As bishop, I have been to almost all our congregations on a Sunday morning. One of the great joys of this ministry is worshipping in our unique and varied settings. There are many different characteristics to our congregations and yet a few things are common for almost all. An element I recognize with special gratitude is a collection for the local food pantry; abundance flowing into containers of all shapes and sizes. God is truly present in the containers of food staples and essentials to be shared with those in need, people who are hungry.

We say that the Lower Susquehanna Synod is where the hungry are fed as we have been fed by Christ. Hunger is a problem, even here in the fertile farmland of the Susquehanna Valley. The risk of hunger has been exacerbated by the COVID-19 crisis. Somehow, week after week, our people without any fanfare continue to bring food to share. There are no trumpets sounding as bags of food are placed quietly in receptacles and people are able to eat. It is how we as the people of God quietly feed people who are hungry. The alms of food quietly given to feed as we have been fed by Christ.

Good and gracious God, we give thanks for your bounty in your creation. You provide abundant food for your children. Send your Spirit on us that we may be generous in our sharing to feed those who do not have enough. Guide us that we may work to eliminate hunger in our communities and the world. May the love of your Son, Jesus, open our hearts in love. Amen.

This week’s Gospel reading about Nazareth -Jesus’ hometown- is one of my favorites. I live in the small town where I grew up. I know the town well, and people know me, (and my family, and my family’s family). The people of Nazareth are fascinating! We can all learn from them. They had intimate, firsthand knowledge of the Son of God. He was a divine miracle living among them—but remained unseen and barely acknowledged. 

What are the unseen and barely acknowledged ordinary miracles of your life? How does recognizing these things influence your faith? A question for to reflect on throughout this week; how can we pray for people who are hungry, knowing they are made in God’s image and may be the bringers of miracles we do not expect?

I invite you to visit the Lower Susquehanna Synod Webpage and learn about the programs established and funded through ELCA World Hunger and the LSS Hunger Committee. Consider ways you may participate in your congregation’s hunger ministry, hunger advocacy project, or collaborative effort addressing the root causes of hunger. In giving, we are often blessed to receive one of the greatest miracles of all, knowing Jesus in many new and beautiful faces. 

Jesus, we give you thanks for every good thing we have.  Help us recognize you in our everyday worlds, and give us courage to follow you through life.  Help us remember the hungry—and give us the hearts to feed them.  Amen