What is it about chocolate?
Over the years, the humble cocoa bean has been drawn deeply into our culture of treats, rewards, and indulgence. As you read this today you may be waiting for the end of Lent, so you can break your chocolate fast (if that is what you gave up for Lent Event).
The decision to give something up for a season changes the way we experience our daily lives. It is a small change that reminds us of our potential to change and be changed. Let’s stay with this idea for a minute. Lent itself is a time when we are encouraged to reflect on parts of our lives that God seeks to transform. Of course we can’t carve up our lives because we are ‘whole’ beings and we are called to be transformed in all dimensions of that being. However, you will most likely express or experience this transformation in a specific way; it could occur at a very personal or emotional level, or result in you joining others in some local community action.
Our Lent reflection might involve a deepening of a familiar practice, but maybe it’s a surprising and new thing that we are called to do or be. With God the possibilities are endless and our task is to notice and respond!
A key part of being renewed and transformed is to use our ‘minds’ in service to God (Romans 12:1-3). We can deepen and expand our understanding of how our lives — that is, our ways of living — affect people in our immediate and our global neighbourhood. I use that description not as a cliché but to remind others and myself that we are brothers and sisters with all who inhabit this God-loved world.
If you have heard about Fairtrade and wonder what all the fuss is about, I encourage you to think again, with a mind ready for transformation.
When our UCATSA (Uniting Church Tertiary Students Association) group promoted Fairtrade, we designed some simple posters with the message ‘Enjoy the taste of justice.’ Chocolate doesn’t just come from a factory. Its journey starts with the fair or unfair labour of a child somewhere on a cocoa plantation.
“Next time you bite into your favourite bar consider this: what might have cost you a dollar may well have cost a child working in the cocoa fields of West Africa his or her entire childhood.” (World Vision)
That humble and bitter tasting cocoa bean continues to be a bitter experience for some of the youngest and most vulnerable workers in our world. Fairtrade sourcing of cocoa ensures children are fairly paid workers and not slaves. This means they are cared for in a safe community and provided with food, shelter and schooling.
Dismantling decades of entrenched injustice requires sustained effort, and Fairtrade campaigns have faced many challenges along the way. However, I believe that economic justice is an important aspect of discipleship. We are called to use our transformed minds in partnership with God, who desires all to have enough!
This Easter, I encourage you to enjoy the taste of justice.
Kim Baird serves as pastor with Sugarloaf Community Uniting Church and is a pastoral care worker with UnitingCare Ageing NSW/ACT. She spent many years as a member of The Hunter Presbytery’s Social Justice Committee and remains a passionate advocate of Fairtrade in congregations and the wider community.
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