Last Sunday was the second of our services focusing on social justice, and with today (October 16th) being World Food Day, our focus turned to thinking about how we can eat more thoughtfully and fairly. The service was cafe church style, which meant we were able to start putting our words into practice straightaway, giving thanks for and sharing our food, and working together to gather our idas and prayers for a word without hunger.
We started by hearing Andy Goodliff's A Sermon on Eating. This is the first time I have ever pinched someone else's sermon (with permission, of course!) but as soon as I read it, I knew it said exactly what I wanted to say, and it seemed more honest to use his words that end up paraphrasing them. It speaks of the meals Jesus shared around the tables of friends and enemies, some of which we spoke of as we focused on welcome, and it speaks of the meal we share around the table of the Lord, which we ourselves celebrated just a week earlier, but it moves us from there to think about the meals we share around our own tables. I encourage you to click across to Andy's blog and read it.
We then responded to what Andy said about the importance of thankfulness and about our disconnection from our food, as we spent time around our tables naming and giving thanks for all the people involved in bringing the food to our tables that morning. A little bit of research on my table discovered that we were drinking tea from Kenya and coffee from Colombia, so there are many people to give thanks for in those supply chains.
Next we heard from Isaiah 58:6-12, in which God calls for a fast which is not simply a religious observance but an act of justice, and we took some time to talk about what that kind of fast may look like in our own lives. If you would like to give this some more thought, you can find the study we used here.
And last but not least, we got a little creative. The theme for this year's World Food Day is #ZeroHunger, part of a drive to create a world without hunger by 2030. That might sounds like wishful thinking, but it should be possible. God has given us enough, but it is not used fairly or justly. Food poverty is balanced by food waste. 820 million people are chronically undernourished while 672 million people are obese. Of course the picture is more complicated than those simple numbers, but it is clear that there is injustice here. There are things that need to be done at governmental and societal level, but there also things we can all do to act more justly with regard to food. The organisation behind World Food Day has been running a poster competition, and so we designed our own poster, each taking a small piece and writing on it a prayer or an idea for creating a world without hunger, before we stuck all of the pieces together.
You may not be able to read all of the ideas, but common themes were around campaigning, buying fairly traded products, growing our own food, reducing waste, and being more generous. We have already made commitments as a church, collecting weekly for the Red Cross appeal for refugees and asylum seekers, and using only Fairtrade goods wherever possible, but there's always more to learn, both together and as individuals. Perhaps you might spend some time today thinking about what you might do, and make a commitment to at least one change that you can make to the way you buy and eat food, that will bring us closer to a world in which no one goes to bed with an empty belly. You might also like to learn a little more about World Food Day, or organisations such as Fairtrade who are working for justice in the food chain.