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Hollow Hunger {a hillside sermon}

Blessings on the hungry {Jesus}

On Mondays, All Souls serves breakfast at The Haven, our local day shelter. Today, we had scrambled eggs, cinnamon oatmeal and assorted breads, along with the usual homemade granola and yogurt. Some enter hungry for a meal, and hopefully they leave filled. What I’ve discovered, however, is that we all enter hungry for something. Hungry for a job. Hungry for a friend. Hungry for even an inch of space from the noise. Hungry for the pain to stop. Hungry to be told we matter. Hungry for the husband to stop hitting. All this has made me wonder what hunger I carried with me as I entered those doors this morning. I’m still considering it.

And Jesus said, “blessings on those who hunger and thirst for righteousness.”

Righteousness is one of those big words we throw around, so big and (for a few) so common that we don’t really hear it anymore. To be righteous means to be right. And some of us, worn weary by all that is wrong, are starved for things to be right. We won’t deny what we know: our world is not well. Things are not right. And we live each day with this hollowness, the hollowness of hope unfulfilled.

Righteousness can also be translated justice. We long for God to step in and make justice in our world, to plead the cause of those who are trampled, marginalized and wronged. No child should ever be abandoned. No village should ever be ripped apart by civil war. No young girl should ever have her dad send her out into the night for a twenty dollar bill. We want God to do something. We live with a gnawing ache, the injustice everywhere.

We are the poor, and we long for our poverty to be finished. We mourn for others or for ourselves — and we long for our tears to be dried. We are humbled or powerless, and we hope for the day when we aren’t dismissed or when we actually have something to show for all our effort. We are hungry. We are thirsty.

And to all of us with empty bellies or hollow hearts, Jesus says, “blessings on you – you will inherit God’s kingdom.” God has no intentions of leaving us empty, of leaving us abandoned, of leaving us at all. Jesus’ audacious promise is that the Kingdom of God is the place where the wrong is righted, where the hungry have plenty, where justice and goodness own the day.

I know what I’m hungry for. I’m hungry to believe that promise. I’m hungry to hope in something other than myself.


Those who follow Jesus grow hungry and thirsty on the way. They are longing for the forgiveness of all sin, for complete renewal, for the renewal too of the earth and the full establishment of God’s law. They are still involved in the world’s curse, and affected by its sin. He whom they follow must die accursed and on the cross, with a desperate cry for righteousness on his lips: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” But the disciple is not above the master, he follows in his steps. Happy are they who have the promise that they shall be filled, for the righteousness they receive will be no empty promise, but real satisfaction. {Dietrich Bonhoeffer}

3 thoughts on “Hollow Hunger {a hillside sermon}

  1. Oh, to be filled and the world put to right. Sometimes it is hard to live in the already-not-yet. So glad we live in hope.

    P.S. You don't look half-bad in an apron 🙂

  2. Thank you for this Winn! I have found myself dwelling on all the injustice in the world lately and feeling real guilt, anxiety, and helplessness. I needed a reminder of the promise of God's Kingdom,"where justice and goodness own the day."

  3. Thanks, Austin. For noticing the apron, of course.

    Emili, I'm glad this was a good word for you. I know some of those same feelings well. In fact, some of that prompted me to write this: http://bit.ly/iRR3rf

words have a way of making friends. drop a few here.