Friday, November 30, 2007

Poverty Hurts

All this week we have been hearing about poverty in this province. We have been told of a new report which shows that supposedly wealthy Toronto is actually a lousy place for the working poor compared to other Canadian cities.

CBC radio has offered a full week of programs on poverty in the GTA and the challenges to just get by for those who make low wages or are on some form of assistance. They interviewed one young woman who spoke about the struggles she and her fiance -- both working -- face from day to day. At one point her voice trembled and then she stopped speaking. Naming the difficulties out loud overwhelmed her for a moment. Then she gathered herself and said that there are others who are worse off.

I was interested to hear one activist suggesting that instead of reducing the GST by a penny that money be used to address child poverty in Canada. You might remember that I put that out for consideration a few weeks ago in this blog. So far Mr. Harper hasn't been in touch.

Poverty is real and close at hand. There are people in our congregation struggling to get by. My wife Ruth works with families through the Bethesda House shelter who barely keep the wolf from the door.

We need to be hopeful as we approach this Sunday of Hope in Advent.The provincial government has promised to step up support for those who live around the edges of poverty with full-day kindergarten and a dental plan. We are given many opportunities to respond with practical compassion in this season. In moments such as these I think of the words from James, chapter two:
What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but do not have works? Can faith save you? 15If a brother or sister is naked and lacks daily food, 16and one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace; keep warm and eat your fill’, and yet you do not supply their bodily needs, what is the good of that? 17So faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead.

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