Tag Archives: food

“Has the Lord’s arm been shortened?”

Numbers 11 verses 11-23

John 3 verses 12-21


In May 1944, the American 442nd Regimental Combat Team landed in the Italian port of Naples.

Soon a kitchen and supply tent were set up.

A short while afterwards, a dozen or so locals were spotted lurking near the facility, watching with hungry eyes.

One of them approached the mess sergeant and offered his and his family’s services to help clean and keep the place in good order.

The American asked him how much he wanted…

The man shook his head. “No lire – there is nothing left here to buy – just give us your garbage, your left-overs.”

Thinking that the Italians might be farmers, and wanted the rubbish as fertiliser, or to feed their pigs and hens, the Sergeant said, “OK, go ahead, help yourself”

At that, the Italians surged forward to the rubbish bins, cramming the slops into their mouths – potato peelings, congealed stew, coffee grounds – anything that they could get hold off…..

“STOP!” shouted the American, “you can’t do that. You can’t eat that garbage!”

“But you PROMISED!” wailed the hollow-eyed Italian, “we will work for it…”

Now THAT is real hunger…hunger as the soldier had never seen before.

And, we have seen real hunger too – not just the poor, starving children in these far-off countries blighted by drought or civil war……but increasingly here… in this country.

Who would have imagined even just a decade ago that many thousands of our fellow citizens rely on food banks and soup kitchens.

I saw on Border News on Friday – the day that English schools finished for the summer holidays, that a charity in Cumbria is handing hundreds of food parcels to families – in order that their children get something to eat; there being no free school lunches over the next couple of months or thereabouts, the schools, of course, being closed.

This is the 21st century…..not Victorian times, with ill-fed and undernourished poor kids and adults

How often have we ourselves said something like, “I’m starving” or “I’m dying of hunger” when we’re a bit late having our lunch?

That’s not hunger; that’s not starvation. How blessed we are; indeed sometimes spoiled for choice.

And, let’s say this – we live in a society where there is so much waste. I read a week ago about how much uneaten food we throw away – added up, it amounts to hundreds of pounds a year.

It illustrates our abuse and also our taking for granted the bounty that God has blessed us with.

Let’s turn now to our Old Testament reading. The Book of Numbers over many chapters tell of the wanderings of the Israelites on their journey to the Promised Land.

Over and over again, three stark words stand out: “Hunger” “Thirst” and Weariness”

Only those who have experienced such a plight.

Those who were prisoners of war in the last war, those incarcerated in Belsen and Auschwitz, those who slaved on the Burma railway in the 1940s, those on the hunger marches of the ‘30s – they knew, they felt, they understood – yes, they and such as they suffered.

In the Authorised translation of the Bible, Moses addressed the hungry and weary children of Israel who doubted if any relief would be given to them.

He says, “Has the Lord’s arm been shortened?”

In other words, “Is there no limit to God’s power – to his providing for you?”

“Is God deliberately withdrawing his favour?”

If we truly believe, if we have a faith that is strong enough, the answer is a resounding “NO!” even in the bad times, the appalling situations.

In one of James Herriot’s books, his fictional alter ego is called out one Sunday night to look at a couple’s dog – a ten mile drive….and he’s not happy about it.

A woman invites him into a shabby living room, one end of which is curtained off.

Behind the curtain, in bed, is a desperately ill looking man -her husband.

A little dog is lying there, his legs not functioning and he can’t walk.

The vet can barely keep his temper – surely this could have waited for another day or so, and a visit to the surgery.

Then the man spoke. “I was a miner, but the roof fell in on me. I got a broken back. The doctor says I’ll never walk again”

A pause…then in a hoarse voice, “I count my blessings. I suffer very little and I’ve got the best wife in the world”

The vet wondered what these blessings could be – his wife, certainly; the dog who was a faithful companion; the wonderful views across the Yorkshire Dales….and that was about it.

His irritation seeped away. Driving the ten miles back home across the Dales, he felt very humble.

Forgetting to be thankful is very easy; we enjoy a lifestyle – even a simple one without much in the way of material possessions – which many would envy.

Let us be thankful – not just for the good things of life, but for life itself.

And to the Israelites’ question about God abandoning them, or, at best limiting his care for them…. he was to provide manna in the wilderness, water out of a rock, resting places by the way, and even means of healing when they were bitten by serpents.

Take the snake bites….Moses acted somewhat strangely. He fashioned a bronze serpent, fixed it to a pole, and held it up so that everybody who wanted could see it.

They were told that those who did look, would be cured. God would provide healing.

Did anyone question then whether there was a limit to God’s power?

Some answered “No” and looked and were cured.

Others answered “Yes, there is a cut-off and He can do nothing for us in this our condition …. take that bronze snake away!” And they buried their heads in their hands.

Doesn’t this imply that our loving God can provide for us, his children, even when we find ourselves in our own personal wilderness?

