A Special Lenten Collection before Easter…
For Food Insecure Indonesian Families in South Philly.
Last Sunday’s sermon was about Abram leaving home. Actually, God sent him away to a distant land, and Abram seemed never to have looked back.
We remembered that Woody and Barry both moved last week, and moving is never as easy in real life as it sounds to have been for Abram in the Bible!
But the sermon was more pointedly about suffering, as a part of my Lenten emphasis on our humanness and limitation. And how the cross of Christ can connect us and our suffering to other’s suffering and to God.
In some sense, I was asking us to slow down and sit with suffering awhile (rather than rush past it or pack it away, hide it out of sight) on the way to Easter. My mantra this Lent has been, “Make more room for acknowledging our struggles; when we do, we’ll find more of God’s help in God’s response to our humanness.”
Writing the sermon, I used two examples of relocation-occasioned suffering. The Syrian refugees I helped resettle when I was on sabbatical in Sicily, more specifically Gayeth and Saswan, the couple I was closest to.
And two local Indonesian migrant communities we know through some of our POWER congregations.
The latter example – the Indonesians – got abridged in my preaching. It was a packed Sunday with the ordination of Dave, Rae and Sarah as Elders and Holy Communion. Trimming on the fly, I left out the second, local example.
But there was also “an ask” in my example of the Indonesian community. As I promised I would on Sunday, I am sharing that part of the sermon here by way of asking you to help out these Indonesian migrant neighbors, as part of our Lenten practice and Christian service.
Here is what I would have said on Sunday, if we had time:
“I had a long conversation this week with Pastor Aldo, from one of the Indonesian POWER congregations in South Philly. His is the Mennonite Indonesian church on McKean and 17th.
He was telling me about a struggle in their community currently. Within their midst, there is a large undocumented population. And a lot of young families.
And getting work for the undocumented folks is a challenge. Pastor Aldo explained that his folks rely on “agencies” that pick up day workers on certain corners and take them to factories in Philly and Camden needing day laborers.
At the end of the week, the factories pay the agencies and the agencies provide cash according to how many days someone has worked.
(I know, it’s starting to sound like Jesus’ Parable of the Workers in the Vineyard.)
The current trouble is that lately there‘s been a marked downturn in that day-work available. And that means that people’s incomes are uncertain and falling. It’s causing food scarcity for a lot of young families that don‘t have much cushion.
The pastor explained that it occurred to him in prayer that he might ask other congregations to take up some food collection to help hungry people in his church.
It‘s basic Indonesian staples that could supplement empty tables :
Long shelf-life vegetables:
Oh, and diapers! The pastor says with so many young families, they always need diapers.
Church, we have migrant neighbors who’ve come all the way from Indonesia and are having trouble finding steady work and feeding their kids. I’d like us to be able to help them out. Will we as a congregation be able to organize some help… will you be willing, can you make a contribution towards their need?” —-
That was the part of the sermon you didn’t hear.
And the ask?
Let me know what you think, can we as a congregation help?
See you in church,