Poverty News Round Up

To paraphrase Karl Barth, one should preach with a Bible in one hand, and a newspaper in the other. To make that easier, we’re continuing to bring you the top stories in poverty for the week, and we’ve added some brief commentary based on the Revised Common Lectionary for each week. As always, leave a comment if you think we missed a big story.

The Newspaper:

1.  Minimum Wage workers are speaking out, since they have nothing to lose.

“Her wages erode on all sides. Often, she said, she finds her check is hours short. And when she works overtime, she receives two checks, each at straight time, as if she worked for two different employers rather than a single KFC across from Bargain Land on Pitkin Avenue in Brooklyn.”

2. Last week’s Supreme Court decision on DOMA may have an impact on poverty.

“A 2009 report by the Williams Institute, Poverty in the Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual Community, points out that LGB families are at much higher risk of being poor versus heterosexual families. This is particularly true when considering lesbian couples versus heterosexual couples.”

3. CBS in Charlotte debunks 5 common myths about welfare recipients.

4. The U.N. is making a final push to meet the 2015 Millennium Development Goals.

“Some of the world’s key anti-poverty targets set for 2015 will not be met unless nations do more to achieve them, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said Monday at the outset of a monthlong session of the organization’s main economic arm.”

5. Bill Moyers inteviews journalist Greg Kaufmann on poverty.

“People are working and they’re not getting paid enough to feed their families, pay their utilities, pay for their housing, pay for the healthcare… if you’re not paying people enough to pay for the basics, they’re going to need help getting food,” Kaufmann tells Bill. “There are a lot of corporations that want to be involved in the fight against hunger. The best thing they can do is get on board for fair wages.”

The Bible:

In this week’s first reading (2 Kings 5:1-14) we hear the story of Namaan the Aramean being cured of leprosy. In Luke, the first sermon Jesus gives makes reference to this story (Luke 4:27), noting that Elisha was sent not only to Israel but also to foreigners. We are reminded that God’s love extends to all people and places. This, by the way, was enough to get Jesus driven out of his home town after an angry mob  tried to throw him off a cliff. Even today, while we profess that God loves all people, we frequently fail to act that way.

Namaan almost passes up his opportunity to be cured of leprosy. After being told to bathe in the Jordan he his skeptical. One of his sons sets him straight, pointing out that if Elisha had assigned a difficult task, he would have done it, so surely he can take the time to wash in the river. Sometimes accepting God’s love is so easy that we are skeptical, we feel, like Namaan, that we should have to earn it. God invites us to wash and be clean, and then sends us out into the world (today’s Gospel is the great commission) to heal the sick and proclaim the Kingdom of God. The mission into the world is not easy. The first step, being cleansed and fortified for the journey, begins in our churches as we encourage each other and renew ourselves in God’s presence. Only then, washed in the waters of baptism, can we step out into the world to proclaim good news to the poor.

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