Oct 15, 2007

A Mother's Day

This Sunday marks one of the busiest days for our nation's telephone system. Sunday is Mothers Day and we are told that moms like flowers, jewelry, appliances, family gathered around the table and phone calls from those unable to present themselves in person. Whether or not your mom fits with the traditional marketing profile it makes sense that those who bore or adopted us would want to be remembered and appreciated for the effort.This Sunday marks one of the busiest days for our nation's telephone system. Sunday is Mothers Day and we are told that moms like flowers, jewelry, appliances, family gathered around the table and phone calls from those unable to present themselves in person. Whether or not your mom fits with the traditional marketing profile it makes sense that those who bore or adopted us would want to be remembered and appreciated for the effort.

But also know as you lay your head down on your pillow tonight that 28,000 mothers around the world will remember this Sunday as the day they buried their child.

Shocking as this may feel to us, it is a simple, horrifying truth. Ten million children under the age of five die each year, mostly in developing countries, mostly from treatable infections, waterborne illness and malnutrition. That number averages out to 28,000 small children never seeing their first day of school, let alone the joy of a long, productive life that celebrates their mother's love and commitment to them.

Before hopelessness settles in and you feel you can't do anything that really makes a difference, stop and realize that everything we do does make a difference. Jesus started his public ministry out by stating, "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor (Luke 4:18)." Being God's agent in the world meant Jesus was empowered to make a difference. Jesus also empowered his disciples to do the same. We as followers of Jesus Christ are therefore uniquely and ably equipped to carry this legacy of hope, faith and lovingkindness into the world to today's poor. What Jesus saw most clearly is that he could change lives by preaching good news to the poor. We too can change lives by preaching good news to the poor.

We preach good news to the poor when we accept the reality that we are all the same and we are all connected to one another. It is time we stop isolating ourselves from he rest of the world. It is time to educate ourselves about how other cultures live and what we can do to make the world safer and healthier for all of us. CARE, Save the Children, UNICEF, World Vision and the ONE Campaign all have web sites that are easy to access, easy to maneuver and eager to share important information about the daily lives of people like us in developing countries around the world. It is harder to blame or objectify people in their poverty if we have a better understanding of their circumstances. Jesus taught this lesson each day of his ministry.

One such example is the children of Iraq. We sometimes see them on television, playing amid the rubble of blown up streets and buildings or lying on hospital beds connected to tubes to sustain their lives. Andrew Buncombe, reporting for The Independent, a UK publication, addressed the issue of the dramatic increase in infant mortality in Iraq. Although the country has suffered two wars since 1990, it has also endured U.S. supported sanctions against the Saddam Hussein regime after his invasion of Kuwait. From 1990 to the coalition invasion of 2003 some of the most wide-ranging sanctions ever imposed affected Iraqi health care and infrastructure. The number of children who died during this time is unknown, but the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) suggests an additional 500,000 children died between 1991 and 1998. Dennis Halliday resigned as UN humanitarian coordinator in protest at the sanctions, saying, "We are in the process of destroying an entire society. It is as simple and terrifying as that. It is illegal and immoral."

We preach good news to the poor when we align ourselves with them as fellow human beings and take action to support them in any way we can. Some of us can give financially at the above mentioned web sites or other organizations doing similar work. Others of us can volunteer our time directly to service that improves the lives of people living in poverty here in the United States and around the world. Yesterday morning Congress introduced the U.S. Commitment to Global Child Survival Act. If passed, this act would provide resources for simple, cost-effective tools to save lives. You can go to the ONE Campaign web site to email your Congressional representatives to support this bill. You can also participate in the Standing Women Project. Based on the book The Great Silent Grandmother Gathering, this Sunday, May 13, women around the world will join each other to save the world. To stand with other women, children and men to save the world go online to the Standing Women Project.

We preach good news to the poor when we remember that Jesus did not separate himself from the people who needed him the most. We preach good news to the poor when we align ourselves with those who need us to know them, help them renew their hope and feed their children. We preach good news to the poor when we act to make a difference in someone else's life simply because our faith compels us to do so in the name of the One who sent Jesus as our leader and example. We also honor our mothers and all women who have nurtured us to wholeness when we carry on their good work to hep others on to wholeness in their own lives.

Helping other people may not keep Hallmark in business, but it may keep some of today's 28,000 children from dying. Helping someone else may make this Mothers Day memorable to the moms of those children for all the right reasons.

by: Cory L. Kemp