reflecteat and survive. on the web of life that connects you. For more information on pollinators, see Center for a From Our Livable Future, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, www.jhsph.edu/ Own Times Environment/About_CLF/Canary/pollinators.html. “Recent surveys document that more than 30 genera of animals — consisting of 27
  • 31. Unit 4: Food and the Environment, Day 3 RECEIVING FOOD AS A GIFT FROM GOD Food is sacred because it is a precious gift from God and from the earth. Genesis 1:29-31 commercialized festivals. Visitors to Barrow can’t plan to see one. Only after the community receives Biblical scholars spend a the gift of the whale can the successful whaling cap- great deal of time debating tain declare a day of Nalukataq. It would be pre- what Genesis 1 has to say sumptuous to schedule a feast for a gift not yet to us about being made in received. the image of God. They say “When a feast day arrives, the schedule for the day less about what the cre- is leisurely. It opens with a prayer of thanksgivingation story has to say about food, but this point is and then there is much time for visiting. Throughoutequally important. In Genesis 1 and elsewhere the day, the whaling captain and crew distribute var-throughout the Bible, food is described as a gift ious parts of the whale to all who are gathered. It isfrom God. God provides plants for the first people a ritual sharing, not the major distribution of theto eat; rains manna and quail on the grumpy many tons of meat from each whale. One flipper isIsraelites complaining in the desert; later brings simply left in the area. Anyone may carve off whatthem into a land flowing with milk and honey and they need, a practice reminiscent of the grain left infeeds Elijah with the help of ravens, widows and the fields for gleaners in Old Testament times.angels. Jesus teaches his followers to ask God dailyfor bread. He also tells them not to worry about “According to persisting ancient belief, the whalefood because God feeds even the sparrows. In the has given itself to the people of the community. Thebiblical tradition, food is an expression of God’s captain’s gifts only reflect the whale’s gift. It is atenderness and affection. It is sacred because it is a great honor to the captain and his crew for this priv-gift from a lover. ilege, but there is also a sense of humility — a recognition of being gifted. Tourists privileged toToday it is harder to see God’s fingerprints on the participate in this ancient ritual are always sur-food we eat. Ninety percent of the average Ameri- prised that everything is free. No one buys or sellscan’s food budget is spent on processed food.26 Our any meat — that is strictly forbidden. The whalingfood comes to us packaged, stamped and dated, festival revolves around giving and sharing.”with a wrapper declaring who made it: Kroger orLibby or Dole or the elves at the Keebler tree house. - From James E. Roghair, “The Gift of the Whale:This shift from food as gift to food as commodity Community as Steward,” unpublished master’saffects our souls as well as our waistlines. A com- thesis, Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary,modity is best bought on sale; a gift is something Evanston, IL, 2000.we receive with thanks. A commodity can be wasted,gobbled, easily replaced; a gift is treasured. Whenwe eat whole grains and fresh fruits and vegetables, Faith in Action Stepwe honor our bodies’ needs for fiber and nutrients.We also honor God who brings these things forth Buy five foods that remindfrom the earth. A meal fresh from the ground you that food is a gift fromreminds us of the sacredness of food and of the God. Eat them with relishOne who provides it. and respect. Then research your options: where is the From Our best place to buy unprocessed, whole foods? Is there a farm- Own Times ers’ market in your town, or a Community Supported “Whaling celebrations Agriculture (CSA) farmer among the In upiaq people nearby? of Barrow, Alaska, are not 28
  • 32. Unit 4: Food and the Environment, Day 4 LOVING YOUR NEIGHBOR The people who grow and pick our food are our neighbors. Mark 12:28-34 efforts of several church organizations. The model relies on informed consumers, honest and fair trade When Jesus taught that lov- relationships, and cooperative principles. Below are ing God was the greatest internationally recognized fair trade standards as commandment, he was described on the website of Equal Exchange, an offering one of his most organization that sells coffee, tea, cocoa, and choco- uncontroversial pieces of late. advice. Loving God with allyour heart was the center of the Shema, a prayer from Pay a Fair Price: A fair price includes a guaranteedDeuteronomy 6 that Jews recited daily. To love your minimum price regardless of how low the commod-neighbor as yourself is a little more challenging. Even ity market falls. This ensures farmers a living wagemore challenging is the lawyer’s question in Luke’s even when market prices are too low to maintainversion of this story (Luke 10:25-37). “Who is my acceptable living standards.neighbor?” he wonders. As Jesus’ story about the Work with Democratically Run Cooperatives: Part-good Samaritan illustrates, the answer is not always ners are small farmer co-ops that are governed byobvious. One could argue that the creatures of the the farmers themselves. They are dedicated to shar-earth are our neighbors, or even those generations ing income fairly and providing services such asyet unborn who will inherit our environmental sins. healthcare and education for their members.If Jesus were alive today, he likely would embrace Buy Direct: Buying directly means that the benefitsfarm workers as neighbors. Every day, we eat food and profits from trade actually reach the farmersthat invisible hands have picked, processed, and and their communities, not the middlemen.packed. Even in the U.S., 85 percent of fruits and veg-etables are hand cultivated and/or hand harvested. Provide Advance Credit: Traditionally, credit wasThis is lowest paid occupation in the country. Accord- either unavailable or only offered at exorbitanting to the U.S. Department of Labor, three out of five interest rates that kept farmers trapped in debt. Fairfarm worker households in the U.S. live in poverty trade organizations make vital credit available toand three quarters of all farm workers earn less than farmers.$10,000 per year. 27 Farm workers also face risks totheir health from farm machinery and agricultural Encourage Ecologically Sustainable Farmingpoisons. According to the World Health Organization, Practices: Sustainable farming helps build a long-about “one million serious, unintentional pesticide term economic base for farmers while protectingpoisonings take place globally every year, with mil- their communities, the environment, and con-lions of additional milder cases likely.” 28 sumers from dangerous chemicals.The scribe in Mark 12:33 who observes that lovingone’s neighbor is more important than offering burntsacrifices raises another interesting question. How Faith in Action Stepand when are our charitable contributions underwrit-ten by injustice? If cheap food grown at the expense Switch to fair trade coffee andof the future fertility of the land and harvested by the tea or take the first step towardpoor enables us to give away surplus money and get switching your congregationtax deductions, would God be pleased? over to fair trade. Visit the Inter- faith Program of Equal Exchange www.equalexchange.com for more information. From Our Own Times Fair Trade is a growing approach to trade that has its roots in the development 29
  • 33. Unit 4: Food and the Environment, Day 5 INTERCESSION Concerns related to earth care belong in our prayers and worship services.Mark 2:1-12 water and released it slowly, preventing rapid run- off. Farming practices that contribute to soil erosion Mark’s account of the para- include farming too close to a river without a buffer lyzed man with four friends zone, not leaving enough vegetation on a field to is one of the most colorful hold the soil after it is harvested, or farming slopes healing stories in the Bible. without using proper contour techniques. How four people managed to get up on a roof hauling Monocultures: Most of us think of “the country” as a stretcher is hard to imag- a series of lush, green, rolling cornfields. What looks ine, but it must have like “nature” to us is not at all natural, and more like involved a good deal of a factory than an ecosystem. A single crop sucks thegrunting and sweating. This is a fitting description same nutrients out of the soil year after year and isof intercession — the act of bringing the needs of a bonanza for that crop’s pests. In contrast, aothers before God. healthy ecosystem is a tangled and diverse inter- connected web where plants and insects, pests andAlthough going through a roof to find healing is predators, help solve each other’s problems.exceptional, interceding for sick friends is some- Organic farmers capitalize on this by planting sev-thing many churches do well. Parishioners faithfully eral crops side by side and diversifying their opera-call upon their pastors to share urgent medical con- tions.cerns in worship services or through e-mail prayerchains. Unfortunately, this kind of prayerful atten- Missing farms: If you live in an urban area, do yoution is rarely extended to our other sick friends — see verdant plots of farmland in your city, reservedthe pieces of the natural world that are quietly dis- for growing food for local people? Is your groceryintegrating around us. store raising tomatoes on the roof? Can you find aReshaping our worship services and communal life farmer’s market? Most cities do not organize theirso that they might receive intercessions on behalf of lives this way, and urban sprawl is replacing U.S.the earth requires an imaginative leap and a bit of farmland at a rate of about three million acres acourage. Mark’s story offers us both. What would year.29happen if we borrowed this text as a metaphor forintercessory prayer on behalf of the earth? What ifwe collectively carried the sick pieces of our planet Faith in Action Stepinto our gathered communities and offered them upto God? Look for the above symp- toms in your area. When you see them, take a moment toFrom Our Own Times pray for the ecosystems in your local community. Share What does sick land look like? a concern you see with your Below is a beginner’s guide to faith community. intercession for the earth. When you see these things, know that human agriculture is taking a toll on surrounding ecosystems. Muddy rivers: Historically, rivers ran clear, even after arain. Trees and other vegetation along riverbanksheld the soil in place; wetlands soaked up excess 30
  • 34. Unit 4: Food and the Environment MORE FAITH IN ACTION STEPS1. What food issues related to the environmentyour listyou the hands of God in some one otherway. person about your concerns and then place make in feel helpless? Tell at least symbolic Watch for signs of hope in response.2. How is organic researchdifferent methods: www.agroecology.org/ following websites may be helpful as you farming organic from conventional farming? The and www.rodaleinstitute.org. The largest three seed firms are DuPont, Monsanto, and Syngenta. The top agrochemical cor porations are Syngenta, Monsanto, and Bayer. See their websites to learn more about agricul- ture from an industrial agriculture perspective. For photos comparing organic farms with indus-. trial farms, see Fatal Harvest listed in the bibliography3. Many people reach. that Resources 4-1 to help you locallythe costfoodswitching to organic foods. beyond their argue Use the cost of organic and/or count grown of makes it impractical or Do comparison shopping in your own community and figure out the cost per month. What compromises or lifestyle changes would you need to make to buy organic/locally grown foods? To consistently buy one food locally?4. If you garden, plant from varieties bred for shipping andvarieties Findknown for their heirloom preserve genes lost heirloom seeds this year. Heirloom storing. are a merchant of taste and seeds in or near your bioregion at www.halcyon.com/tmend/links.htm.5. Make a fruit or vegetable centerpiece for your creation. day this week. Revel in the colors, shapes, textures. Try to describe or draw your table one6. Cruise the Pesticide about the National Farmwww.panna.org toatfind out how pesticides affect farm workers. Learn Action Network website Worker Ministry www.nfwm.org.7. Interview the biggest challenges? their experiencesa runninginterviewIsaitperson who grew up on a What are local farmers. What are If you can’t find farmer, a farm? economically viable? farm.8. Ask your Businesses will sell what customers of your favorite restaurant about their food sources. grocery store manager or the owner ask for. See the Eater’s Bill of Rights and ques- tions at the National Catholic Rural Life Conference site, www.ncrlc.com.9. Raise an earth-related concern in your congregation’s worship or sharingfor ideas. a Christian education hour, or over a meal with friends. See www.earthministry.org time, in10. Some churches are full of generic representations of nature paired with spiritual sayings on posters or with worship songs on PowerPoint slides. Caring for the earth is not a generic activ- ity: it requires knowledge of, and loyalty to, a particular place. Replace some of these images with photographs taken in your own area. Include photos of locally grown crops. (Continued on next page . . .) 31
  • 35. (Continued from previous page . . .) MORE HEALTHY EATING TIPS 1. This week when you goitgroceryto grow food in healthy ways. Splurgegrown foods that more accurately reflect what costs shopping, select organic and locally on hormone-free milk, pasture-fed eggs or those organic salad greens you don’t normally buy because they are too expensive. Serve a meal highlighting these “luxuries.” Did paying more break your budget or increase your respect for the food you eat? 2. Resource 2-5 offers a chart of fruits and vegetables indicating those foods most likely to con- tain pesticides. Review this chart and shop accordingly. 3. artichokes, black tomatoes, ground cherries, elderberry jelly, and soinon.groceryatstore: Jerusalem Farmers’ markets frequently offer offbeat local foods you can’t find a Shop a farmer’s mar- ket this week and experiment with one new fruit or vegetable. 4. If you have servings of fruits and vegetables in a day’s or week’s time; theprizes for the greatest number of children, have fun with a fruits and vegetables contest. Give greatest variety of plants consumed; the bravest attempt to try something new. 5. LearnProject at www.factoryfarm.org and www.eatwild.com and also find a sourceGrace Factory Farm why pasture raised meat is healthier and better for the environment at the in your area. 6. Review Resources 2-1 to 2-6 and choose another area to work on this week. 32
  • 36. U N I T 5 CREATING COMMUNITY WITH FOOD“W hat was going on last night?”a mother in my congregation asked lifestyle, we may need to focus on sharing food and fellowship withher teenage son after hearing a vigor- those closest to us. Taking the timeous discussion in her living room late to eat together as a household orthe night before. have treasured friends over for a meal may be the nourishment we“Oh, we had the best discussion,” need most. If no one is home andher son replied. “But everyone thought I was crazy.” there is no island of warmth around the kitchen table, it is difficult to engage in the more challeng-“What were you talking about?” ing forms of hospitality that cross social boundaries and welcome strangers.“I said that when people sit down and eat together,something happens; something more than just the For those who already have a rich communal lifefood. Everyone else said, no, you just order a pizza related to food, this unit offers the opportunity toand eat it. What’s so great about eating together?” reflect on the previous units on nutrition, hunger, and the environment and connect them to groupThis son, raised in the Church and in a family that life. Do our ways of eating together express what wevalues shared meals, had caught a glimpse of the most want to pass on to our children and grandchil-profound sense of community that sometimes dren? How can our shared meals support our com-emerges when people gather around food. His mitment to good nutrition? How can they respondconversation with his friends reflects another reality to the brutal facts about hunger in the world and itsmore common today: eating as refueling. While underlying problems? How can we eat together inbroken bread and a cup shared around a table evoke ways that remind us of our ties to the earth thatthe relationship between God, people and the earth, feeds us? Ways that demonstrate respect for all ofa vending machine is an apt symbol of the opposite: creation?eating as refueling. Packaged and processed items,each an individual choice and a single serving, For those who are ready to go one step further, thisappear at the press of a button with no root, leaf, or unit also challenges us to embark on the kind ofhuman hand in sight. food sharing and community-building that is most distinctively Christian: hospitality to the stranger,This unit on creating community with food operates the least of these, and the enemy. Throughout his-on several levels. For some of us, simply finding tory, both friends and foes of Christianity havetime to share a table with our own household is a noted this odd willingness to cross social bound-challenge. Food has become a matter of refueling in aries at the table. Some say it is what got Jesusbetween meetings, sporting events, and other com- crucified.mitments. If we have fallen into a vending machine 33