In John’s Gospel, reference is made to this story from the Hebrew Scriptures.

A well known verse. Here it is in the traditional translation:

“As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up; that whosoever believeth in him should not perish but have eternal life.”

Has God’s arm been shortened? Is there a limit to God’s power?

Apparently, it could be….. but the limit is not on His side; it is on OURS

God offers us his gifts, but he does not force our hand open to receive them.

Such is the reality of free will that God, who has implemented it, will not infringe it. If he did, we would be no more than puppets in his hands, manipulated at his whim.

All this applies to the greatest gift of all that God has provided in the wilderness of our human folly, willfulness and failure – Christ lifted up on the Cross for the world to see…..

…….that “whosoever believeth in him should not perish but have eternal life”

Here is healing. Here is power. Here is hope. Without limit………….

PROVIDED we respond.

A postscript – in November I will be visiting the River Kwai where the notorious railway was constructed. Despite the lush tropical scenery and the heat of the sun, this place is no paradise. It was hell with palm trees for the prisoners of war who laboured there – exhausted, starving, on the point of collapse.

Then on the 31st December, I shall be visiting Auschwitz – a bleak place of death and desolation, where, as we know, horror was piled upon horror.

How will I respond when seeing these two places? I don’t know. But, of one thing I’m certain, I will be thankful to the God whom we worship that – in comparison – our petty problems are nothing.

And, generally speaking, for all of us, comes the realisation of just how blessed we are – and then perhaps….just perhaps….. we may acknowledge that we are God’s hands in this world of his creation.

May our hands be open to give as generously as we can.

And may we never allow our arms to be “shortened”


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Canine Grace

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Soul Kitchen


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November 16, 2014 · 15:25

Matthew 25: 35-40 (unless you’ve got a permit)

“Pastor Blocked From Feeding The Homeless Because He Doesn’t Have A $500 Permit” Share: Share on email

Pastor Rick Wood hands out food to the homeless in Birmingham
A pastor determined to live out the Bible’s dictate that we feed the poor was shut down by local police because he didn’t have a permit to serve food.
Twice a month, Rick Wood, a pastor at The Lord’s House of Prayer in Oneonta, Alabama, gets in his truck and drives around Birmingham with more than a hundred hot dogs and bottles of water, handing them out to the homeless. Wood has been serving those in need for the past six years because he wants to put Matthew 25:35-40 — “For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink,” a scripture verse he has plastered on the side of his truck — into action.
But last month, Wood was stopped from handing out food by local police because he was in violation of a new city ordinance, passed in December, that regulates food trucks. The new regulation requires food trucks to get a permit, which can cost as much as $500. Though the ordinance is specifically targeted at retail food vendors, rather than charities, the city nevertheless used it to block Wood.
He was livid. “That makes me so mad,” Wood said in an interview with ABC 33/40 News. “These people are hungry. They’re starving. They need help from people. They can’t afford to buy something from a food truck.”
The pastor accused Birmingham of wanting “to chase them out of the city.”
ABC 33/40 News’ video has more: http://youtu.be/HTgnW0WbbFk

Though the homeless population has been declining in Birmingham, significant need remains. A 2013 survey found 1,469 homeless people in the Birmingham area, a figure that has declined 36 percent in the past five years but still accounts for nearly half of all homeless people in Alabama. One-third of Birmingham’s homeless, 509 people, had no shelter at all when the 2013 count was conducted.
Birmingham is not the only city to shut down groups that hand out meals to the homeless. From St. Louis to Raleigh to Philadelphia to Orlando, city governments have implemented new restrictions on charity groups that feed the homeless. Los Angeles is considering a similar measure.
Back in Birmingham, Wood has defiantly vowed to keep serving food to the homeless. “The homeless can’t help the position they’re in,” he said. “They need help.”

from “Think Progress”

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April 14, 2014 · 09:33

Mother Teresa and God

Mother Teresa died and went to heaven. God greeted her at the Pearly Gates. “Be thou hungry, Mother Teresa?” asked God.

“I could eat,” Mother Teresa replied.

So God opened a can of tuna and reached for a chunk of bread and they began to share it. While eating this humble meal, Mother Teresa looked down into Hell and saw the inhabitants devouring huge steaks, lobsters, pheasants, and pastries. Curious, but deeply trusting, she remained quiet.

The next day God again invited her to join him for a meal. Again, it was tuna and  bread. Once again, Mother Teresa could see the denizens of Hell enjoying lamb, turkey, venison, and delicious desserts. Still she said nothing.

The following day, mealtime arrived and another can of tuna was opened. She couldn’t contain herself any longer. Meekly, she asked, “God, I am grateful to be in heaven with you as a reward for the pious, obedient life I led. But here in heaven all I get to eat is tuna and a piece of rye bread and in the Other Place they eat like emperors and kings! I just don’t understand it…”

God sighed. “Let’s be honest Teresa,”

He said, “. . . for just two people, it doesn’t pay to cook.”

