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Recently my nephew was in a horrible accident. He is now a quadriplegic. The trauma and grief has been unimaginable. It has also been punctuated by grace. His community has been generous and supportive in ways that leave my husband and me in tears as we read the latest facebook posts and fundraising fliers. One such facebook post was entitled, Homecoming: Dress Up for Cole. Below, the post listed the many ways to save money during homecoming (borrow a friend’s dress) and in turn share those savings with Cole.
Cole’s church, high school, and neighborhood have banded together to create a fund to help Cole one day retro fit a car, pay for a high tech computer, and the basics like a ramp to his front door. For this I give daily thanks: that Cole and his family have been surrounded in loving community, upheld in prayer, and helped in material ways. Yet I am also unsettled by this generosity in the face of the recent famine that has left mothers holding starving children in the horn of Africa. I want my nephew to have a retro fitted car, and a bike too, but I also want children to have enough to eat in East Africa. What if every high school around the country had signs for homecoming that read: Dress Up for Africa! Don’t spend $20 on your nails, forget about buying your date a corsage, send it to one of the many incredible organizations helping in Africa.
I realize everyone must make choices. My husband and I made a choice to give more money to Cole’s fund this year than we have to children’s international charities. But I’ve also made the choice to drink too many expensive pumpkin lattes this October. Way too many. What if I gave this money to one of the hundred organizations out there combating hunger (http://www.one.org/blog/2011/08/03/horn-of-africa-crisis-what-you-can-do-to-help/) , or lent my voice to ONE, an organization that has been doing incredible advocacy work to end hunger(one.org). Or what if we all thought, just for a moment, I can forgo that latte, that manicure, that corsage, that “thing” which society makes me think I need, and remember I am connected to people near and far around the globe, some of whom are dying this very moment from hunger, and others who this very moment are re-learning how to feed themselves. What if we didn’t need to make a choice, but instead supported our neighbors both near and far, both those we know and those who are faceless. What if we really, I mean really, came to understand what Jesus meant when he said, love your neighbor.
Rev. Abigail A Henrich (ehm!) is an ordained minister who earned her stripes at Princeton Theological Seminary and Colgate University. That said, Abby is really a mother-pastor-spouse who lives in a kinetic state of chaos as she moves from her many vocations: folding laundry, preaching, returning phone calls, sorting lunch boxes, answering e-mails, and occasionally thinking deep thoughts in the shower. Unabashedly she is a progressive Christian who believes some shaking up has got to happen in the church.