The challenge has begun!

Today I was privileged to visit the Downtown Mission and collect my food hamper. Its contents were not same as the sample list that I published on this blog last week.  There was no potato and no onion.  There was no peanut butter. The contents included: 2 cans of tuna and one can of chicken, 1 can of kippers,  1 package of Kraft Dinner (sorry, no name mac and cheese), 3 individual size cans of beans, 4 cans of soup, one can of mushrooms, half a dozen tea bags, a can of pasta sauce, half a pack of spaghetti, a package of noodles (you know – that stuff looks like block if squiggly worms) ,  a small sleeve of crackers, a bag of cherries, one juice box, a pack of sidekicks rice, a can of zoodles (sorry Sponge Bob Square Pants noodles really), and one loaf of white bread.

The Contents of My Food Bag

On the way home I had half the pack of crackers and the juice box. What? I was hungry! I have just finished my dinner – tonight’s delight? When I was a kid I loved caned Zoodles etc…so I had the Sponge Bob Square Pants Noodles with some bread. I was still hungry, so I also at the noodles in the hot water. I missed making a plate of food with three or four lumps. Do you know what I mean? When we have dinner, I am used to preparing at least a meat, a starch (potato, rice, or pasta) and a nice vegetable or two.  So I am feeling satisfied at the moment, but I have the feeling that I will be hungry in an hour. There seems to be little to no nutritional value in the foods that I received today. This will be a big challenge this week as I am becoming quickly aware of how much I take for granted the nutritional value of the food I am fortunate to enjoy every day.

Being that the mission today was a helpful experience.  I received a book with recipes that help stretch the food received from the food bank.  We also heard from people who have had to use food banks who shared their experiences.  It was pointed out that while there was some excitement and energy about our trip to the food bank today, most people who have to make their first trip to the food bank do not share that experience.  I went into the food bank today hoping to see people I knew and was delighted when I saw my friend and colleague The Ven. Kim Van Allen who is Archdeacon of Essex. In reality, if I was in need of the food bank, I would have been hoping against all hope not to see anyone I knew as I made my way to the food bank. (I am impressed that Kim actually walked to the Downtown Mission as many others would have to do).

Yesterday I was fortunate to enjoy a buffet brunch and a good supper. On Friday, I can go right back to having meals with three and four lumps on my plate. I can do this because, of my relative wealth. That makes this experience very artificial in many ways. But it does not diminish the importance of what I am doing. As I said in church yesterday, I am representing a faith community and I am taking this challenge on their behalf.  The community of God is called to identify with the weak, and the forgotten. Jesus calls our community to be proactive and to respond in love to the poor. Jesus declared “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour.” (Luke 4:18-19)

This means that I need to leave my comfort zone to identify with others. I encourage all of you to think of how you may leave your comfort zone. While I engage on this challenge I encourage you to ask yourself, how you and I might find ways to preach good news to the poor, how we might proclaim freedom to the prisoners, release to the oppressed and to show by our lives that God’s favour has been set free for all people.

Stay tuned to the blog as I will keep you posted as to how this week is going. God has been good to bring this opportunity to our community and I pray that we may find ways to reach out and express our faith by identifying with those who are on the margins of society.