Friday, July 24, 2009

Urban Share

Garden made from used pallets and milk crates

John 6:1-21

Jesus feeds 5000. A pretty spectacular story that if you've heard it a million times before may lose it's power. And with all the stories of miraculous healings and bringing people back from the dead, we may have already put this story in the category of things that God(dess) could do, but we could not.

But what if we could do it too? Two Saturdays a month we feed more than 200 and we only spend $600 a year on food. How is that possible? Well, we simply let people who have more than their daily bread, know there were others who were going without. And they bring their extra bread (actually they serve restaurant quality meals that are better than I eat at home).

At the Welcome Ministry, we use a philosophy that I call Urban Share. Urban Share is founded in the belief that we have all the supplies that we need, we just have to share it and communicate our needs to others.

Using this model of Urban Share we are working on a community garden project to enable churches and other organizations to create gardens to grow food, learn about hunger and meet the need that is so much more than a need for daily bread. Working with local gardening activists we have learned that it is possible to create raised bed, sidewalk, rooftop and lot gardens virtually for free by recycling materials that are common in urban environments.

Now we are working on connecting gardeners with organizations to teach them how to use the space and things they have around them to produce food for those in need in their communities.

Join our movement! Help us create connections, to fund this program, to reach out to more organizations and churches. Let's use Jesus' ability to feed large groups of people with the resources he found around him and his commandment from Mark "You go feed them" and go and do likewise.

Call to action- Help us feed 5000: The Welcome Ministry plans to feed an additional 5000 people this year, but we need your help. We will be growing produce in community gardens. How? Send us seed! Please send us one or more packets of seed (to grow food) in the mail along with your prayers - we will use your seeds to grow food and feed 5000.

Send seeds and prayers to:
The Welcome Minsitry
1751 Sacramento St.
San Francisco CA 94109

Proper 12B/Ordinary 17B/Pentecost 8

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Sermon: Sheepdog's Tale- Don't Wait for Help

To play click the triangle above.
Date: 07-19-2009
Description: The text is cropped to say that we should all take a vacation, but hunger, health care and the needs of the world can't wait. Jesus' response: You feed them. Learn some ordinary and extraordinary ways you can help with hunger in your community
Pastor: Rev. Megan Rohrer
Congregation: St. Francis Lutheran Church
Scripture : Mark 6:30-34, 53-56; Psalm 23

Monday, July 13, 2009

You give them something to eat!

Mark 6:30-34, 53-56

When the lectionary cuts out an important story in the middle of the text it does a disservice to the story and to those who hear it! Jesus' command that the disciples feed those gathered is an important part of this story. This cut out story seems to be the script that many people have today about why the poor should help themselves. Yet Jesus responds, despite the cost: "You give them something to eat" (v. 37).

Don't argue about how they got here, if they should have planned better, about how much it will cost or if it will split the church. Just feed them!

In much of my work with those living in poverty or who are homeless it has often felt like the obvious thing to do is just staring everyone in the face:
People without homes -- give them homes
people without food --- give them food
people with out clothes --- give them clothes
people without health care --- give them health care

You can see where I'm going with this. And I can hear the questions now: but what if they use it for bad purposes? Or what if they just waste it (after all if they were able to use things appropriately they wouldn't be in this space now)?

Perhaps. But people living in emergency situations, don't have the privilege of time to figure out what your budget should look like, if there is a better way to use the money or the color of the carpet in the room where the service happens.

Perhaps giving people the basic needs that are required for a healthy life may lead some people to be able to make choices we wouldn't condone. But thankfully, when I'm given my paycheck each week no one asks me how healthy the groceries I will buy are or if I will get any exercise this week before they give me my check.

No, we seem to want to control other people choices, but don't want people to control our own choices. If you have money you can choose from so many different types of milk that there is an entire aisle of milk. But, those who do not have money we seek to take away what little choices they do have (for fear they'll make a poor decision).

I happen to believe that giving people the things they need to be healthy is what we ought to do. We can't know or control what people will do with the things we give them. But that doesn't mitigate our very real responsibility to share what we have, with those who have less. And I find that when we do, those in very real need - more often than not- will use what we have shared in appropriate ways.

At WELCOME this is our mission. And we have a huge increase in the number of people who are begging for food right now. Help us to meet the growing need. Jesus commanded us to feed them. If you can please support our work, or volunteer so that we don't have to turn anyone away.

Proper 11B/Ordinary 16B/Pentecost 7

More than just the worst day.

Click the triangle above to play the sermon preached at St. Cyprian's Episcopal in San Francisco.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Healing from our Christian trauma.

Mark 6:14-29: John the Baptist's Head on a Platter

This text is gave me pause. How do you find "good news" in a story about a beheading. Particularly a story that exists as a foreshadowing of more death to come.

Yet, for anyone who has felt like the they have been stalked by death, chronic illness or who have been silenced by a political system that gets rid of hope and truth, this text may feel like it speaks to our situation. And perhaps it could be seen as "good news" because it speaks to our fears and anxiety.

But, as a pastor who works with those who don't have the ability forget their trauma - and sometimes feel like trauma of the past is still happening to them today I'm more comfortable when "good news" to provide hope for a better future.

The condition of being stuck in trauma is called post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). It's something I'm getting intensive training to help people heal from. And the results have been stunning. I'd even say that it's been miraculous. Read Pastor Jay's thoughts about this work.

I wonder sometimes if Christians need trauma care. Death on a cross is a form of biblical terror and one that we keep inflicting on others - expecting others to live on a cross. Some Christians keep reliving and reenacting the cross ~ which to me seems to fit the mold for PTSD.

So perhaps the hope and healing comes in our remembering that this trauma is John's (and Jesus') not ours. We are alive and we should celebrate that. Even more so, we should do what we can to live fully, to improve our health and to heal from our trauma. And then of course work for all of this for our neighbors as well.

Baptism is one way that Christians seek to encounter their deaths. While we continue to remember our baptisms throughout our lives, we don't continue to live in a Good Friday space. Instead we strive to live in the resurrection, in our Easter.

"Good news" if you're reading this, it's safe to say that your head is still attached to your body. You are alive. Be Whole. Live in forgiveness. And Go in Peace.

Proper 10B/Ordinary 15B/Pentecost 6