Greetings to fellow fasters,
Excitement over the idea of fasting is probably not a typical emotion, but that is how I feel because we are joining in this practice together. We are about 100 Presbyterians from nearly every state (we who have registered to fast via the website), but I suspect many more will be fasting, praying with us, and participating in other ways. By this time next year, may we have Presbyterians from every congregation joining in this spiritual practice – generating ideas and the will to end poverty in our time!
Don’t feel like you need to read the whole letter, but I wanted to acknowledge your participation in this churchwide fast. To let you know that you are joined by Presbyterians all over the country and in other nations abroad. To affirm that you are not alone. And to wish for you an experience that in some small way transforms you, and with you – the world.
If you are following the materials on the website, you will enter the fast after a simple evening meal on Friday and break the fast with communion or a communal meal on Sunday – the fast lasting approximately 40 hours. Perhaps you join with a similar intention of praying, repenting and discerning to gain greater clarity about how to respond to the global food crisis. Despite the urgency of the need, my hope is that like me you also feel the need to go deep within yourself, and to return to spiritual traditions perhaps never tried, and to engage in dialogue with others and God, with a receptiveness to grace as we imagine new ways to build a world in which all can feed themselves.
Not wanting to be overly dramatic, but I feel like we are entering into a collective prayer. A prayer that is made strong because of our links to each other in this time of fasting, and through our belief in God’s vision of a world that is illuminated by the love of Christ and dignified by the struggle for peace and justice. Choosing life in the face of the persistence of despair, unfairness, and violence.
Violence, especially, is on my mind and heart after spending yesterday in Juarez, Mexico (across the Rio Grande from El Paso) listening to the testimonies of many. Among them was a 16-year old girl whose mother was murdered ten years ago, and a mother whose 7-year-old daughter was abducted, kept and abused for 30 days, and whose small body was found discarded on the backside of a nearby mountain.
The day before, we heard from young workers about the struggles of families to survive increased food prices. On top of that, with the recession in the United States, the work hours in the maquiladoras (assembly plants, many of which make auto parts) here in Juarez have been reduced. To support a family of four, two or three workers are needed, and so many children drop out of school to help the family.
As we fast, may we remember the children. Remember the children who have lost their lives, who are working in the factories, on construction sites, and in agricultural fields in the United States, in Cameroon, and in fields all over the world.
And may we have faith that another world is possible.
Andrew Kang Bartlett
Associate for National Hunger Concerns, Presbyterian Hunger Program, PC(USA)
Learn about the global Food Crisis http://pcusa.org/foodcrisis/