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Lenten Disciplines & Budget Choices | Wes Granberg-Michaelson

14 Apr Posted by in Tony Hall's Blog | Comments Off
Lenten Disciplines & Budget Choices | Wes Granberg-Michaelson

In the tradition of the church, the season of Lent was observed through prayer, fasting, and almsgiving.  These forty days were a period when one’s life was more deeply centered in God, when one’s desires were restrained, and when one’s compassion for the poor was deepened.  Reviving those ancient practices within today’s context makes spiritual and practical sense.

The present budget debate—whether the government shuts down or not—has the very real potential to produce cuts which will sharply deepen the hunger and poverty of millions without having any meaningful effect on the deficit.  In all my time, first as a staff member for a Senator in the 1970’s, and then following public policy regarding hunger and poverty as a concerned Christian, I’ve never seen anything as drastic, damaging, and unjustified as the proposed cuts in these areas.

I celebrate the way many congregations, including those in the RCA, are deeply engaged in meeting the needs of the hungry in their communities.  But let’s remember this fact, shared by David Beckmann, President of Bread for the World:  of all the food provided to meet the nutritional needs of those threatened with hunger, 94% comes from the government, and 6% from private charity.  Even modest reductions in government programs will quickly overshadow all the good done by church and private groups.

So I’m joining the Hunger Fast.  I’ll pray in focused ways, and forgo a meal each day.  That’s very modest.  But at least I’ll be reminded daily of those whose hunger will become more severe through no fault or choice of their own, but by the decisions of those holding public office.  And I will pray as well for them.


Rev. Wesley Granberg-Michaelson serves as General Secretary of the Reformed Church in America.  He is a President of Christian Churches Together, and Vice-Chair of the Board of Sojourners.  Previously he worked for the World Council of Churches, and served as Legislative Assistant to U. S. Senator Mark O. Hatfield.


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