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Raleigh, NC Police Threaten To Arrest Good Samaritans Who Feed The Homeless

Progressive Populist

Posted by Progressive Populist – 24 August 2013

                 raleigh nc 2



Fresh on the heels of a law being passed in Columbia, South Carolina that makes being homeless illegal, we have yet another situation where the homeless and the downtrodden are basically being treated like savage animals and kicked to the curb.

In Raleigh, North Carolina, a group of good Samaritans from Love Wins Ministry, along with five other churches who contribute funds and manpower, have been going to a local park on virtually every Saturday and Sunday, bringing food to homeless people for years. They would bring breakfast sandwiches and coffee and give them away, for free, to anyone who wanted it. By all means, it has been a very kind and generous deed that these folks have been doing over the years. A true grassroots effort to help others who are in need, and a huge testament to human compassion and spirit.

raleigh nc 1

By all means, this act of human kindness was not causing anyone any problems. Until one recent day when the group showed up with around 100 sausage biscuits and hot coffee. Some 70 people were waiting in line to be served their free meal. Also present were officers from the Raleigh Police Department, and they were not there for a free sausage biscuit sandwich. They told the group that if they served any of their food to the homeless folks who were waiting in the line that they would be arrested. Clearly, no food was going to be served today to those 70 people, and apparently not on any day going forward.

The group has never had any prior run-ins with the police. They were not allowed to use the park itself without paying for an expensive permit, so they have always set up shop on the sidewalk near the park, as long as they were not blocking it and cleaned up their messes.

The reason given by the cop for not being able to provide food to the homeless and the hungry was this: “I am just telling you what is. Now you pass out that food, you will go to jail.”

There were no apparent ordinance violations. Just a simple message from a cop that obviously came from someone higher up the chain of command. And the good Samaritans have every intention of continuing their good deeds, but have not yet determined the logistics of doing so.

And apparently, it’s still legal to feed animals at the park – just not humans.

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The Bacon Tree

Back in the cowboy days, a westbound wagon train was lost and low on food. No other humans had been seen for days … and then they saw an old Jewish Rabbi, sitting beneath a tree. The leader rushed to him and said, “We’re lost and running out of food. Is there someplace ahead where we can get food?”

“Well, I think so,” the old Rabbi said, “but I wouldn’t go up dat hill, and down de udder side. Somevun told me you’d run into a big bacon tree.” “A bacon tree?” asked the wagon train leader.”Yah, ah bacon tree. Would I lie? ….. Trust me, I wouldn’t go there.”

The leader goes back and tells his people what the Rabbi said.

“So why did he say not to go there?” some pioneers asked.” Oh, you know Jewish people don’t eat bacon.” So the wagon train goes up the hill and down the other side. Suddenly, Indians are attacking from everywhere and they massacre all except the leader who manages to escape back to the old Jewish Rabbi.

The near-dead man starts shouting, “You fool! You sent us to our deaths! We followed your instructions, but there was no bacon tree. Just hundreds of Indians, who killed everyone but me.”

The old Jewish man holds up his hand and says, “Oy….. wait a minute.” He then gets out an English-Yiddish dictionary, and begins thumbing through it. “Oy Vey, I made myself such ah big mistake! It wunzn’t a bacon tree. It wuz a ham bush.”

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Pope Francis invites 200 homeless people to dine at Vatican

lIrish Central

July 10, 2013,
The Vatican - Pope Francis invites 200 homeless people to dine at Vatican
Photo by Google Images
Pope Francis invited a group of 200 homeless people to dinner at the Vatican last week, where they enjoyed a lavish meal and entertainment.

The dinner was organized by Circle of Saint Peter, a papal charity as “a concrete sign of the Pope’s charity.”

L’Osservatore Romano reports that Cardinal Bertello, president of the Governatorate of the Vatican City State spent the evening with the guests.

“I welcome you in the name of the Pope. As you know, this is your home, and he is pleased that you are here,” he told the group before dinner was served.

The meal took place near the grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes in the Vatican. The Vatican Gendarmes Band performed for the guests as they dined. CNA reports that chefs from Naples prepared the meals and members of the Circle of St. Peter, joined by their wives and children, acted as servers for the meal.

Once the dinner was complete, each guest was given a gift pack with pastries, fresh fruit, and a rosary.

During an address in March Pope Francis decried a society that is more concerned about economic prosperity than homeless people dying of starvation and cold.

“This is happening today. If investments in banks fall, it is a tragedy and people say ‘what are we going to do?’ But if people die of hunger, have nothing to eat or suffer from poor health, that’s nothing. This is our crisis today,” the Pope said.

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The Rune of Hospitality


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May 5, 2013 · 21:06

Food for Thought

Food for Thought

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March 8, 2013 · 11:28