Enough to go Around-Thanksgiving Sermon

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Mon, 12/16/2019 - 9:15am

“Enough to Go Around” Sermon for: 11-25-19 at Harbor Church

Isaiah 41:17-20

17 “When the poor and needy search for water and there is none,

and their tongues are parched from thirst,

then I, the Lord, will answer them.

I, the God of Israel, will never abandon them.

18 I will open up rivers for them on the high plateaus.

I will give them fountains of water in the valleys.

I will fill the desert with pools of water.

Rivers fed by springs will flow across the parched ground.

19 I will plant trees in the barren desert—

cedar, acacia, myrtle, olive, cypress, fir, and pine.

20 I am doing this so all who see this miracle

will understand what it means—

that it is the Lord who has done this,

the Holy One of Israel who created it. [1]

Mark 8:1-10

In those days when there was again a great crowd without anything to eat, he called his disciples and said to them, “I have compassion for the crowd, because they have been with me now for three days and have nothing to eat. If I send them away hungry to their homes, they will faint on the way—and some of them have come from a great distance.” His disciples replied, “How can one feed these people with bread here in the desert?” He asked them, “How many loaves do you have?” They said, “Seven.*” Then he ordered the crowd to sit down on the ground; and he took the seven loaves, and after giving thanks he broke them and gave them to his disciples to distribute; and they distributed them to the crowd. They had also a few small fish; and after blessing them, he ordered that these too should be distributed. They ate and were filled; and they took up the broken pieces left over, seven baskets full. Now there were about four thousand people. And he sent them away. And immediately he got into the boat with his disciples and went to the district of Dalmanutha.[2]

MESSAGE:

In today’s Scripture Readings, we have two simple illustrations, two miracle stories; one is a parable and one is a pronouncement. They address in a positive way God’s provision for the two most basic human needs on the planet: the needs for the most fundamental sources of all life; food and water.

In The first reading the prophet Isaiah has a vision of the Lord providing water: He creates springs and fountains and pools and rivers and streams of water for everyone.

In the second reading, there is food enough for everyone.. The Story: Jesus is preaching to a crowd, it’s the end of the day, everyone is probably tired and his disciples want wrap things up and send them away. But Jesus says, “ I have compassion for the crowd, because they have been with me now for three days and have nothing to eat. If I send them away hungry to their homes, they will faint on the way”—His disciples reply, “How can one feed these people with a little bread here in the desert?” Jesus solution is to take the available food, bless it, have his disciples distribute it to the crowd, and everyone is fed.

In both stories, there is more than enough to go around.

Today, one in nine of the world’s 7+ 1/2 billion people — more than 800 million men, women and children — don’t get enough to eat, despite the fact that more than enough food is produced daily (at least in terms of calories)to feed everyone on Earth.

Most of the world’s hungry live in the developing regions of Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa, and many of them are children. Inadequate nutrition kills more than three million children under age 5 every year, and is responsible for 45% of all such global deaths. Worldwide, one in six kids (a total of about 100 million) is malnourished.[3]

Close to a billion people live without access to Safe Water or to improved water sources for regular hygiene needs. According to the CDC, this accounts for the deaths of nearly a million children a year due to contaminated water-borne diseases[4]

Does God care? What’s the Lord doing about this? Isaiah, speaking as the mouthpiece for God, answers this question, saying:

17 “When the poor and needy search for water and there is none,

and their tongues are parched from thirst,

then I, the Lord, will answer them.

I, the God of Israel, will never abandon them.

 

So why then, we ask, are people still hungry and thirsty? Let’s remember, that When a hand is Pointing a finger at someone else, there are four fingers pointing back at the hand’s owner. I’m reminded of the lyrics to a song that say something to the effect of “Isn’t God doing something about this? – Well, He did; he sent his son, and now he is sending us.”

 

Heaven on Earth.

There is a story told of an old woman who had a wish. She wished more than anything to know, and to see for herself the real difference between heaven and hell. The monks in the temple agreed to grant her request. They put a blindfold around her eyes, and said, “First you shall see hell.”

When the blindfold was removed, the old woman was standing at the entrance to a great dining hall. The hall was full of round tables, each piled high with the most delicious foods — meats, vegetables, fruits, breads, and desserts of all kinds! The smells that reached her nose were wonderful.

The old woman noticed that, in hell, there were people seated around those round tables. She saw that their bodies were thin, and their faces were gaunt, and creased with frustration. Each person held a spoon. The spoons must have been three feet long! They were so long that the people in hell could reach the food on those platters, but they could not get the food back to their mouths. As the old woman watched, she heard their hungry desperate cries. “I’ve seen enough,” she cried. “Please let me see heaven.”

And so again the blindfold was put around her eyes, and the old woman heard, “Now you shall see heaven.” When the blindfold was removed, the old woman was confused. For there she stood again, at the entrance to a great dining hall, filled with round tables piled high with the same lavish feast. And again, she saw that there were people sitting just out of arm’s reach of the food with those three-foot long spoons.

But as the old woman looked closer, she noticed that the people in heaven were plump and had rosy, happy faces. As she watched, a joyous sound of laughter filled the air.

And soon the old woman was laughing too, for now she understood the difference between heaven and hell for herself. The people in heaven were using those long spoons to feed each other.[i]

 

Now this is not a Debbie-Downer sermon, not a motivate -through- guilt message.

