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August 11, 2021
Dry bones: African farm workers inspect the carcass of a cow that died in a prolonged drought on a farm (from the New York Times story)
"No Work, No Food: Pandemic Deepens Global Hunger" - via The New York Times.
"Relentless waves of the virus, combined with crises caused by conflict and climate change, have left tens of millions of people around the world on the brink of famine."
Again I saw all the oppressions that are practiced under the sun. Look, the tears of the oppressed—with no one to comfort them! On the side of their oppressors there was power—with no one to comfort them. And I thought the dead, who have already died, more fortunate than the living, who are still alive; but better than both is the one who has not yet been, and has not seen the evil deeds that are done under the sun. - Ecclesiastes 4: 1-3
Like many Christians, I think about the Bible as a book in which God (or God’s press secretaries, as is often the case) speaks.
Which is why the Megilloth (the Hebrew term for “scrolls”), comprising Esther, Ruth, Ecclesiastes, Lamentations, and Song of Songs, often stand out to me. During our recent TLDR Bible Show episode on the Megilloth, we discussed God’s silence in these books. Not only does God do remarkably little talking in these pages of the Hebrew Bible, God’s isn’t even mentioned in Esther or Song of Songs.
And that silence is powerful. Hebrew Bible Scholar Dr. Kathleen M. O’Connor has written that the silence from God in this section of the Bible creates room for those experiencing oppression to speak (and to be heard). In the Bible passage above, the writer of Ecclesiastes notices the oppression of his neighbors, perhaps for the first time. In our own temporal context, we are being called to notice the challenges of hunger made even worse by COVID-19 today. The New York Times writes, “An estimated 270 million people are expected to face potentially life-threatening food shortages this year — compared to 150 million before the pandemic.”
May God bless this moment’s silence, speaking, signing—and our response.
Bread for the World continues to be the leading organization uniting Christians to lobby and work to end hunger internationally. They can teach you how to be an anti-hunger advocate, too. Learn more about their work and how you can get involved.
Holy One,
You are the bread of life
And in the yeasty moments of silence and clarity this week
Help us to notice your rising anew
So that we, too, might rise
And offer bread and peace to the world.
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Rev. Billy Kluttz (@bekluttz) co-hosts the TLDR Bible Show and works as Associate Pastor at Govans Presbyterian Church in Baltimore, Maryland.
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