devozine

For Youth Workers Post

HUNGER

Steve Matthews

“In the Habit” session for use with devozine meditations for November 10–16, 2014.

MAKING THE CONNECTION

“It’s mid-morning, and I am already wondering what I’m going to have for lunch. I could go to my refrigerator and pull out some sandwich fixings. Perhaps I will thaw some soup from the freezer, or I could make a smoothie. All that sounds like too much trouble; I think I’ll go grab a bite out somewhere.

“I don’t consider myself wealthy, but I can afford to eat most anything I want (within reason). My belly bears testimony to my habits of over-eating, so you might ask, ‘What credibility does he have to talk about hunger?’ It’s certainly a question I’m asking myself. I am burdened by my loss of connection to the hungry in the world, and I hope writing this lesson might renew some call in me to reach out to those who lack adequate nutrition. Part of our call as Christians, which we have in common with people of many religions, is to feed the hungry. Even so, one in every eight people go to bed hungry. But there is hope. Since 1992 the number of people living with hunger is down 17% (see ‘10 Hunger Facts for 2014,’ The World Food Programme, for more information).

“Jesus’ life shows us that we are called to care for hungry souls and hungry bodies. What will I do to feed the ‘least of these’ (Matthew 25:40)? What will you do?” —Steve

MEET THE WRITER

devozine Steve Matthews IMG_0433Steve Matthews was a youth minister for more than fifteen years. He lives in the South Coast of Massachusetts and is the Director of the South Coast Mission Hub (a collaborative of churches sponsored by the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts). Steve is also a spiritual director and a consultant working to systematically redevelop parish ministries struggling with decline. He was a writer for The Way of Pilgrimage: An Adventure in Spiritual Formation for the Next Generation.

 

STUFF YOU WILL NEED

  • Bibles or copies of Isaiah 58:10 and 1 Corinthians 12:26
  • one or two photos from Images of Hunger
  • newsprint
  • markers
  • copies of the closing prayer
  • pens
  • index cards
  • Print-Friendly Version of this session

PLUGGED IN

Most of the people in our youth groups will probably not go to bed hungry tonight, but hunger is a prominent issue in our world and perhaps in our neighborhoods and communities. In some situations, food may not be scarce; but impoverished neighborhoods lack easy access to fresh fruits and vegetables and adequate nutrition.

  • Some of the organizations you may want to be familiar with include Heifer International, Bread for the World, Stop Hunger Now, CROP, and The Society of St. Andrew. These organizations offer many diverse and creative ways for young people and communities to engage in hunger relief. Please explore these websites for videos, songs, and stories to share with your group. You may also want to develop a summary of the unique gifts each organization offers volunteers who get involved in hunger relief.
  • One World One Song” by Dionne Warwick and Joe McElderry also offers an uplifting challenge toward engagement.

CHECKING IN

Begin the session with an opening ritual: a moment of silence, a short prayer the group says together, or a candle-lighting to symbolize Christ’s presence. Invite the group to take a moment to claim the space and time as holy.

Then invite group members to answer the following questions, encouraging people to listen to one another prayerfully and without comment:
       When have you encountered someone who was hungry?
       When were you hungry and afraid that you were not going to get enough to eat?
       How did you feel? Why did you feel this way?
       What resulted from your experience? What did you learn?

EXPLORING THE WORD

Scripture: Isaiah 58:10, 1 Corinthians 12:26

While our world may be making gains on feeding the hungry, so many people are still in need. When we see pictures of babies with distended bellies, we may feel hopeless and guilty, so much so that we avoid helping at all. After all, what can we do when the issue is so huge?

The mandate in scripture to feed the hungry is clear. But rather than suggesting guilt as our motivation, scripture invites us to consider our relationship with our sisters and brothers around the block and around the world and to love them as family. While we may not be neighbors in the strictest sense, what would change if we saw all the world as our neighborhood and simply offered who we are and what we can in our own unique ways?

Invite the group to read 1 Corinthians 12:26. Then ask:
       How do we foster the kind of relationships that encourage the empathy expressed in scripture?

Sometimes sending money to a cause is the best we can do, but Paul seems to suggest that a relationship is forged in which empathy is the fruit. Even when we send money, we can offer prayers as well and we can do our best to know as much as possible about each person’s situation.

Isaiah 58:10 seems to imply a motivation based in love. Ask the group to read this passage as well. Invite their responses and reflections.
       What is the message for us in these two scripture passages?

The problem of hunger does not have a one-size-fits-all answer. Needs and the ways we are called to meet them are diverse. Show a few photos from Images of Hunger. Then invite group members to brainstorm, responding to this question:
       What resources might be tapped so that hungry people can be fed? (for example: lobbying the government for better resources, teaching farming and agriculture, encouraging jobs, providing food, addressing climate change and pollution, having fundraisers)

List the group’s ideas on newsprint. Then ask:
       What particular gifts could you offer to help feed the hungry?

Not everyone can be a community organizer or advocate. Not everyone has $1000 to donate. Not everyone can travel to offer assistance. Not everyone feels good about giving a hungry person money. However, when we each do something, the body of Christ is built up in a way that brings more joy and hope to a needy situation and to us.

SHARING IN PRAYER

Invite group members into a short period of silent prayer. Then ask them to read slowly the words of this prayer from Bread for the World:

     O God, the source of our common life,
     When we are dry and scattered,
     When we are divided and alone,
     We long for connection, we long for community.
     Breath of God, breathe on us.

     With those we live beside,
     Who are often strange to us,
     Whom we may be afraid to approach,
     Yet who have riches of friendship to share,
     We long for connection, we long for community.
     Breath of God, breathe on us.

     With those we have only heard of,
     Who see with different eyes,
     Whose struggles we try to imagine,
     Whose fierce joy we wish we could grasp,
     We long for connection, we long for community.
     Breath of God, breathe on us.

     With those we shall never know,
     But whose lives are linked with ours,
     Whose shared ground we stand on,
     And whose common air we breathe,
     We long for connection, we long for community.
     Breath of God, breathe on us.

                    —“We Long for Community,” by Janet Morley
                    Bread of Tomorrow From Bread for the Preacher, June 2010

TAKING IT FURTHER

Invite group members to generate a written list of the ways individuals might address the needs of the hungry in their community. Then ask each person to write on an index card one thing they will do during the next week to feed the hungry. What can the group do together in the next few weeks?

—from devozine In the Habit (November/December 2014). Copyright © 2014 by The Upper Room®. All rights reserved.

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