December 5 - 11, 2005



Put on the pounds where they count most

Business was unusally brisk last Sunday afternoon at the local YWCA where I work out a few times a week. An informal survey revealed most of us were there for the same reason -- working off Thanksgiving pounds and anticipating a little extra weight for Christmas and New Year's.

It points to the sad reality that in the world where tens of millions suffer malnurishment and starvation, in America too much food is a big problem!

And yet, even in the United States those who run feeding kitchens and food pantries say that demand is way up this winter and that their clientelle continues to include more and more working families and seniors on fixed pensions. 

"Emergency food programs are no longer just serving the homeless or the family that is suddenly out of work," said  Ellen Parker, executive director of Project Bread in Boston (read this article; others are in Gleanings). "They are setting places for the working poor, for seniors, for teens, because they or their families cannot manage the cost of living."

It's a shame that a growing number of people are hungry even in the richest and most powerful country the world has ever known. The question is why? The reasons are complex, but many advocates point to the skyrocketing cost of housing, the jump in fuel prices and the general flatlining of wages for average working families even as net income for the wealthiest continues to rise. 

Biblical stewardship starts with the assumption that God has provided adequate resources to feed, clothe and house everybody -- a point with which modern science concurs. So if people are hungry and cold and ill-housed, it is a problem of distribution and stewardship that God commands people of faith to address. 

Systemic problems demand systemic solutions, but those take hard work in the areas of public policy and economics, plus focus, determination and time. Meanwhile, people are hungry.

This Christmas do your best to find out about agencies and advocacy groups that are working to help working families and retirees get a better deal. And also, instead of putting on extra pounds of fat that you have to work off in the gym after the holidays, put extra pounds of food in the baskets of food pantries and soup kitchens in your community.

-Rob Blezard, editor and webmaster

New This Week:

A misguided focus
Congregations that face budget problems and cash-flow crunches frequently make a fundamental mistake, says ELCA stewardship columnist Tuck Aaker. "Itís one of those afflictions that happens to nearly every congregation every so often and thereís only one way to overcome it!" Click here for Tuck's advice in "A misguided focus," from ELCA stewardship resources.

Retirement and the Kingdom of God
"I don't have to be a good steward.  And I don't have to tithe. I don't have to take care of my neighbor. So now, what should I do today?  I get bored really fast if I don't do anything."  Click here for The Rev. Dana Reardon's weekly stewardship column.

Let's Stop Responding to the Past
We don't give to the church because of what God has already given us, argues Hank Langknecht, but rather because of our expectations of God's future. "What my heart says is that my stuff is mine. I worked for it -- or my folks worked for it and I inherited it. Regardless, it is mine. Click here for "Let's Stop Responding to the Past," a new addition to the Lutheran Laity Movement Archives.

When the Holidays Hurt: 10 ways to cope with loss
"For many people, the holidays are a traditional time of happiness and festivity. However, for those who are grieving the loss of a loved one, the holidays are a time of mixed emotions. There can be pleasure, but there is also much pain, because the season magnifies the sense of loss." Great advice for individuals or congregational leaders whose parishioners suffer the holiday blues. Click here for "When the Holidays Hurt." From Today's Christian magazine. This week's Treasure  Chest offering.

Joke of the Week!

Weekly Gleanings, a sampling of articles with stewardship implications from the popular press.