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Apr 7th: Feeding Body and Soul: Responding to Hunger, with Brenda Simpson.

Posted: Sun, Apr 7, 2024
Feeding Body and Soul: Responding to Hunger with Brenda Simpson. Series: Ruckus for Good 2024 A Spacious Christianity, First Presbyterian Church of Bend, Oregon. Scripture: 1 John 3:18; Matthew 22:37-39; Matthew 25.45. Caring for the vulnerable nourishes our souls. In this message, Brenda Simpson, our Coordinator for Justice and Mission, will reflect on making the fight against hunger a spiritual practice of justice and love.

A Part of the Series:

Brenda Simpson


Feeding Body and Soul: Responding to Hunger with Brenda Simpson. Series: Ruckus for Good 2024 A Spacious Christianity, First Presbyterian Church of Bend, Oregon. Scripture: 1 John 3:18; Matthew 22:37-39; Matthew 25.45.

Caring for the vulnerable nourishes our souls. In this message, Brenda Simpson, our Coordinator for Justice and Mission, will reflect on making the fight against hunger a spiritual practice of justice and love.


Hello, I’m Brenda Simpson, coordinator for justice admission and longtime member of First Presbyterian Church. Ben, I’m excited to have the opportunity to be the first person to speak with you during our ruckus for good sermon series. We’ve just come through the most meaningful time in the church calendar. Easter is a time when we are reminded that the power of love is stronger than the love of power, we are reminded that love could not be defeated. The Risen Christ told Mary, go and tell the others the good news, John 20. We are loved with a powerful love just as we are without any conditions. Confident in this love and the understanding that we are enough, we can reach out, take risks, and share that love with others as we live and share the Good News of the resurrection. This sermon series is meant to challenge us to be conduits of God’s incredible love to our neighbors, to live the resurrection and to prove to the world that love will always have the last word. Some of you may know that the Bible verse that is my personal favorite challenge is first John 318. Little children let us not love with Word or with tongue, but with deed and truth. I love this sermon series that will examine what we can actually do to share God’s love, not just talk about it, not just think about it, but something but do something about it. Richard Rohr said faith, and God is not just faith, to believe spiritual ideas, it’s to have confidence in love itself. Love is not just a feeling, but an action. Love is our commitment to extend our will for the flourishing of others. When asked what the most important lot of Moses is, Jesus said, Love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, soul and strength, and love your neighbor as yourself. Matthew 2237 through 39. Today I’m going to speak specifically about hunger. Hunger is something that we talk about often, but let’s take a moment to really think about it. When were you last really hungry? Maybe fasting before a medical procedure? Maybe you ran out the door without breakfast or forgot your lunch. Many of us have been blessed to never have been in a place where we could not afford basic foods to meet our nutritional needs. And I’m not referring to the shopping trip where we notice Ooh, scallops are a little too expensive right now. But the actual inability to buy enough of the basics to feed ourselves and our families. Many of our neighbors find themselves in this place. A December 1920 23 article in the bend bulletin reports that one in five central Oregon’s experienced food insecurity. According to this article before the pandemic neighbor impact helped 14,000 to 16,000 people attain food each month. Now that number is closer to 60,000. The problem is getting worse, said Scott Cooper, Executive Director of neighbor impact. The article explains that the defining characteristics of a household experiencing food insecurity includes being worried food or run out before having the money to buy more being unable to afford healthy balanced meals and or cutting the size or frequency of meals. In more severe cases of food insecurity. Adults have reported not eating for an entire day due to lack of food and losing weight because they cannot afford to buy more food. I do know that people that can’t for whatever reason eat enough to fulfill their nutritional needs have lots of issues. They metabolize their muscles which makes them physically weak. They metabolize proteins that are necessary for their bodies to heal and for their immune systems to ward off sickness. Not having sufficient nutrition also has psychological consequences. Abraham Maslow have proposed a theory now generally accepted that human needs can be thought of as a pyramid. We must satisfy the needs at the base before we can rise to the top. Physiological needs are the bottom of the pyramid. To advance to working on needs of safety, love and belonging, self esteem self actualization, people must first meet their own physiological physiological needs. One of these key needs at the base of the pyramid is having enough food. This isn’t hard to understand. houseless neighbors often use all of their energy to figure out how to meet their basic needs of food and shelter. It’s easy for a spectator to wonder why they’re not figuring out how to get a job and move on with their lives. But people don’t have the capacity to do that until their basic needs are met. educators understand that children can’t learn if they are hungry. Our government supplies Free and Reduced hot lunches to students in need. Many schools in our district are Title One schools, a school that has a high enough percentage of children on free and reduced lunches that they provide free breakfast and free lunch to all of the children. I have heard from several educators that the time before school, a school break has so much energy. Some other students are excited for the fun and, and vacation that will be had. While school