  • 37. Unit 5: Creating Community with Food, Day 1 PREPARING FOOD Preparing food joyful expressionburden, but it and alsoact ofa love. is sometimes a can be spiritual discipline, a of creativity, anLuke 10:38-42 From Our Own Times These verses give us a “Once, while leading a Bible snapshot of the hospitality study class on the story of Jesus depended upon Zacchaeus, I asked a group throughout his ministry. of college students to plan While most meals in the the menu they would serve Gospels just appear on the if Jesus were coming to table, in this story, Martha their house. A North Ameri- tells us the truth: hosting can woman said she would an itinerant preacher with whip up a meat loaf. This was an easy dish for hera dozen disciples is a lot of work! More than one and that would allow more time to focus on visitinghost must have gone weak in the knees when the with Jesus. A Korean man had a totally different per-Jesus academy appeared on the doorstep. We hear spective. He and his wife would cook for days inmost often about the disciples who traveled with advance, he said. He lovingly described the elabo-Jesus, but his ministry would have been impossible rate dishes they would prepare for such an honoredwithout the disciples who stayed home and cooked. guest. We left the group stunned by the contrast these two answers had provided for us. Both wereThe story of Mary and Martha can be read as a con- valid; both revealed the essence of the people whotrast between the contemplative and active modes had shared and the cultures they had come from.of life. Jesus’ defense of Mary makes more sense, Talking about preparing food gave us a holyhowever, if we read his comments as a critique of moment together and new insights into what itconventional gender roles. The phrase, “sat at the means to share a table.”Lord’s feet” means to study with a rabbi. Mary,whose role should have been serving supper, is - A lay leader in Columbus, Ohiocommended for sitting and thinking. Meanwhile, themale lawyer whose story precedes this text in Lukeis told to go and do as the Good Samaritan did, Faith in Action Steptending and feeding a sick man.Housework is an inevitable part of hospitality and Some of the best visitingsometimes a roadblock to sharing our table. Who occurs when guests andamong us wouldn’t have guests more often if it hosts work together to pre-didn’t require the “many tasks” that troubled pare and clean up a meal.Martha? Most of us can identify with Martha’s dis- Invite guests for an informaltraction: the temptation to worry over matters of pitch-in meal this week. Planhousekeeping rather than focusing on human a menu that can employ abeings. Therefore, it is worth our while to reflect on number of hands, such asways to handle the nuts and bolts of hospitality so one that requires choppingthey do not sabotage our attempts to create com- or peeling vegetables. Acceptmunity around our tables. We can find ways to sim- all offers of help to clean up.plify, share, or sanctify meal preparation. Somepeople who have learned to cook well tell us thattime in the kitchen preparing for guests is pure joyand their primary art form. 34
  • 38. Unit 5: Creating Community with Food, Day 2 FEASTING Feasts are aabiding vessels for memories. they are way of passing on faith becauseExodus 13:3-10, 23:14-19, Feasting as a container for love: The feast in the well-known story of the prodigal son is not a tradi-Luke 15:11-32 tion; it is an extravagant exclamation point. It says “I love you” in a way that mere words never could. A feast is any meal that is How could that wayward child ever forget the taste rich in memory. Some- of marbled beef after weeks of eating pea pods? He times, elaborate recipes must have known how rarely his father killed a fat- call forth these memories ted calf. by forcing us to give time and attention to the cele- Feasting is the opposite of eating as refueling. It bration at hand. Some- is sharing food in ways that celebrate what is most times, they are called forth important in life and most worth remembering. by a period of abstinencethat accents the abundance of food. Sometimes, a From Our Own Timesfeast reminds us of our link with the earth and therhythm of the seasons. And occasionally, a feast is a “My grandfather Kingsolverdramatic exclamation point that creates memory by used to tell me with a lightits sheer, joyful extravagance. in his eyes about the boxcar that came through KentuckyFeasting as remembering our past: Food is a lan- on the L&N line when heguage for passing on history that is too precious to was a boy — only once atravel merely in words. In some feasts, such as the year, at Christmas — carry-Jewish Seder meal instituted in the book of Exodus, ing oysters and orangesmemories are made explicit by liturgy. Children are from the coast. Throughout my own childhood,assigned to ask the ritual questions each year: Why every year at Christmastime while an endless bur-is the family eating bitter herbs and unleavened den of wants burgeoned around everybody else, mybread? In order to remember slavery and God’s pow- grandfather wanted only two things: a bowl of oystererful deliverance, they are told. Other meals have soup and an orange. The depth of his pleasure inpower to evoke history as well, but may not be so that meal was so tangible, even to a child, that myexplicit. In the Kingsolver story below, a food as memory of it fills me with wonder at how deeply ful-simple as an orange contains a meaning so rich that fillment can blossom from a cultivated ground ofextravagance pales in comparison. restraint.”Feasting as remembering our link with the land: - Barbara Kingsolver, Small Wonder. New York, NY:In earlier days, feasts were tied to the harvest. Har- Harper Collins, 2002, p.118.vest festivals like the Feast of Weeks and the Feast ©2002 by Barbara Kingsolver. Reprinted with permission of Harper Collins Publishers Inc.of Booths in the Hebrew Bible celebrated the gift ofcertain crops and offered a portion of them to God.A good feast is the logical response to sudden Faith in Action Stepabundance. Today, our feasting is not constrained Evaluate the feasting traditions inby the rhythm of the seasons and this is a loss. A your family. What meanings arefeast of food fresh from the ground, at the peak of carried in your special meals? Areits flavor, has much to teach us about our depend- there memories you long to passence on the earth and the goodness of the created on which could be expressed withorder. food? Is there a “harvest” feast of any sort? Start a new tradition. 35
  • 39. Unit 5: Creating Community with Food, Day 3 RECEIVING HOSPITALITY By receiving hospitality, we recognize and value what others have to offer.Luke 10:1-12 vulnerability, often find it easier to be hosts than guests. Sometimes they insist on taking the role of The cookbook, Extending the hosts, even in the domain of another. Giving the Table, includes an anecdote appearance of generosity, they reinforce existing about two North Ameri- patterns of status and wealth and avoid questions cans and Salustiano Lopez, about distributions of power and resources. They a Toba Indian and church make others, especially poor people, passive recipi- leader from the Argentine ents in their own families, churches, or communi- Chaco area. ties. Recipients of such ‘hospitality’ thus become guests in their own house. The U.S. couple asked him,“How should our mission and service organizations “I witnessed a powerful expression of this phenome-begin to share the gospel with other indigenous non when I regularly attended a mission church.people?” Mr. Lopez paused for a moment and said, Although there was potential for some leadership“I would go and eat their food.” from within the congregation, the resources almost always came from outside. One holiday season inIn today’s text, Jesus sends his forerunners out to particular, I watched with deepening dismay aseat the food of any household willing to offer them waves of well-meaning suburban congregationshospitality. They are not to take money or luggage; came to the mission to help — they provided din-simply to go and offer peace to the house that takes ners, brought gifts, and led the worship programs.them in, cure the sick, and announce that the king- There was, in fact, nothing that the local congrega-dom of God has come near. This is not a strategy tion needed to do. Everyone assumed that the localcommonly practiced by agencies today, but perhaps people had nothing to offer. They had becomeit should be. To refuse to be on the receiving end of guests in their own church building. And despite thehospitality is arrogance. Eating the food a host festive trimmings, disempowerment would be aoffers communicates trust and acknowledges the generous description of what had happened.”value of what others have to give. - Christine D. Pohl, Making Room: RecoveringJesus uses the image of a rich harvest to describe Hospitality as a Christian Tradition. Grandthe communities his followers will enter. Note the Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1999, p. 119.images he uses. He does not call these townseroded fields that need fertilizing, not drought-stricken, spindly plants that will die without thelaborers’ irrigation, not fig trees that need pruning. Faith in Action StepInstead, the word is harvest. Think acres of wheatwith fat golden heads. Think laden olive trees. What The next time you are a guest,would happen if we thought of our hosts, however take pains to savor your host’sunlikely, in these terms? What if we looked for the hospitality. Write a thank-youharvest in their lives? note to a friend acknowledging his or her gifts, or thank a stranger who received you gra- From Our ciously in a restaurant, hotel, Own Times or other public setting. “Persons who have never experienced need or mar- ginality, or who are uncom- fortable with their own 36
  • 40. Unit 5: Creating Community with Food, Day 4 OFFERING HOSPITALITY Sharing food with outsiders is one of the ways we encounter God.Matthew 25:31-46 “…Each Advent, the young and the old reenact the story of Joseph seeking lodging for his young wife, While most dinner invita- Mary, who is weary from travel and heavy with child. tions are given with the For nine nights in a row, children and adults assume expectation of mutual ben- the identity of the weary couple or of the innkeep- efits and return favors, ers, processing around the inside of the church or Christians have been throughout the neighborhood, moving from one known throughout history designated site to the next... for their practice of sharing “…For eight days, the scene is reenacted. Finally, on food with strangers, the the ninth day, the evening of Christmas, Joseph’s poor, and the sick. request moves the heart of an innkeeper, who offersChristine Pohl, who explores this idea at length in the young couple all that he has left — a stable.…her book, Making Room: Recovering Hospitality as a Chris- In an outpouring of joy and festivity, those gatheredtian Tradition, cites a grumbling quote from Emperor on the final night celebrate the generosity of theJulian (A.D. 362). Hostile to Christianity, he is never- innkeeper and the posada given to Mary and Josephtheless embarrassed by the fact that Christians care in song and dance, food and drink. Candy and treats“not only for their own poor, but ours as well.” Soci- from the piñata shower the children, and the com-ologist Rodney Stark claims that the Christian habit munity recalls anew how the stranger at one’s doorof nursing and feeding the sick was the main reason can be God in disguise.the Christian faith survived its first few centuries.When deadly plagues ravaged Roman towns, most “Every December, Hispanic communities relive incitizens fled, leaving the dying to their fate. Chris- their flesh the Gospel truth that ‘the Word becametians stayed behind and cared for the stricken. This flesh and lived among us.’…. In Las Posadas, theycourageous behavior cost some of them their lives, ritually participate in being rejected and being wel-but it also brought grateful converts to the faith. comed, in slamming the door on the needy and opening it wide. They are in this way renewed in theA persistent theme in many of the stories of hospi- Christian practice of hospitality, the practice of pro-tality that have come down to us is the idea that viding a space where the stranger is taken in andGod is present in the stranger and in those in need. known as one who bears gifts.”“Whatever you’ve done for the least of these, you’vedone for me,” Jesus says in the parable of the sheep - Ana Maria Pineda, “Hospitality,” in Dorothy C. Bass,and goats in Matthew 25. These words, along with ed., Practicing Our Faith: A Way of Life for aAbraham’s entertaining angels in Genesis 18 and Searching People. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 1997,Jesus’ humble birth in a stable, have motivated gen- pp. 29-31.erations of Christians to provide warm and personal Reprinted with permission of John Wiley and Sons, Inc.hospitality to people others did not value. Faith in Action Step From Our Today’s smaller households Own Times make it more difficult to share food with outsiders. They lack The reading below describes Las the flexibility and porous Posadas, an Advent tradition boundaries of the large tables that takes place each year in the of long ago. Band together with Mission District of San Francisco another household to offer and in many other Hispanic hospitality to a group or person you might be reluc- neighborhoods. tant to take on alone. 37
  • 41. Unit 5: Creating Community with Food, Day 5 MAKING PEACE AROUND THE TABLE Srisk eating together is an act of discipleship and —and good will. haring food is a powerful symbol of reconciliation To sometimes — an alternative to violence.John 13:21-30, Matthew 14:1-21 feeds the whole crowd. His compassion averts what could have been a bloody and futile uprising. 32 There are times when the opposite of table fellowship is not just hunger; it is vio- From Our lence. Choosing to share a Own Times meal can be a radical act of peacemaking. The Lord’s “A conciliation commission Supper, where Jesus know- worked for several years to ingly ate with his betrayer, forge a peace agreement was one such meal. Judas’ between the Nicaraguanpresence at the table puts a challenging twist on the Sandinista government and YATAMA, the armedwords, “Do this in remembrance of me.” opposition group representing the indigenous peo- ples of the eastern coastal area of Nicaragua. SomeThe feeding of the five thousand is another occasion of the most memorable moments of the reconcilia-where violence skirts the edges of a meal. Many of us tion process came around the meals that were sharedmay picture a happy, middle class picnic where the by former enemies — fighters from the rebellingabsent-minded parents all forgot to pack a lunch. indigenous groups and Sandinista officials.More likely, the people were chronically hungry, notjust empty at the moment. From what we know of the “On one occasion Commander Lumberto Campbell, apolitical oppression of the times, this crowd had key leader in the Sandinista government, invited themore of an agenda than a free, continuing education entire YATAMA delegation to his home for a meal. Heclass. Several clues in the text support this interpre- had a specially prepared meal of turtle, the mosttation. In both Matthew and Mark, the story of John sought-after and cherished meat, particularly amongthe Baptist’s brutal murder at the hands of King the Miskitu. But turtle was scarce at that time andHerod comes directly before the feeding of the 5,000. there was only enough for one plate. LumbertoIn Luke, we are told that Herod is looking for Jesus shared that plate with Brooklyn Rivera, the headand this is why he has withdrawn to a deserted place. YATAMA leader. Under the large mango trees and inThis suggests that the crowds that followed Jesus out the stifling heat and humidity of the back patio, twointo the wilderness were seeking a way to respond to native Costeños (coastal people), on opposite sides ofthe military dictatorship they lived under, which had a war, sat together and ate the dish of their ancestors.”recently beheaded a popular figure. Five thousand - John Paul Lederach, quoted in Extending the Table:men is not just a crowd; it is a potential army. In fact, A World Community Cookbook, by Joetta Handrichfive thousand is the number of soldiers in a Roman Schlabach. Scottdale, PA: Herald Press, 1991, p. 210.legion. When Jesus blessed, broke and gave bread, he To order, call 1-800-245-7894 or go tomay have been serving a mob on the edge of riot. No www.heraldpress.comwonder he suggested they sit down!John ends his version of the story by noting that Faith in Action StepJesus slips away because the crowd is about to “takehim by force to make him king.” This closing com- Is there a broken relationship inment reminds us that the feeding of the five thou- your life that could be healed bysand was not just a nice gesture; it was an expression sharing food? With whom wouldof Jesus’ deliberate decision not to bring in his king- you find it hard to eat? Responddom with a sword. Instead of marshalling a zealot to these questions in a journal;army, he gathers bread and fish from a child and act on your insights. 38
