Heifer International is an organization that makes its mission to eradicate poverty and hunger in the world, a mission like Jesus’ own. It is featured in Spirit this week. Heifer educates people about the lives of people who need help with the basics to thrive. The learning center invites young people to experience a “day in the life” of families from different countries where poverty is more common. The song “Tapestry” is about taking stock of the world around us and opening our minds to people we don’t know, who live differently than we do, who get by with less. Real world situations open our eyes to people’s needs in ways that can become part of our tapestry. We can learn to approach social issues with compassion and work together on creative solutions that help raise people up.
Key lines: Have you felt a revolution? / Do you ever sit to stop and pause / Just to take a little moment / To see what’s mine and yours? / And all the things that I’ve seen / You will always be part of my tapestry / And all the places I’ve been / You will always be part of my tapestry
Questions: How hard is finding God in the world today? When have you experienced God? What in the natural world inspires you? Who in the human community inspires you? Who helps you step beyond yourself in your concerns?
Photo from the Catholic Relief Services Facebook page
Today is World Food Day 2015! This day marks the founding of the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations. This year’s theme is: “Social Protection and Agriculture: Breaking the Cycle of Rural Poverty”. Join in solidarity against hunger, especially among the poorest people. Visit the websites of the Food and Agricultural Organization, Heifer International, and Catholic Relief Services to see how you can contribute and help make this generation a Zero Hunger Generation.
“Whoever among you wants to be first must serve the needs of all. The Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve.” This Sunday’s Spirit focuses on service. By sustaining the Empty Bowls project and donating the proceeds to Heifer International (which then provides a means for helping people become more self-sufficient), the students at Cretin Durham are participating in a project that keeps giving. They’ve taken to heart and put into action Jesus’ call to help people in need, both their neighbors and the community at large.
Key lines: I wanna feed the hungry children / And reach across the farthest land / And tell the broken there is healing / And mercy in the Father’s hands
Questions: What is a service project you would like to become more involved in or start in your community or school? What has past experience working on a service project taught you? How did it change your perspective?
World Food Day is today, October 16th. Consider doing a hunger project this year! Here are some resources to get you started.
Food Fast is a Catholic Relief Services hunger awareness retreat for young Catholics (aged 13-18) in the United States. Food Fast celebrates Roman Catholic traditions of prayer, education, and community to inspire youth to a life of faith and service. A 24-hour fasting retreat is available from Catholic Relief Services. National FOOD FAST dates are November 16-17, 2012 and February 22-23, 2013.
Consider an Empty Bowls fundraiser for food shelves or Heifer International. Buy chickens (or goats, or heifers) that a family will use for their livelihood and food.
Bread For The World
Participate in Bread For The World’s lobbying work to end hunger. Bread for the World urges Congress to create a circle of protection around people in our country who are hungry and poor. Bread for the World works with churches, synagogues, and mosques to promote public policies that work to end hunger.
In my opinion, this week’s gospel contains one of the most powerful phrases Jesus utters: “Come and see.” Jesus could have answered Andrew’s simple question and ended the conversation. Instead, Jesus honors his curiosity and invites him to come and see for himself the ministry of Jesus. Andrew, having seen for himself, knows “We have found the Messiah.”
In our story this week in Spirit, the teens from Virginia could have looked on the internet and read about the work that Heifer International does to end hunger and poverty through sustainable agriculture. It is possible from that research, their minds could have been changed. They, however, took it a step further. The youth group went to see Overlook Farm themselves. As we see in the story, it was more than their minds that were changed by following Jesus’ request to, “Come and see.”
What happened in the story that may not have happened had they stayed home and stayed comfortable? Where do you see heart transformation in the story?
Currently in the United States, there is a lot of talk about the Occupy Wall Street movement. People form strong opinions about the movement– for and against– after only hearing short news blurbs or glancing at the social media activity around the movement. My friend Robbie decided to withhold her opinion until she could go and see for herself. She spent several days wandering through the protest, talking to people, eating with people and listening carefully. I really respect her for taking the time and effort to go and see for herself.
An old African proverb urges us, “When you pray, move your feet.” Thinking about the disciple Andrew, the Virginia youth group and my friend Robbie, I think there is truth here. There is so much power in moving our feet to go experience things outside our normal realm. Transformation can happen when we venture out to see new things and form relationships in places we don’t normally go. Whenever possible, I say yes to the invitations to “Come and see.” It has led me to live in Denver, South America and New York. It has led me to mountaintops and into relationship with precious communities of people I did not know existed. Without fail, going and seeing has changed me at a heart level. I have never regretted it.
When have you been curious enough to go and see something for yourself? What happened?
What do you feel like Jesus is inviting you to now in your life? Will you say yes?
Photo courtesy of Seattle Municipal Archives via Creative Commons License
Before you go Christmas shopping this season, think about checking out these fair-trade and alternative gifts.
Fair Trade Gifts
This year buy your gifts from companies that adhere to fair trade principles: tenthousandvillages.com, fairindigo.com, serrv.org, taraluna.com, globalmamas.org. There are many more companies to be found by searching “Fair Trade Gifts” online.
Sweatshop Alternative Clothing, SSALT.org
The Sweatshop Alternative Database has one goal: to dress you (or someone you love) head-to-toe in guaranteed non-sweatshop clothing. Search the database by clothing type.
(RED) products, joinred.com
Buy (RED) products from top brands and help save a child in Africa. Each time you buy a (RED) product or service, at no extra cost to you, the company who makes that product will give up to fifty percent of its profit to buy and distribute antiretroviral medicine to our brothers and sisters dying of AIDS in Africa.
Catholic Charities USA, catholiccharitiesusa.org
Find your local agency; take action to reduce poverty; support local programs and services.
Heifer International, heifer.org
Buy chickens (or goats, or heifers) that a family will use for their livelihood and food. Check out what’s new at this wonderful organization where one of the cornerstone principles is “Passing on the Gift.”
One Campaign, one.org
ONE is Americans of all beliefs and every walk of life?united as ONE?to help make poverty history. A campaign of over 2.4 million people and growing from all 50 states and over 100 of America’s most well-known and respected non-profit, advocacy and humanitarian organizations.
The Red Cross, redcross.org
Give to the group who always arrives first in times of disaster.
Volunteer at Christmastime
Charity Guide, charityguide.org
Whether you have 15 minutes or two weeks, this site directs you to opportunities to help others. Search by topic or amount of time you have to give.