A prayer for the holidays

Today is Thanksgiving.

Reports in recent weeks have highlighted the shortages in food pantries and increased demands for shelters. In today’s paper was a report entitled “Donation downturn: Charity groups fear housing woes will hurt hungry, homeless” The report underscores the decline in giving by the wealthy and the dramatic impact of the housing slump on the poor and the homeless.

We found some hope for the holidays by reading an article by Anna Quindlen in Newsweek entitled “Blessed Is the Full Plate: A terrible shortage of food for the poor grips the country. Where is the political will to do the right thing for the hungry?” Her column focuses on the soup kitchen at Holy Apostles in New York City. It underscores the importance of the political will to end homelessness and hunger in America.

Her last two paragraph call for a new prayer for politicians.

This place is a blessing, and an outrage. “We call these people our guests,” says the rector. “They are the children of God.” That’s real God talk. The political arena has been lousy with the talk-show variety in recent years: worrying about whether children could pray in school instead of whether they’d eaten before they got there, obsessing about the beginning of life instead of the end of poverty, concerned with private behavior instead of public generosity.

There’s a miracle in which an enormous crowd comes to hear Jesus and he feeds them all by turning a bit of bread and fish into enough to serve the multitudes. The truth is that America is so rich that political leaders could actually produce some variant of that miracle if they had the will. And, I suppose, if they thought there were votes in it. Enough with the pious sanctimony about gay marriage and abortion. If elected officials want to bring God talk into public life, let it be the bedrock stuff, about charity and mercy and the least of our brethren. Instead of the performance art of the presidential debate, the candidates should come to Holy Apostles and do what good people, people of faith, do there every day – feed the hungry, comfort the weary, soothe the afflicted. And wipe down the tables after each seating. Here’s a prayer for every politician: pasta, collard greens, bread, cling peaches. Amen.

Best wishes for a Happy Thanksgiving!