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Food and friendship

14 August 2013

This is one of a series of weekly Christian reflections and prayers for the IF campaign that focuses on the theme of 'Our Daily Bread', with contributors from CAFOD, Tearfund and Christian Aid.

This week's reflection is a contribution from Tearfund.

IF camapigners  

The IF campaign is a fantastic initiative and one that many can get behind and be motivated by. IF only we shared more, IF only we took less, IF only we demanded less for ourselves or demanded more for others!

We know that there has been a three- or fourfold increase in the number of people needing food bank support.

In the Camborne and Redruth areas of Cornwall, times are getting so hard that we have set up provision for lunchtime food over the summer holidays for the 500 children who would have been receiving free school meals.

In this part of Cornwall, we meet families each week where parents are going without eating three meals a day in order to feed their children.

Mums who have burst into tears in a head teacher's office as they have only pennies left in their purse at the beginning of the month, having just paid their child's nursery fees.

People who are feeding their next-door neighbours a hot meal.

And people who walk into one of our food banks or day centres, dazed and shattered by their disbelief at not being able to provide daily bread for themselves or their families for the first time.

Since we set up a number of independent food bank centres three years ago, we have seen the number of weekly meals go up by over 500%.

  • The IF campaign moves me to tears of anger over the daily challenges facing those on the lowest income.'

Daily bread is a simple commodity. Jesus takes this most simple, basic and popular foodstuff and places it at the heart of the meal celebrated by Christians across the world.

It would be difficult to go into a home in this country and not find some form of bread either in a bread bin, the fridge or the freezer.

Yet the simplest of foodstuffs is no longer within the financial grasp of an increasing minority of underclass families in one of the richest countries in the world.

The IF campaign moves me to tears of anger over the daily challenges facing those on the lowest income, and even below that, those on benefits.

I call upon my brothers and sisters in Christ to call upon their churches, their congregations, to weep, as God does, for those who are being crushed by this daily challenge of trying to feed their families.

I will be calling upon my churches to weep with those, and for those, whom nobody is heeding, through Isaiah 61 and with Jeremiah through the book of Lamentations. We must weep with those who are weeping. As the Spirit stands alongside them, so must we.

We must weep, also, to be moved to such ends as are necessary to bind up those being broken, to stand up for those who have no one and to provide food, sustenance, advice and relief for those who have nowhere else to go.

Please join me in weeping for those, and with those, who weep.

The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me,
because the Lord has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim freedom for the captives
and release from darkness for the prisoners,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour
and the day of vengeance of our God,
to comfort all who mourn,
and provide for those who grieve in Zion -
to bestow on them a crown of beauty
instead of ashes,
the oil of joy
instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise
instead of a spirit of despair.

Isaiah 61:1-3

Rev Mike Firbank, priest in charge at Camborne Parish Church and community project leader, including of the Drop In and Share Centre (DISC), a Tearfund partner in North Cornwall.


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