Preparing for Worship – Heather Mustain, associate pastor.
Today ends Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week, a national campaign to draw attention to the problem and prevalence of hunger and homelessness in America. In partnership with Housing Forward and Faith Forward Dallas, we have committed to drawing our congregation’s attention once again to these two concerns that persist on a local, national and global level.
I could list the statistics here, but we all know them. Hunger and homelessness rates continue to soar and disproportionately affect marginalized and vulnerable communities. The pandemic has exacerbated this reality, but hunger and homelessness rates in Dallas were already rising pre-pandemic. Add inflation, war, corruption and climate change, and the global threats to food security and pipelines paint a dreary picture.
Hunger and homelessness have been longstanding concerns of our faith community that have mobilized us to service, advocacy and friendship. Our concern is what leads us to faithful and generous giving to community organizations who are on the ground housing the unhoused, feeding the hungry, advocating for more affordable housing and loving LGBTQ youth who have been kicked out of homes simply because of who they are. It’s what leads us to form interfaith coalitions to resolve city zoning ordinances that keep communities of faith from sheltering when the weather is life-threatening. It’s what leads us to collect hygiene supplies, contribute food and Thanksgiving baskets to our partners and serve meals at the Bridge and Cornerstone Kitchen. It’s what led us to advocate for a simplified SNAP application for seniors and for a Universal School Meal Act.
Yet, if we are honest, there is a temptation to believe that hunger and homelessness are issues that will always remain. Jesus himself said, “the poor you will always have with you,” right? Let me suggest that this temptation and misuse of Scripture may be what perpetuates, not solves, these very issues.
So what can you do?
Be kind and smile to the panhandler you pass daily. Participate in the opportunities Wilshire offers to serve the community. Donate new items to a shelter you trust. Combat NIMBYism (Not In My Backyard) everywhere it presents itself. Investigate the systems at work, and when you see them not working for all, lend your voice.
Howard Thurman, one of the great mystics, reflects, “How moving is the sheer wonder of being necessary to the life of another! The giving of a gentle word when you did not know that such a word was desperately needed; The sharing of so little at the crucial point of acute urgency.”
During this season of gratitude and giving, may we all find the wonder of sharing our lives with the world.