Thursday, December 21, 2006

do they know it's Christmas time yet?

In 1984 Britain's biggest names in music came together as "Band Aid" (I'm sure it seemed like a good idea at the time) to perform the song "Do They Know It's Christmas Time?". The song was intended to raise awareness and money for famine in Ethiopia. And it did. Between Band Aid and USA for Africa (circa 1985), a ton of food and money went to those starving in Africa.
So I heard the song yesterday in a store and couldn't help thinking about how little things have changed in 20+ years. There is still drought and famine in Africa. Not to mention war, AIDS, Malaria, corruption, and 1000 other things that make living there an untenable proposition for millions of people. And money is pouring in. The Clinton Global Initiative, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Millenium Project, on and on and on I could go. And some things get a little better, but still - the need is vast.
So I ask myself (often) what would happen if people who call themselves Christian took seriously the command of Jesus to take care of the poor? What if instead of shoeboxes once a year (not that there is anything wrong with the shoeboxes), a church somewhere decided to buy vaccinations for the children of a village? What if the American Church stopped spending money on being comfortable and started spending it on "the least of these" that God so loves? I have Evangelical friends (really, I do) who tell me that Jesus said we will always have the poor with us so it is futile to pour too much energy and resources toward trying to alleviate poverty. Funny, my version doesn't say "the poor you will always have with you - so screw them". Maybe Jesus was referring to the problems of greed and a lack of compassion that will inevitably lead to people being poor. Hmmmm.
K and I watched "An Inconvenient Truth" the other night. One of the things Al Gore says in it is that the reason political types don't acknowledge the truth of the science behind global warming is that if they do, they'll have to do something about it. I think the same can be said of the Church and extreme poverty. We turn our eyes away and offer tokens to assuage our guilt over what we know we ought to be doing.
All of this to say - do something. There is a difference that still needs to be made.

For further inspiration - I give you the Band Aid video from 1984. Bonus points if you can name anyone other than Bono.

Feed the World


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