Out of the Mouths of Babes
“I’m hungry,” the little boy announced, right in the middle of the children’s sermon. The startling proclamation brought an unexpected but hearty burst of laughter from the congregation.
The question on the table was, “If God were to write a letter to you, what words might you hear?”
One kid said, “Don’t be bad.” And when prompted to say a little more, he said, “Be good.”
One kid said, “Love one another.”
And then, after what seemed an interminable silence, a little boy stood up, walked toward me and said, “I”m hungry.” When the laughter died down, I took him by the hand, and held it through the rest of the children’s sermon, thinking, “How do I respond to such a clear proclamation?”
Hindsight is so clear. Afterwards I thought that I should have said, “Me too! Let’s get out of here and get some lunch.” Or perhaps a more theological response would have been better: “We’re all hungry. We all are longing for something. And here in God’s sanctuary, gathered with God’s people in worship, we will feast on the Word of God!” I went to seminary after all, and every answer should have a theological dimension. Shouldn’t it?
But what if God wrote a letter to us, and all it said was, “I’m hungry”?
We might first think, “This isn’t our God. Our God doesn’t require food like one of the pagan idols of old. Scripture clearly tells us:
What to me is the multitude of your sacrifices?
says the Lord;
I have had enough of burnt offerings of rams
and the fat of fed beasts;
I do not delight in the blood of bulls,
or of lambs, or of goats. (Isaiah 1:11)
Someone else might say, “I know you don’t want food, God. What you’re hungry for is a contrite heart.”
Other people might say, “I hear you, God! I know you are hungry for justice! We are too!”
Some erudite theologian might say, “God is impassible. God is not moved by passions, strong emotions, or suffering, To say that God hungers cannot be taken literally. It is a metaphor for our own belief in lack that is strongly projected onto Divine Being.” Huh?
And in the midst of it all, a boy stands there, interrupting the decent and orderly worship service, resounding for all to hear with, “I’m hungry.”
And we are reminded that the needs of the world stand before us. We can engage in deeply theological and scriptural reasoning that keep us from responding directly and in the moment, but the world will still be declaring, “I’m hungry.”
Jesus tells his disciples, “I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me.” (Matthew 25:35)
And his disciples asked, “Lord, when did we do this? When were you hungry?”
Jesus reminded them, “Whenever you cared for the least of these, you cared for me.”
Whenever we feed another, we feed Jesus.
I am grateful that Pinnacle is a community of people who feed others in body, mind, and spirit, and in such feeding we sit at the table and commune with God.