Bake Auction Sunday
February 21, 2016
Bonnie A. Perry
So the Republican leaning people in the State of South Carolina have spoken. Again Mr. Trump carries the day, while Rubio and Cruz are separated by half a percentage point. Do you have a sense watching primary results that these are scenes that Robin Wright and Kevin Spacey are just longing to portray? Real live politics in our country today, make the Netflix's, "House of Cards" look like a really boring bridge game.
When you finally move past astonishment at our political permutations, do you find yourself wondering what exactly is going on in our country? Have you moved past, incredulity and now maybe transitioned into a conspiracy theories and fear? I've seen it heard it from you all. For myself, I have to say this all feels a bit alien and out of control, and I am a somewhat terrified of our election in November.
Remembering that sense of out of "controlness," do you recall how you felt on a Fall Tuesday morning more than 14 years ago? September 11, 2001: Do you recollect how you felt early that morning? And then how you felt mid-morning?
I remember getting up, with an amazing sense of expectation. You see after 9 years of being the priest here at All Saints' I had finally gotten a full complement of an amazing staff. We were all going to gather that morning for real live staff meeting one of our first of the program year: me, Margaret, Leslie, Bridget, Ashely and Rose our seminarian. I was so excited.
Then the phone rang, and it was Ashley calling me.
I remember her saying,
"The weirdest thing just happened, did you hear?
A plane of some sort just flew into the world trade center."
To which I said,
"Wow—that's weird. Was it like a little two sitter? A Cessna of some sort...?"
At which time, Ashley, who had continued to watch Good Morning America, while we were talking suddenly said,
"Oh my god, O my God, this plane, this huge plane, oh my god, it just hit the other tower. Oh my God."
I said, "What? What happened?"
Ashley said, "I have go, I have to call Win. (her husband).
Do you remember where you were on that morning?
Do you remember how you felt about life, maybe shifted and changed?
The second plane, going into the building, then 20 to 30 minutes later the first tower collapsing, then word that the pentagon was burning,
then seeing the other tower collapsing,
and the news of a passenger airliner crashing outside of Pittsburgh.
I recently re-watched a snippet of the coverage. And started crying all over again.
I offer these instances to you as examples of times when we may have experienced our country as somewhat out of control. Times separated by almost 15 years. But each times when I found myself feeling dislocated, upset, and unsure.
These two times separated by almost a decade and a half, if we put them together and had them happening simultaneously, maybe we then might have a an inkling of what it must be like to live daily in South Sudan.
A place in the world that has been eviscerated by some sort of civil war for most of the last 30 years. South Sudan, a new country in 2011 that had so much promise of hope, once they'd separated from Omar Al-Bashir's wretched regime in Khartoum.
They were their own country, a democracy, ruled by a coalition of parties working together to create a new nation. Then less than two years into the new venture the government falls apart, accusations of coup's between the president and vice president, elected leaders seem to be acting erratically and opportunistically.
Gunmen going through villages, through churches. People, with whom we were friends, shot, killed, gunned down.
Can you imagine, hiding, running, fleeing from your home because your village, your street is under attack? This then has been the norm for many of our sisters and brothers in South Sudan for the last two and a half years. Not all that unlike what had happened to them throughout their lives. Only now it cannot be blamed on an unfriendly Islamic government.
There are almost 12 million people in South Sudan. In September, 2015 the World Affairs Journal reported that Some 1.64 million people have fled fighting inside the country,
While another 628,000 have fled as refugees into neighbouring nations,
while over 4.6 million people are now dependent on food aid. (September,21, 2015, World Affairs Journal)
Over 192,000 terrified civilians are sheltering inside UN bases. Just this past week there was an attack in one of the UN camps. With many people killed and many more wounded.
It is true there is a new peace agreement between the President and his vice President. They have formed a government again, but it is fragile, tenuous at best.
Meanwhile as Bishop Joseph said to me this morning. "We are all praying for Peace. We ask you our Christian Sisters and Brothers to share in these prayers for us. For if we have some peace, then we shall open the door for education, food security, health care and development. Therefore any supports coming from sisters and brothers who partner in Gospel [with us] mean a lot for us."
Khartoum has re-opened the border between Sudan and South Sudan, displaced people are streaming into and back to Renk. Because they are a people of inordinate faith, their hopes are high, but their resources are scarce.
They need money, to buy seed to plant sorghum. So that they may eat.
We pay salaries of mid-wives for Renk and Dr. Paul's salary. They are essential for life to continue. In a country with a high birth rate and higher infant mortality rate these people offer essential care.
The people of St Peter's church in Gieger, are rebuilding their church. We here at All Saints know a bit about that. Only they are reconstructing a building destroyed when last the Nile flooded and literally washed their church away.
Renk High School has every possibility of soon reopening— our money will be received gratefully used to make education a reality. As any of our young people could tell you, education is the single most effective way for a person or a group of people to transcend poverty. Renk High School is essential.
Our friends in Renk, in South Sudan, lack the bare essentials of life. They need us to assist them so that they have hope.
Remember what it feels like to be attacked, to be in a world seemingly out of control?
We make a serious investment in people half way around because we don't want anyone to live in that place of terror and fear.
We bake, we buy, and we give, so that others may live.
It is as simple as that. We are one answer to their prayers.
We bake, we buy, because we can.
Copyright February 2016 Bonnie A. Perry