Voices from the Regions
The Bible study on each of the six weekdays of the Assembly has a distinctive focus. Each arises from one of the five key words of the Fourth Petition of the Lord’s Prayer in the Gospel according to Matthew (give – us – today – daily – bread) and a recurring theme from the Gospel of John (Bread of Life).
Find out what people in each region think about their day's theme.
“Given by Grace”
- Kirsten Jørgensen
Rev. Kirsten Jørgensen, Evangelical Lutheran Church in Denmark
Regional Voice on “Given by Grace"
An innocent Nordic attitude is to romanticize nature. Not only nature but technology and medicine are also part of God’s merciful giving. People think advancement in technology and medicine is bad. This is not true because God’s providence challenges us to acquire the discerning quality to differentiate between what is God-given and what is human-made. However, it neither relieves us of our responsibility to serve God and humanity.
- Rev. Dr. Philip Lok
Bishop Dr Philip Lok, Lutheran Church in Malaysia and Singapore
Regional voice on “To All”: What is it to pray, in your context, ‘give us’ instead of ‘give me’?
‘The rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer’ is a common phenomenon in the Asian countries. In this context, to pray ‘give us’ instead of ‘give me’ calls us to share our resources with the underprivileged and the ostracized and also reminds us to be interdependent of each other. But unfortunately, improper distribution of resources reminds me of my context where the Orang Asli [literally: “indigenous people”] are deprived of their daily living. Food security is a basic right for all and as a church we are challenged to act with the conscience of sharing God’s providence.
- Rev. Susanne Freytag, Protestant Church in the Netherlands
Rev. Susanne Freytag, Protestant Church in the Netherlands
Regional voice on “Today”: What does it mean to pray to God for nourishment specifically for today?
To pray is to have a direct relationship with God. To pray specifically for today does not mean that we should forget the past and should not care about the future. But, it is to have a sustained direct relationship with God. God expects us to pray not just every day but all the time. The milieu of hunger is as diverse as the communion. In my country, though we have a negligible population of the poor, the way hunger is perceived is different from that in India or Africa. People hunger for love, for spiritual need, for relationship … For us, to pray for today means to act immediately to satisfy the hunger of others, thereby maintaining a sustained direct relationship with God.
“Daily – Having Enough”
- © LWF/Timothy Melvyn
Bishop Elisa Buberwa, Evangelical Lutheran Church in Tanzania
Regional voice on “Daily – Having Enough”: Several biblical passages speak about what is sufficient. What does “having enough” mean to you?
Every human being is entitled to have one’s basic needs of food, clothing, shelter and medical care – material needs. People also need love, relationships and family – non-material needs. But, above all, I would hold faith – spiritual need – to be the most important need for a person. “Having enough” is being satisfied by having material, non-material and spiritual needs.
Also, “having enough” is to acquire what one needs and not what one wants. However, there is always a possibility of having excess at the expense of the poor and the suffering. It is at this point where one should cultivate the spirit of saying enough. It is one’s greed that deprives others of their need. As an individual, as a society and as a church it must be ensured that all have enough to survive.
- Rev. Cibele Kuss
Rev. Cibele Kuss, Evangelical Church of the Lutheran Confession in Brazil
Regional voice on “Bread”: The word “bread” in the Fourth Petition could mean at least three things: the natural bread that we eat, the Holy Communion, or the word of God. What does “bread” mean to you?
In Latin America, bread is a liberation element that relieves both the physical hunger caused by starvation due to unfair distribution of food and the psychological hunger caused by discrimination and oppression.
Bread reveals a strong impression of equality. Bread symbolizes the strength to overcome hunger. Sharing of bread has a mystic influence. It combines the religious and cultural experience. One tends to learn and know more about the “other” – one’s neighbor who also is created in the image of God.
The church must be vocal against over-consumption. Unless the church raises its political voice and participates in advocacy, it cannot address the acute problem of hunger in the midst of waste. It must be the central ethical passion of the church to take the side of the poor and the needy that deserve a humane life.
“Bread of Life”
- Bishop Michael Pryse
Bishop Michael Pryse, Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada
Regional voice on “Bread of Life”: Why do we, who enjoy an excess of daily bread, seem content even while our sisters and brothers in the communion, God’s beloved creatures, created in God’s image, have none? What can we learn from one another about what is enough?
The face of poverty experienced in different parts of the world is varied. If the poverty experienced by the global South is of physical hunger, then the poverty experienced by the global North is the inability to fully appreciate the goodness of God’s gift. We are spiritually impoverished. We waste and squander the things that we are expected to share. We need to realize what is important and of value in life.
The voices of those not having enough must be brought into greater prominence. We need to learn to be more self-critical of the economic system that perpetuates the cycles of poverty. Though not enough is done to alleviate poverty, there is now a greater understanding in the general public in North America to be more generous in sharing – sharing not as charity but as a necessity.