Hands, feet and voice

“If a brother or sister is naked and lacks daily food, and one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace; keep warm and eat your fill,’ and yet you do not supply their bodily needs, what is the good of that?”

It was just a few weeks ago that we read in worship those words from James’ epistle.

This week Fred Clark wrote:

Why do the hungry suffer? For lack of food. Why do the oppressed and enslaved suffer? For want of liberation.

These are not, primarily, metaphysical puzzles for us to ponder. Such puzzles are also significant, but they mustn’t ever be confused for the most important, most urgent, or most obvious response to human suffering. Human suffering is cause for action — for individual and institutional and structural steps to relieve it and to prevent it. [read the rest]

“Supply bodily needs.” “steps to relieve and prevent suffering.” These are other ways of naming what we frequently call being the hands, feet and voice of Jesus in the world.

Over the next few weeks we here in Illinois have an opportunity – and I would say a responsibility – to live our faith, to embody our beliefs, to supply needs, to relieve and prevent suffering, to be the hands, feet and voice of Jesus in the world as we advocate with and for hungry and poor people.

This work is not new. The reasons for doing it are many.

Here’s what you and I can do right now, today:

1. Sign this Change.org petition to Senator Durbin to protect SNAP, WIC and tax credits for the working poor* in his work as part of the Gang of Eight**.

2. Make a pledge to support WUMC’s participation in Sleep Out Saturday. We’re raising awareness and raising money to fight homelessness in DuPage County.

3. Share a story. Do you or someone you know receive federal assistance, especially from SNAP? We heard again last week from Sen. Durbin’s office that he wants stories to support and personalize the importance of protecting these programs. We’re just looking for basic info (name, age, gender, church, community, family status, employment, etc.) and a sentence or two on how the benefits are used and why they’re important. Only first names will be shared if you prefer. Local Bread for the World advocates will deliver these stories to Sen. Durbin’s Chicago Loop office on Thursday, Nov. 1.

Here’s what you and I can do this Sunday, October 28:

4. Watch The Line in Fellowship Hall after second worship service and participate in the discussion. We are trying to model for our young people (and all of us really) that the church is a place to have real conversations about complex issues that matter. Can’t make it to WUMC on Sunday? Watch it now and find someone to talk with about it.

Here’s what you and I can do on Tuesday, October 30:

5. Participate in the state-wide Call-In Day to Sen. Durbin

  • Number to call: 1-800-826-3688. This number forwards to the Capitol Switchboard. Just ask the operator for “Sen. Durbin’s office.”
  • Sample message to deliver: “Thank you for being a champion for the needs of hungry and poor people in our community, in your work within the Gang of Eight (senators working on a bipartisan deficit-reduction plan). Continue to push the Gang of Eight to protect programs for hungry and poor people, especially SNAP and WIC for our neighbors here and foreign assistance for our neighbors abroad.”

Here’s what you and I can do on Saturday, Nov. 3:

6. Participate in Sleep Out Saturday at WUMC. Bring your sleeping bag, your blankets, and a desire to learn, share and grow.

Here’s what you and I can do anytime:

7. Pray

8. Learn more as we read, watch, listen, and converse.

9. Share all this with your networks.

Together we will be the hands, the feet, and the voice of Jesus in a hurting world.

What did I forget? What would you add?

*Why is this the responsible thing to do? Read The Myth of the Exploding Safety Net.
**Sen. Durbin is a member of the “Gang of Eight” bipartisan senators working to craft a framework that could pass the U.S. House and Senate and receive the President’s signature-­‐-­‐no easy feat, given the highly partisan climate in Congress and the conflicting views for how to best move our country forward. But most members of Congress do not want our nation to go over the “fiscal cliff” of simultaneous funding cuts and tax increases, which will happen soon if Congress does nothing. Yet despite this anxiety, the Gang of Eight is currently the only working group in Congress that could potentially reach a deal on a framework that can become law.
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