  • 42. Unit 5: Creating Community with Food MORE FAITH IN ACTION STEPS 1. Do youyou toabe spontaneous withmeal”hospitality. Keep the necessary ingredientsmenu that allows have standard “company your that can be served on short notice? Plan a always in stock or prepare a quantity of a food that can be frozen. 2. If the season permits,houseaand allowsafor a simple menu. It also your home. This sidesteps the issue of cleaning the host picnic at park instead of a meal at provides after dinner entertain- ment: a hike, a volleyball game, a chance to catch fireflies. 3. Who prepares the food at your house? household and make adjustments that mayfair to every- body? Discuss this question with your Is the workload shared in a way that seems enable you to offer hospitality more freely. 4. Find a way towould like tofood preparation and prayer this week. Is there a poem orneeds your passage you interweave memorize? Post it over your sink. Is there someone who scripture prayers? Hold this person in your heart as you prepare food each day this week. 5. fellowship that to change them would be a great loss? Which ones include excess that wouldn’t Reshape a feast which no longer “fits.” Which traditions are so redolent with memories and be missed? For example, suppose you are planning a wedding. It is one thing if you’ve always dreamed of a big, frothy wedding cake; quite another if you don’t even like wedding cakes. If the latter, consider a creative, healthy alternative. What about dishes that represent the two families involved and the way these traditions will mesh in your household? 6. How doesthe one described in Luke 10? Reflect and discuss. others? Which of your ministries is most like your church or other group receive hospitality from 7. Invite a minorityeach otheryoureating eachhost a meal of foods native to their culture. What can you learn about group at by church to other’s food? 8. Host a meal that highlights the hospitality you receive from the earth. Choose foods in season. If possible, pick them yourself. 9. In the Hebrew Bible, travelers who neededthere a placehung around thefellowship and waited for someone to offer them bed and board. Is hospitality in your church city gate hall where people who might like to share a meal after worship can find each other? Designate a meeting corner or some other creative way to link up. Plant a few hosts at first to get the tradition going.10. “You would never treat a guest the way you treat me!” spouses sometimes say to each other. This week, make a special effort to offer hospitality to your housemate, husband, wife, or other family member. Listen, learn, serve.11. Give a gift of food as an act of forgiveness or encouragement: a loaf of bread, a jar of nuts, something special you made. For yourself, this could be a way of attending to a wound you couldn’t talk about or that the other person doesn’t even know he or she caused. For the receiver, your gift could communicate appreciation and respect, healing a simmering resentment you do not even know about. (Continued on next page . . .) 39
  • 43. (Continued from previous page . . .) MORE HEALTHY EATING TIPS 1. Simplifyus eatnext dinner by servingseveraldishes. You canand ice cream? I’ll haveof Most of your more when we have fewer choices. (Cake still eat a wide variety both.) foods without eating a wide variety at one sitting. On the other hand, if you want to eat more fruits and vegetables, serve multiple fruits and vegetables at meals. 2. Prepare for tofeasta by fasting. Look foryour meal by eatingweek andfor a day which meal is a most likely be “feast.” Prepare at this calendar this lightly decide beforehand. Reflect on how this affects your enjoyment of the meal. 3. Hostsserving rich food you pleaseneed. If you are honest about whytoand howhost are from are usually eager to don’t their guests. It may be possible steer a you away changing your eating habits, they may be proud to support your efforts. Think of a situation where this might be the case and tell the truth about what you want and need. If you do this in settings where it would not offend, you can eat freely in the situations where it would be more Christ-like to “eat what is set before you.” 4. “All we ever do together is eat.” If this is true of ayour groupyour life, maybequiltneed to work at creating community without food. Could group in you meet around a frame instead of a table? Stuff school kits for a relief effort instead of a turkey? Learn to cross country ski? Plan a food-free service project or other activity. 5. It is easierthatbegin newhealthy food. Forto alter oldpomegranates arebegin a new family tradition to involves traditions than example, ones. This year, available in many grocery stores during November and December. These unusual fruits with their juicy, jewel-like seeds are a festive and healthy holiday treat. 6. Walk a milerequires a special diet for some reason. How does he or she copewho isthe diabetic or in someone else’s diet. Interview a person in your congregation with way your congregation shares food? What would a feast that this person could eat look like? For one day, eat the food this person needs to eat in order to understand his or her challenges. 40
  • 44. U N I T 6 DISCERNING GOD’S CALL“I f you should miss thecall or successfully resist In this concluding unit, you are encouraged tothe call for a period of think about two things:time, be assured that it willnot go away…We may find 1. What individualour call, or trip over it, or action or changefall into it, or reject it, but, in behavior is God inviting you to commit tolike light, it exists separate from our search. And it as a response to this course? It could involvewill continue to seek us out.” a change in diet, or in the way you shop. You - Ben Campbell Johnson, Hearing God’s Call: Ways might decide on a form of offering hospitality, of Discernment for Clergy and Laity. Grand or a volunteer role in a hunger ministry. Maybe Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmanns, 2002, p. 27. you want to learn more about a food-related environmental or social issue that concernsIf Just Eating? has inspired you to try a new way of you.eating, shopping, ministering, or thinking aboutfood, this last unit on discernment is for you. If, on 2. What is God calling your group to do nextthe other hand, you missed meetings, ate fast food now that you have spent time together talk-with abandon and failed to live up to every goal ing about food? Maybe one unit in particularyou set for yourself, this unit is also for you. sparked vigorous discussion; maybe several ofMaybe nothing has happened for you these few you share a vocation related to hunger; maybeweeks, but if you have made it this far in the cur- two of you serve on your church fellowshipriculum, God has gotten a toehold in your life with committee and have a plan you want tofood and will move you inch by inch in the direc- pursue.tion you have professed to want to go. Godwatches our intentions as well as our actions, toss- It is not a given that every Just Eating? group shoulding gifts and opportunities in our paths that rein- take action together. More to do may be the lastforce our feeble yearnings. thing you need: people who are too busy do not have time to live well or eat well. At minimum, talkHow do we discern Gods call to change our lives? about how to support each other in the individualSometimes it manifests itself as a desire to be free changes you are choosing. Consider having aof a habit that binds us. What once seemed attrac- reunion in a few months to see how everybodystive or necessary is now slavery. What once doing.appeared normal is appalling. Sometimes a syn-chronicity of events moves us in a given direction. The faith practices covered in this weeks readingsAn unexpected door opens, an unusual and entic- are fasting, confession, repentance, examen, anding experience beckons, a person we havent seen discerning the Spirit of a church. They will guidefor years reappears in our lives. Sometimes others you as you reflect on how you might like to eat intell us of a gift they see in us which we have been the future.unable to claim. 41
  • 45. Unit 6: Discerning God’s Call, Day 1 FASTINGFasting deepens our spiritual lives with those whomakehungry.decisions. It can and helps us major also help us identify areLuke 4:1-13 Those who do fast report many benefits. Some find the experience brings them closer to God and redi- It seems fitting that a cur- rects their lives. For others, fasting strengthens riculum on food should empathy and gratitude. It is a way to be in touch recommend fasting as a with those who have no choice but to live with way to reflect and set new hunger. Still others use fasting as a way to open up directions. This faith prac- time and resources that can then be shared with tice is mentioned fre- those in need. quently in the Bible. It appears that the Jewish people did it so routinely From Ourthat no one needed to defend or explain it, for not Own Timesmuch detail about the mechanics of fasting is pro-vided. In the Old Testament, public fasts are men- During Gulf War II in earlytioned more frequently than individual exercises of 2003, over 1,200 women fastedpiety. Typical examples include the Ninevites fasting and prayed for peace everyas a sign of repentance in the book of Jonah; Ezra Wednesday. They shared theirand his followers fasting on the eve of a dangerous comments via the internet at www.mcc.org/canada/peace/fast.journey; and King Jehoshaphat calling the nation to Here are the remarks of two participants:fast when it was attacked. Leviticus 23:26-32 “I feel that fasting has been a saving grace for merequires the Israelites to fast annually on the Day of through this sad and scary time. I have done asAtonement as a sign of sorrow for their sins. many other peacebuilding things as I could manage,In the New Testament, fasting reappears as a spiri- but the fast grounded me and connected me to sotual discipline used when seeking direction. Jesus many other people around the world.”fasts shortly after his baptism. These forty days of “The most moving week was the week I had my nine-temptation shape his ministry and determine what year-old grandson and six-year-old granddaughterit will not be. In Matthew 17:21, fasting helps when at my house, and I was explaining to them why Icasting out tough demons. In Acts 14:23 and 13:2-3, wasn’t eating breakfast. Later, I got in touch with thefasting is part of the process of selecting and angst Iraqi grandmothers must feel when they can-appointing leadership. In Acts 10:30, Cornelius is not protect their grandchildren from hunger, vio-fasting when he has a vision directing him to Peter lence, fear, losses.”and the early Church.Later Christians continued the practice of fasting.The Didache, an early church manual, recommends Faith in Action Stepfasting every Wednesday and Friday. By the sixthcentury, fasting was required of Christians, and in Fast for one meal or more thisMiddle Ages, it was sometimes carried to damaging week, or for a day. Spend anyextremes. In the 1700’s, John Wesley, the founder of time this frees up praying forMethodism, refused to ordain anyone who would direction as you consider nextnot practice fasting twice a week. Fasting is still steps or praying for those whocommon among Christians in many parts of the have no choice about fasting.world. For example, many Anglican churches in Readers with diabetes or otherNigeria fast every Wednesday. Against this back- health conditions shoulddrop, North American Christianity’s lack of interest choose a different action step or consult a doctorin fasting stands out as an odd departure. before fasting. See page 47 before you begin. 42
  • 46. Unit 6: Discerning God’s Call, Day 2 CONFESSION “Sin”relationships. Naming sinact of wrongdoing;ofit repentance.broken is not just an individual is a web of is the beginning Luke 18:9-14 From Our In the parable of the Phar- Own Times isee and the tax collector, “Almost every year until the we see two responses to early 1940s was a drought sin. The Pharisee describes year throughout the Great his individual success at Plains, with plagues of rising above it while the tax grasshoppers and dust collector stands far away storms visiting us, sometimes separately and some-from the temple as if to express his distance from times together. The drought continued in spite ofGod. He mourns and calls himself a sinner. desperate prayer meetings in the church pastored byThis text is often read as a condemnation of those my grandfather, where we implored God to send rain.who are self-righteous. It can also be read as a word The fervent prayers are as memorable as the storms.of grace for those of us who perceive how badly But the rains did not come...entangled we are in unjust systems, messed up “…My parents finally gave up, had an auction, and infamily situations, and the human condition. The tax 1937 moved the family to Oregon to begin life anewcollector described here was probably a Jewish on a little farm. I was very sad that we were leaving,underling who served the Roman empire by collect- for by then I was a boy of thirteen years and loved theing road tolls. His fellow Jews regarded these taxes unsettled and open frontier life…Slowly I acceptedas unjust and considered him a traitor little better the conclusion everyone accepted — that our experi-than a robber. Jewish rabbis questioned whether it ence in Montana, and in the other states of the Dustwas possible for a tax collector to repent because it Bowl, had been God’s punishment for disobedience,would be so difficult to pay back all the people he but I did not understand what that disobedience washad bilked. The tax collector in this story suffers not all about. Many years later I began to realize…thatonly guilt but also broken relationships. the Dust Bowl was not God’s punishment for ourIn her excellent book, Speaking of Sin, Barbara Brown spiritual misdeeds; rather it was the result of terribleTaylor reflects on the language we use to talk about sins committed by my parents’ generation. They hadwrecked relationships and all that is wrong, messed not only benefited by taking free land from the dis-up, disconnected, and falling apart. She maintains possessed Assiniboine and Sioux Indians but also,that whether we use the word, “sin” to describe with plows and tractors, destroyed forever the sev-these experiences or not, we still live with them. eral-inch membrane of plant and animal life that had“We do wrong,” she says, “but we do not do wrong maintained the prairies for thousands of years. And,all alone. We live in a web of creation that binds us with that realization, I became an environmentalistto all other living beings. If we want to be saved, forever.”then we had better figure out how to do it together - Calvin Redekop, ed. Creation and the Environ-since none of us can resign from this web of rela- ment: An Anabaptist Perspective on ationship.”33 Sustainable World. Baltimore: Johns HopkinsIt is interesting that the Pharisee in Luke’s parable University Press, 2000, p. xiii-xiv.“stands alone.” The tax collector sees the web he is apart of; the Pharisee does not. This seeing and nam- Faith in Action Steping is the beginning of repentance. Experiment with the unpopular word sin. Use it to name a part of your experience related to food or our food system. How does calling this problem sin change your perspective? 43
  • 47. Unit 6: Discerning God’s Call, Day 3 EXAMEN (PRAYERFUL REFLECTION ON THE DAY)Those things that fillthe path energy calling us toustake. are often clues to us with and make grateful God isProverbs 24:13-14 the entire box of rice. Not knowing that rice expands as it cooks, I went to four different neighbors and Honey was the chocolate collected about two more boxfuls of rice. I left the of the Ancient Near East- soup on the stove to simmer and headed over to ern world. In some texts, it school. has an almost erotic con- notation. More commonly, “When I returned home with the students, the rice as in references to “a land met us at the front door. The inside of my house flowing with milk and looked as though a foot of snow had fallen. While honey,” it suggests rich- some students stayed to help me shovel rice, others ness and abundance.34 In headed out to invite their families and friends toProverbs 24:13-14, this enticing food that appeals to help us eat it. Instead of eight Sioux students, thatthe insatiable human sweet tooth refers to wisdom. night I fed most of the inhabitants of the reservation (dogs included) …The comparison between a desirable food and aquality we associate with restraint, reason, and gray “…I remember the rice soup not just because ithair is interesting to ponder. Can we come to “wis- launched my cooking career, but also because itdom, a future and a hope,” as these verses promise, began a spiritual practice that is still fundamentalby following our desires? Kristine Haig, writing in an to my life...Lighting a candle to help me get cen-article entitled “Deepening Our Desire,” distin- tered, I told the group I had not felt grateful for theguishes between superficial cravings and what she rice that met me at the door when I arrived home.calls “deep and holy yearnings.” The latter, she says, But I was deeply grateful that people of every age“can keep us grounded in God and drawn toward were meeting in my home to feast (on rice!) and towhat is good.”35 pray. Others began to share their own moments of least gratitude and most gratitude from the day,For centuries, Christians have used the practice of each one lighting a candle as he or she spoke. God’sexamen, a daily review of the day’s joys and sorrows, will is generally for us to do more of whatever weto separate these two kinds of desire and to identify are most grateful for or whatever gives us most life.the “honey” in their lives. When examen is regularly That evening gave us all so much life that during thepracticed, patterns emerge that can give us new rest of my time on the reservation, I cooked dinnerdirection and hope. every Friday… and invited my Sioux students to come and eat, light a candle and share those two questions.”From Our Own Times - Dennis Linn, et. al., Sleeping with Bread: Holding What Gives You Life. Mahwah, NJ: “…For what am I most Paulist Press, 1995, p. 3. grateful? For what am I least grateful? … I first discov- ered the power of these two Faith in Action Step questions…when I taught on the Rosebud Sioux Review the action steps you Indian reservation. I had tried during the last five weeks. just moved into a housing Which ones gave you joy andproject and I decided to risk something new: invit- energy? Which ones did not?ing guests for a meal. I invited eight of my students Which ones would you like toto dinner and spent the morning boiling soup do more?bones. Then I added a cupful of rice. It seemed todisappear. The same thing happened when I added 44
