The Income, Poverty and Health Insurance Coverage report released on September 12, 2012 by the U.S. Census Bureau, states that among the 46.2 million in poverty in the United States in 2011, 16.1 million are children (page 16 of the report). Just considering the 16.1 million children and according to 2011 population numbers, this is slightly more than the combined population of Illinois (12.9 million) and Iowa (3.1 million).

The image of children in poverty inhabiting only two states is of course not helpful, but ironically (and entirely unconnected) this population of children is similar to the current population of two very agriculturally productive states, in one of the most agriculturally productive nations. Though we often think of small communities and local perspective, it helps to take in a bigger view; there is hunger in a land of plenty, the poor live among the rich.

On Sunday, Sept. 23, Mark 9:30-37 comes up as the gospel reading in the lectionary, where Jesus says to the disciples:

 ‘Whoever wants to be first must be last of all and servant of all.’ Then he took a little child and put it among them; and taking it in his arms he said to them, ‘Whoever welcomes on such child in my name welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes not me but the one who sent me.’ (New Revised Standard Version)

I don’t know what the welcoming will look like, but I know that God calls us to do it and will help us along the way. On with the welcome!

Henry Martinez, ELCA World Hunger- Education