From the History of ISSUES: "“A Fresh Look at Ascetic Theology in a Hungry World”

ISSUES, conceived in the living room of the late William Stringfellow, has been around as a voice for social justice at General Conventions since 1967.  This year we are going to reprint some articles from our history.

    September 11, 1976, Minneapolis

Russian iconography, in Rublev’s famous painting, presents the Holy Trinity under the form of three poor men, strangers and pilgrims, needing to be fed at Abraham’s table. They are shown in conversation with one another, and on their faces is an infinite sadness.  It is said that their talk concerns the coming descent of the Son into suffering humanity.

Buried in this symbolism may be a model for Christian living in a hungry world. The issue confronting Christians is not simply that a vast throng of the world’s people, like the three poor men, appear to us as strangers, hungry, and condemned to brief lives of unrelieved sadness. The realities of the world situation--overpopulation, depletion of natural resources, increasing waste and pollution, a widening gap between rich and poor--force us to ask probing structural questions, of international economics and national policy, as well as one of voluntary response through the church and other organizations in the relief of human need.

The assumptions we bring to such questions (and the measure of our passion) are formed, deep down, in our theology and the personal and corporate life style which grows out of it. In the icon, creation--indeed, the being God himself--is presented in human terms, as a table of hospitality and a cup of blessing.  As E. Vordeekers has noted, “Abraham must first make ready the dish of hospitality and brotherly love, in faith and hope, and wait in the coming Encounter the answer to the burning pain of his own heart and of the world."

- Sr. Rachel Hosmer, Order of Saint Helena


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