A reflection by Rev. Carol Devine Minister of Green Chalice, a partner ministry of Disciples Home Missions and Christian Church in Kentucky
“Mary, did you know your child would lead us to feed the starving? Mary, did you know your child would cause us to be merciful?” Our General Minister and President has inspired and challenged us with her Advent message. Motivated by the Magnificat (Luke 1. 46-55), the Rev. Dr. Sharon Watkins calls us Disciples to use our time and talents to, among other things, feed the hungry good things and care for God’s good creation.
In Mary’s picture of justice, the hungry are not just filled, but they are filled with good things, good food. Today, there is a Good Food Movement with a website and support from Farm Aid. There are blogs and articles written about good food. But what is meant by “good food”? Websites, blogs and articles define it as local food, organic food, slow food, whole food, real food and sustainable food. But church food pantries do not have much on the shelves that could be considered “good food” by those definitions. School cafeteria lunches for children who receive a free or reduced lunch, do not provide any foods worthy of a “good food” label. How often do we fill the hungry with “good food”?
Poor children, people who are homeless, prisoners and low-income families are filled with highly processed, sometimes unrecognizable substances that we label as food. Christ said, “Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me” (Matthew 25.40). If we hold these words as truth, we are feeding Christ with bad things.
No man, woman or child should go to bed hungry and their diets should be a source of physical and spiritual health and wholeness. The food we eat should, in a very real way, connect us to God’s creation and to God. Eating should be a spiritual act that reflects our faith. Every meal should be The Lord’s Supper. Churches and individual Christians should participate in a food economy where agriculture workers are treated well and fairly compensated; animals are treated humanely; agricultural practices build up the soil and protect creation; and good food is available to everyone no matter where they live or if they have money.
Gardens are one way that Disciples’ churches are living out the justice described by Mary’s Magnificat. By taking good food from the garden to shut-in’s, food pantries and free or reduced markets, Christians are filling the hungry with good things. By planting root vegetables and winter squashes and installing cold frames, fresh produce is available well into early winter. Some congregations are taking it a step further by freezing or canning the garden produce so that good food is available all year long. God has looked with favor on us, and through us, God will fill the hungry with good things. May it be so. Merry Christmas!