Sunday, October 21, 2018

Who is the last/Least? Bread for the world Sunday Mark 10:35-45

Today's scripture is ominous to say the least, I know I would not want to be promised the same cup nor the same baptism of Christ.  That is a hard call.  If I should end up there yes fine for my prayer is thy will be done.  My prayer is not let me know ahead of time. Thank you.
Then the rest of Jesus ‘ apostles start to grumble and get angry at the sons of Zebedee for making such a request…Again proof that the disciples just don’t get it, so Jesus says you do not understand what it is you are asking for… and finally once again Jesus reminds them those who are first shall be last and the last shall be first….who are the last?  Who are the least?
Today we celebrate or lift up bread for the world. It is not a celebration so I want to explore who are the least here in our own country
More than 5.5 million Indigenous people live in the United States from more than 560 Indian Nations. Many are part of federally or state recognized tribes. They include Native Americans and Alaskan Natives. Indigenous communities live in pueblos, tribes, and communities, in rural reservations as well as cities, across 33 states, including Alaska.
34 Indigenous communities have some of the highest hunger rates in the United States. As a group, one in four Native Americans and Alaskan Natives are food insecure which is defined as not having regular, reliable access to the foods needed for good health. Hunger among Indigenous communities is a direct result of poverty and of systemic inequities through racial and gender discrimination. While the United states has a poverty rate of 12.3 percent, Indigenous communities have a higher poverty rate–25.4 percent. The poverty rates are even higher among female-headed households (54 percent) and on some reservations (almost 40 percent). Indigenous populations are more likely to lack access to nutritious food
• 90 percent of U.S. counties with the highest Indigenous
populations (40 percent Indigenous or higher) are also
among those with the highest food insecurity rates.
• Many reservations are in rural food deserts, requiring indigenous people to travel to cities, sometimes a distance of 100 miles or more, to purchase food. Many Indigenous people living on reservations lack employment opportunities. Indigenous people are twice as likely to be unemployed as the general U.S. population, and more likely to hold low-wage jobs with few or no benefits.
• Many Indigenous people who do find employment earn below poverty wages. One in three Native American and Alaskan Native households live on less than $25,000 a year.
Education can predict a person’s future earnings. Due to racially inequitable policies, Indigenous students are more likely to attend lower-resourced schools, with less support for their future success.
• Almost 40 percent of Indigenous students attend high poverty schools, compared to 8 percent of white students.
Hunger damages health, and in turn, poor health makes it harder to become food secure.
• Almost one-third of all Indigenous people were uninsured as of 2013.
Indigenous communities are policed, sentenced, and incarcerated at higher rates, which deplete community resources and increase hunger.
• Nationwide, Native American and Alaskan Native youth are imprisoned in state prisons at twice the rate of white youth.
From 1887 to 1934, the United States acquired more than 90 million acres of Indian Nation land—leaving Native Americans with only one-third of their original land. The continuing struggle over land, as well as historic racial inequity and trauma, has strained the relationship between the federal government and Indigenous communities.
The U.S. Constitution recognizes Indian Nations as sovereign governments, meaning that they have the power to self-govern. Indigenous people are citizens of their tribe, their state, and the United States.
• Land and wealth loss has made Indian Nations vulnerable to hunger.
• Anti-poverty programs have had less success in Indigenous communities, partly because policies often do not consider geographic, cultural, and linguistic differences, historic trauma, or the implications of being a citizen of a sovereign nation.[1]
All these statistics come form bread for the world and it truly breaks my heart. Trust me it is no accident that many of these lands that the united states have left to the indigenous people are purposely set apart in barren and rural areas. One just need to look at our history…it is a wonder we do not all walk with our heads hung in shame.
Who are the last? Who are the least?
While hunger and poverty declined among African Americans in 2017 (most recent available data), food insecurity has still not dropped enough this past year to match the one percent increase African Americans saw in 2016. Consequently, an additional 56,0001 African Americans are still food insecure compared to 2015 numbers. While this is lower than the 187,000 additional African Americans who fell into hunger in 2016, targeted policies that prioritize racial and gender equity need to be implemented to reduce hunger at faster rates.
The higher rates of poverty and hunger among African Americans are direct results of systemic inequity through racial and gender discrimination. While the United States has an overall poverty rate of 12.3 percent, according to the U.S. Census, within the African American community, the poverty rate is 21.2 percent. This rate is even higher in African American female-headed households at 30.3 percent.
African Americans are more likely to lack access to food.
             Only 8 percent of African Americans live in areas with a supermarket, compared to 31 percent of whites.
             Almost 94 percent of the nation’s majority African American counties are food-insecure.
Since poverty rates are much higher and income levels are much lower in African American female-headed households compared to the general population, we expect that food-in security levels are also much higher among African American female-headed households. This would suggest that strengthened support systems and dedicated efforts to dismantle racial and gender discrimination would reverse this reality and help economically empower African American individuals and families.
Lack of nutritious food causes serious medical conditions, including obesity and diabetes. Healthcare expenses lead to higher debt levels and worsen financial stress.
