by Evelyn Hanneman
March 3, 2011
(CHICAGO, Ill.) – I'm in Chicago at the Congress on Urban Ministry sponsored by SCUPE
(Seminary Consortium for Urban Pastoral Education). Walter Brueggemann spoke Wednesday, using food as the metaphor for the issues that face us today.
Looking at the story of Pharaoh and Joseph, Brueggemann pointed out how accumulation of food ended in violence. Fearing a famine, experiencing anxiety, at Joseph's suggestion Pharaoh took over all the food supplies and eventually rights to the land, and ended up enslaving the Hebrew people. This growing anxiety over scarcity of food then led to the attempt to kill the Hebrew babies -- violence.
The counter story views food as abundant. Starting with Creation and the call to be fruitful and multiply, Brueggemann moved on to the story of Moses when he called to God in the wilderness to feed the people who had left the anxiety and scarcity of Pharaoh but were facing the seeming scarcity of the wilderness. God brought bread, water and quail to the wilderness - but with the warning to trust instead of storing up the "bread of generosity."
Jesus is the Lord of abundance as seen in the stories where he eats with the "riffraff" and feeds the 5000 and the 4000 - finding food, once again, in the wilderness. Performing an act of gratitude, of Doxology, Jesus took, blessed, broke and gave - and all experienced abundance.
Brueggemann pointed out that we all live between these two narratives. We are socialized to the scarcity story, so our task is to move our identity from anxiety to gratitude. It is only when we live in gratitude that we are able to be better activists and to empower others to work for peace rooted in justice.
—Evelyn Hanneman is BPFNA's Operations Coordinator.