Well, I have been a lazy boy. No new post for what — 3 days? It’s not that I haven’t had anything to say, but I haven’t been to the office to get a post done. My congregation and my life have me running all around here. What with it being Sunday every weekend, Ash Wednesday coming this week and Easter just around the corner. And then there is this little thing I am doing for the 40 days of Lent — 4 for 40 Project?
This morning I arrived at church with growing anxiety and nervous energy. I usually preach from a manuscript. This keeps me on point and makes me be more succinct. However, with what I felt led to share today I was working without a net!
Let me set the scene: I hooked up my iPhone to a portable speaker I have that accepts MP3 input. I had downloaded an app that is a very high-tech metronome (helps you keep time). I was able to set it to tick 10 times per minute. This equals a tick every 6 seconds (60 seconds/6 seconds=10 ticks). I had the volume set to a level that could be heard, but not too loud. I wanted it to be subtle but after a while I wanted it to get annoying.
I had a table set up with the 40 packages of Stop Hunger Now meals I will be eating for the 40 days of Lent. Bigger that you might expect, but also not that big in reality. I had 2 four pound bags of sugar and 270 quarters in 4 containers along with a tin can.
As the service began I set the ticking in motion. It had been going on for about 25 minutes as I got up to share the message. I passed around the bags of sugar for everyone to see how heavy they were. And I began sharing my story.
I began sharing how I came to be interested in mission work in the first place. How as a youth our church group, led by my father, traveled to the Appalachia mountains to do mission work. How that was something that really touched me and how I have loved DOING mission work since.
I then shared about how fasting, a spiritual discipline that is emphasized during Lent, is an opportunity to choose to not have a meal and instead to use that time to grow closer to God by prayer, reading scripture, or other spiritual discipline. I shared how I planned to do this by living on the Stop Hunger Now meals for the season of Lent. How I have been joined in this effort by Dan, John, and David. And my concern about my own ability to follow this through for the full 40 days.
As I talked, I called up some of the youth, one by one, and had them begin dropping one-quarter into the can as the metronome ticked. So one tick was met by one clink. As time passed, I called up one more youth, then another until I had 4 of them dropping quarters.
As they began to run out of quarters I asked the congregation if they had noticed the sounds. When they confirmed this I asked if it had been annoying to which one member responded, “Yes!” I then told them that it was my intent for it to grow annoying — and that after I explained it’s significance I hoped it became heartbreaking. You see, that tick every 6 seconds (10 per minute) represented the life of a child that ended in death due to hunger. In the course of our 1 hour worship experience some 600 children died in the world due to hunger. The sound of each quarter represented how easy it would be to prevent these deaths. I can’t personally travel to the child to give them a meal, but I can provide resources to others who CAN go and provide the meal just as the youth were putting the quarters in the can for me so that I could continue to preach.
Through Stop Hunger Now a meal can be provided for these children for only 25 cents a meal. I shared how every day the world produces enough food for every man, woman & child to eat 4.3 pounds of food (hence the 4 pound bags of sugar). I shared about the sugar and acknowledged that on my best day I did not eat 4.3 pounds of food — and I can eat a lot if I choose to do so (which is why I am having to work with my doctor to address this issue in my life).
The 270 quarters were the ones that happened to be in our family money jar. I am sure most folks have a money jar at home — where you empty your pocket, purse, and car tray of loose coins. We raided ours Saturday night looking for just quarters for this morning. We found 270 — that equals $65.50 or more importantly — 270 meals. Did you get that fact: 270 quarters in our loose change jar can feed 270 meals. And that was only the quarters. I don’t know how much we have in dimes, nickels and pennies. How about your change jar? How many children’s lives could you save with your loose change?
I invited our congregation to consider a fast of their own. Giving up something and using that time to grow closer to God. And usually what we abstain from as a fast has a cash value. So I invited them to place that cash value in a container and to bring it Easter Sunday morning as a gift for the risen Christ. If not a fast, I invited them to sponsor me as I fasted on the Stop Hunger Now meals. This is the basic model for our 4 for 40 Project. Four over weight preachers, living on these meals for 40 days. Each meal for us costs $1.50 (to remain healthy we will need to eat the equivalent of 6 SHN meals) for 40 days which equals $60. If only 42 person will take this opportunity we can raise enough money to package 10,000 meals at each church we represent or a total of 40,000 meals for the 4 of us. I would call that an opportunity worth working towards.
Our ultimate plan is to try to raise enough money to package enough meals to fill a shipping container or 285,120 meals. (I know that’s a lot of meals and money but we CAN do it with everyone’s help !!) Plans are in the works for a motorcycle ride/carnival sometime this summer. We need to identify sponsors for this event so if you know someone or a business or you yourself are willing to participate please let us know.
And make plans now to join us during the month of April at Maguire’s Irish Pub in Senoia. They will be hosting us as their charity of the month for April. There will be a special event each Tuesday night with the proceeds benefiting our Stop Hunger Now effort.
AND you can join us each night at the Redneck Gourmet for Senoia UMC night where 10% of your check will be donated to the church (you have to tell the cashier you are there for us to get this) on the 2nd & 4th Monday night of each month.
I was pleased by how receptive our congregation was this morning. And I was particularly surprised by a gift that purchased our first 400 meals! We are finally on our way!
And so here I am tonight, running on energy and excitement from the day: a spirit filled worship service, Holy Communion (after all, Jesus sacrificed his life to save our souls — can we not sacrifice something to save a child’s life) a moving conversation in response to the service (it’s nice to know that someone actually was moved by one’s message) a privilege to have someone share their life’s current difficulty with me and to be able to pray with them, a very inspiring visit with a neighboring church and hearing about how God has used them in the community over the years and how they are seeking God’s leading as they reach out to share Jesus with their neighbors, and then a time of learning with Dr. Terry Teykl about prayer and the church. And now I am getting to share with you how blessed my day has been — and anticipating Ash Wednesday worship and this adventure in my own life.
Will you consider joining in the journey? Will you honor me by continuing to share this journey through this blog and by sharing this blog with others? And will you accept my invitation to do more than watch me as I journey and grow? Will you honor me and join in the effort and choose to sponsor me along the journey? Any amount will help. Will you show your gratitude for being blessed to live in this country and with such privilege by sacrificing and give generously to this effort? Together we can reach the goal of 285,120 meals — not for the sake of the number but because we can make a profound difference in the lives of hungry children. After all, if you have no goal anything will do. But we serve a wonderful God who has given so much for us — even the very life of His son. How can we NOT respond with glad and generous hearts and yes — even open wallets!
If you will participate please mail your tax-deductible donation to: Stop Hunger Now, c/o Senoia UMC, P. O. Box 98, Senoia, GA 30276. And may God bless you as you choose to be a blessing.
Lent — what a journey this will be this year!!! 26 hours and counting!!
Until the next time….The Hog Father