The 10th annual Ecumenical Advocacy Days for Global Peace with Justice was held in Washington D.C., March 23-26, 2012. About 800 people of faith, including at least five ELCA World Hunger Leaders (see below), were present to strengthen our Christian voice and mobilize for advocacy.
This year’s priority theme was “Is This the Fast I Seek? Economy, Livelihood and Our National Priorities.” Based on the text from Isaiah 58: 1-12, and from our first keynote speaker, the Rev. Dr. Margaret Aymer from the Interdenominational Theological Center, we were encouraged to “Cry justice! Lift up your voice like a trumpet!”
The ask that we as participants made to elected leaders was based on the Faithful Budget Campaign:
“As people of faith, we urge you to defend people struggling to live in dignity by funding programs that protect vulnerable populations here and abroad. Enact a faithful federal budget that serves the common good, provides robust funding for people struggling to overcome poverty and exercises proper care of the earth.”
As we sat together during Lent around this theme of fasting, I was particularly moved by the imagery. Our speakers challenged us that fasting from food makes no difference if we only do it for ourselves without thought for others. We were reminded that as people of faith gathered at the nation’s capitol, the fast week seek is the fast God seeks, from Isaiah:
“6Is not this the fast that I choose: to loose the bonds of injustice, to undo the thongs of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke? 7Is it not to share your bread with the hungry, and bring the homeless poor into your house; when you see the naked, to cover them, and not to hide yourself from your own kin.”
So, as children of the living God wander in the streets, through desserts and by sea—what is the fast we seek? In a country where 1.46 million household with 2.8 million children live on less than $2 per day (Elaine Nissenbaum, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities), what is the fast we seek?
For those of you who know me well, you may know that in my next life, I hope to be a movie score composer. Music is the way that my heart calls justice and at EAD, the perfect song was the answer that called to my heart.
“For Everyone Born” (Text Shirley Erena Murray, Tune Brian Mann)
For everyone born, a place at the table,
For everyone born, clean water and bread;
A shelter a space, a safe place for growing,
For everyone born, a star overhead.
And God will delight when we are creators of justice and joy, compassion and peace;
Yes, God will delight when we are creators of justice, justice and joy.
For young and for old, a place at the table,
A voice to be heard, a part in the song,
The hands of a child in hands that are wrinkled,
For young and for old, the right to belong. [Chorus]
For just and unjust a place at the table,
The user, the used with need to forgive,
In anger, in hurt, a mindset of mercy,
For just and unjust a new way to live. [Chorus]
For everyone born, a place at the table, to live without fear, and simply to be,
To work, to speak out to witness and worship,
For everyone born, the right to be free. [Chorus]
Lent is coming to a close, but the fast we seek is not an easy or time bound, church season kind of thing. Just as we are called to this fast in Isaiah 58, we are reminded in the same book that we are also called by name (Isaiah 43:1). For everyone born, called to the fast, called by name.
Are we ready to answer that call? Cry justice!
P.S. Guess the ELCA World Hunger Leaders pictured below!