This being my last official day working for ELCA World Hunger, I thought it appropriate for me to offer a few words in this web dialogue. We have read much in this space about the people who benefit from this ministry, the systems that bring about suffering, organizations that have received grants, and we have been pressed to consider lifestyle changes. Please, take a moment to think about those who make this work possible, the ones who faithfully share what God has entrusted to them. Lutherans who write checks, and give credit card numbers, all the while praying for the poor, the hungry, the sick, the imprisoned, and those who render care.
Without any fear of over simplifying I will say they are saints! They walk humbly with God as they do justice and love mercy. Whether it is Edith in Seattle, Leo in northern Wisconsin, the dancing doctor and his wife in Tuscon, or now retired Jerry in the heartland, they all understand the concept of giving. They wear housecoats and/or suit coats. They have hands that are grease stained or tremor from years of hard work. Some go through life quietly (a recognizable Lutheran trait) doing whatever they can, while others stand on the steps of state capitals leading chants. Common to them all is that they rise every day, pick up their crosses, and follow Jesus into the kingdom of God.
There are many effective humanitarian causes that do the same work as we do. They have great networks and are able to raise, through donations or federal grants, huge sums of cash. Our co-worker saints are different in that they believe that each act performed is incrementally advancing the spread of the kingdom of God. They hear the words of Matt 6:33 (NRSV) “But strive first for the kingdom of God* and his* righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”
In that kingdom God’s justice, established in the creation event, orders all things. (Thank you brother George) Martin Luther speaks to this with his teaching on the Lord’s Prayer in the Small Catechism, “Thy kingdom come. What does this mean?— The kingdom of God comes indeed without our prayer, of itself; but we pray in this petition that it may come unto us also. How is this done?–When our heavenly Father gives us His Holy Spirit, so that by His grace we believe His holy Word and lead a godly life here in time and yonder in eternity.
The faithful who give and give and give do so leading a godly life in this time. Their reward is not from what they do, but from what has been done on their behalf, and they then demonstrate their faith with actions. They are modern day Macedonians (see 2 Cor: 8 & 9). I pray we may all remember these who labor anonymously so that more may eat, have access to health care, sleep in dry places or simply find a little joy in life.