Ash Wednesday: Share Your Bread with the Hungry


By Jean Blish Siers *

Isaiah 58:6-7:  “Is not this the fast that I choose: to loose the bands of injustice, to undo the thongs of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke?  Is it not to share your bread with the hungry, and bring the homeless poor into your house; when you see the naked, to cover them,  and not to hide yourself from your own kin?”

Tomorrow is Ash Wednesday, when the Christian community begins forty days of fasting, repentance, and reflection as we make the spiritual journey to Easter. So often it’s easy to feel like we just don’t have enough: income, house, vacation time. We don’t have enough stuff, quite frankly. Because we see others with more. It’s our human condition that we so easily see those few people who have more but not our many, many neighbors who have less.

Isaiah, in these very moving verses, says to the people in the post-Exile community, “Empty religious practices mean nothing. We are called upon to be a people of action and justice.” And so it is for us, particularly at Lent. Giving up chocolate or a trip to McDonald’s might make us feel better about ourselves for forty days, but does it really bring us closer to God or to the neighbors we are called to serve? Does it change us?

The average American (which means most of us!) throws out $529 worth of food each year according to the Nationals Resource Defense Council. As a country, we spend more than $117 billion on fast food, and 1% of our total income on alcohol. For those who regularly buy coffee at a Starbucks or other venue, they can say goodbye to $1,092 annually.

Change most often comes in small steps. This Lent, if you give up, give back. Spend Lent eating more simply and remembering those who eat simply every day because they have no choice. If you go without fast food or meat or chocolate or alcohol, give the money you would have spent to a hunger ministry. Society of St. Andrew, for instance, can deliver a serving of fresh produce for a little over two cents. A $5 fast food lunch would translate into 208 servings of fruits or vegetables. Share your bread with the hungry and find a more substantial feast at God’s table.

* Jean Blish Siers is SoSA’s Charlotte Area Gleaning Coordinator, and a current contributor to this News & Events blog.


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In the event I, or a registered family member, suffers any illness or accident requiring emergency hospitalization, medication, or other medical assistance while participating in a gleaning event, permission is given for any medical treatment which is deemed necessary and reasonable under the circumstances. I fully understand and comprehend that reasonable care will be exercised by the adult staff for this gleaning event to protect the safety of those involved. I understand that the field supervisor’s instructions must be followed at all times, and that I am responsible for any damages caused to fields, farms, or equipment by me/my family members not following these instructions.

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How the Story of the 12 Baskets is Connected to SoSA’s Name

Matthew 14:16-21

But Jesus said to them, “They do not need to go away; you give them something to eat!” They said to Him, “We have here only five loaves and two fish.” And He said, “Bring them here to Me.” Ordering the people to sit down on the grass, He took the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up toward heaven, He blessed the food, and breaking the loaves He gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds, and they all ate and were satisfied. They picked up what was left over of the broken pieces, twelve full baskets. There were about five thousand men who ate, besides women and children.

2 Kings 4:42-44

[…]the man of God […] said, “Give them to the people that they may eat.” His attendant said, “What, will I set this before a hundred men?” But he said, “Give them to the people that they may eat, for thus says the Lord, ‘They shall eat and have some left over.’” So he set it before them, and they ate and had some left over, according to the word of the Lord.

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