is closed. Some students are anxious for how they will get their basic needs met and be safe. While they are going to school. Some students know that they will be hungry during a break. It is sometimes hard for us to realize that people around us truly don’t have enough to eat. All of my friends, people on my street have enough food. Food Insecurity is a term that seems sterilized. It doesn’t trigger understanding or empathy. Thinking about serving a sparse meal to a very hungry growing child and seeing the disappointment and discomfort in their eyes makes the situation very real. How can we say we love our neighbors as ourselves when we fail our plates and have excesses in our refrigerators and pantries. While some of our neighbors are going to bed hungry, because they don’t have enough food. loving our neighbors means we are not willing to accept less for our neighbors than we would be willing to accept for ourselves or our family. As a group, and individually, our church does much to fight hunger. How many ways do you think that First Presbyterian meets hunger needs? Take a moment, count them up? Do you have enough fingers? All this Well, I have our Burundi partnership, family kitchen where we cook and serve food once a month and give money from our general fund to support their efforts. Our Guatemala mission team, especially during COVID, when many were hungry, we provided food, emergency shelter, we feed people that come into our church to escape from dangerous outdoor conditions. Bethlehem in we serve food there three evenings a month. We have a food fund where we mail out grocery vouchers to family in need. Presbyterian hunger money from our General Fund goes to our denomination to feed people around the world, our sensibility offering where we collect our change through our church’s spiritual practice. And this is given to the Central Oregon hunger Prevention Coalition. There’s a shopping cart in the commons that collects food donations for St. Vincent DePaul Food Bank. One great hour of sharing is a de nominal denominational offering Bread for the World. We write letters to our representatives in Congress and give money from our general fund to support this group that fights for aid for people that are hungry around the world, including in the United States. Jesus said I was hungry and you gave me something to eat. He was asked, When did you see? When did we see you hungry and give you something to eat? And Jesus answered. Whatever you do for the most vulnerable of these brothers and sisters of mine, you do for me, Matthew 2545 I am so blessed to be part of such a generous church that focuses on loving others. If you have not become part of our hunger efforts, please consider how you can work with us to fight hunger. Even though we do so much. It is important that we reflect on what we do and how we can improve our efforts. People are still hungry. In my position as coordinator of justice admission, I get lots of feedback on what we could do differently. Someone mentioned to me that we are a band aid church, we treat the symptoms and not cure the problem. I have thought about this a lot. And I believe that it is partially true. But first, I do believe in band aids. If somebody is bleeding per fruit Fuseli that needs to be stopped. To follow this analogy. We can’t let a person die from blood loss while we’re trying to understand why they why they’re injured. Still figuring out how to stop the injury should be part of the plan. How do we balance this? How do we help fight the root cause this is harder to determine. And it’s also harder to measure our success. We do have several programs that address the root causes of hunger, Bread for the World. Old is a Christian advocacy organization urging us decision makers to do all they can to pursue a world without hunger. Our Burundi team is also a great example of this, instead of shipping food to people in need. In the villages, we help improve the agriculture there. We are also supporting education for their children. The cost of education for the village children is significantly increasing because of the number of children that are starving to death has significantly decreased. Just think about that statement for a second. Think about the suffering that is alleviated by fewer children starving to death. This is a great example of addressing the root cause of hunger through improving agriculture in education. The SLT scholar program that we support in Guatemala also addresses the root cause. The children that are educated make a higher wage than their parents. They suffer less from hunger and often decrease the grip of hunger for their whole family. educating children living in poverty helps breaks the cycle of poverty. Our church Foundation has two endowments that provide educational scholarships. One is for nurses at sea OCC and one the Educational Support Fund for economically disadvantaged children was established to fight poverty through education. Getting to the root causes is hard. Keeping a project going when you can’t quickly see and measure the results is also hard. My goal is to work with many of you to discern, discuss and implement more mission and justice efforts in our church. Please reach out to me if you if you are interested in digging deeper into finding the root causes of hunger. feeding the hungry and caring for the most vulnerable isn’t something that we do to earn our way into heaven. It is our calling to bring heaven on earth in the way we care for our neighbors. We should not be doing it just to make ourselves feels good. It is a spiritual practice that helps us to see others through eyes that are more like Jesus eyes, to pull our thoughts and worries away from ourselves, move them towards our neighbors who we are to love as ourselves in feeding the hungry and caring for the most vulnerable. We just might discover that we are the ones whose souls are fed and whose hearts are full

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