I like you and nothing more #StayWokeAdvent

Like John so long ago, and Isaiah even before that, the voice came to me out of the wilderness. (You know, for values of ‘wilderness’ that include ‘bouncing off a few cell towers.’) “Hey Pastor Dave, we should play ‘Nothing More’ in church sometime soon. With all the horrible things in the news lately, it’s important to remember that how we treat each other is very important. Just a thought! :)”

Don’t sell yourself short, there’s nothing ‘just’ about that thought; it’s spot on. So this time the young woman birthed an idea rather than a child.

This week was our final Wednesday Night Live (youth group) gathering for the calendar year. With what message should we send them off? How might #StayWokeAdvent continue and even grow into #StayWokeChristmas or #StayWokeNewYear?

Here’s our first answer:

Do you like you? Cause I like you.

God’s incarnation into the world as a baby is God’s act of solidarity with humanity. The Incarnation shows just how much God loves you and me and everyone. God loves us all so much that God became one of us. In the Incarnation God opens up the eternal, mutual, loving relationship of the Trinity to invite us all in. We know God loves us, for God is love.

But I think it is more than that. I think the incarnation also shows us that God likes us. (Obviously there are some things that God does not like. When we hurt each other, when we oppress one another, when we fail to feed the hungry or visit prisoners or welcome immigrants or…) I’m convinced God does not look at us the way we might look at a crazy uncle and say, “Well, I love him because he’s family, but I don’t like him.” No, for God to dwell among us as one of us must mean that God likes us as well as loving us. And that is a message too many of our young people – especially our young women – need to hear in order to counteract all the messages telling them they aren’t good enough, aren’t pretty enough, aren’t skinny enough, aren’t white enough.

Our young people, and probably all people, need to be reminded that God loves us; God even likes us.

Having established who we are and whose we are – God’s beloved and liked children – we’re free to respond to the world with love. We’re prepared to let God’s light shine through us into a world that desperately needs light and life.

That song is a great reminder that treating each other well is the only way to truly demonstrate that #BlackLivesMatter; the only way to truly show the peace, hope, love, and joy of the season. Nothing more will do.

Wanna feed 2 million people – or even 9 million – in less than 10 minutes?

If so, all you have to do is read a little and add your name to a letter. Sometimes advocacy is just that simple.

Illinois residents (along with those of Alaska, Indiana, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, Washington, Wisconsin, and West Virginia) have an opportunity – I would even say a duty – to influence legislation currently being considered in the Senate Commerce Committee that, if passed as is, takes away food from 2 million hungry people. Illinois Senator Dick Durbin is on that committee. Senator Durbin needs to hear that we, his constituents, want Section 318 out of the final version of The Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Act of 2014. Why? From Bread for the World:

Section 318 increases shipping restrictions for U.S. food aid, and makes our food aid less efficient, increasing shipping costs by more than $75 million per year. The additional cost would be taken directly out of our nation’s food aid programs—literally out of the mouths of 2 million men, women and children. Both U.S. taxpayers and hungry people would lose from this unjust provision.

Additionally, a bipartisan bill, The Food for Peace Reform Act of 2014, was introduced this week. If passed it could feed up to nine million hungry people by making U.S. food aid more efficient. The United Methodist Church’s General Board of Church and Society joined several other organizations supporting this bill, asking for it to be passed quickly.

With help from our friends at Bread for the World, each of us can raise our voice with and for hungry neighbors just by adding our name to a single letter which will be delivered to our Senators and Representatives on June 10. (Full text of the letter is also below.)

Will you join me in signing this letter and thereby work to change food aid systems so they feed more people?

Check out the video below for a great song to accompany some justice advocacy. (H/T to Patti Cash for bringing this song to my attention.)

 


June 2014

Dear Sen. Dick Durbin, Sen. Mark Kirk, and our respective U.S. representatives:

As religious leaders across Illinois, we answer the call to help our neighbors in need. Our faith communities are globally engaged, and we know U.S. policy plays a critical role in addressing human needs and fostering global development. Our faith compels us to support policy reforms to our nation’s international food aid that would enable us to:

* feed millions more hungry people,
* deliver life-saving food more quickly,
* support vulnerable communities in becoming self-sufficient, and
* better utilize taxpayer dollars.

Reforming U.S. food aid is the right thing to do from both a moral and a fiscal standpoint. It is also in America’s self-interest, as it would do more to foster peace, stability and goodwill toward our nation and would support the development of new trade partners and consumers for U.S. products.

As you debate legislation and cast votes in Congress, we ask you to keep poor and hungry people at the forefront of your heart and mind, and we ask you to support the following reforms to our international food aid:

1. Improve flexibility and efficiency, so we can more effectively respond to hunger.
2. Enhance nutritional quality, so vulnerable populations (such as very young children) receive what they need to thrive.
3. Protect food aid funding, so policy improvements lead to more lives saved.

We specifically ask you to cosponsor the “Food for Peace Reform Act of 2014,” from Sens. Bob Corker and Chris Coons. This bill will make our food aid more efficient, freeing up as much as $440 million annually and thereby allowing us to reach seven to nine million more people, in a substantially shorter amount of time. At a time when our budget is strained and 842 million people in the world are hungry, we must maximize taxpayer dollars by making our food aid as efficient as possible. Supporting the “Food for Peace Reform Act” is the prudent decision—both morally and fiscally—and we ask you to cosponsor this important legislation.

We also ask you to ensure “Section 318” of H.R. 4005, the Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Act of 2014, is not included in the final bill. Section 318, which increases shipping restrictions for U.S. food aid, would make our food aid less efficient, increasing shipping costs by more than $75 million per year. This provision would make our food aid less efficient, increasing shipping costs by more than $75 million per year. The additional cost would be taken directly out of our nation’s food aid programs—literally out of the mouths of 2 million men, women and children. Both U.S. taxpayers and hungry people would lose from this unjust provision, and it must be removed.

We look forward to staying in communication as you consider U.S. food aid, and we are praying for you as you make these and other critical decisions in the months ahead.

With hope,