Bishop Mauney's Bible Study--January 4th, 2016
"Give us this day our daily bread."
Well, it is the first Bible Study of 2016,
"For auld lang syne, my dear,
for auld lang syne,
we'll take a cup of kindness yet,
for auld lang syne."
How about,
For daily bread, for you, my dear,
For daily bread, I pray
We'll give a cup of kindness yet,
For daily bread, this day.
According to the Food Banks of Virginia website's facts about Virginia hunger:
"Virginia's 11.8% food insecurity rate means that over 912,790 people do not know from where their next meal will come."
And Virginia is the 7th highest state in the country per capita median household, too!   912,790 looking for their next meal.
I sure do commend all the hunger ministries of our congregations and institutions!  Community pantries, food banks, county and city feeding places, all of the backpack ministry for children on weekends and holidays, summer feeding.
Will you allow me to wonder if Sunday is the hungriest day of the week? School is out, the backpack might have been eaten up too quickly, many food places that feed the hungry during the week are closed. I wonder if 912,790 are searching for a meal on Sunday?
Will you allow me to imagine a little?
Now every congregation finds itself sitting in a unique setting. I would wonder about your congregation and how you would evaluate your community. About thirty of our congregations stand alone with virtually no neighbors close by!
But, maybe, with your congregation and it's unique location, I wonder if 2016 might become the year to consider how your congregation might become known as the Feeding Church. Sunday morning schedule might be:
8:15. Worship with the Lords Supper
9:30.  Community breakfast
10:45.  Worship with the Lords Supper
Noon.  Community lunch
And as the invited community comes through the doors past the welcome, Right at the beginning of the meals for breakfast and lunch are name tags and hand cleanser.  The meal is for all in the community who have come.  This is a feeding church. Martin Luther's "mouth house" has opened its doors to feed hungry searching people. Through the week the community is invited in one way or another to come for the community breakfast and lunch on Sunday. Maybe even doors are knocked on during the week or Saturday because now one can invite one to come to something specific and tangible FOR THEM. Sunday is providing meals for all. Maybe even some of the 912,790 who live close by?
Gosh, on the one Saturday morning last spring in the middle of Richmond, I knocked on twenty doors in a middle class community and found four people/2 families who were not physically hungry but were hungering for a community close by.
Maybe some are also hungry for the Word, maybe some souls are searching too.
But more and more states and school districts are coming to the proposal that before a mind can be filled or a heart filled the stomach needs to be filled first.
The worship guru, Gordon Lathrop lectured to a Pre-Lenten event for pastors in the 1980s saying something like "Luther's mouth house is opened for every seeking soul."
If the community meals began with name tags and hand cleanser, community worship, too, might begin by an invitation at the font where everyone can be cleansed and be named for participation in the meal.
What if Sunday morning is our "mission trip" for the week. Where we could come not with coat and tie but apron and towel, like it was a bingo night fund raiser, but is now a morning community feeding and fellowship. It is our own universal breakfast feeding station, for all the community.
Think about the trickiness of preaching, "give us this day our daily bread"! To half a congregation learning about the will of God for all to eat, about a kingdom intent on all having enough to eat, about the best way to hallow the name of God who Jesus says loves us as his very own father is to work for all to have bread. But also to preach to half who might be missing the point of daily bread, that much of our sin may have to do with taking another's bread, that we might be tempted to believe I might deserve far more than another, that God wants me to have way more than millions of others living on a dollar a day, that we might succumb to the evil result that the millions of hungry ones are simply "those ones", having no names. And How do we hallow the name of God while discounting the names of those children God loves?
Hallowing names has been the hallmark of many life giving congregations. We fill our prayers to God with names because we believe God loves those names and will act for those names. Maybe one community meal at a time, we learn the names of those who live all around us.
Well, long enough. Enough with imagining. I need to bring this article to some.......resolution.
For daily bread, for you, my dear,
For daily bread, I pray
We'll give a cup of kindness yet,
For daily bread, this day.
A joy filled New Year of service in God's Name!