“When Jesus looked up and saw a great crowd coming toward him, he said to Philip, ‘Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?’” John 6:5
Lutherans know how to feed people. As a lifelong Lutheran, I have never attended a potluck where anyone went home hungry. There is always leftover cake at the end of celebrations. In fact, it seems far more common to beg people to take extra food home. Whether it is a coffeecake and doughnuts on Sunday morning, or pizza for youth night, Lutherans rarely gather without food. Perhaps that makes this next statement a little harder to digest.
In 2013, 49.1 million Americans lived in food insecure households.
49.1 million men, women, and children live without enough food for every member of their family, and regularly reduce the size of their meals or skip them altogether. These neighbors can go days without food, and have limited or no access to healthy foods. Families are hit disproportionately hard; 15.8 million U.S. children know hunger as an everyday threat. 49.1 million people do not know where their next meal is coming from, and they live in every county in America.
“Jesus then took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed to those who were seated as much as they wanted. He did the same with the fish.” John 6:11
If Lutherans know how to feed people inside the church, should we not also become experts in feeding people outside of the church? The need in our communities is clear, and it is not as difficult as it might seem. Many churches and individuals are already using their resources to help eliminate food insecurity. Churches have created food banks, provided meals to those affected by disaster, and ensured that those who are homebound have a warm meal. Whether it is keeping non-perishable food in your car to hand to those on the side of the road or doing a large scale food collection event at your church, helping to eliminate hunger was one of the things Jesus Himself did, and what He calls us to do.
On a much larger scale, the 2013 LCMS Youth Gathering, participants packed 323,000 meals on the floor of the convention center. They filled small bags of lentil casseroles to be distributed in San Antonio, to victims of Superstorm Sandy, and other people in need. Each small bag included all natural ingredients and the right nutrients to help sustain people who struggle to find their next meal. The goal for the 2016 Youth Gathering is to pack 500,000 meals. This effort to eliminate hunger is so important that money from registration fees, LCMS Mercy funds, and a special WeRaise fundraising campaign have all been engaged to help meet that goal.
“Jesus answered, ‘Very truly I tell you, you are looking for me, not because you saw the signs I performed but because you ate the loaves and had your fill. Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you.’” John 6:26
Jesus saw the people around Him were hungry, and fed them until they were full. The food, however, was not an end to itself. It was an opportunity to share who Jesus truly is, the Son of God sent to save us from our sin. Jesus uses bread and fish to point to His salvific purpose.
Those who were filled through Jesus’ miracle wanted more bread. Instead, Jesus pointed them to the Bread of Life who gives eternal life through faith in Him. Until earthly hunger is entirely crushed by Jesus’ return, our churches have the same opportunity. We too can share food that the people in our community so desperately need, in order that we might also share the Good News of Jesus.
Those who were filled through Jesus’ miracle wanted more bread. Instead, Jesus pointed them to the Bread of Life who gives eternal life through faith in Him. Until earthly hunger is entirely crushed by Jesus’ return, our churches have the same opportunity. We too can share food that the people in our community so desperately need, in order that we might also share the Good News of Jesus. Follow the link to give now: thelc.ms/youthfeedingchildren.