Raise your hand if you knew that October 16 was World Food Day.

Raise your hand if you, your congregation, your community or local news media did something to commemorate and remember the significance of that day.

In case you are wondering about my virtual hand…it’s trying to rise. This month, I quietly celebrated my second full month with ELCA World Hunger. I grow more and more encouraged each day. And yet…some things remain a challenge.

During the first weekend in October, I had the joy to participate in the ELCA World Hunger Region 7 Ethics of Eating event in Quakertown, Pennsylvania. We talked about domestic and global hunger, visited farms and talked with those who farm. We lifted up advocacy as an important priority and shared time of fellowship over delicious meals prepared by the staff at Men-O-Lan Camp. At the end, we all committed to doing something, one thing based on what we learned. It was important and inspiring to stand with others and commit.

Then, during the first week back from the event, I read this articlein Business Week. Here are my top three highlights:

  • “The cost of hunger in the U.S., the world’s largest economy, was $167.5 billion last year […].”
  • “The number of food-insecure and hungry Americans in 2010 rose 30 percent from 2007 […].”
  • “The cost of hunger for every U.S. citizen was $542 in 2010 […].”

The “cost” of hunger cited above looks at cost factors such as additional health care costs ($130.5 billion), poor education outcomes ($19.2 billion) and private donations of food money and volunteer time ($17.8 billion).

Hunger is a complex issue. I know this. You know this. The question is, what do we do in the face of a multifaceted issue like hunger, like poverty? As a self-proclaimed “do-er,” I must admit to you on this rainy Chicago day that I am leaning toward the eschaton today based on a sermon shared with us yesterday by former bishop, Pastor Andrea DeGroot-Nesdahl who coordinates the ELCA Malaria Campaign.

During that service of healing, Pastor DeGroot-Nesdahl encouraged us to come with our hands open at our sides to receive the forgiveness and grace that we are given freely through Christ’s life, death and resurrection.

As hard as I try to raise my hand to the opening questions of this post, to the issues raised through the Ethics of Eating event or in protest of the staggering “cost” of hunger…today, I want to be found head bowed, heart and hands open to embrace the grace that allows us to continue onward in the call that Christ has put before. I want to re-join the journey.

As we hear in the story of The Anointing at Bethany (Matthew 26:11, Mark 14:7, John 12:8) “You will always have the poor with you…” This is the call that is set before us. Not a burden, but the call, and Christ would not call us to such a task alone. By grace through faith we are freed to serve, and we do that service in the most significant way possible– together.

Re-join the journey.

More about the ELCA World Hunger Ethics of Eating Event:

Read another reflection about the event.

Visit the group on The Table (membership needed).

See my pictures.