Over the years church calendars and social schedules have been strongly affected by sorting events live and televised. But today, although it is the season opener for our beloved Kansas City Chiefs,we have 400 people signed up to participate in a global hunger relief effort in which our church id participating. Those 400 people's goal is packing 40,000 dehydrated meals. That 200 is equal to 20% of our church membership. Some are joining from outside the congregation, but still, on an afternoon when the first shift will potentially overlap with the end of the game and certainly conflicts with many social gatherings inspired by the game, that is amazing.
There has been so much on the news lately about Syrian refugees and the less reported refugees from Ukraine, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Eritrea, Afghanistan, Iraq, Nigeria, Sudan, Southern Sudan and others that we are more mindful of folks who need these most basic meals of dehydrated rice and beans and vegetables in order to feed their children. The UN estimates better than 8% of the people in the world (60,000,000) are in refugee status. Many are waiting to return to an area when it stabilizes (think waiting for stability in Iraq, Afghanistan or the Sudan!) Many are in a new place where the food and climate and customs are radically different and employment opportunities and housing are starkly rare.
I am a Protestant girl who has been excited about Pope Francis' willingness to nudge followers of Christ to be more Christ-like. His willingness to spend some portion of his political capital in advocating for more affluent nations to act like compassionate adults is exciting. (One in four refugees now shelters in very poor countries such as Ethiopia or Kenya whose per capita income is far lower than many more able nations who are welcoming fewer survivors.)
So today I am paying more attention to the folks who will receive this food, people whose children and parents, whose pregnant widow and whose teenage son are fleeing to an uncertain future because they have experienced a frightening and dangerous past, people who face challenges we can only hazily begin to imagine. And I pledge to take that awareness and live it more intentionally. I pledge to be more aware of the needs down the block, across town, in the next state, in all the nations and places of the world. I pledge to take more risks in stepping up and be more generous and wise in giving. And I pledge to bear up in prayer, not only these refugees but the family, friends and martyrs they had to leave behind in situations none of us would wish on our greatest foe.
May all of God's people say AMEN!