  • 48. Unit 6: Discerning God’s Call, Day 4 SUPPORTING EACH OTHER IN CHANGE Repentance is taking steps support you. wrong and finding to change a others toGalatians 5:22-6:5, 9-10 tence.) Next, we picked one or two specific actions that would support us to make the changes we The book of Galatians was wanted to make. (I will set all my clocks five minutes written for a community ahead. I will also get in the car ten minutes earlier struggling with legalism. than I think I need to, even if it means that I arrive In Galatians 1:6-7, Paul early and — gasp — waste time.) Finally, we agreed accuses his readers of to call each other every Sunday to report on how deserting the grace of things were going. Christ for a different “gospel” based on keeping “This last step turned out to be the kicker. There was all the Jewish laws. a huge difference between saying (to myself), ‘I wantThroughout this letter, Paul struggles to help his to be on time for my appointments this week’ andreaders understand the difference between living as saying (to someone else), ‘I will call you on Sundaya slave to a rigid set of laws, living as a slave to self- to tell you whether or not I was.’ My partner neverindulgence and quarreling, and living in a commu- badgered me. She knew that was not her job. Hernity guided by the Spirit. Mutual accountability and job was simply to keep reminding me what I hadmutual support are the hallmarks of the community said I wanted, and to help me explore my enormousPaul is trying to describe. It is not a place for com- resistance to change.petition, envy, or comparing oneself with others; itis a place where people care enough to help bear a “What I learned through this process was that I wasburden or gently set an errant person straight. used to being sympathized with for my failure to change…What I was not used to was being sup-Most of us have experienced at least one of the ported in my bid for new life by someone who said,forms of slavery Paul describes; fewer of us have ‘You want to do things differently? Great! I’ll helpbeen in a community or church where Paul’s vision you with that.’”of life in the Spirit was lived out to the fullest. Ifyour Just Eating group begins to call forth this level - Barbara Brown Taylor, Speaking of Sin: The Lostof love and trust, know it is a precious gift from God. Language of Salvation. Cambridge, MA: Cowley Publications, 2000, pp. 74-76.From Our Own Times Faith in Action Step “Several years ago, … I asked another woman to Use Barbara Brown Taylor’s enter into a support part- example as a way to work at a nership with me, and food-related issue in your own together we designed a life. In a journal: routine. After deciding to (a) identify what you want to start small, each of us change; chose one area of our lives (b) explain why it’s important;that needed work. We clarified what we wanted to (c) name specific actions youchange (I wanted to be on time for my appoint- can take to make the change;ments) and we clarified why it was important. (d) name people who might be able to support you(I wanted to be a person of my word, and I also in this change; andwanted to do something about my compulsion to (e) talk to one of these people and see what youcram too many things into too little time, which is can work out.how I act out my idolatrous fantasy of omnipo- 45
  • 49. Unit 6: Discerning God’s Call, Day 5 DISCERNING THE SPIRIT OF A CHURCH EDiscerning of believersisembodiesinthe given body is part of what way. ach group Spirit of Christ in its own how God at work a it means to be a Christian.Revelation 3: 7-13 in Gambia thanks to Church World Service partner, the Foods Resource Bank (FRB). FRB began in 2000 John was a persecuted in a remarkable alliance of farmers, agribusiness, preacher, banished to the churches, and other groups seeking to forge an effec- Island of Patmos, when he tive food security program for the world’s poorest received this glorious communities. There are now over 100 community vision. First, as he writes in growing projects. Farmers provide equipment, time, Revelation 1:9-20, he saw and management skills. Local agribusinesses grant the risen Christ whole and good prices or make in-kind contributions. Churches complete, with uninjured and civic groups raise funds to cover other costs. In hands and feet, priestly Mazon, the members of Mazon United Church ofclothing, and a face shining like the sun. Then he Christ provided the farm side of the equation, whileheard Christ speaking to each of the seven churches Western Springs United Church of Christ nearhe pastored. Each time, Christ is described a little Chicago contributed financially. The funds raised bydifferently, using phrases from the original vision. the sales of the produce went to Church World Ser-Eugene Peterson, in his book, Reversed Thunder: The vice for constructing wells and developing gardens inRevelation of John and the Praying Imagination, interprets Gambia. As one of the farmers, Doug Harford, noted,the seven messages this way: ‘Ask me to write a check for a thousand dollars for “[W]hile all churches get their identity from Christ, world hunger… now that would be tough. But we can each congregational identity is partial: each use our knowledge and skill to put in the crop and church is defined by only a piece of the vision. No then harvest it with our equipment. Shoot! That’s no single congregation exhibits the wholeness of big deal — that’s what we do every day. And that’s a Christ. It is not possible to look at any one gift only we can give. Wow!’” instance of the church and find an entire represen- - From Hunger in a World of Plenty, part of the Facts tation of Christ…”36 Have Faces series from Church World ServiceFor the Church of Philadelphia, in today’s text, Christ www.churchworldservice.org/FactsHaveFaces/is the One who holds the key; the one who opens hungerfs.htm. For the complete story about this uniquedoors. church partnership, go to www.foodsresourcebank.org and click under Growing Projects.Revelation’s messages to the seven churches focusmore on being than doing, more on identity than onprescribing a specific set of ethical guidelines. “What Faith in Action Stepare you called to do?” is an important question, but itcomes later. Revelation pushes us to address a more Do you sense Christ is opening afoundational concern: “Who are you called to be?” and door for your group or congrega-“What does the risen Christ look like in your particular tion? Draw the door or picture itcongregation?” May God be with you as you grapple in your mind. What do you seewith these questions and their connection to all the on the other side? Also seethinking and talking you have done related to eating. Resource 6-1 for a list of addi- tional ideas for possible direc- tions a church might take. Are From Our there any that excite you? Own Times “The fertile fields around Mazon, Illinois, are yielding a rich harvest for hungry people 46
  • 50. Unit 6: Discerning God’s Call MORE FAITH IN ACTION STEPS1. Review the readings and disturbed you most? Which ones the you curious about? Make a curriculum. What issues suggested bibliography covering are first five weeks of this list of areas you wish you had time to pursue and resources you’d like to read. Circle your first priority.2. Eating? Raise aoutside of your bothersaboutor describe the ways yougroupexperienced the Tell someone group your experiences with a centered on Just question that you have Spirit of God in this process.3. On the reading on page 43, Cal Redekopunder sin or express like to live under the power of sin. Write about your experiences living describes what it is this in a piece of artwork.4. Pray about directions your group may wish to take together. “The longest journey starts with a single step.” Lao Tze Start with this checklist for a few ideas and go to Resource 6-1 and the Food & Faith Initiative www.pcusa.org/hunger/food for greater detail on these and more ideas: • Design a special communion service • Examine your communal eating practices • Start a weight loss group • Advocate for change at a local grocery store or school • Organize a CROP WALK • Adopt a local food pantry or soup kitchen • Plan a more in-depth study on one of the topics • Create a congregational cookbook • Buy fair trade beverages and food • Start a farmers’ market in your church parking lot • Support each other in the individual changes people make MORE HEALTHY EATING TIPS1. About Fasting: Duringbeverages. For moreofcomplete information on the hows and whys of but avoid caffeinated a fast, drink plenty water. Fruit or vegetable juices are also helpful, fasting, see www.billbright.com/howtofast. To fast longer than a day, consult a doctor. If you have any of the following conditions, NEVER fast without professional supervision: anorexia, bulimia, or other behavioral disorders; weakness or anemia; tumors, bleeding ulcers, cancer, blood diseases, or heart disease; chronic problems with major organs; diabetes or any other blood sugar problem such as hyperglycemia. Do not fast if you are pregnant, nursing or seriously underweight. If fasting is not for you, consider other ways to experience hunger. Try giving up snacks between meals for a week.2. Review the Resources on healthy eating once more and celebrate your progress. 47
  • 51. R E S O U R C E S Resource 1-1What is A Method ofLectio Divina? Lectio DivinaA t the heart of this curriculum is an invitation torest in the presence of God and to open yourself to 1. Quiet yourself and find the scripture passage suggested in the daily readings. Note that you can find these readings on the web www.biblethe Holy Spirit’s transforming embrace. Christians gateway.com if it is more convenient for youthroughout history have used a faith practice called than using a Bible.lectio divina to help them do these things. These Latin 2. Read the passage slowly, listening for a word,words mean “divine reading,” but today we might phrase, or short segment that attracts you. Forcall it praying the scriptures. Lectio divina is a way of longer passages, you may need to scan theslowly and meditatively reading a short passage of reading to get the gist of the story and thenscripture. Ancient Christians compared the practice begin with just a portion.to a cow chewing its cud. The goal is not to under- 3. After you settle on a word or phrase, spendstand or master the passage so much as to hear the several minutes reflecting on it.scriptures with one’s heart; to allow them to pene- 4. Read the passage again, asking yourself,trate and permeate one’s being. “Where does the content of this reading touch my life today?”To practice lectio divina, choose a short passage of 5. Return to your word or phrase and ask yourself,scripture and read it slowly, listening for a point of “What does Christ the Word invite me to do orintensity in the passage. Then sit and savor this be this week?”word or phrase, listening for God’s still, small voice. 6. Carry your word or phrase with you throughoutUse this method of prayer with the scriptures and the day. At a later time, return to the day’sreadings suggested in the participant guide. Each reflections in the participant guide.week, your group session will also include a briefperiod of lectio divina. - Adapted from “Accepting the Embrace of God: The Ancient Art of Lectio Divina,” by Father Luke Dysinger, O.S.B.37 48
  • 52. Resource 1-2 FOOD AND TIME AUDIT C ompleting this curriculum will take time. You have committed to attend seven meetings and spend at least an hour or two per week on your own. How will you find time to do that? One way to find those extra minutes is to review the amount of time you already spend on food and consider making changes. Are you happy with how, when, and where you spend time on food? Fill out the survey below and find out.1. How much time do you spend eating on an 7. Which of your extracurricular activities involve average day? Include time waiting in restaurants eating, preparing, or selling food? List them. or driving to them. Estimate minutes or hours. (For example: Church fellowship committees, school fundraisers, bake sale commitments, snacks for children’s teams) How many hours per month do you spend on these tasks?2. Are you happy with this amount of time? If not, how much time would you like to spend eating?3. How much time do you spend shopping for food, preparing food, or cleaning up after meals on an average day? Estimate minutes or hours. 8. Do you see any places where your use of time clashes with your goal of eating well? Mark them. Make a list of changes you could make4. Are you happy with this amount of time? that would support your goal of eating well. How much time, if any, could these changes give you to relate to food in more healthy ways? If not, how much time would you like to spend on these activities?5. When you do not prepare your own food, who prepares it? 9. It is possible that in order to eat well, you need6. Does your job involve designing, preparing, to spend MORE time on food, not less. If so, serving, or transporting food? what trade-offs can you make elsewhere in your life to find the time you need? If so, how many hours-per-week do you spend on food in your work life? How do you feel about the kind of food you prepare or serve? 49
  • 53. Resource 1-3 TABLE PRAYERS AND BLESSINGSW e pray for all who grew our food;May they eat well tonight. O God, to those who have hunger give bread, and to us who have bread give us a hunger forProtect them from unfairness, justice.And keep them in your sight. ~ from Latin America ~ Jennifer Halteman SchrockB lessed art Thou, Y ou have come from afar and have waited long and are wearied:O Lord our God,king of the world, Let us sit side by sidewho bringest forth bread from the earth. sharing the same bread ~ Ancient Jewish Blessing drawn from the same source to quiet the same hunger that makes us weak.M ay our garners be full,providing all manner of store.... Then let us stand together let us share the same spirit, the same thoughtsHappy the people to whom such blessings fall! that once again draw us togetherHappy the people whose God is the Lord. in friendship, unity and peace. ~ Psalm 144:13, 15 ~ Prières dOzawarnick, Canadian Indian LiturgyW hat God gives and what we take,Tis a gift for Christ His sake: O pen my eyes that they may see the deepest needs of men and women;Be the meal of beans and peas, Move my hands that they may feed the hungry.God be thanked for those and these: Touch my heart that it may bring warmth to theHave we flesh, or have we fish, despairing;All are fragments from His dish. Teach me the generosity that welcomes strangers; Let me share my possessions to clothe the naked; ~ Robert Herrick Give me the care that strengthens the sick; Make me share in the quest to set the prisoners free;T here is no such thing as "my" bread. All breadis ours and is given to me, to others through me, In sharing our anxiety and our love, our poverty and our prosperity, we partake of your divine presence. Amenand to me through others. For not only bread, butall things necessary for sustenance in this life are ~ "Prayer of Commitment" by Canaan Banana,given on loan to us with others, and because of Zimbabwe from "On Frequent Journeys"others and for others and to others through us. ~ Meister Eckhart 50
  • 54. Resource 2-1 NUTRITION QUIZYour group leader will share the answers and further 6. Which of the following ailments are you more likely to suffer from if you eat primarily refinedinformation with you. This nutrition quiz and the follow- grains? Check all that apply:ing nutrition resource pages are based on information ___ diabetes ___ chicken poxfrom Walter C. Willett, Eat, Drink and Be Healthy, ___ constipation and other GI problemsNY: Free Press, 2001. ___ heart disease ___ mouth, stomach, colon, gallbladder, and ovarian cancer 7. Which of the following are whole grain products? Check all that apply:1. Which is the best predictor of your future ___ a bread advertised as “made with wheat flour” health? ___ brown rice ___Your weight ___ a bran cereal ___Whether you are apple or pear-shaped ___ whole wheat noodles ___The amount of sugar and fat in your diet ___ old fashioned oats ___The amount of fruits and vegetables you eat 8. How many of the following meet the current2. Heart disease rates in a given country are most U.S. recommendation for your daily needs for closely linked to: fruits and vegetables? Put an X by all that apply. ___The amount of fat in the country’s diet ____ three apples, 1 cup of cooked green beans ___The amount of saturated fat in the country’s ____ a cup of blueberries, two cups of a spinach diet salad with tomatoes and cucumber, a cup ___The genetic makeup of the population of fruit salad containing cantaloupe and bananas, a cup of stir-fry with broccoli,3. Put an S in front of the item if it is high in cauliflower and carrots, a glass of orange saturated fats. juice. Put a U in front of the item if it is high in ____ two glasses orange juice, a banana, an unsaturated fats. order of French fries, a baked potato ___olive oil ___corn oil ___canola oil ___nuts ___red meat ___cheese ___coconut oil ___fish 9. Put an A in front of the items that best describe animal sources of protein (meat and dairy4. Put a check before the items below that typically products). Put a V in front of the items that best contain trans fats: describe vegetable sources of protein (beans, ___ shortening ___ margarine legumes, nuts, grains). ___ fast food french fries ___ Are also a source of saturated fat. ___ most commercial baked goods ___ Are also a source of fiber. ___ foods with “partially hydrogenated ___ It is more efficient and creates less vegetable oil” on the ingredient list pollution to produce this kind of protein.5. What is lost when whole wheat grains are 10. Which statement below is most accurate? refined? Put a check before all that apply: ___ Our bodies need protein daily because we don’t store amino acids. ___ bran and wheat germ ___ vitamins ___ Vegetarians need to carefully calculate their ___ fiber, magnesium ___unsaturated fats consumption of complementary proteins to avoid a protein deficiency. 51