 

Progress is being made. There is more access to fresh water than there was a few years ago. And complex strategies to address inequities in world food and health management are being implemented with vigor and success. But the work isn’t done.

 

Strategies and Solutions

What is/can be done? In a study published this September in the journal Nature Sustainability, researchers suggest that the key is reducing the inequalities in access to food.

 

  1. Food Waste - Many experts say that enough food exists to feed 10 billion people today. Unfortunately, it’s not only inadequately distributed but also, to a large extent, wasted.,” According to the World Resources Institute, “About 24% of all the calories produced for human consumption don’t actually end up reaching human mouths.” Food is lost or wasted throughout the supply chain, from initial production down to final household consumption. This is due to problems in harvesting, storage, packing, transport, distribution, as well as institutional corruption. “Food waste is the low-hanging fruit in the system.”
    My own “Clean Plate” Principle. I grew up with this, but gave it up a long time ago. You don’t have to clean the plate; just don’t put more on it than you think you will eat. Don’t prepare more than you will use. Or The “Muzgos” - look in the fridge and say, this must go, that must go, and make another meal of the left-overs.
  2. Climate Change. “Changes in the frequency and severity of droughts and floods could pose challenges for farmers and ranchers. Overall, climate change could make it more difficult to grow crops, raise animals and catch fish in the same ways and same places as we have done in the past.” As temperatures rise, crop productivity declines.,” So anything that you and I do to mitigate climate change can ultimately increase food resources worldwide.
  3. What People Eat. Most of us have been made aware that Animal protein requires far greater resources to produce than plant-based proteins. We’ve seen this in the fast food industry, with the increase in soy-based foods. They’ve been called by names ranging from Impossible Burgers, to Un-burgers. I recently tried one and found it un-satisfying and im-possible to compare to the real thing. So, not for everyone. But eating meat less frequently or in smaller portions could be a viable strategy. I’ve ready that after exercise, you only need 4-6 oz of protein to replentish, which are far smaller amounts than most of us eat in a single serving meal. So eating less beef, and more fruits and vegetables is not only good for you, but stretches existing resources which in turn makes them available for others.
  4. Water Management . In a new book “ When the Wells Go Dry “ author Lester Brown, says that the water issue is more imminent than climate change,” It’s almost common sense that water conservation and responsible management of water tables and aquifers can contribute to meeting this basis human need. This is especially important in arid regions areas where water is scarce to start with and every new well dug is vital to health and well-being. (pun intended).
  5. Global Conflict and Food Insecurity. Food insecurity is both a cause of civil conflict, and a result of it. To the extent that we are able to promote peace on earth and goodwill to all, we will at the same time be increasing resources for all.

 

So what can you and I do to be a part of the solution, part of God’s provision for others?

The short answer is that we already are, but the work’s not complete yet.

 May 22, 2018 · The United States is, by far, the world's largest international food aid donor. Almost every year since the 1950s, it has been responsible for more than 50 percent of the billions of tons of food shipped from the parts of the world with a surplus to the parts of the world that are hungry.

 

Current Best Practices at The local Food Pantry Model. –. We are already Moving towards providing complete solutions. Many families dealing with poverty need help transitioning into a state of self-dependence., to slowly find solutions to empower families to be self-sufficient. This is a major strategy in our culture- important, because self-sufficiency allows for a certain food income, when relying on donations does not always guarantee food. Many food pantries now offer other services like education, vocational training and job placement .

We all have a part in this; but its up to each of us to figure our just what our own individual part looks like.

 

One person at a time.

Someone said: “We can’t help everyone, but everyone can help someone” A woman had just arrived at her destination in Manhattan after a 16 block cab ride. One look in her purse made her stomach drop, as she realized she’d forgotten her wallet.

She tried to explain the situation to the cab driver, as she rifled through her purse looking for any way to pay the taxi fare that was due. Just as she was getting desperate, a man walked up and handed her fifty dollars.

 

“Thank you, thank you!” she gushed to the kind stranger. “Please sir, give me your address and I’ll pay you back.”

The man reached into his back pocket and pulled out an old receipt. On the back, he scribbled a an address.

“You can bring my money here,” he explained.

Gratefully, the woman took the address and promised to deliver the money the next day.

True to her word, she turned up that very afternoon with money in hand. But the address took her somewhere very different from what she’d expected.

 

She found herself out front of a soup kitchen, where a sign read, “Accepting cash donations to feed the hungry."

 

Without hesitation, the woman walked in and donated the fifty dollars she was holding.

Helping one person might not change the whole world, But it can change the world for one person.

 

A Perfect World

In the miraculous feeding , Jesus had seven loaves of bread, and after everyone was feed, there were seven baskets of left-lovers. In scripture the number 7 represents completeness or perfection. In a perfect world, everyone’s basic human needs for food and water can be completely met. But we can only get there as each one of us does our own part.

 

Math at Mealtime. At The dinner table (when food is served family style, and we pass the plates around), we all do the calculation sometimes. The dish is passed to us, we glance around, see how many have been served, and how far the dish still has to go around the table, and try to take a portion for ourselves that leaves enough for the rest who haven’t had a helping yet. So simple, yet a principle that could reach well beyond our dinner table if we practice it on a more global basis.

 

This Thanksgiving, may our expression of gratitude for the abundance that the Lord has poured out in our lives overflow into the lives of others, and may we all do our part to make sure that there is enough to go around.

References:

[3] From Wharton University of Pennsylvania study of 2015:

[4] Current Center for Disease Control Statistics