Food Trucks and Feasts

Today we food trucked for the IronPigs, the local Triple-A affiliate of the the Philadelphia Phillies, and for Ripple, an urban Mennonite community in downtown Allentown.  Two very different organizations with very different financial situations, but both very important to our community.  Both eating, in one sense at least, from the same figurative table, or at least from the same mobile kitchen.

Earlier in the day, I preached on Mark 6:

30 The apostles gathered around Jesus and reported to him all they had done and taught. 31 Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.”

32 So they went away by themselves in a boat to a solitary place. 33 But many who saw them leaving recognized them and ran on foot from all the towns and got there ahead of them. 34 When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. So he began teaching them many things.

35 By this time it was late in the day, so his disciples came to him. “This is a remote place,” they said, “and it’s already very late. 36 Send the people away so that they can go to the surrounding countryside and villages and buy themselves something to eat.”

37 But he answered, “You give them something to eat.”

I don’t usually give my sermons titles, but today’s was “prelude to a feast.”  I’d never really stopped at verse 37 before.  We’re always so excited by what’s coming next, we tend to miss the simple, direct command: “You give them something to eat.”  It’s stark, subversive, and just like Jesus. In the following verses, the disciples feed thousands of people with a few loaves of bread and some fish.  The provision is from God, but it’s the disciples who pass out the food. Jesus insists that his people be directly involved in the distributing the blessings — and thus seeing the miracles — of his kingdom.

After the resurrection, Jesus reiterates this point:

“When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?”

“Yes, Lord,” he said, “you know that I love you.”

Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.”

Again Jesus said, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”

He answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.”

Jesus said, “Take care of my sheep.”

The third time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”

Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, “Do you love me?” He said, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.”

Jesus said, “Feed my sheep.”

I knew a man who was deep in prayer for his children.  “God,” he said, “please bless my children.”

“And you bless mine,” was the answer back.

 

Deep Fried Mozzarella Sandwich; Huffington Post Shuts Down Submissions

I’m not going to lie.  This looks really good.  I’m not a doctor or dietician, but I’d also say probably not for anyone struggle with heart disease.

The Huffington Post believes it has done all it can to democratize the the internet via its contributor platform, which has now been shut down.  It’s funny that this email came when it did, given that I’ve been thinking about the proliferation of markets, many of which are niche, the popularity of submission fees (please), and the reality that so few very talented writers get through.

Here’s the email from HuffPost:

Dear HuffPost Contributors,

When HuffPost launched in 2005, it introduced a group blogging platform that revolutionized and democratized online commentary. It allowed teachers, parents and protesters to share space with celebrities, politicians and CEOs while trading ideas on the pressing issues of the day. Over the years, more than 100,000 contributors have posted on the site, with many of you posting from the start.

Today, with the proliferation of social media and self-publishing platforms across the web, people have many more opportunities to share their thoughts and opinions online. At the same time, the quantity and volume of noise means truly being heard is harder than ever. Those who are willing to shout the loudest often drown out new, more-deserving voices. The same has proven to be true on our own platform.

It is with this in mind that we have made the decision to close the contributors platform on our U.S. site. Going forward, when you log in to the portal at contributors.huffingtonpost.com, you’ll see that you are able to access your previous drafts and published posts — and unpublish those posts if you choose to do so — but you won’t be able to post anything new. We won’t be taking down or making any changes to previously published content ourselves.

We’ll still be publishing commentary on the site, we’ll just be doing it at much smaller scale, collaborating with writers to share smart, original ideas and making sure that we’re lifting up the voices that have been left out of the conversation in the past. We hope to keep hearing from many of you in the future, and more information about how to pitch us your ideas will be published on the site.

Thanks for being an integral part of the HuffPost community. Your bold, thoughtful contributions to HuffPost’s contributor platform have helped to make us what we are today, and we are so grateful and proud to have had you with us in this endeavor.

Sincerely,

The HuffPost Team

What “Chopped” Tells Us About Healthcare

As a food trucker and a pastor, I know this to be true.

The healthcare system (or lack of one) is bankrupting people all over the country. It’s bankrupting both the working poor and the working middle-class who have become the working poor.

The ACA (Obamacare) helped some people and hurt others. That’s something I also know from experience as a pastor and a food trucker.

The ACA has had a punitive effect on many families. The Republican attempts to replace it so far only seem to punish other sets of people.

Medicare For All seems like a good next step. By 2020, all Democrats running for President will embrace it, and a good portion of the Republican field will offer their own versions of it.

I pray for all who can’t wait that long.
 

American Religion is a $1.2 Trillion Enterprise. And People are Still Hungry.

As BoingBoing points out, religion in America is worth more than the 10 biggest tech companies combined.

Globally, Christianity alone grosses $10 trillion a year according to Ron Sider’s classic Rich Christians in An Age of Hunger.  Sider arrives at this number by combing the gross income of Christians around the world with the gross incomes of churches, denominations, and related missions.

I’ve suggested on The Huffington Post and elsewhere that Christians get serious about using 10% of that annual haul (a tithe) to end global poverty, world hunger, dirty water, and other things killing innocent people (mostly children) everyday.

Consider diarrhea. In the developed world, it happens when you eat sketchy food.  Kids suffer through it, add new lyrics to the song, and move on. In most of the rest the world, they die from it.  For children under five, it’s the second-leading cause of death on the planet.  Diarrhea.

That’s true.  I didn’t make that up to shock you, although it should shame all of us rich enough to afford an internet connection, that is, all of us rich enough to survive diarrhea.

Ending Poverty With Global Christianity’s Phantom Trillion generated a lot of discussion.  I followed up with some specific ideas for remedy in Rich, Greedy, and Blessed: God Wants to Save Us, Too.

How long must we sing this song? How long will we horde away our riches while singing songs to Jesus about how serious we are about being his hands and feet?  Jesus paid it all, we say, and all to him we owe.

There are lots of churches where  pastors make serious bank. Some of the richest Christians in this age of hunger are the people supposedly leading global Christianity (always from the front of the room).  I’ve had colleagues like that.

It’s been a long day on the truck and on the road.  I had the privilege again today of feeding people who can afford to eat away from home and doing so at a fair price.  I also watched a woman and her young son leave the Surplus Outlet without the food in their cart because their card malfunctioned.  I couldn’t tell if it was declined, just not working, or if it was a gift card with insufficient funds.  She was gone, from the store and from the parking lot, before I could find out or offer help. I should have tried harder.  I should have done more. It happened so fast. That’s what poverty does.

The thing is, we should all be ashamed. I’m no exception.  I was an hour-and-a-half away from home, had no clue where to direct this woman, but, seasoned as I am, I could have done something.  Seasoned as I am, sometimes I’m still caught off guard.

It’s not enough for me or Ron Sider or Bono (we get mentioned in the same sentence like, all the time) or you to lay out the facts, admit we all fall short, and encourage each other to do better.  We need to do better and more. There are so many ways. Find them. Share them. Do them. Educate yourself and your friends and your churches. Do them together. Tell us about them. Do them again.  Agitate. Organize. Give. For God’s sake, give away.