  • 55. Resource 2-2 CHOOSING THE RIGHT FATSObjective #1: Replace most saturated fats When and how do you eat trans fats? Make a list ofwith unsaturated fats foods you regularly eat that contain them. Here are some steps you can take to reduce yourWhy? consumption of trans fats. Check off those youDiets high in saturated fats are linked to heart disease. already do. Circle those you’d like to try. Add your own ideas.Saturated fats are found primarily in red meat, poul-try, whole milk, butter, cheese, ice cream, chocolate, ___ When baking, replace solid fats like margarineand coconut products. The fats in dairy products or shortening with oils.have the most negative effect on arteries. ___ Replace commercial baked goods with home made baked goods made with oils.When and how do you eat saturated fats? Make a ___ Olive oil is an especially good source oflist of foods you regularly eat that contain them. monounsaturated fats. However, it is also oneHere are a few steps you can take to reduce your of the more expensive oils. Go to your groceryintake of saturated fats. Check off those you already store and compare ounce for ounce costs onimplement. Circle those you would like to try. Add these fats. The cost is miniscule compared toyour own. the cost of a heart attack, but you will feel better if you know what your commitment will cost._____ Switch from whole milk to 1% milk or skim ___ Put a decanter of oil by your stove for frying and milk, or to soy or rice milk. stir-frying. Use it instead of margarine._____ Replace red meat with chicken or fish when- ___ Assign teenagers or older children the task of ever possible. Better yet, eat less meat. screening snack food. Send them to the grocery_____ Try an Italian habit: dip bread in olive oil store to read labels and identify products they instead of buttering it. Or toast it in a pan would eat that do not contain partially hydro with a bit of olive oil. If you must butter your genated vegetable oil or shortening. toast, blend 1 part butter, 1 part olive oil for ___ Replace snack food such as potato chips, a tasty spread. crackers, and cookies with nuts._____ Buy only fair trade chocolate. The difference ___ Visit the dairy section of your grocery store and in price will not only benefit the producers read labels on margarine. Look for a brand that and the environment; it will also reduce is low in saturated fat, high in unsaturated fat, your consumption. and free of trans fats. Stick with your choice._____ Switch to natural peanut butter. You won’t Also see the bread and oil suggestion under save calories, but this product has less objective 1. saturated fats than whipped peanut butter. ___ Avoid fast food._____ Shave, slice, or grate cheese thinly. Use small amounts of highly flavored cheeses Objective #3: Eat at least one source of like parmesan or extra sharp cheddar. This makes a little go a long way. omega-3 fatty acids a dayObjective #2: Replace trans fats with Why? Your body can’t make them from scratch and they areliquid unsaturated fats when possible important raw materials for healthy cell function.Why? The best sources of omega-3s are fish, walnuts,Trans fats are man-made fats that raise cholesterol canola oil, flaxseed, and soybean oil. How could youand triglycerides and increase the risk of heart work these foods into your diet more often?disease. ___ Add walnuts to salads or breakfast cereal.Trans fats are found in many margarines, vegetable ___ Use canola oil for stir-frying and baking.shortening, fast food french fries, and commercial ___ Explore new recipes that include fish.baked goods such as breads, crackers and cookies. ___ Look for breakfast cereals or breads thatAny product that lists “partially hydrogenated veg- contain flaxseed.etable oil” or “vegetable shortening” on the labelhas trans fats in it. 52
  • 56. Resource 2-3 EATING MORE WHOLE GRAINSObjective #1: Objective #2:Eat fewer refined grains and more Learn to eat a greater variety ofwhole grain foods whole grainsWhy? Why?Whole grains protect against diabetes and heart Each plant food offers different nutritional benefits.disease, improve intestinal health, and may reduce Variety prevents boredom.cancer risks. To better understand the role of carbo-hydrates in the diet, see Willett’s Eat, Drink and Be Below is a list of whole grains. Many are available inHealthy, chapter 5, pp. 85-100. a large grocery store; most can be found in your local health food store. Check off the grains youHere are some steps you can take to increase already eat. Then circle several you would like to try.the amount of whole grains in your diet. Check off You can learn more about them by reading pp. 195-those you already do. Circle those you’d like to try. 204 in Eat, Drink and Be Healthy or by consulting aAdd your own ideas. whole grain cookbook. Amaranth_____ Switch from white bread to whole grain Barley: whole, pearled, flakes breads. Brown Rice_____ Switch from white rice to brown rice. Find a Buckwheat place to buy quick-cooking brown rice so Bulgar that the difference in cooking time doesn’t Corn: fresh on the cob, cornmeal deter you. Soak brown rice longer for best results. (preferably stone ground), hominy, grits Flaxseed, crushed_____ Buy whole wheat pastas rather than pastas Millet made with refined flour. Oats: oatmeal, rolled oats, steel-cut,_____ Eat a serving of whole grains for breakfast. oat bran, oat groats, oat flour For example, eat granola, a whole grain Quinoa breakfast cereal, or oatmeal made from old Rye: whole kernels, flour fashioned or steel-cut oats. Spelt: whole kernel, flour_____ Read labels to see if crackers, breads, and Wild rice cereals include whole grains. Wheat flour is not a whole grain; whole wheat flour is. Ingredients are listed in order of weight, so Print out “The Food Timeline” www.foodtimeline.org a whole grain listed first is more significant to learn and appreciate our culinary history and than one later on in the list. lore. Did you know that popcorn was first popped in 3,600 BC and beer first brewed in 10,000 BC? 53
  • 57. Resource 2-4 EATING MORE FRUITS AND VEGETABLESObjective #1: Objective #2:Eat the fruits and vegetables you know Improve your skill as a vegetable chefand love more oftenWhy? Why?Plenty of fruits and vegetables can decrease your Through no fault of their own, most of the vegeta-chances of getting heart attacks, strokes, cancers, bles served up in our society are limp, overcooked,high blood pressure, eye diseases, and intestinal unimaginatively prepared, and fall short of the gloryailments. of God. You can do better.Here are some tricks that squeeze more plants into ____ Read a cookbook that tells you how to shopyour diet. Check off the ones you already do; star for, store, and prepare vegetables.the ones you want to try next. ____ Find two new vegetable dishes that look____ Make a list of easy-to-eat fruits and vegeta- interesting and try them this week. bles you enjoy enough to snack on. Take a supply of these to work or have them on hand. ____ Find out the best places to buy fresh fruits Have you tried fresh red peppers, eaten like an and vegetables in your area. Is there a farmers’ apple? How about slightly thawed blueberries market? A nearby CSA (Community Supported or cherries on a hot day? Agriculture) farmer?____ Plant a garden or a fruit tree. Almost anyone ____ Find out what fruits and vegetables grow in can grow a tomato plant or a few greens in a your area and when they are in season. Make pot on a balcony. Vegetables you grew your- yourself a calendar. Locally grown foods are self are precious gems in the diet of life. more nutritious and tastier than those that have endured a long voyage.____ Add fresh fruit to your breakfast cereal. ____ If your grocery store offers limited options and____ Serve fruits for dessert instead of cookies or poor quality, book an appointment with the ice cream. store manager to discuss this problem.____ Multiple choices encourage more consump- tion. Serve several fruits and vegetables at a meal. Objective #3: Learn to eat new fruits and vegetables____ For families with children or the young at heart: Have fruit and vegetable eating con- tests. Offer prizes for the greatest number of Why? servings a day, the greatest variety eaten, the most unusual vegetable eaten, the most new Each plant offers different nutritional benefits. vegetables tried in a week, and the best new Resource 2-5 provides a list of fruits and vegetables vegetable recipe. commonly available in North America. They are grouped according to their botanical family because families of plants contain similar nutrients. Circle all the fruits and vegetables you regularly eat. Notice if you are missing one or more families. Then mark foods you are willing to try. Eat from each plant family. 54
  • 58. Resource 2-5 FRUIT AND VEGETABLE VIRTUEST hese fruits and vegetables are commonly found in U.S. grocery stories. Check off those you already eat; circle those you’d be willing to try. Find a vegetable cookbook at your library and experiment with new recipes. Note the symbols beside each item:S= Superfoods! High in vitamins A, C, and fiber too.P= According to an Environmental Working Group study, these 12 fruits/vegetables are most likely to contain pesticides. Buying organic makes the most difference with these foods. Go to www.foodnews.org/walletguide.php to download a wallet guide. Vegetables FruitsAlfalfa sprouts Apples PAsparagus S ApricotsBell peppers S, P AvocadosBroccoli, SBrussels sprouts S BananasCabbage S BlackberriesCarrots S BlueberriesCauliflower S Cantaloupe SCelery P Cherries PCollard greens S CranberriesCorn GrapefruitEggplant Grapes P (imported)Garbanzo beans HoneydewGarlic KiwiGreen beans LemonsKale SKohlrabi LimesLima beans Nectarines PMustard greens MangoesOnions OrangesParsley PapayaParsnips Peaches PPeas Pears PPotatoes P PineapplePumpkin Raspberries PRadishes Strawberries S, PRomaine lettuce S TangerinesRutabagaSoybeans WatermelonSpinach S, PSproutsSweet potatoes STomatoesTurnipsWatercressWinter squash S 55
  • 59. Resource 2-6 CHOOSING HEALTHIER SOURCES OF PROTEINObjective #1: If you eat meat, choose Objective #2:the most nutritious options with the least Explore meatless sources of proteinsaturated fat and do not overeat Why?Why? Vegetable protein foods are high in fiber, contain noSome meats, especially beef, are higher in saturated cholesterol and low in saturated fat. Raising meatfats than others. Cattle also require much more requires a lot more land than growing plant protein.grain than other animals to produce a pound of The meat industry does not always handle animalsmeat. Fish contain omega-3 fatty acids; few North humanely. See John Robbin’s Food Revolution forAmericans get enough of these. more information.Here are some steps that will help you. Check those ___ Don’t worry about getting enough protein. Inyou have already done; star those you want to try. our culture, it is extremely difficult to develop a protein deficiency. Experts no longer require___ Keep track of how much meat you eat in a healthy vegetarians to obsess about comple- week’s time, what kinds of meat you eat, and mentary proteins. where you eat them. Think about how you could ___ When baking, add soy flour, wheat germ or dry make changes. milk powder to increase protein content.___ Avoid restaurants such as fast food chains ___ Use nuts or tofu in a stir-fry dish instead of where meals center around large hunks of meat. meat.___ Attend to portion sizes. A serving of meat (3 ___ Can’t avoid fast food? Choose a restaurant that ounces) is about the size of a deck of cards. A offers vegetarian sandwiches, burritos or serving of cheese (1 1/2 oz.) is the size of a pair entrees. Mexican and Asian restaurants almost of dice. Limit yourself to one serving or less per always have vegetarian options. meal. ___ Invest in a vegetarian cookbook or check one___ Use chicken instead of beef in dishes such as out of the library. Find five new recipes that look stir fries or casseroles where either will do. interesting and try them.___ Eat salmon, tuna, tofu, or fish in place of a beef ___ Try a new legume: split peas, lentils, garbanzo dish once a week — or all the time. beans, and soybeans all contain protein.___ If you use ground beef, buy the best quality, ___ Are packed lunches a part of your life? Consider leanest grade. Frying or grilling does not take alternatives to the tired, old baloney sandwich: out the extra fat that the cheaper grades try humus on pita bread, a seasoned tofu mix- include. ture, a tortilla with refried beans, a microwaved___ Sit down with five of your favorite main dish sweet potato, or vegetable soup in a thermos. recipes and modify them. Could you cut half the meat and double the vegetables in a casserole without missing anything? Does a dish dupli- cate protein, using meat, cottage cheese, eggs and grated cheese all in one meal? Experiment with a leaner version.___ Do you fall prey to sale prices on meats you don’t really need or want? Buy only what’s on your grocery list.___ Buy only pasture-raised and/or organic meat. Animals raised on grass rather than feedlot grain produce meat that is lower in fat and calo- ries and higher in beneficial omega-3 fats and vitamin E. Go to www.eatwild.com to learn more; then find a supplier in your area. The added cost will also help you reduce your meat consumption. 56
  • 60. Resource 3-1 THE U.S.A.: WHERE EVERY MEAL IS AN INTERNATIONAL MEAL B elow is the ingredient list from a meal similar to the Wholesome Foods Banquet suggested as an optional meal with Unit 2. The author served this meal in Goshen, Indiana, on April 2, 2004. The distances traveled are based on the online calculator www.indo.com/distance and are approximate. Starred locations indicate that the food was not labeled and a “best guess” is listed, based on either the #1 U.S. producer or the closest top producer of that food. Food item: Grown: Distance Traveled (miles) Main Dish Couscous France 4,086 Rice Arkansas 591 Chicken Georgia* 705 Olive oil Italy 4,768 Onions California* 1,900 Tomatoes, canned Home garden 0 Carrots Michigan* 50 Cauliflower New York* 435 Red pepper Mexico 1,652 Broccoli California* 1,900 Zucchini California* 1,900 Parsley, fresh Home garden 0 Apples Wenatchee, WA 1,736 Raisins Caruthers, CA 1,849 Garbanzo beans Clinton, MI 100 Salad: Romaine lettuce Mexico 1,650 Spinach Salinas, CA 1,939 Tomatoes, fresh Florida* 999 Mushrooms Franklin, CT 708 Cucumbers Mexico 1,650 Pea Pods Pescadero, CA 1,963 Beets Goshen, IN 5 Fruit Salad: Grapes Chile 5,054 Strawberries Oxnard, CA 1,881 Blueberries Wakarusa, IN 10 Peaches, canned Michigan 50 Bananas Peru 3,736 Cherries Michigan 50 Mandarin oranges China 7,000 Cantaloupe California* 1,900 Coffee Colombia 2,645While beef is the most energy-intensive food to produce, all food in our industrial system requires tremendousamounts of petroleum. In fact, between 16-20% of all energy consumed in the U.S. is used by the food system.The distance between field and plate is a key reason for this: The average food item in the U.S. travels upwardsof 1,500 miles. 57
  • 61. Resource 3-2 HUNGER QUIZ1. The number of hungry people in the world is 7. In the United States, ___ percent of the closest to the entire population of: population lives in poverty. A) New York City B) the U.S. A) 6% B) 9% C) 12.5% D) 30% C) North America D) the Western Hemisphere 8. If all 36 million Americans faced with food in security stood in line at a food pantry in New2. True or False: York City, the line would stretch to: World hunger has decreased over the past century, with the greatest gains made since A) Chicago B) Denver C) Los Angeles 1995. D) To Los Angeles and back3. True or False: Most people who die of hunger die in a famine 9. True or False: related to natural disasters. It is possible for a family of five to still fall below the poverty line with two parents working4. How many people die of hunger each day, full time. worldwide? A) 4,000 B) 10,000 C) 20,000 D) 24,000 10. True or False:5. What percent of the number of deaths above are Globalization benefits hungry people by children under 5? enabling them to find new markets for their goods. A) 25% B) 50% C) 75% D) 90%6. What percent of people suffering from hunger worldwide are women and girls? 11. Who said, “I never take care of crowds, only of one person. If I stop to look at the crowds, A) 80% B) 70% C) 60% D) 50% I would never begin.” 58
  • 62. Resource 3-3 HUNGER QUIZ ANSWERS1. D) According to the Food and Agriculture 9. True. Two parents working full time at minimum Organization of the United Nations, the number wage ($5.15/hr.) would earn about $20,600. The of chronically hungry people in the world is poverty line for a family of five is $22,030.44 Also estimated at 852 million.39 This is closest to the note that the method for calculating the poverty population of the Western Hemisphere, roughly line was developed in the 1960s before health 875 million. and housing costs rose dramatically. Many families living over the poverty line still2. False: trick question. Hunger has decreased over experience hunger. the last century with the greatest improvements made in Asia. However, the period from the 10. More often than not, this is False. The mid-1990s to the present has seen an increase liberalization of trade, along with communica- in hungry people. Between 1995 and 2001, the tion and transportation advances, has created number of malnourished people across the new market opportunities if one has the capital, developing world grew an average of 4.5 million infrastructure, training, and vision to take a year. The AIDS pandemic in sub-Saharan advantage of these opportunities. Poor, hungry Africa is a factor.40 people — especially small-scale farmers who make up a large percentage of poor in the world3. False. These deaths account for less than 10% of — rarely benefit. On the contrary, the strongest hunger deaths. Many more die from hunger players (developed economies, large compa- related to war and even more die from chronic nies, and larger-scale, advanced agricultural malnutrition due to poverty.41 producers) have been able to take advantage. Local, regional, and national food insecurity —4. D) At least 25,000 42 with increasing hunger and the threat of famine — is often the result as cheap imports rush in.5. C) 75% "If you are rich, globalization means development.6. B) 70% Gender matters when it comes to If you are poor, globalization means death." hunger. The elderly are another at-risk – A Filipino who works with people population. displaced by commercial mining operations in Mindanao, Philippines7. C) 12.5% That’s 36 million people.43 11. Mother Theresa8. D) A line of 36 million people would reach to Los Angeles and back twice. 59
