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A Piece of Bread
September 7, 1975

St. Paul's United Methodist Church

A piece of bread made of wheat flour, water, yeast. A piece of bread. Some eat it. They'll put butter on it with perhaps jam or peanut butter, and they'll eat it. Some like to toast it first. Some play with it. They'll nibble, pull or cut away the crust. Some complain about the piece of bread. I don't like the crust. I want dark bread. I want white. I want it my way when I want it! Some feed it to pets, Some throw it away into the basket, the garbage can or down the disposal. 

A piece of bread. Some are dying for a piece of bread, literally dying. Who of us has ever really been hungry? Perhaps some of you knew hunger in the Depression when the bread lines distributed a piece of bread. But even then, hunger was for short periods. Americans have not known hunger like millions in the world today. At least 460 million are starving right now. It is difficult for us to conceive of hunger, much less, starvation, and 460 million is just incomprehensible. In some countries 25% of the children--one out of four--die before the age of four. Malnutrition is the biggest single contributor to these deaths. It is difficult to comprehend. 

An executive of an international relief organization after an extended tour, wrote, "Hunger has a face. I know. I have looked into it. Hunger is a Bengali face, a little mother named Jobeda whom I found in the shade of a tattered lean-to in a refugee camp in Dacca. A small withered form lying close beside her whimpered and stirred. Instinctively, she reached down to brush away the flies. Her hand carefully wiped the fevered face of her child. At six years, acute malnutrition had crippled his legs, left him dumb, and robbed him of his hearing. All that was left was the shallow, labored breathing of life itself, and that, too, would soon be gone. But death is no stranger to Jobeda. She has seen starvation take away her husband and five of her seven children.”

Hunger has a face. Hunger kills people. Every minute, a man, woman or child dies from starvation. A piece of bread. When you come forward today and are given apiece of bread, remember those who are dying for a piece of bread. 

The tragedy is increased by the fact that there is enough bread for everyone. There is enough food. It is a matter of distribution. Are you and I prepared to lower our standard of living that the world may eat? Will you and I pressure our leaders into entering into trade agreements, programs that do not just handout food in bread lines, but reorganize the economic order under which the world operates? It is unjust. It can be changed. May a piece of bread challenge you to express concern for the hungry. 

When you come forward today and are given a piece of bread, may it not only symbolize the crisis of hunger in our world today, but may it be a symbol of hope. The piece of bread dipped in the juice of the grape symbolizes the very life of Jesus Christ. The God who made the heavens and the earth, universe upon universe, so loves this world, so loves the hungry, the mistreated, the oppressed, that he sent his Son to this earth. His Son gave up his life. We break the bread as we hand you your piece, symbolizing the broken life of Christ. He loves you so much he died, giving up his life. He pronounces your life good, and calls you into his service that you may, in turn, give your life, serving him, doing his work, being his agents, that the hungry may be fed. 

A piece of bread. Don't take it lightly. It represents the love of God for you and it represents the needy of this world who, dying for want of a piece of bread, need you to care. 

© 1975 Douglas I. Norris