At dinner time, before we eat we hold hands and share a moment of silence. Then one of us will say "May you never hunger" and one of us will respond "May you never thirst". Usually Someone and I will also exchange "Thank you for sharing food" and "Thank you for sharing life". I continue this little tradition while he is away.
I've been thinking about hunger, lately. While there are plenty of reports on the news about how unemployment is lower than it has been, and that people are doing better, here in Redneck Central it's still hard times. Food banks are overwhelmed, as are shelters and services for the indigent and the food-insecure.
Amid all the stories of struggle, I was slapped by a headline discussing how a certain shelter is refusing to help gays. Another headline lead to a story about the Salvation Army and its refusal to assist homosexuals, even going so far as to spend money donated in those holiday buckets on lobbyists to support anti-gay legislation. So...these supposedly Christian, supposedly charitable organizations are refusing to help certain people because...why?
When, exactly, did Jesus say "Feed the hungry, clothe the naked, house the poor, but only if you think I like them"? When did he say "Oh, no, it's okay to let the fags shiver and starve because they don't have sex the way they should with whom they should"? In any of his teachings, sermons, rants, whispers, prayers, or other communications, did he ever once mention lesbians?
Granted I'm pagan and have been for a very long time, and granted it's been a minute since I read the bible or studied Christianity as a whole, but even with my faulty and aging memory, I don't recall Jesus ever mentioning that compassion, charity, or kindness were reserved exclusively for those in his father's house or who followed himself. He certainly never said anything to ME about that...
To the contrary, he seemed to go out of his way to be inclusive, to the point of often distressing the people who thought they knew him best and followed him around soaking in his teachings and trying to understand his radically different way of seeing and doing things.
I still wonder how anyone can call themselves "Christian", a follower of Jesus, when they seem to so readily set aside the teachings of the man they laud as their "Lord and Savior" even as they act entirely against his teachings. Most of the alleged Christians I know aren't. They're church people, and they follow the bits of the Bible that fit their world view, but actually Christian? No...not even close.
A Christian? Would ask "Are you hungry?" and then feed a person. No strings. No questioning the religion or politics. Just...fill an empty belly. A Christian? Would ask "Are you cold?" and offer clothing, a jacket, a blanket, without judging how the person came to be so cold. A Christian? Would ask "Do you need a place?" and help find shelter from the elements. No demands that the one in need first attend a church service. A Christian? Would ask 'Are you sick?" and then offer medicine without demanding that the person who is sick convert to one particular church before they can receive aid.
Plenty of pagans don't give freely of themselves or offer succor to those in need...but then, those same pagans don't claim to follow the teachings of a peaceful healer who DID offer help, hope, and boundless love to any who reached out to him.
I'm NOT Christian...but here's my deal - if you are hungry I will strive to help feed you. If you need clothing, I will strive to help you dress. If you need shelter, I will work to help you attain it. That's it. You don't have to be pagan, or Christian, or anti-Christian, or straight, or gay, or bi,or whatever. It doesn't matter your age, nationality, skin tone, or what music you listen to. As long as I don't feel you threaten my family's well being, I won't turn my back on you. As long as you are not doing me harm, I will try to help when I can.
You are a living being. You carry with you the seed of life. You are imbued with the same energy, the same spirit, that I am steeped in. You are worthy of compassion, of love, of kindness. You and I and all other beings are made of light and matter and vibrations and illusions. We are the sum of the Universe. I greet the divine in you. I honor the journey you are on. The sun that shines on me, shines on you...
So tell me, fellow sojourner, how can I help?