  • 63. Resource 4-1 SHOPPING FOR ORGANIC AND LOCALLY GROWN FOODSB elow is a chart comparing the costs of several foods purchased in the author’s community in northern Indiana. Allprices except those in the alternative food store column are from a Kroger Supermarket. Note that although the organicversions of the foods cost more, so do convenience foods. You shouldn’t be outraged at the price of organic potatoes if youalready buy potato chips. (Continued on next page . . .) 69
  • 64. Organic and Locally Grown Foods: Counting the CostFood for Thought:1. Choose one or more of the ingredients you may be interested in buying organically and/or locally. Find out if the items are available in your area and price them. Add notes on whether the product was produced locally.2. Estimate how much of these foods you buy per year.3. How much would it cost you per year to buy this food organically and/or from local farmers?4. If you decided to buy this food organically, how would you finance this extra cost? 70
  • 65. Resource 6-1 A FEW IDEAS FOR GROUP ACTIONSDesign a communion service for your congregation Adopt a local food pantry or soup kitchen.incorporating ideas and experiences your group hashad. Consider asking a local farmer to tell his or her Plan a more in-depth study on one of the topicsstory. this curriculum covers, focusing on circumstances in your own community.Examine your communal food practices: Do foodand fellowship opportunities at your church invari- Start a Congregation Supported Agricultureably feature high calorie snacks? Consider a modest (CSA) initiative at your church by finding peoplechange. Add some nutritious options to the coffee who wish to contract with a local farmer to providehour menu, children and youth meal, or alternate fresh produce during the growing season.feasts with humbler fare. Plan a fellowship meal using ideas from theServe your congregation a meal featuring new optional group meals suggested in the leader’srecipes you have learned to enjoy during this guide for this curriculum.course. Have group members tell a little bit abouttheir experiences and learnings. Explain why food is Create a congregational cookbook: Breathe newa faith issue. Present the meal as a gift you want to life into this tired genre by creating a cookbook thatshare, not a heavy-handed sales pitch. features healthful, locally grown food in season. Arrange recipes month by month, along with infor-Start a weight loss group. mation on where to purchase the ingredients. Imag- ine having the wisdom of your whole church at yourAdvocate for change at a local grocery store: Are fingertips next August when nature rains zucchini inthere foods on the shelf that appall you? Are there bushels!nutritious foods you can’t find? Are there organicand fair trade options? Make an appointment with Buy fair trade coffee for coffee hour and for pur-the store manager and visit as a group. Explain what chase: Make this a church or workplace policy.change you would like to see and why. Also pledgeyour commitment to buy the requested items if they Start a farmer’s market in your parking lot or aare stocked. vegetable exchange table in your fellowship hall.Organize a CROP WALK or increase your congrega- Support each other in the individual changes peo-tion’s participation in the CROP WALK in your area. ple have chosen to make. This is not a small thing!For more information, call 1-888-CWS-CROP (1-888-297-2767) or visit www.cropwalk.org. 62
  • 66. SELECTED BIBLIOGRAPHY AND INTERNET RESOURCESUnit 1: Food Sharing as Sacramental Webb, Stephen H. Good Eating. The Christian Practice of Everyday Life Series. Grand Rapids, MI:Briehl, Susan, Mary Emily Briehl Wells, Magdalena Brazos Press, 2001. Briehl Wells. “ Food,” Way to Live: Christian Practices for Teens. Nashville: Upper Room Books, Willett, Walter C. Eat Drink and Be Healthy. New York: 2002. Simon and Schuster, 2001. Also see www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/Juengst, Sara Covin. Breaking Bread: the Spiritual Significance of Food. Louisville, KY: Eat Wild, www.eatwild.com Westminster/John Knox Press, 1992. A wealth of information on the environmental and health benefits of eating pasture raisedJung, L. Shannon. Food for Life: The Spirituality and meat. Ethics of Eating. Minneapolis, MN: Augsburg Fortress, 2004. Unit 3: HungerMcElvaney, William K. Eating and Drinking at the Welcome Table: The Holy Supper for All People. Beckmann, David and Art Simon. Grace at the Table: St. Louis, MO: Chalice Press, 1998. Enduring Hunger in God’s World. Mahwah, NJ: Paulist Press, 1999.Ramshaw, Gail. Words Around the Table. Chicago, IL: Liturgy Training Publications, Archdiocese of Lappé, Frances Moore and Anna Lappé, Hope’s Chicago, 1991. Edge: The Next Diet for a Small Planet. New York, NY: Putnam, 2002.Vision: A Journal for Church and Theology, Spring 2001, Vol. 2:1, p. 84. Schwartz-Nobel, Loretta. Growing Up Empty: The The entire issue is on communion. Hunger Epidemic in America. NY: Harper Collins, 2002.Unit 2: Nurturing the Body Schwartz-Nobel, Loretta. Starving in the Shadow of Plenty. Smithmark Publishing, 1983.Griffith, R. Marie. “The Promised Land of Weigbt Loss: Law and Gospel in Christian Dieting,” Christian “State of Food Insecurity in the World 2004.” An Century, May 7, 1997. annual report of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations,Nestle, Marion. Food Politics: How the Food Industry www.fao.org. Influences Nutrition and Health. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 2002. Agribusiness Accountability Initiative, www.agribusinessaccountability.orgPaulsell, Stephanie. Honoring the Body: Meditations on a AAI is a growing international network of academics, Christian Practice. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & activists, organizations, and food system experts Sons, 2002. who recognize that corporate concentration and ver- tical integration among transnational agro-foodRobbins, John and Dean Ornish, M..D. The Food companies threaten the sustainability of the global Revolution: How Your Diet Can Help Save Your Life and food system. the Planet. Berkeley, CA: Conari Press, 2001. Bread for the World, www.bread.orgSchlosser, Eric, Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side A nationwide, Christian citizens’ movement seeking of the All-American Meal. New York, NY: justice for the world’s hungry people by lobbying Harper Collins, 2002. our nation’s decision makers. (Continued on next page . . .) 63
  • 67. Church World Service www.churchworldservice.org Jackson, Dana L. and Laura L. Jackson, ed. The FarmA cooperative humanitarian ministry of 36 Protes- as Natural Habitat: Reconnecting Food Systems withtant, Orthodox, and Anglican denominations. CWS Ecosystems. Washington, D.C.: Island Press, 2002.provides sustainable self-help and development,disaster relief, and refugee assistance in more than Jacobsen, Ken and Riebel, Linda, Eating to Save the80 countries. Resources available from CWS include: Earth. Berkeley, CA: Celestial Arts, 2002. • Facts Have Faces Series: covering issues such Kimbrell, Andrew. Fatal Harvest: The Tragedy of Industrial as hunger, uprooted peoples, AIDS Agriculture. Sausalito, CA: Island Press, 2002. • Service Magazine, a CWS publication • Build a Better World: Activities for Children Masumoto, David Mas. Epitaph for a Peach: Four • Speak Out E-mail List: Make a phone call, send Seasons on My Family Farm. San Francisco: an e-mail to make a difference Harpersanfrancisco, 1995.National Farm Worker Ministry, www.nfwm.org Riebel, Linda and Ken Jacobsen. Eating to Save theAn interfaith organization supporting farm workers Earth: Food Choices for a Healthy Planet.as they organize for justice. Berkeley, CA: Celestial Arts, 2002.Presbyterian Hunger Program, Robbins, John, The Food Revolution: How Your Diet Canwww.pcusa.org/hunger Help Save Your Life and the World. Berkeley, CA:PHP provides ways for Presbyterians and others to Conari Press, 2001.be engaged in the fight against hunger in the UnitedStates and around the world. PHP seeks to alleviate Schut, Michael, ed., Food and Faith: Justice, Joy, andhunger and to address the structural causes of Daily Bread. Denver, CO: Living the Good News,poverty and hunger through direct food relief, devel- 2002.opment assistance, education and interpretation,influencing public policy, and lifestyle integrity. In Smith, Jeffrey M., Seeds of Deception: Exposingaddition to making grants, PHP implements educa- Industry and Government Lies About the Safety of thetional and action-oriented programs including Genetically Engineered Foods Youre Eating. Fairfield,Enough for Everyone, Joining Hands Against IA: Yes! Books, 2003.Hunger, Just Trade, and the Food & Faith Initiative. Earth Ministry, www.earthministry.org Earth Ministry helps connect Christian faith with care and justice for all creation.Unit 4: Food and the Environment Equal Exchange, www.equalexchange.comBerry, Wendell. Another Turn of the Crank. Washington, Learn about and order Fair Trade coffee, tea and D.C.: Counterpoint, 1995. Berry has written chocolate. many other books related to sustainable agriculture which are also inspiring. Food & Faith Initiative of the Presbyterian Hunger Program, www.pcusa.org/hunger/foodHalweil, Brian. Eat Here: Reclaiming Homegrown Learn about the connections between food and Pleasures in a Global Supermarket. New York: W.W. faith values; read stories about congregations help- Norton and Co., 2004. ing to build local food economies. “Energy, Food and You: On the Path to Reconciliation,” educa-Hockman-Wert, Cathleen and Mary Beth Lind, eds. tional PowerPoints and other resources are avail- Simply in Season: Celebrating Local Foods and Seasonal able for download. Eating. Scottdale, PA: Herald Press, June 2005. Contact cookbook@mcc.org for information. (Continued on next page . . .) 64
  • 68. National Catholic Rural Life Conference,www.ncrlc.com Smith, Jeff. The Frugal Gourmet Keeps the Feast: Past,An organization grounded in a spiritual tradition Present and Future. New York, NY: William Morrowthat brings together the Church, care of community, and Co., Inc., 1995.and care of creation. “Eating is a moral act.” Whitcomb, Holly. Feasting with God: Adventures inPesticide Action Network, www.panna.org Table Spirituality. Cleveland, OH: United ChurchInformation on farm worker safety, types and safety Press, 1996.of various pesticides, and recent pesticide incidents. Unit 6: Discerning God’s CallUnit 5: Creating Community with Food Bass, Dorothy C., ed. Practicing Our Faith: A Way of LifeHershberger, Michele. A Christian View of Hospitality: for a Searching People. San Francisco, CA: Expecting Surprises. Scottdale, PA: Herald Press, Jossey-Bass, 1997. 1999. Farnham, Suzanne G. et. al. Listening Hearts: DiscerningJuengst, Sara Covin. Breaking Bread: The Spiritual Call in Community. Harrisburg, PA: Morehouse Significance of Food. Louisville, KY: Publishing, 1991. John Knox Press, 1992. Johnson, Ben Campbell. Hearing God’s Call: Ways ofPaulsell, Stephanie. Honoring the Body: Meditations on Discernment for Laity and Clergy. Grand Rapids, a Christian Practice. San Francisco, CA: William B. Eerdmanns, 2002. Jossey-Bass, 2002 Linn, Dennis, et. al. Sleeping with Bread: Holding WhatPineda, Ana Maria. “Hospitality,” in Bass, Dorothy C. Gives You Life. Mahwah, NJ: Paulist Press, 1995. Practicing Our Faith: A Way of Life for a Searching People, San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass, 1997, Taylor, Barbara Brown. Speaking of Sin: The Lost pp. 29-42. Language of Salvation. Cambridge, MA: Cowley Publications, 2000.Pohl, Christine D. Making Room: Recovering Hospitality as a Christian Tradition. Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans, 1999.Schlabach, Joetta Handrich. Extending the Table… A World Community Cookbook. Scottdale, PA: Herald Press, 1991. 65
  • 69. Endnotes1 See Luke 24:35, Acts 2:42-46, Acts 20:7.2 Gordon Zerbe, “Editorial,” Vision: A Journal for Church and Theology, Spring 2001, Vol. 2, No. 1, p. 15.3 Here is one helpful resource for this Faith in Action Step: Gregory and Suzanne M. Wolfe. Circle of Grace: Praying with—and for—Your Children. Ballantine Books, 2000.4 Stephanie Paulsell, Honoring the Body: Meditations on a Christian Practice, Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, 2002, pp. 110-111.5 Walter C. Willett, M.D., Eat, Drink and Be Healthy: The Harvard Medical School Guide to Healthy Eating. NY: Simon & Schuster, Inc., 2001, p. 129.6 Ibid., p. 130.7 Paulsell, pp. 115-116.8 From a critique of McDonald’s “Step With It” walking program in Metropolis, November 2003, p. 56. Distance estimates based on a Harvard Health Publications statistic that walking burns roughly 100 calories per mile.9 Walter C. Willett, M.D., Eat, Drink and Be Healthy: The Harvard Medical School Guide to Healthy Eating. NY: Simon & Schuster, Inc., 2001.10 Walter Wink, Engaging the Powers: Discernment and Resistance in a World of Domination. Minneapolis, MN: Augsburg Fortress, 1992.11 A number of Christian health guides use biblical laws as the basis for their recommended diets. One such book is, Don Colbert, What Would Jesus Eat? The Ultimate Program for Eating Well, Feeling Great, Living Longer.12 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Health Statistics, “National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey,” Health, United States, 2002.13 “Medicare To Fund Obesity Treatment,” Washington, July 16, 2004, CBS Broadcasting, Inc.14 “1999-2002 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES)”, National Center for Health Statistics, Center for Disease Control. Or see http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/products/pubs/pubd/hestats/overwght99.htm.15 “National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute’s Framingham Heart Study Finds Strong Link Between Overweight/Obesity And Risk For Heart Failure,” National Institutes of Health News Release, July 31, 2002. Or see http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/new/press/02-07-31.htm.16 Willett, p. 35.17 Eric A. Finkelstein, Ian C. Fiebelkorn, and Guijing Wang, “National Medical Spending Attributable To Overweight And Obesity: How Much, And Who’s Paying?” Health Affairs, May 14, 2003. Or see http://content.healthaffairs.org/cgi/content/full/hlthaff.w3.219v1/DC118 Facts taken from: Hunger in a World of Plenty, part of the Facts Have Faces series from Church World Service. To order copies, call 1-888-297-2767 or see www.churchworldservice.org/FactsHaveFaces/hungerfs.htm19 Frances Moore Lappé and Anna Lappé, Hope’s Edge: The Next Diet for a Small Planet. New York: Jeremy P. Tarcher/Putnam, 2002, pp. 100-101.20 Two websites that list jobs and internships are the National Student Campaign Against Hunger and Homelessness, www.nscahh.org and Action Against Hunger, www.aah-usa.org. Your denomination’s relief and development organization will also have ideas.21 George Wuerthner, “The Destruction of Wildlife Habitat by Agriculture,” in Fatal Harvest: The Tragedy of Industrial Agriculture, Andrew Kimbrell, ed., Washington: Island Press, 2002.22 Ibid.23 Stephen Webb, Good Eating. The Christian Practice of Everyday Life Series. Grand Rapids, MI: Brazos Press, 2001, p. 24. 66
  • 70. Endnotes24 Brian Halweil, Eat Here: Reclaiming Homegrown Pleasures in a Global Supermarket. New York, NY: W.W. Norton & Co., 2004, p.63.25 Sallie McFague, Super, Natural Christians: How We Should Love Nature. Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 1997, p. 12.26 “U.S. Food Industry Comes Under Scrutiny,” Washington Post, March 16, 2003 and comment by Dr. Joseph Mercola, http://www.mercola.com/2003/apr/5/food_industry.htm27 “National Agriculture Workers Survey,” U.S. Department of Labor, March 2000. Cited in “Facts About Farm Workers” on the website of the National Center for Farm Worker Health, www.NCFH.org.28 J. Jeyaratnama, “Acute Pesticide Poisoning: A Major Global Health Problem,” World Health Statistics Quarterly, vol.43, no.3, 1990, pp.139-44.29 “Energy Solutions for a Livable Community,” Environmental and Energy Study Institute, May 2001. See www.eesi.org/publications/05.03.01energysprawl.pdf30 Christine D. Pohl, Making Room: Recovering Hospitality as a Christian Tradition. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmanns, 1999, p. 43.31 Rodney Stark, The Rise of Christianity: How the Obscure, Marginal, Jesus Movement Became the Dominant Religious Force. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1996.32 For this interpretation of the feeding of the five thousand, I borrow from Dan Schrock, “Radical Politicians,” unpublished sermon, Neil Avenue Mennonite Church, August 4, 1996.33 Barbara Brown Taylor, Speaking of Sin: The Lost Language of Salvation. Cambridge, MA: Cowley Publications, 2000, p.34 See Proverbs 5:3, Song of Songs 4:11, 5:1. Also see Deuteronomy 6:3, 11:9, 27:3.35 www.pcusa.org/today/department/spiritualfitness/past/2004/0604-sf.htm36 Eugene Peterson, Reversed Thunder: The Revelation of John and the Praying Imagination. San Francisco: HarperCollins, 1988.37 Fr. Luke Dysinger, “Appendix 2: Accepting the Embrace of God: The Ancient Art of Lectio Divina.,” in Karl A. Schultz, The Art and Vocation of Caring for People in Pain (Mahwah, NJ: Paulist Press, 1993), pp. 98-110, or www.valyermo.com/ld-art.html38 Willett, p. 62.39 “Counting the Hungry: Latest Estimates,” Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, 2004. www.fao.org/documents/show_cdr.asp?url_file=/docrep/007/y5650e/y5650e00.htm40 “Forward: Towards the World Food Summit Target.” The State of Food Insecurity in the World, 2003. Rome, Italy: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, 2003.41 “Armed Conflict and Hunger: Calculating the Costs of Conflict,” www.worldhunger.org/articles/fall2000/messer7.htm42 Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, www.fao.org/english/newsroom/news/2002/9703-en.html43 U.S. Census Bureau as reported by Andrea Hopkins, “Nearly 36 Million Americans Living in Poverty,” Reuters, August 26, 2004.44 “2004 Health and Human Services Poverty Guidelines”, see www.aspe.hhs.gov/poverty/04poverty.shtml. 67
