Blessed are we, the hungry

by Charissa Bradstreet, Interim Rector

That is a line from the prayer found in our Lenten devotional, a blessing titled, “for when you want more.” I grew up thinking it was safer to try to want less–that desiring more was greedy, selfish, or just plain foolish given the kinds of disappointment that can come from wanting something too badly. Some of us may have been taught that God disapproves of desire (in any form) and so wanting in itself may have felt dangerous.

I like that we had a blessing for those who yearn for more, whether for themselves or on behalf of others. Does anybody find themselves wanting more safety and peace for Ukraine? More recovery and resources for those in Turkey and Syria? Or, more gentleness with our own selves?

What if our wanting, our familiarity with that condition, helps us continue to draw closer to each other? That’s one of the ways I like to think of church – as a group of people who know their need, know that God can be trusted with our longings, and therefore trust each other with our places of hunger.

Here is a larger segment from that same prayer:

Blessed are we, the hungry,
in lives that are both too much and not enough,
willing to tell the truth to ourselves
and to each other,
that we languish here…
in what is perhaps the central paradox of our condition—
that “what we hunger for perhaps more than anything else
is to be known in our full humanness,
and yet that is often just what we also
fear more than anything else.” (1)

To be fully known, and fully loved,
in all our humanity.
That is a God-sized project.

Blessed are we, thankful that we can live
our human-sized lives
in the glad company of the vulnerable
and the broken,
the imperfect made whole in the love of God,
through Jesus Christ.
Maybe it’s right to be hungry. And to stay that way. (2)

The prayer begins with the acknowledgement of hungers for fulfillment and completeness, for the right plan for my life, and finding one’s real passion, and hunger for the world to change. In the section I quoted above there is a shift toward naming a hunger to be fully known, and the conflicting fear of that actually happening.

I wonder how that shows up in your life? I wonder who the people are who have seen you well and welcomed the complexity that is present within you. My hope is that some of those people are at church, that you have found people here at Good Sam, who are genuinely curious about you and supportive of the real you, the you who can let your guard down.

The church exists, of course, not just for our own comfort but for the world. Archbishop William Temple is quoted as saying that the church is “the only organization that exists solely for the benefit of non-members.” That is a radical orientation, but also consistent with our baptismal vows. So, this week as you look around you—at work, in your families, in your friendships and associations—consider that every person you come into contact with knows what it is to hunger, to feel hungry. And to feel perhaps a bit anxious lest someone catch them in their state of hunger.

What can you do to honor the hunger in another, and in that way, to offer something of the radical love Christ feels for them?
Practicing gratitude and contentment are valuable and important, but so is acknowledging desire—particularly desires related to giving and receiving unconditional love.

  1. Frederick Beuchner, Telling Secrets, (New York: HarperCollins, 1991).
  2. Kate Bowler and Jessica Richie, from “for when you want more” in The Lives we Actually Have: 100 Blessings for Imperfect Days, (New York: Convergent Books, 2023).