And so it begins….

Well, like a kid waiting of Santa or a trip to Disney Land, my excitement and my anxiety have grown over the days leading up to this day. I have dreamed, I have anticipated, I have prayed to God, I have planned with friends and now the journey begins in earnest.

Last night Dan, David and I, along with our families (John couldn’t be with us) and a neighboring pastor (hi

l-r:David Blackwood, Nathaniel Long, Dan Dixon

 

 

Sheila!) met at Maguire’s Irish Pub for a sort of “last supper” meal together. We have been meeting for the last 3 months just for fellowship. And that is kind of where this whole adventure has taken shape. We didn’t over-indulge, but we did eat a regular menu. As you can se from the photos, I had a Bayou Burger and kettle chips — and I had a “happy plate.”

 

 



Before Dinner

After Dinner: Happy Plate!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As I begin this journey my emotions are in a real up and down flow. I began my day learning that a gentleman in our church had traveled to California to purchase a new airplane. He left on Monday to fly it home. At that time he was missing from the time of his take-off. The search was on.

I arrived in the office and received a call from a funeral home asking if I could provide pastoral care to a family on the death of a man, age 46, who had died from a massive heart attack.

All of this news was followed by a look at my blog stats that show I had 81 visits yesterday — with 51 more today. This flatters and honors me more than I can say. I learn that Stop Hunger has linked my blog to the Stop Hunger Now-Atlanta Facebook page. I also got a telephone call from our local country radio station, 95.5 The Bear, asking for an on-air interview next Wednesday night (tune in and see if I look good on the radio!).

And then, I received a call late this afternoon telling me that my pilot friend had been found dead at the scene of the crash. We don’t know the cause. We can know that his death came while he was doing what he loved the most. Your prayers for his wife are appreciated.

What a day to start a new journey. What a day to see God’s hand on the lives of His children. The promise of eternal life — and the encouragement for the journey in this life. Wow!

This whole thing started off with me trying to grow as a person, to become more aware of the issue of hunger and how I can participate in bringing about change in the world. It has grown into something that at times can feel so overwhelming and all-consuming and yet — God is the one making this happen — and if God is in it, it can be done!

And so the journey begins in earnest.

I have eaten my first Stop Hunger meal for lunch today (I usually do not eat breakfast so this is normal). In an effort to make this a complete experience, I did not add anything to the packaged meal. I ate about 1 cup and it was surprisingly filling, and yes, very bland. All in all — not bad. Later I may experiment with seasonings/flavorings, but for today it is SHN food straight up. And I have to make it through a covered dish dinner later tonight.

As we participate in Ash Wednesday worship tonight, it is my hope that we will grow deeper in our understanding of what real Christian sacrifice is — as we look to Jesus for our example. As the ashes are placed on our foreheads, may they remind us what is asked of us — to be willing to lay down everything — even our very lives, for the sake of those in need. Jesus did it for us. He calls us to follow his example.

Will you join Dan, David, John and I as we lay down something this Lenten season and in the process take on the role of feeding the hungry? Instead of drinking a cola from a machine, can we have a drink of water and put that $1.50 in a container and bring it to God for the hungry on Easter? We can make a difference if we choose to.

Below is a devotion provided by Stop Hunger Now designed for this night. May it bring you inspiration, hope, and holy boldness to make a difference.

Ash Wednesday
Scripture: Joel 2:1-2, 12-17

“Yet even now, says the Lord, return to me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning; rend your hearts and not your clothing.” Is. 58:1-12; Psalm 51:1-17; 2 Cor. 20b-6:10; Matt. 6:1-6, 16-21

The fast God desires breaks open and purifies the heart, cleanses our self-absorption, and redirects us towards alleviating injustice and human suffering (Is. 58:6-8). But too often the tradition of Lenten fasting turns into an ego-driven challenge. What can I give up for seven weeks that will make me feel better about myself? Tell me, what good is it to give up chocolate, sodas, or ESPN only to pick them up on Easter morning? How easy it is to self-design a fast so it’s all about “me.”

Would you consider this season a different approach to the Lenten fast? Rather than give up something, instead take up a new practice that will bring relief to the pain and injustice of hunger around the world. Take up the practice of putting aside one dollar a day during the 40 days of Lent. Over the next seven weeks, ponder the exponential effects of such a simple, but intentional habit. Pay attention to your growing sensitivity to the value of a dollar. Meditate on how easy it is to mindlessly throw away the total daily income of millions around the world. Watch how a little put aside does add up. See that a dollar has life-saving worth. By Easter morning you will have saved enough to buy 160 children at least one meal a day. Now that’s fasting that can both help and really feel good!

Prayer: Create in us a clean heart, O God, and put a right spirit within us. Deliver us from our vanity, that we might give our gifts and pray our prayers not for recognition, but out of gratitude. Amen.

—Litanies and Other Prayers for the Revised Common Lectionary – Year C by Phyllis Cole and Everett Tilson.

Until the next time….The Hog Father

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