From the Pastor’s Desk March 2014

In a recent Bible study session we watched the video of Rob Bell’s reflection on riches. The video put our views on wealth in America in perspective when compared to the worlds as a whole. The point of the video was that we, as Americans, have been truly blessed, and how as Christians we are called upon to be a blessing to others. What really stuck with me from the video was the fact that the cost to eliminate world hunger is roughly what Americans spend on ice cream in one year. I admit that blows my mind that 1.5 million children die from hunger every year, and it could be prevented! This is not meant to be a guilt trip but rather a point of hope for a situation that often seems so overwhelmingly huge. This is something that is not only do-able but it wouldn’t even require a major change in our lifestyle. I find it exciting and hopeful that we can indeed make a difference, with even this little bit of effort. Giving up one little luxury isn’t going to change the world over night…but maybe it might change and transform us a little bit, to open our hearts and minds to the needs of our neighbors, the ones just down the street and the ones halfway around the globe. As we enter this season of Lent, let us recall the words of Jesus who said, “ Then the king will say to those at his right hand, ‘Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink? And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing? And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?’ And the king will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.’ (Mat 25:34-40 NRSV). Through simple gestures of compassion and kindness we can move towards God’s vision of a just society where everyone is fed. Many people give up something for Lent: chocolate, desserts, soda pop, meat on Friday. I’ve never been a big fan of that because I didn’t see a lot of value in it. But as I have been considering various spiritual practices, I’ve been thinking about what it is I can do during the upcoming Lenten season to work towards the justice and righteousness that God calls us to work towards. So I’ve decided to give up ice cream for the forty days of Lent…and then donate that money to programs that combat hunger both locally and globally. Will you join me? If so, beginning on Ash Wednesday I invite you to begin setting aside the money that you would normally spend on ice cream. Watch our bulletins and next month’s newsletter for more information on this project and the programs it will help fund. Then on that 1st Monday after Easter, celebrate the end of our “ice cream fast” at the St. John UCC fundraiser night at Robert’s Frozen Custard. Grace and Peace, Pastor Tara