•55 percent of African Americans have out-of-pocket medical costs on credit cards because they cannot pay in full.
•34 percent of African Americans did not see a doctor when ill for financial reasons.
African American leaders on the local, state, national, and international levels continue to do their part to fight hunger and poverty in their communities. [2]
Ok that was a lot of statistics, but it brings this issue of hunger home.  People are hungry, living in food insecure areas here in the united states. We often think of bread for the world working in some far off country but they are working for the world.
“Some of the first-century churches started their worship with an actual dinner that led into the Lord’s Supper. But in the church at Corinth, some people ate and drank to their fill while other people went hungry. St. Paul tells them that if they ignore the hungry people in their midst, their sacrament is sacrilege.
You can’t be connected to God and ignore hungry people.
Worldwide, there are about 800 million hungry people in the world. In these families, many of the children die young, and people don’t have enough energy to be fully productive. In our country, one in six children lives in a home that sometimes runs out of food. The intermittent and relatively moderate hunger that usually characterizes hunger in America cripples’ young children for life and causes health problems for adults, too.
I think the most important thing to know about hunger is that the extent of hunger is declining. According to the World Bank, the number of extremely poor people in the world is less than half what it was in 1990. In the United States, the number of people in poverty has, roughly, been cut in half since the 1960s. So we have made progress, and more progress is possible.
this is something for which to give thanks. The great liberation from material misery that is underway is like the biblical exodus—an experience of our loving God in the world. And God is asking us to be part of it–to help move it forward.”[3]
We do that with our participation in the redwood empire food pantry.  We do that with gas cards and food cards for people in dire situations. Some of you have made your careers in service to people in need. Some of you give more of your time than anyone could ask for to support those in need in our community. We do that through the united church of Christ. Today we are asking once again to make the last first on this bread for the world Sunday.
Reverend David Beckman tells us two stories of bread for the world people.  The first story he shares is Pat Pelham, which started almost 20 years ago he explains “She was a young mother in Birmingham, Alabama. In her prayers one morning, she felt a strong call to do something about widespread hunger in Africa. She didn’t know what to do, because she had young children, and her husband’s job was in Birmingham. Her pastor suggested she get involved in Bread for the World.
At that time, many of the poorest countries in the world were struggling with impossible debts, and some church groups were organizing a campaign to get some of that debt reduced. Birmingham’s member of Congress, a conservative Republican named Spencer Bachus, was chair of the House committee with jurisdiction over this issue. At my suggestion (Rev. David Beckman’s suggestion), Pat and several friends from her church came to Washington to meet with Bachus.
Surprisingly, they convinced him, and he became a champion on this issue. Over the next several years, they organized in lots of ways to give Bachus credit back home for what he was doing. Many people across the country weighed in with their members of Congress, and the U.S. government eventually supported international debt relief.
The recipient governments were required to use the opportunity to take actions to reduce poverty, and a number of African governments dramatically expanded primary education. Over a ten-year period, the number of African children in school increased by 50 million. A whole generation of girls learned to read and write, add and subtract. About half the countries in Africa have sense then enjoyed continued progress against hunger and poverty.”
The other story rev. Beckman shared is that of Dave Miner, “Dave Miner is an anti-hunger activist in Indianapolis. He has worked for years to involve other people in service and advocacy for hungry people.
This year (2017), President Trump and Congress are pursuing an unprecedented attack on virtually all the U.S. programs that help hungry and poor people in our country and worldwide. President Trump’s budget would cut $2.5 trillion from programs that help people of limited means in our country and internationally.
$2.5 trillion is a big number. Dave decided to focus on just one proposed cut in the budget of the House of Representatives. They want to cut $150 billion from SNAP (food stamps). Dave calculates that this just this one cut would translate into the loss of 50 million meals for kids, seniors, and veterans in Indiana. So he has embarked on a long fast. He is giving up 50 meals–that’s 16 days of not eating–one meal for every one million meals that the House budget would take away from kids, seniors, and veterans in Indiana.
Dave’s fast (received) press attention, especially in Indiana, and he has so far been able to share his concern directly with his state governor and one of his senators. And I share his story with you, because Dave’s fast dramatizes for all of us just how dangerous the current political assault on hungry and poor people is.”[4]
You don’t have to fast for 16 days to let your members of Congress know that you want them to keep our country and the world moving toward the end of hunger.
Connect with Bread for the World, by going to their website,
Today we have a special collection and I will let paul speak to that …I hope I did not steal all his thunder.
It is important to know where our leaders stand on hunger and the programs our government is involved in.
It is essential, if you cannot donate food, if you can not make a small additional offering today. You can pray.  You can pray for our world leaders to be come wise and generous. It is possible to end hunger by 2030 but it will take a spiritual shift in our world, that can only be achieved through prayers. And I pray Lord thy will be done, and we all take time to make ourselves last so that the other may be first.

[4] Ditto

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