Who’s coming to dinner?

In Times Like These … A Pan-African Christian Devotional for Public Policy Engagement

By Angelique Walker-Smith

“Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner” debuted in 1967, starring Sidney Poitier, Katharine Hepburn, and Spencer Tracy. The controversial film was critically acclaimed and won two Oscar awards. In 2005, Bernie Mac, Ashton Kutcher, and Zoe Saldana starred in a popular adaption, “Guess Who.”

In both films, the grown child of the host brings a guest of a different racial/ethnic identity to the dinner table—which makes the host uncomfortable. This discomfort may be a feeling that some of us share when someone who is “other” joins us at our table.  

This month’s devotional guide engages the theme of inviting the “other” to our tables—along with those who are familiar to us—during this season of Thanksgiving. The theme of the month is “In Times Like These … We Invite All to a Table of Thanksgiving Where ALL are Fed.” All may mean different things in different circumstances, but the biblical texts and the devotional writers’ perspectives for this month suggests that “all” means those who are not affected by hunger and poverty as well as those who are.

The texts and the writers are united in saying all are invited to a common table because the Lord’s table is for all.

Dr. Kathleen Bellow Dorsey points this out in her devotional based on Mark 8:1-2 when she states, “At the Lord’s Supper, all are invited to eat! We are urged to share our gifts with our neighbors. As a Eucharistic people, justice demands that we work together against the social evils of poverty and hunger that breed disease—physical, spiritual, and emotional—in the Body of Christ.”

Brother Sean Gore says that “where action and faith are combined, the miraculous can take place and surprise even the biggest unbeliever.” He points to the story of the feeding of the 5,000 as an example of this.

Dr. Warren Stewart says these actions must include advocacy. He says that in this season of the midterm elections, we need to elect policymakers who will pass policies that can end hunger and poverty. He reminds us that the right to vote for African Americans came at a costly price. African Americans were not considered full citizens and not eligible to vote. He says today there are still those who cannot vote.

Bread encourages ALL people to vote to end hunger and poverty. When we do this, we move beyond “othering” to solidarity and mutual empowerment for the common good. Hunger is not a partisan issue. Rather, it is an issue that should bring us together for all.

That is why Bread works with our nation’s leaders—whoever they may be—in a bipartisan manner. Bread does not endorse any candidate or political party. Whether during public forums, town hall meetings, or a meeting at a candidate’s office, you can engage all candidates on hunger in the 2018 midterm elections. 

Angelique Walker-Smith is senior associate for Pan-African and Orthodox Church engagement at Bread for the World.

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