Saturday, September 27, 2008

On Earth as it is in Heaven

The events of this past week are mind-numbing. Wall Street melts down; government officials talk of an economic depression or a severe recession; the candidates for president debate economics and foreign policy; wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere continue to rage. The focus throughout, at least in our own media, is on ourselves. And I am certainly not immune to worry as I watch our retirement assets shrink.

I would like to suggest that we not forget the poorest in our midst, and that we not forget that we are connected in this fabric of life to the rest of the world. More than 1 billion people -- one-sixth of the world's population -- live under conditions of extreme poverty. We can attempt to ignore the rest of the world, but the events of this past week should teach us that we are linked to the poorest of the poor everywhere.

Little noticed this week was a meeting at the United Nations focused on global poverty and the lack of progress toward meeting the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) designed to reduce global poverty. The MDGs have won wide-spread endorsement from governments and churches (including ours), yet little has been done. Experts at the meeting noted that industrialized nations have, so far, blocked efforts primarily because of short-sighted and self-serving trade policies. 

I must confess that I was disappointed that neither candidate for president addressed the issue of global poverty in last night's debate, although the debate was billed as a dialogue about foreign policy and economics. Also little noticed this week was legislation foundering in our own Congress to put limits on cluster bombs which kill and maim civilians.

And all that said, please do not despair. There are things we can do. Our voice can be heard. On the left side of this screen, under the listed links, are several organizations worthy of your prayers, your financial support and your volunteerism, and I've made it even easier for you by repeating those links in the text here. Episcopal Relief and Development is the arm of our church working tirelessly around the globe to relieve human suffering. ERD needs your dollars and needs your time. One of the most rewarding weeks I've ever spent was with Lori in Central America building a house through ERD for hurricane victims. The Episcopal Church has a website, Global Good, listing other opportunities for us to have an impact and make progress on eradicating worldwide poverty.

The Campaign for Innocent Victims in Conflict (CIVIC) is a bipartisan organization that documents and advocates for refugees and war victims. CIVIC has won deep respect from both Democrats and Republicans in Congress. The founder, Marla Ruzicka, was from Lakeport, California, and she was killed in Iraq by a car bomb in 2005. She was 28-years-old. The day after she died, we said special prayers in the California Legislature and paused for a moment of silence. The work of CIVIC carries on, and needs your financial and volunteer support (the photo at right is from CIVIC's webpage).

Finally, as we enter this Fall harvest season, I hope each of us will consider where we should put the first fruits of our labor, and how we can truly live into our Lord's Prayer that "thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven." 

Blessings to all,

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