THE HUNGER AND STARVATION MOONS

By Don Johnson, Zion United Church of Christ, Gresham, Oregon

I once read Native Americans call this time of the year the Hunger and Starvation Moons. I don’t know if this is true or if it’s Hollywood. It is true, however, that this time of year is a time of hunger if you are homeless, jobless, broke, physically disabled, mentally disabled, or all of the above.

During the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays, we are very generous and give food and funds to help feed people who cannot feed themselves. After the holiday season, we tend to relax and give less than we did before. Because of this pattern of giving, food pantries and kitchens are often short of food during the months after the holidays.

We at Zion United Church of Christ in Gresham learned about this problem when a woman from St. Henry’s Catholic Church in Gresham told us about their food kitchen during a “Mission Moment” in our Sunday service. Our Social Action Team decided to help. We asked our congregation to cut and freeze their Thanksgiving turkey carcasses, along with left over turkey from their family dinner. We also welcomed whole turkeys. During the week after Thanksgiving, we boiled turkey carcasses, skimmed the broth, and added onions, celery, carrots and herbs. We poured the soup into one-gallon bags for the freezer. Now the soup must simply be thawed, and noodles, rice, barley or dumplings can be added to make a delicious, hot meal in this cold hungry time.

Occupying Our Faith

by Will Fuller, Kairos-Milwaukie UCC

Occupy Wall Street and Occupy Portland have received a lot of attention, but their meaning for the faith community has not. As a denomination committed to social justice, the United Church of Christ is intimately involved in the issues and precedent-setting nature of Occupy, and so we need to reflect on our role, responsibilities and relationship with this evolving social phenomenon.

Rev’s Chuck Currie and Kate Lore at Occupy Portland

Welcome the Stranger

Feed the Hungry, Speak for the Silent Ones

by Jeanine Elliott

With halting words, she said she wanted to learn English. To say anything more about herself would take more words than she had. I had none of the words that would make her feel at home. What I could say was, “Yes, we can help you learn English.” Did she understand me? She is brave and courageous, moving into a community where it may take several years before she can tell her story to her new neighbors, the English-speaking folk. There is a sparkle in her eye, and I suspect a wicked wit will eventually show itself in her new language.

The seven-year-old girl stands in front of the Food Cupboard and chooses a pudding mix because “my brother would like this.” Probably she would like it, too, but she has already learned not to ask too much for herself. Her mother, a bit embarrassed, says, “This is my first time here. What do I do?” She, too, looks as if she has a hard time asking for herself.

A young man with backpack and bike and no address stops by to report that he won’t be picking up his Care to Share food supply on this day. He is riding to Hillsboro and doesn’t want to carry the load. He accepts some granola bars, juice boxes and apples. He offers to help a couple on foot who are loaded down with cloth shopping bags filled with groceries from the Food Cupboard. He says he will return to pick up his own share.