"God bless to us our bread, and give bread to those who are hungry and hunger for justice to those who are fed. God bless to us our bread."
My family sometimes sings these words at the table before a meal. It is a paraphrase of a very old prayer from Latin America, put to music for the Iona Community by John Bell. It expresses succinctly the hope and prayer we show through our Cents-Ability offering, that hunger offering which we collect at BPC, without fail, every month on the third Sunday. Sometimes that Sunday falls on another important liturgical day, as happened in 2017, when the day for Cents-Ability fell on Easter Sunday, the same day we emphasize the One Great Hour of Sharing offering.
Every month I try to make sure that some sort of announcement or information is given regarding Cents-Ability. No other special offering recurs so frequently. and no other special offering is expected to fall on the same day as another special offering. This aspect of Cents-Ability always reminds me that, for those who are hungry, there is no schedule, no coordination with other needs. A family can’t say, “This week I need to pay for heat; next week I will pay for food.” A hungry person cannot just take a break from food while they get their finances together in order to afford it. And thus, we who have the capacity to help cannot take breaks either; the offering comes around again regularly to remind us that the need is always there.
The above prayer reminds us that there are different kinds of hunger and different ways to address it. As Kristin Tennant says in a post about this prayer, “Some people need bread, some people need to be woken up to care about the needs of others…Is your hunger for bread or justice?” The conclusion is that if you aren’t hungry for bread, you should be hungry for justice. If we are blessed with plenty of bread to meet our physical hunger, we should let that strengthen us for recognizing where lack of food means a lack of justice, and for discovering ways to address that injustice. Cents-Ability is one way to respond to that injustice. Our hunger can lead us to more.
To a man with an empty stomach, food is God. — Gandhi
The prayer list can be found here.
At Heart, A Podcast by BPC
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