  • 71. Fasting 101: Concrete Considerations When Preparing to Fast for Justice and Fair Food Prepared by Steve Shussett, The Office of Spiritual Formation, Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), 2003 You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might. Deuteronomy 6:5; see also Matthew 22:37, Mark 12:29-30, Luke 10:27Fasting is a spiritual practice that affects our entire being, heart, soul, mind, and might. Like any discipline of thespirit, it should be entered into prayerfully. This is a time of entering into deeper relationship with God, beingchanged by that relationship, and then being sent out into the world.It is important to recognize that there are no biblical laws regarding regular fasting. At the same time, Jesus seems tooperate under the assumption that this practice is a part of life; in Matthew 6:17 he says, “When you fast …,” not“if.” The lack of guidance means, however, that embarking on a fast can mean any number of things.For example, it is rare that anyone undertakes an absolute fast, meaning that not even water is consumed (see Esther4:16, Acts 9:9). This type of fast is the exception, not the rule. More common is what might be considered a partialfast, in which there is a restriction of diet, but not total abstention. Such restrictions may be, as John Calvin suggests,in regard to the time of fasting (how long, when during the day), quality of food, and quantity of food (InstitutesIV.12.18).Some possibilities to consider:Fast only on certain days of the week.Fast only during daylight hours, as Muslims practice during Ramadan.Fast through a single meal each week and contribute the money you would have spent to the work of the Coalitionof Immokalee Workers.For alternative fasting ideas during the Fast for Justice and Fair Food and CIW’s address click here.Some essentials to fasting:Fasting from food should be avoided by those with diabetes, expectant mothers, or heart patients. Anyone withquestions about their health condition should see a doctor before beginning. For those unable to fast from food forhealth reasons, find other things from which to abstain in a prayerful manner, such as non-essential foods or mediastimulation, for example too much television or computer time.A progression of fasting should be observed. Begin with a partial fast over two days, from lunch to lunch or dinnerto dinner, meaning that no more than two meals are skipped on a given day. Try this once a week for several weeksbefore considering anything more lengthy. Over time, periods of 24, 36, or more hours might be profitable, butonly when prayerfully and medically considered. Begin with a time frame in mind, and end your fast when the timeis up.Preparing for a Fast:Choose a time that is free of unusual stress or physical demands. Do not fast if you are sick or traveling.A day or two prior to a fast reduce your intake of food, especially heavier meals, and stop drinking caffeinated
  • 72. beverages.Begin your fast prayerfully, mindful of the blessings you may receive rather than the deprivations you may feel.Do not underestimate the effects of your fast. Be prepared for a difficult first day, and a second day that is harderstill. It takes time for our bodies to adjust to a lack of food.While you do not want to lord your piety over others, (see Matthew 6:16-18), do let your family, churchcommunity, the PC(U.S.A.) Taco Bell Boycott Resource Office (boycott@pcusa.org), and co-workers know of yourplans, so that they might pray for and support you (Leviticus 23:27, 2 Chronicles 20:1-4, Ezra 8:21-23, Joel 2:15).Be realistic about the effects a fast may have on you. Do not schedule any heavy demands that are either physical orsocial.Prayerfully consider why you are joining in this fast or entering into the practice at this time. Be mindful of yourmotives. More fasting or longer fasting does not mean “better fasting”. Fasting should not become a source of pride.While Fasting:Include worship opportunities to keep your focus on God. Consider pondering a text appropriate to your reason forfasting. Take time throughout the fast to thank God for the chance to fast, and for the opportunity you will have tobreak it. Not everyone is so blessed. Make this a time of special attention to the poor and needy with whom youshare this hunger. If the purpose of the fast is spiritual, then it is important to keep our inner attitude in the forefront.Consider keeping a journal, even if only during the times your times of fasting. Devote the time you would havebeen eating to prayer.Drink two to three quarts of water per day, preferably at room temperature. Lemon juice might be added for taste. Ifsomething more is desired and appropriate to the fast, consider bouillon, vegetable or fruit juice, or unsweetenedbeverages. Avoid caffeinated beverages. Avoid all alcohol, and any drugs not prescribed by a doctor, includingaspirin.Avoid manual labor, and keep physical exercise to twenty minutes a day.In Matthew 6:17, Jesus says “when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face.” Bathe regularly, keeping thewater at body temperature. Extremes of hot or cold can lead to dizziness. Use mouthwash or chew sugarless gum toaid in controlling bad breath associated with fasting.Keep your body warm, as fasting can lead to chills because of a lowered blood pressure and metabolism. Recognizethat you may experience light-headedness, additional energy, feel more alert or overstimulated.Breaking the FastDo not overeat. Not only has your body slowed down, but your stomach has begun to shrink. Break the fast withliquids and a very light, low-calorie, plain, cooked foods. Avoid rich cuisines. Foods such as fruit, eggs, cheese, andmeat should be reintroduced into your diet slowly.In celebration of what has been and what will be, break bread with your family, church community, or co-workers.Whether alone or with others, take time to lift up prayers of gratitude. Remember those people for the lack of food
  • 73. threatens their survival, and may be without end, particularly the farmworkers from Immokalee whose sub-povertywages make it difficult for them to nourish themselves adequately. Remembering that the tomatoes the workers pickare served in Taco Bell’s products, consider how the food you eat comes to be on your table and pray for justicethroughout corporate supply chains.If you have kept a journal, review what you have written, and examine any insights you may have had during thefast. If your insights imply concrete changes in lifestyle or important actions consider what resources you need totake the next step into faithful living. SourcesRichard Foster. Celebration of Discipline: The Path to Spiritual Growth. San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1988.Marjorie Thompson. Soul Feast: An Invitation to the Christian Spiritual Life. Louisville: Westminster/John KnoxPress, 1995.
  • 74. Fasting: A Spiritually and Socially Transforming Practice The Rev. Noelle Damico, Coordinator, Taco Bell Boycott, PC(USA)Fasting is a spiritual practice embraced by many faith traditions. People of faith may be familiar withfasting at Ramadan within the Muslim community or fasting undertaken during Lent in the Christiancommunity. Fasting has an ancient history and is part of scriptural texts that inspire faith.In Jonah we find that the people and animals of Ninevah illustrate their desire to repent and live rightly byputting on sackcloth and ashes and observing a fast (Jonah 3:5-10). The prophet Isaiah warns that fastingmust be connected to the seeking of justice, else it is a hypocritical action to which God will not respond(Isaiah 58:1-14). Though Jesus did not proscribe fasting, he presumed that his followers engaged in thepractice of fasting, giving instructions to limit prideful exhibitions (Matthew 6:16). In Islam, siyam(fasting) means abstinence from doing something. Principles of fasting are set in the Koran (Surah II: TheCow, Verses 177-187) so that practitioners may learn self-restraint and hence refrain from wrongdoing.Fasting demonstrates submission to Allah.There are a variety of “purposes” for fasting, but a central purpose is that of reconciliation – to God and toone’s neighbor. From the practice of fasting we should be able to see God’s vision for our world moreclearly and become determined to live with integrity. Fasting helps us identify the grave injustices aroundus, acknowledge and take responsibility for our participation and complicity in such injustice, and preparesus to act with God to transform ourselves and our world.Prayer is an important complement to fasting and focuses our confessions and intercessions. Practitionersof fasting often report an intensity to their prayer lives – as if the shedding of food for a period makes spacein the mind, heart, body, and soul for God. While fasting heightens the believer’s spiritual awareness, italso brings lasting insights into the physical needs of the body and the daily struggles of those who arehungry and poor. When we fast, we physically experience in a small way the evil of hunger that dailydeprives millions of our sisters and brothers of health and life.Renowned leaders such as Mahatma Gandhi, Cesar Chavez, and Martin Luther King Jr. fasted. Gandhiwas a Hindu whose fasts were acts of satyagraha (or non-violent resistance). The fasts were directedtoward those who had said they cared about him in an effort to encourage them to realize their mistakes andcorrect themselves. He regarded the process of fasting as one of purification. While rejecting the practiceof fasting in order to convince another of one’s ideals, Gandhi believed that hunger strikes were called forwhen inhumanity was practiced. Gandhi expected those who were engaging in civil disobedience toprepare themselves to “love their enemy” through fasting prior to engagement. While such fasting mayhave the consequence of changing the mind of others, the fast deepens the commitment and clarity of thepractitioner to non-violent approaches to resolving injustice and conflict.Cesar Chavez, organizer and leader of the United Farm Workers, was inspired by Mahatma Gandhi’steaching and practice. Cesar was a Catholic believer who fasted, and encouraged others to fast, as a way ofdrawing attention to the injustices faced by the migrant workers who were seeking to organize and as a wayto demonstrate to his own people the power and possibility of non-violence. Such fasting was an extensionof the grape boycott, another non-violent means of seeking change.The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. also regularly fasted. Though he and Cesar Chavez never met, Martinsent Cesar a telegram during his 25 day fast in Delano which read, "As brothers in the fight for equality, Iextend the hand of fellowship and good will and wish continuing success to you and your members...Youand your valiant fellow workers have demonstrated your commitment to righting grievous wrongs forcedupon exploited people. We are together with you in spirit and in determination that our dreams for a bettertomorrow will be realized." Dr. King once preached, "What does it profit a man to be able to eat at anintegrated lunch counter if he doesnt have enough money to buy a hamburger?" He knew that genuineequality was impossible in a climate of dramatic economic inequality.And so you are invited to join this fast for justice and fair food with members of the Coalition ofImmokalee Workers. Just as in the Taco Bell boycott we abstain from buying the company’s products as a
  • 75. peaceful way of expressing disapproval and seeking change, in this fast we abstain from food in order topeacefully protest the injustice faced by Florida tomato pickers and to diligently work for transformation inthe fast food and agricultural industries. This fast during Yum! Brand’s annual meeting is a serious publiccall to the company that they ensure their supply chain is free from exploitation. The fast calls attention tothe ways that current business practices treat those who pick the tomatoes as expendable machines ratherthan human beings who are our brothers and sisters. We join our fasting with prayer asking God to help uscreate new ways of doing business that respect the dignity and well-being of all, especially of thefarmworkers.May this fast be a time of purification for you, as you seek truth and clarity. May it be a time of divineencounter, when you experience the presence and power of God. May it be a time of community, as theworkers are strengthened by your witness, and you are strengthened by theirs. May it be a time of re-orientation that you may name the patterns of injustice and commit anew to their transformation. Andfinally, may it be a time when Yum! Brands decides that human dignity and rights are too important todelay any longer. Together, may we be the change we wish to see in the world.
  • 76. The Fast That God Chooses The Rev. Steven H. Shussett, Office of Spiritual FormationWhen Jesus is asked which commandment is the greatest, his response is most telling. Had he said only, “Lovethe Lord your God…” no one would have been surprised, familiar as his listeners were with both the TenCommandments and Deuteronomy 6:5. But to continue as he did, not only saying “Love your neighbor asyourself,” but also clearly equating this with loving God, means that our ways of praying to God are to besquarely met by our acts of justice. While there are a number of good reasons to fast, for political purposes orhealth benefits, fasting out of faith is an entirely different matter. Spiritual practice and acts of righteousness aretwo sides of the same coin, or to paraphrase the sixteenth century religious leader Francis de Sales, “Spiritualpractice and social justice differ no more from one another than does the flame from the fire. Our prayer isspiritual fire, and when it bursts into flames, it is called justice.”Considered in this light, how might we understand the relationship between the spiritual discipline of fasting,and the call to do justice? As Presbyterians, we are always well served by turning to the works of John Calvin.It is worth observing that Calvin regularly fasted, joining such notables as Martin Luther, and John Wesley.Calvin writes at length in his Institutes on the Christian Religion (IV.12.14-21) on the subject of fasting, and hiswords are quite helpful in considering the relationship between this particular spiritual discipline and acts ofjustice. Interestingly enough, this fourth book of the Institutes concerns the institution of the church, while thetwelfth chapter concerns discipline, both reminders that the spiritual practice of fasting may be personal, but itis not individualistic. This may mean that the fast is undertaken with others, for the sake of others, in confessionover acts committed against others, or with the support of others, but never is it undertaken alone.Fasting can serve the cause of justice as it enables a discernment process necessary to identify means, action, orgoal more clearly. In the ancient Jewish tradition of fasting, one of its purposes was to a spiritual preparation inthe hope of receiving the grace and strength needed to fulfill God’s mission of faithful service. It is true that atfirst fasting will likely lead to a preoccupation with food, or the lack of it. But with time fasting will likely leadto a new clarity, as what once seemed so important gives way to what is really important. Through fasting onemay hear the answer to God’s question in Isaiah 58:5, “Is this the fast that I choose?”Our very hunger can make a significant contribution to the cause of justice as it reminds us of those whom weseek to serve. It is easy to get so caught up in the activity of service that we forget why and for whom we areacting in the first place. But the pangs felt in the midst of fasting, and our attentiveness to the times when otherseat, all prompt us to remember the hungry, the poor, the disenfranchised. This is what compassion means, to“suffer with.” We may also be provoked to consider the ways in which we have wasted food and other valuableresources, as well as the times when we have neglected those in need.This recognition of our own failings, brought to mind through fasting, offers another significant contribution toexecuting justice. A second component to the ancient Jewish tradition of fasting is the need for national orpersonal repentance for sin, a theme picked up by Calvin. The humility associated with fasting is imperative forthose who wish to serve God justly. The temptation is great, in seeking to support those in some way oppressed,to demonize the oppressors. But just as fasting promotes a new kind of honesty about our motives and ourselveswhen it comes to discernment, it makes a noteworthy impact on our critique and judgment of others. Micahsuggests this in his famous injunction, that we are to do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with our God(6:8). Perhaps this is why Calvin made a point of recommending fasting not only as a discipline in its own right,but as a preparation for all types of prayer, recognizing abstinence from food as a healthy corrective for all ofour acts in the name of God.Through the prophet Isaiah, we learn that the fast chosen by God is not meant to gain attention, but todemonstrate the intention for justice and mercy. As we hunger and thirst, may it ultimately be for righteousness’sake, that all will be filled.
