Whose image is this (coin)? And whose image is this (person holding coin)?
And this? And this? And this? (Other people in the gathering)
And whose image is on all the people of Earth?
So we give to God what is God’s – ourselves.
And we respect the image of God in one another, remembering that
in the beginning God made human beings in the image of God (Gen 1.26f),
in his own image, his own likeness,
male and female he created them.
So we see to respond reverently,
with respect for dignity and
with charity for the needs, of others,
for in doing so we offer thanks –
a gift of gratitude –
to the Original in whose image
they are made:
the true living God
who created all of us.
God’s glory is revealed among the nations, all the peoples of the earth,
in Christ who becomes present to us as we the body of Christ
go to work
in the world,
acting in concert with his works of mercy.
God has chosen us and called us to be his saints –
imitators of the Lord and examples to all the believers –
like the people of Thessalonica,
who turned from false images of God,
we turn from our own false idols
to serve the living and true God,
and our hope is in his son Jesus Christ.
This is what it takes to declare God’s glory among the nations
and his wonders among the peoples:
to go out and share your faith,
not resting on past achievements –
or simply maintaining what we have received;
not hoarding it like a pile of old coins –
but building up the kingdom.
The kingdom of heaven,
the reign of God,
the promise of peace,
begins to come into being,
as we ourselves live and work
and act as its people.
As citizens of God’s kingdom,
we are sanctified – set apart for a holy purpose –
as God’s beloved people,
who are called to be saints.
We are the salt of the earth. We are the light of the world.
As we take in the Bread of the Table,
the Bread from Heaven,
it transforms us,
and we become Bread for the World.
So we take in the holy Bread and wine,
of the Sacrament of the Table,
not for our nourishment alone,
but as visible images of the living God,
representatives of the hope that is ours in Christ Jesus,
and in the Spirit, witnesses to his Truth,
the truth that in all things God’s mercy
can be active, God’s compassion at work.
We witness to the truth that through all things Christ’s light can shine, and that
in Christ God’s glory is revealed to all.
Be witness, then, by word and deed,
by your gifts of gratitude and works of charity,
by your everyday labor and extraordinary kindnesses,
as witnesses to the truth,
and the grace and mercy and peace of God be with you all,
that you, who are called to be saints,
may be made holy people, made in the image of the living and true God.
BREAD FOR THE WORLD
Today is World Food Day, and Bread for the World Sunday. This is the second year we have taken up a collection for Bread for the World. You may know about its founder, Art Simon, or a local member of its board, Rick Steves (who mentions it on channel 9).
Art Simon began Bread for the World when he was pastor of a church that served a poor neighborhood in New York City on the lower East Side of Manhattan. His parish had a soup kitchen and a food bank and a clothes closet, and they were doing good work together in those ministries. But then they looked up and thought, what causes this? Are there public policies that affect this problem? Could they be improved? And as citizens they began to speak up on behalf of the poor, the hungry, and those in need – the people that Jesus particularly reached out to in his ministry along the roads of Galilee and in the streets of Jerusalem.
And they found that indeed, they had a voice, and could make it heart. Government responded and began to adopt policies that attack at the root the causes of poverty and hunger. This is an ongoing work. It is not over, not by any means. Just how government can help (or at first, do no harm) is sometimes debated – but some things are clear. Bread for the World does its homework, so that as policy is made, citizens are heard – Christian citizens speaking up with no partisan agenda. This is one way we can be Bread for the World – taking our faith actively into action in word, deed, and gift – to God’s glory.
As we look about us, we see God’s image in each other. As we look across the world, we see God’s image in complete strangers, far away. And yet they are, like us, God’s beloved children.
We are in the midst of a season of gratitude, of giving, of thanksgiving. We reflect upon the abundance of the grace of God, and the providence of his blessing.
May God who gives grace to us,
give us grace to give others;
may God who is merciful to us, and kind,
bring kindness and generosity into our lives,
that we may share the abundant love
of Christ with those around us.
May we, seeking to do your will,
find it in serving you; in seeking
you to serve you; & find you in the
face of others, friend and stranger.
May we, serving you in
others, find ourselves at home; and
find our home in you.
Bread for the World, by Arthur Simon (New York: Paulist Press, 1975)
Grace at the Table: Ending Hunger in God’s World, by David Beckmann & Arthur Simon (Mahwah, NJ: Paulist Press, 1999)
Rediscovering the Lord’s Prayer, by Art Simon (Minneapolis: Augsburg Books, 2005)
The Rising of Bread for the World: An Outcry of Citizens Against Hunger, by Arthur Simon (Mahwah, NJ: Paulist Press, 2009)
Some years ago on the Lower East Side of Manhattan a congregation got involved in helping its hungrier neighbors. At first they offered direct assistance: food bank, soup kitchen. But after awhile they came to realize that that was not enough. They needed to get to the root of the problem – of why people were going hungry in the first place. And so they began to look into government policies and how they affected the availability of food that people could afford. They found that government had a lot to do with it – and some times policies were not working toward the goal. But they found that they could speak up on behalf of the poor. They could make a difference. They could influence public policy so that it worked to the benefit of hungry people, people who needed good food. And so they began what became Bread for the World.
Bread for the World is an advocacy group, an organized effort by Christian people to influence public policy on behalf of the poor and hungry, in this country and around the globe. By working with the people who make decisions on public policy, and by helping citizens to have their voices heard, they have a solid record of achievement. Over the years they have helped bring forward legislation and funding that help toward the goal of putting hunger behind us.