Striving to have eyes that see

My September 29th sermon was, at heart, an attempt to humanize people who receive SNAP benefits – people who are all too often demonized, blamed for needing help, called names like “lazy” or “grifters.” I was trying to demonstrate that the people who receive SNAP benefits are simply that: people. It just happens they are people who need a little help.

My sermon was an attempt to help us learn from the parable of the rich man and Lazarus. That is, it was an attempt to help us see the poor and hungry people who are on our doorstep. Something the rich man in the parable was unable to do until it was too late – for both men.

So I offered a bunch of statistics hoping to demonstrate that SNAP recipients could be any of us. SNAP recipients are white, black, and hispanic. Urban, suburban, and rural. Children, adults, and elderly. Married with children, single adults, and single parents. SNAP recipients work at all kinds of jobs, including our military.

However, after worship one member said better in two sentences what I spent twenty minutes trying to get across.

“Pastor, I wanted to stand up in the middle of your sermon and say, ‘It’s me! You’re talking about me! I’m working five jobs and still need help feeding my kids.'”

Yes, I talk and write and preach and post about hunger and poverty – a lot. I do so because both the biblical witness and United Methodist tradition convince me that is the best way to live the faith of Jesus Christ in the world.

But I also do so because experiences like this one on Sunday convince me again and again that in Christ there is no “them”, no “other.” There is only “us.” And we’re all on this journey of faith together. We all need each other. What affects one, affects us all.

That’s not a bug, it is a feature. Thanks be to God for that!

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