Friday, June 19, 2009

Give Us This Day Our Daily Bread: My experience at the Prayer Vigil for a Just and Sustainable Food System

First of all, I must make a confession.  I had other things on my mind yesterday as I made my way down to City Hall to attend the Prayer Vigil for a Just and Sustainable Food System.  Over the past week I have been completely consumed by the events taking place in Iran.  The bravery and determination of the people protesting has been overwhelmingly inspiring to me.  The pictures of that many people speaking in one voice for their rights have made our country’s “politics of the day” seem trite and somewhat petty compared to what they are fighting for. With this on my mind, and as I fought the rain getting to City Hall, I was in no means prepared for a prayer vigil.

As the bible points out many times however, God speaks to us in many ways. Often times this happens when we least expect it and in forms we don’t always recognize.  About half-way through the vigil-with personal testimony, prayers of other religious traditions than my own, and an examination of a simple prayer that Jesus taught us-I suddenly awoke from the chatter inside my head and heard what God was trying to tell me.  The right of everyone to have equal access to healthy food is more than just a policy or a political fight, it’s a biblical mandate taught by Jesus to serve his people here on earth. 

Give US this day OUR daily bread on earth as it is in Heaven.

I have realized, as I become more educated on the subject, how much the fight for a just food policy is misunderstood and overlooked. Unless people are directly affected by it, they just don’t think of it.  I have witnessed people’s reactions when I talk to them about a food policy, a look of befuddlement crosses their face.  Once I tell them more about it, their faces change and they actually share stories of their own.  That is why it is so important for people like us to get the message out.  Once it is explained, people understand.  The numbers are overwhelming.  The facts indisputable. The solutions relatively simple. 

Like the people of Iran protesting for their rights and their voice to be heard, we must follow their example.  We need to unite with a loud voice that stands up for those who are being overlooked and harmed.  Unlike the protests in Iran, the consequences of our speaking out don’t immediately threaten our lives or put us in any immediate danger, but it does threaten the lives of people down the line.  The children who suffer from obesity and diabetes at astonishing rates due to a continually unhealthy diet because of a lack of access to healthy food in their neighborhoods or schools, these are the people who benefit from our voice.  These are the ones being harmed that we can help.

I left the vigil in a different manner than I arrived.  I was inspired.  A thought even crossed my mind that harkened back to my childhood explanations of the rain.  God was crying yesterday, tears of joy, to see his children of different faith’s and cultures united to work for Him and all of his children.

Stephen Tickner

NYFJ Communications Intern

Lisa Sharon Harper, NYFJ Co-founder & Executive Director

Bowie Snodgrass, Executive Director, Faith House

Rev. Gary Wiley, Trinity Grace

Tanya Fields, The Majora Carter Group

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