The whole congregation of the Israelites complained against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness. 3The Israelites said to them, “If only we had died by the hand of the Lord in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the fleshpots and ate our fill of bread; for you have brought us out into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger.” 4Then the Lord said to Moses, “I am going to rain bread from heaven for you, and each day the people shall go out and gather enough for that day.
We have been working our way through the Lord’s Prayer the past couple of weeks, hoping to deepen our understanding and the meaning of this prayer in our lives.
The first week we learned that God is not just my parent or your parent, but our parent, which means we are family. And we pray together. God’s relationship with us is like that of a parent to a child. God is in heaven, meaning God is a big God. God of all of us and all of creation. And we pray that God will keep God’s name holy. That God will continue to be who God said God would be – our loving parent.
Last week, we learned that we pray for God’s kingdom to come and no other kingdom. Not ours and not anyone else. But only God’s kingdom. Because if we pray for our kingdom, we will mess it up. That in the end, God will get the final word on this world. So we are invited to look at what kingdoms other than God that we put our trust in and then we are invited to tear them down. So that only God’s kingdom will reign. Very similar, we pray that God’s will is done for the world and not our will or anyone else’s. And remember, not everything that happens to you is God’s will.
God’s kingdom for the world looks like a great big meal together, like a family. God’s will for the world is that love and justice and kindness will rule the world. And so we have to always be asking if the things we are doing are furthering love, and justice and kindness. And if they aren’t, then we should rethink them. Finally, we pray that God’s kingdom and will would come to earth. Not that we would go to heaven, but then heaven would come here. The Christian life is to bring heaven to earth. That’s the work we have before us.
These past weeks, we have focused on God – God’s name, God’s kingdom, God’s will. Tonight, we move to the four petitions of the Lord’s Prayer that are focused on human needs. Tonight’s human need….basic necessities – Give us today our daily bread.
Once again we say those plural words again – us and our. We always stand before God as a community. As a people. Our Christian faith connects us to all people. When one suffers, we all suffer.
And so we do not pray for my daily bread. We pray for our daily bread.
So what do we mean when we pray for “daily bread”? When we pray for bread, we mean all of the necessities of life. Martin Luther’s small catechism says that “bread” includes: food and clothing, home and property, work and income, a devoted family, an orderly community, good government, favorable weather, peace and health, a good name, and true friends and neighbors. We might add to that health care, education, equal opportunities, freedom from violence.
Too often, Christianity and faith are simply associated with the spiritual parts of life. But this prayer reminds us that we are called to also be concerned about the basic needs of all people.
Now what has always troubled me about this part of the prayer, is that I can’t help but wonder what it is like to pray Give us this day our daily bread when you are living in hunger. Something like 1 out of 5 people don’t know where their next meal is coming from. What does it mean to thank God for the food you’ve been given but then knowing that some go without food. Has God not given food to them?
This is where I find the Exodus passage helpful. The Israelites were freed from slavery in Egypt and Moses is leading them in the wilderness. And they start to complain because they are hungry. So God says, “Okay, I’ll send bread down from heaven. And each day people shall gather enough for that day.” In fact later, God tells them to go and take what you need, but not more than you need. So, I think the answer I receive from this Scripture is that God has given us the food we need. But maybe we just aren’t distributing it properly. That we actually have a role in how God gives everyone daily bread. And I am convicted in that, because every week I throw out rotten food from our fridge.
During the days of slavery there was a Spiritual Song a song called, “I got shoes” that the slave community would sing. And it was a song of both protest and hope. The lyrics went like this:
I’ve got shoes, you’ve got a shoes All of God’s children got shoes When I get to Heaven goin’ to put on my shoes Goin’ to walk all over God’s Heaven
You see, basic necessities, like shoes, were rare among the slaves. And this was a song of protest, lifting up the hypocrisy of the slave owners, because many of them would go to church on Sunday morning, where they would talk about Jesus and heaven, but then they would come home to the plantation where they had slaves and their slaves didn’t have shoes.
So this song protests against the fact that these Christian slave owners were withholding daily bread, basic necessities from their own slaves. But then it is also a song of hope – because it sings of ultimate justice. When I get to heaven, goin’ to put on my shoes. Because in heaven, all of God’s children got shoes. And that isn’t simply to say the heaven after we die. But heaven is whenever all of God’s people got shoes. When every one has their daily bread here and now.
I think we have another example of this from Scripture. Out of all the things that Jesus does with people, what he seems to do most is eat with them and feed them. Most of us know about the miracle of the feeding of the 5,000. It is told 6 times in the gospels. Which means, because there are only 4 gospels, two of them tell it twice. That’s how important feeding people is to Jesus. And I don’t think the point is that Jesus can do a really cool magic trick with a couple of loaves of bread and a few fish, but rather that all the people there were fed until they were full, and they had leftovers, which meant that there was room at the table for more. That’s the real miracle.
Eating bread maybe be a physical act, but sharing bread is a spiritual act
So when we pray, Give us this day our daily bread, may we be mindful of all the ways that we have received our basic needs this day, and then be inspired to share those gifts with others.
As preacher Barbara Brown Taylor says, “Stop waiting on a miracle and participate in one instead. Remember that there is no such thing as ‘your’ bread or ‘my’ bread; there is only ‘our’ bread, as in ‘give us this day our daily bread.’ However much you have, just bring it. . .and believe it is enough to begin with, enough to get the ball rolling, enough to start a trend. Be the first in the crowd to turn your pockets inside out; be the first on your block to start a miracle.”
So what are ways you can go and start your own miracle in feeding people? Go out to the Hometown Sampler this weekend and bring a couple of bucks to give to the food shelf. Or as a family, see how much money you can tuck away this month to give to the foodshelf at the end of the month.
We do this so that we might partner with God in giving us all daily bread. Amen.