  • 77. Eucharist and HungerThe foundation for the church’s ministry to the hungry is the sacrament of the eucharist.Remembering that one of the most distinctive and celebrated parts of Jesus’ ministry wasfeeding the hungry (e.g., the feeding of the multitude is attested in all four gospels), theearly church continued that tradition—gathering their offerings around the eucharistictable and sharing the abundance of that meal with those in need (see Acts 2.44-45 orJustin Martyr’s First Apology). The church’s worship and mission were one.In subsequent centuries we have nearly lost that connection, spiritualizing the meal thatJesus established, forgetting that our nourishment in the Word of God was meant tostrengthen us for service to others. We have argued over the doctrine of Christ’s presencein the eucharist, ignoring the real presence of the poor within our sanctuaries and aroundthe world. This is not to diminish the amazing gift of God in the sacrament: that the risenChrist is with us in this supper that we share; this is to say that, because the risen Christ iswith us, we have work to do, together, in his name.Still, there are vestiges of the fullness of the sacrament’s meaning in our contemporarypractices: in the approach to the table we bring our tithes and offerings, pledging our timeand treasure for those in need; at the beginning of the eucharistic prayer, we bless Godfor the gifts of creation, which sustain human life; in the Great Thanksgiving, we recallthat Jesus “fed the hungry ... broke bread with outcasts and sinners, and proclaimed thegood news ... to the poor and needy”; at the conclusion of the prayer, we anticipate thefeast of justice and plenty for all “in the joy of [God’s] eternal realm”; we ask for “dailybread” in the prayer that Jesus taught; and when we invite people to the table, we promisethat “Jesus said: I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry.”My hope in joining this conversation is that we can hold the church accountable to thatpromise, that we can recover the material and spiritual wholeness of the meaning of theeucharist. A few months ago I was sitting in worship on a Sunday morning among agroup of well fed, well dressed Presbyterians, preparing to receive communion. As I waslooking at the bread and cup on the table, I had a glimpse of another vision: a churchcommitted to the eradication of hunger, and to the just distribution of resources for all.What if—whenever Presbyterians saw that bread and cup—they remembered, gavethanks, and prayed for that common mission, as an integral part of our vocation, ourcommon life, our covenant relationship with God and one another?In her 1976 book, The Eucharist and the Hunger of the World (Paulist Press), MonicaHellwig wrote: “Before we can begin to understand the symbolism of the eucharist or tryto fathom the message it conveys, we need to remember hunger. ... To understand verywell what it means to be hungry over a long period of time. To understand in starklyrevelatory depth what hunger means is to be starving, or to have developed authenticbridges of empathy to the experience of the starving.”As Paul asked (1 Cor. 10), and as we often say in the eucharistic liturgy, “When we breakthe bread, is it not a sharing in the body of Christ?”
  • 78. THE AGES DIGITAL LIBRARY THEOLOGYJOHN CALVIN: INSTITUTES OF THE CHRISTIAN RELIGION, VOL. 1EDITED BY JOHN T. MCNEILLTranslated by Ford Lewis BattlesUsed by permission from The Westminster PressAll Rights ReservedBooksForTheAgesAGES Software • Albany, OR. Version 1.0 © 1998CHAPTER 12THE DISCIPLINE OF THE CHURCH: ITS CHIEF USEIN CENSURES AND EXCOMMUNICATION14. PUBLIC AND MUTUAL PRACTICE OF PENANCEThe remaining part of discipline, which is not properly contained withinthe power of the keys, is where the pastors, according to the need of thetimes, should exhort the people either to fasting or to solemn 234supplications, or to other acts of humility, repentance, and faith—ofwhich the time, the manner, and the form are not prescribed by God’sWord, but left to the judgment of the church. Also, the observance of thispart, as it is useful, was always customary in the early church, even fromthe days of the apostles themselves. However, even the apostles were notthe first authors, but took their example from the Law and the Prophets.For we see there that whenever anything grave occurred, the people werecalled together, and supplications and a fast appointed [<290215>Joel 2:15;<441302>Acts 13:2-3]. The apostles, therefore, followed what was not newto the people of God, and what they foresaw would be useful to them.The explanation of other exercises is similar; by them the people can eitherbe aroused to duty or kept within duty and obedience. There are examplesscattered through the sacred histories, which there is no need to collect. To
  • 79. sum them up: whenever a controversy over religion arises which ought tobe settled by either a synod or an ecclesiastical court, whenever there is aquestion about choosing a minister, whenever, finally, any difficult matterof great importance is to be discussed, or again when there appear thejudgments of the Lord’s anger (as pestilence, war, and famine)—this is aholy ordinance and one salutary for all ages, that pastors urge the peopleto public fasting and extraordinary prayers. If anyone declines to acceptthe testimonies which can be cited from the Old Testament, as ifinappropriate to the Christian church, the fact remains that the apostlesalso followed the same practice. Concerning prayers, however, I thinkscarcely anyone will be found who would raise a question. Let us,therefore, say something about fasting, since very many, while they do notunderstand how useful it is, regard it as not very necessary; others also,considering it superfluous, completely reject it.F423 And, since its use isnot well understood, it can easily lapse into superstition.15. THE PURPOSE OF FASTINGHoly and lawful fasting has three objectives. We use it either to weakenand subdue the flesh that it may not act wantonly, or that we may bebetter prepared for prayers and holy meditations, or that it may be atestimony of our self-abasement before God when we wish to confess ourguilt before him. 235The first objective does not generally have a place in public fasting,because all bodies do not have the same constitution, or the same state ofhealth; therefore, it is more appropriate to private fasting.The second is common to both. For both the whole church and everyindividual believer have need of such preparation for prayers.The third is common likewise. For it sometimes will happen that God willstrike a nation with war, or pestilence, or some calamity. Under thiscommon scourge, the whole people ought to accuse themselves and
  • 80. confess their guilt. But if the hand of the Lord should strike any individual,he ought to do this alone or with his family. The matter lies primarily inthe motive of the heart. But when the heart is affected as it ought to be, itcan hardly help breaking into outward testimony. And this especiallyhappens if it tends to common edification, so that all together, byconfessing their sin openly, render praise to the God of righteousness, andurge one another, each by his example.16. FASTING AND PRAYERAccordingly, fasting, as it is a sign of self-abasement, has more frequentuse in public than among private individuals even though, as has beensaid,F424 it is common to both. In so far, therefore, as it concerns thediscipline which we are now discussing, whenever men are to pray to Godconcerning any great matter, it would be expedient to appoint fasting alongwith prayer. Thus, when the Antiochenes placed their hands upon Pauland Barnabas, the better to commend their ministry to God, a ministry ofgreat importance, they joined fasting to prayer [<441303>Acts 13:3]. Thus,both of these afterward, when they appointed ministers to churches, wereaccustomed to pray with fasting [<441423>Acts 14:23]. Their sole purposein this kind of fasting is to render themselves more eager andunencumbered for prayer. Surely we experience this: with a full stomachour mind is not so lifted up to God that it can be drawn to prayer with aserious and ardent affection and persevere in it. So are we to understandwhat Luke relates concerning Anna, that she has served the Lord in fastingand prayers [<420237>Luke 2:37]. For Luke does not set the worship of Godin fasting; but he means that the holy woman has in this way trainedherself to sustained prayer. Such was Nehemiah’s fast when, with earnest 236zeal, he prayed God for the liberation of his people [<160104>Nehemiah1:4]. For this reason, Paul says that believers act rightly if they abstain fora time from the marriage bed, that they may be left freer for prayer and
  • 81. fasting. There he joins fasting with prayer as an aid to it, and warns that itis of no importance of itself except as it is applied to this end [<460705>1Corinthians 7:5]. Then, when in the same passage he instructs marriedcouples to give one another mutual consideration [<460703>1 Corinthians7:3], it is clear that he is not speaking of daily prayers, but of somethingdemanding more serious attention.17. FASTING AND THE PRACTICE OF PENANCEAgain, if either pestilence, or famine, or war begins to rage, or if anydisaster seems to threaten any district and people—then also it is the dutyof the pastors to urge the church to fasting, in order that by supplicationthe Lord’s wrath may be averted. For where he causes danger to appear hewarns that he is ready and, so to speak, armed for vengeance. Therefore, asin ancient times the accused were accustomed to abase themselves assuppliants with long beard, unkempt hair, and dark clothing, in order toappeal to the mercy of the judge—so, when we stand before God’sjudgment seat, it redounds to his glory and to edification of the people,and is also profitable and salutary for us in humble garb to pray that hisseverity be averted. And it can be readily inferred from the words of Joelthat this was the custom among the Israelites. For when he orders atrumpet to be sounded, an assembly to be called, fasting to be appointed,and the things that follow [<290215>Joel 2:15-16], he is speaking of mattersreceived as common custom. A little before, he had said that the trial of thepeople’s shameful acts was set, and announced that a day of judgment wasnow at hand, and had summoned the accused to plead their cause [cf.<290201>Joel 2:1]; then he cries out for them to hasten to sackcloth andashes, to weeping and fasting [<290212>Joel 2:12], that is, to prostratethemselves before the Lord also with outward testimonies. Indeed,sackcloth and ashes were perhaps more appropriate to those times; butthere is no doubt that meeting and weeping and fasting, and like activities,apply equally to our ageF425 whenever the condition of our affairs so
  • 82. demands. For since this is a holy exercise both for the humbling of menand for their confession of humility, why should we use it less than the 237ancients did in similar need? We read that not only the Israelite church,formed and established on the Word of God [<090706>1 Samuel 7:6; 31:13;<100112>2 Samuel 1:12], but also the Ninevites, who had no teaching but thepreaching of Jonah [<320305>Jonah 3:5], fasted in token of sorrow. Whatreason is there why we should not do the same?But, you object, this is an external ceremony which, together with others,ended in Christ. No, it is an excellent aid for believers today (as it alwayswas) and a profitable admonition to arouse them in order that they maynot provoke God more and more by their excessive confidence andnegligence, when they are chastised by his lashes. Accordingly, Christ,when he excuses his apostles for not fasting, does not say that fasting isabolished, but appoints it for times of calamity and joins it with mourning.“The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them.”[<400915>Matthew 9:15; <420534>Luke 5:34-35.]F42618. THE NATURE OF FASTINGBut to avoid any error in the term, let us define what fasting is. For herewe do not understand it simply as restraint and abstemiousness in food,but as something else. Throughout its course, the life of the godly indeedought to be tempered with frugality and sobriety, so that as far as possibleit bears some resemblance to a fast. But, in addition, there is another sortof fasting, temporary in character, when we withdraw something from thenormal regimen of living, either for one day or for a definite time, andpledge ourselves to a tighter and more severe restraint in diet thanordinarily. This consists in three things: in time, in quality of foods, and insmallness of quantity. By time, I mean that we should carry out those actsof fasting for the sake of which that fast is appointed. As, for example, if aman fasts for the sake of solemn prayer, he should come to it without
  • 83. breaking his fast. Quality consists in that all elegance should be absent, andthat, content with common and baser foods, we should not whet ourpalate with delicacies. The rule of quantity in this is that we should eatmore sparingly and lightly than is our custom; only for need, not also forpleasure. 238(Danger of superstition, notions of merit, and hypocrisy in fastingand the observance of Lent, 19-21)19. MISCONCEPTIONS OF FASTINGBut we must always take especial precaution lest any superstition creepin, as has previously happened to the great harm of the church. For itwould be much more satisfactory if fasting were not practiced at all, thandiligently observed and at the same time corrupted with false andpernicious opinions, into which the world repeatedly falls, unless thepastors meet it with the highest faithfulness and prudence.The first point is that they should always urge what Joel teaches, thatthey are to “rend their hearts, not their garments” [<290213>Joel 2:13]; thatis, they should admonish the people that God does not greatly esteemfasting of itself, unless an inner emotion of the heart is present, and truedispleasure at one’s sin, true humility, and true sorrowing arising from thefear of God. Indeed, fasting is not otherwise useful than when it is joinedas a lesser help to these. For God abominates nothing more than when mentry to disguise themselves by displaying signs and outward appearances inplace of innocence of heart. Therefore, Isaiah very severely inveighsagainst the Jews’ hypocrisy in thinking they were satisfying God whenthey had only fasted, whatever impiety and impure thoughts theyharbored in their hearts. “Is this the fast that the Lord has chosen?”[<235805>Isaiah 58:5-6, conflated], and what follows. Hypocritical fasting,then, is not only a useless and superfluous weariness but the greatestabomination.
  • 84. Another evil akin to this, and to be utterly avoided, is to regard fasting as awork of merit or a form of divine worship. For since fasting is in itself athing indifferent, and should have no importance except for the sake ofthose ends to which it ought to be directed, a most dangerous superstitionis involved in confusing it with works commanded by God and necessaryof themselves without any other consideration. Such was the delusion ofthe Manichees of old. Augustine, in refuting them, teaches clearly enoughthat fasting is to be judged solely by those ends which I have mentioned,and that it is approved by God only if it has reference to this.F427There is athird error, not indeed so impious, but still dangerous: to require it to be 239kept too strictly and rigidly as if it were one of the chief duties, and toextol it with such immoderate praises that men think they have donesomething noble when they have fasted. In this respect, I dare not whollyabsolve the ancient writers from having sown certain seeds of superstitionand having furnished the occasion of the tyranny which afterward arose. Inthem one sometimes comes across sane and wise statements about fasting,but later one repeatedly meets immoderate praises of fasting, which set itup among the chief virtues.20. DEGENERATION OF FASTING IN THE HISTORYOF THE CHURCHAt that time the superstitious observance of Lent had prevailedeverywhere, because the common people thought that in it they weredoing some exceptional service to God, and the pastors commended it as aholy imitation of Christ.F428 On the contrary, it is plain that Christ did notfast to set an example for others, but to prove, in so beginning to proclaimthe gospel, that it was no human doctrine but actually one sent fromheaven [<400402>Matthew 4:2]. And the marvel is that such sheerhallucination (which is refuted so often and with such clear arguments)could creep upon men of keen judgment. For Christ does not fast often—
  • 85. as he would have to do if he had willed to lay down a law of yearlyfasting—but only once, when he girded himself for the proclamation of thegospel. Nor does he fast in human fashion, as would have been fitting if hewilled to arouse men to imitate him; but he shows an example rather totransport all men to admiration of him than to arouse them with zeal toimitate him. Finally, his reason for fasting was not different from thatwhich Moses performed when he received the law at the Lord’s hand[<022418>Exodus 24:18; 34:28]. For since that miracle was manifested inMoses to establish the authority of the law, it ought not to have beenomitted in Christ, lest the gospel seem to yield to the law. But since thattime it never entered any man’s mind, on the excuse of following Moses,to establish such a form of fasting among the people of Israel. And none ofthe holy prophets and patriarchs followed it, even when they hadenthusiasm and zeal enough for all pious exercises. For the statement thatElijah went forty days without food and drink [<111908>1 Kings 19:8] onlyserved to apprise the people that he had been raised up to restore the law, 240from which almost all Israel had departed. It was, therefore, merewrongheaded zeal,F429 full of superstition, that they justified and paintedfasting as the following of Christ.However, there was amazing diversity in the manner of fasting, asCassiodorus relates from the ninth book of Socrates’ history. For theRomans (he says) had only three weeks, but for them the fast wascontinuous, except on Sunday and Saturday. The Illyrians and Greeks hadsix; others, seven; but fasting was at intervals. They differed as much inchoice of foods: some ate only bread and water; others added vegetables;still others did not abstain from fish and fowl; others made no distinctionin foods.F430 Augustine also mentions this difference in his second letter toJanuarius.F43121. DEPRAVED INDULGENCE IN SEASONS OF LASTING
  • 86. Worse times then followed, and to the misdirected zeal of the people wasadded the incompetence and lack of training of the bishops, as well as theirlust for mastery and their tyrannical rigor. Wicked laws were passed whichbind consciences with deadly chains. The eating of meat was forbidden, asif it would defile a man. Sacrilegious opinions were piled upon oneanother, until the depth of all errors was reached. And not to overlook anydepravity, they began, with a completely absurd pretense of abstinence, tomock God. For the praise of fasting is sought in the most exquisitedelicacies; then no dainties are enough; at no other time is there greaterabundance or variety or sweetness of foods. They think that they are dulyserving God in such and so elegant trappings. I forbear to mention thatthey who wish to be esteemed the most holy of men never glut themselvesmore foully. To sum up: for them the highest worship of God is to abstainfrom meats, and in their place to abound in all sorts of delicacies. On the
  • 87. Additional copies available from Presbyterian Distribution Service (PDS) Call 1-800-524-2612 and request: PDS #74365-05-361 (Participant Guide) 1-9 copies, $4.00 each; 10+ copies, $3.00 each PDS #74365-05-362 (Leaders Guide) $5.50 each You can also order online using the same PDS numbers at www.pcusa.org/marketplace Or you can download PDF versions from the Presbyterian Hunger Programs Food & Faith Initiative at www.pcusa.org/hunger/food PROGRAM PARTNERS Advocate Health Care Church World Service Presbyterian Hunger Program, PC(USA)PDS #74365-05-362