Wednesday, February 27, 2008

A Carbon Fast for Lent: Day 19

Day 19 - Grace Maglasey and her husband Andrew struggle to grow enough food because their village in Malawi is caught in a cycle of floods and droughts. Join in with Grace's prayer today: "We pray that those of us who farm should harvest a lot of food so that this year we will not have hunger. In the name of Jesus, Amen."

There's not much more that can be said than that all farmers, especially those growing their own food to eat, can grow enough this season. I'm reminded that hunger is not just a problem in Africa. It's a problem right here in the US as well. When I was a seminarian I worked at the Church of the Holy Apostles in Manhattan. They run the Episcopal Church's largest soup kitchen, the Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen. Five days a week, from 10:30 AM until 12:30 PM, any and all who come are served a hot 2000-calorie meal, as much as they can eat. Promptly at at the beginning of service every morning, you can hear from the walkie-talkies that the staff carry:

Ready on the gate?
The reply comes back:
Ready on the gate!
Ready on the door?...Ready on the door!
Ladies and Gentlemen, it’s show time. Dinner is served. Thanks be to God!

They haven't missed a scheduled day since 1973, and according to their annual report served an average of nearly 1100 meals a day in 2006.

What is truly awe-inspiring to me is that they do this right in the nave of the church! The old church building burned in the early 80's, and when they rebuilt it they put in chairs as opposed to pews. So after church on Sunday, they stack the chairs up and pull out the round tables for the soup kitchen guests. (The picture shows a view from the gallery, looking toward the Altar.) Those who come to eat can do so in the company of some very nice stained glass windows of the Acts of the Apostles looking down at them. I think it's absolutely stunning that on Sundays the Community gathers to Eat, and then feeds others in that very same space on the other days of the week. It's amazing, and I'm very glad I was able to experience both aspects of the ministry at 9th Avenue and 28th St in Manhattan. My eyes and my heart were opened by what I saw and experienced. To mix a metaphor, hunger is alive and well right in the midst of the richest city in the world.

Give ear to our prayers, O Lord, and direct the way of your servants in safety under your protection, that, amid all the changes of our earthly pilgrimage, we may be guarded by your mighty aid; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.



jen x said...

P.S. -- Can you help me with liturgical dates? (My time as a lay worker is well in the past.) What would one call today? It's the 4th Thursday but the 3rd week in Lent, yes? So is that "The Fourth Thursday in Lent"? "Thursday in the Third Week of Lent"? "Thursday in the Third Week *in* Lent"?

I am lost.

RFSJ said...

Jen, today, the day I am typing this, is Thursday *in* the Third Week *of* Lent. The Sundays, as you know, are also *in* Lent. The days after Ash Wednesday but before the First Sunday in Lent are the "Thursday, Friday, and Saturday after Ash Wednesday," and so that's why this is the 3rd Thursday and not the 4th.

That's prolly clear as mud, right?


jen x said...

This actually *is* clear. It was the Thurs-Sat after Ash Wednesday that were throwing me off :-)

I used to do communications for an Episcopal Church in the City -- you'd think I'd remember this stuff :-(

Thanks for the info!