In those days John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness of Judea, proclaiming, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.” Matthew 3:1-2 (NRSV)
Last Thursday Joshua prepared a meal of squash soup, turkey, dressing, dumplings, gravy and two kinds of pies. The only thing missing was the sauerkraut! On Sunday the first hunger awareness meal was served after worship at Trinity. After explaining some of the work the ELCA Hunger program is doing in Mexico those in attendance were served one 8 inch tortilla with a tablespoon of beans and a tablespoon of salsa on it. After the attendees had eaten their tortilla the questions was asked if they were full. No one was. The explanation was given that they had just eaten a typical meal for a poor Mexican family. If the family was lucky they might have a second similar meal that day. Otherwise it was their one and only meal for the day. The hunger meal was in stark contrast to the Thanksgiving meal that most of us enjoyed on Thanksgiving Day. But Mexico is not the only place that families do not have enough to eat. We have hungry people in the United States. In fact it has gotten worse since cuts in food stamps took effect the beginning of this month. Every time I take donated food to the food pantry I hear the comment about the increased use of the pantry by people who are hungry. Yet the House wants to cut food stamps even further. It seems like the budget deficit is being blamed on the increased use of food stamps. There are many reasons for the deficit including the cost of the war in Iraq and Afghanistan and the recession which resulted in less tax revenue. But there seems to be less concern among Americans about the needs of the poor. John is calling out to us to repent. The Greek work does not have the meaning of confessing past sins but rather carries the meaning to change your ways. Eugene H. Peterson in his translation in “The Message” captures the idea of the Greek word better when he has John proclaiming “Change your life”. John is calling out to us Americans to change our life. First, be more thankful for the blessings that God has provided which was evident on most thanksgiving tables. Second, be more compassionate toward those who go to bed hungry. John’s message of “Change your life” is one we still need to hear.