ON DAILY BREAD— anxiety free living!

Daily BreadAnd I heard him murmur…

Did he really mean that?

 

[NOTE: by request, this is the writer’s attempt to re-cover the May 5, 2013 Sunday message @ New Life Church in Pearland, TX addressing the Lord’s Prayer petition, ‘give us this day our daily bread.”]

It’s been reported the great-great grandson of Adolph Coors made a trip to the Vatican to meet with new Pope Francis… the story goes he offered his holiness 10 million dollars if he would change the fourth petition of  The Lord’s Prayer from “give us this day our daily bread” to “give us this day our daily beer.” The Pope refused his offer. Two weeks later, the offer to the pope was increased to 25 million dollars to change just one word… “give us this day our daily beer” and again the Pope refused the generous offer. “It’s all about influence,” the younger Coors said.  “We’ve been influencing the hearts and minds of millions for years!”  So, the pope had a consultation with a few supporting Cardinals.  “So, what do you think we should do?”  The reply was swift.  He’s here just a bit late.  The people from Mrs. Baird’s Bakery were here last month and just gave us $50 million to keep things status quo!”  <genuine tongue-in-cheek laughter subsides>

It’s all about influence!  Words do that.  Beer does.  People do that.  Prayer does as well.  While that’s a funny story to tell, it’s important to say that Jesus’ design in the Lord’s Prayer is to influence each every generation from the youngest to oldest.  The Lord’s Prayer is seven simple petitions.  His disciples asked, “Lord, teach us to pray.”  And Jesus did… with a prayer that covers the rainbow of life and even a small child can recite these simple words and walk away transformed and re-fueled in a brief moment of time!

What is about daily bread that means so much to us?  Is this the most important thing?  Consider this— Jesus placed ‘daily bread’ fourth on the list.  There are no ribbons for 4th place… but yet this petition made the list… and remains worthy of our attention! Everyone needs daily bread.  Everyone has some!  So, let’s consider ‘daily bread’… what it is and what we do with it AND how we are daily bread to one another…

Isn’t it interesting that when you go into the grocery store you often times have to walk past many store items, things we don’t need, in order to get to the one thing we do?  Bread comes in all shapes and all sizes and multiple grain flavors and yet Jesus said that none of us can live on bread alone… but bread is necessary and remains the key staple of cultures around the globe!

I like the way Martin Luther addressed this petition!  His explanation is one of my favorites… he asks…

What does this mean?

“God certainly gives daily bread to everyone without our prayers, even to all evil people, but we pray in this petition that God would lead us to realize this and to receive our daily bread with thanksgiving.”

Everyone?  The righteous AND the sinner?  Yes!  The just AND the evil?  Yes!  Even before we ask?  Did you hear that? Yes, even before we ask!  The ultimate sign of  a generous God and provider.  In fact… there is enough food on the planet to feed every living person 5 square meals a day… so the amount of food we have seems not to be the issue…  But, is daily bread  only the loaf on the plate next to the butter and peach jam?  Luther sets that parameter as well when he asks…

What is meant by daily bread?

“Daily bread includes everything that has to do with the support and needs of the body, such as food, drink, clothing, shoes, house, home, land, animals, money, goods, a devout husband or wife, devout children, devout workers, devout and faithful rulers, good government, good weather, peace, health, self-control, good reputation, good friends, faithful neighbors, and the like.”

Wow!  H.E.B., K-Roger’s Food Town and Fiesta only sells some of that list!  So, God is giver of BIG things and little things… all of them part of our daily bread…

You see, it’s real simple… here, Jesus is offering a way to deal with anxiety.  Is there a connection with “asking for daily bread” and worry?  It’s not new.  St. Augustine said once…

“…anxiety is the garden in which sin grows.”

When we worry about our situation in life, we become distracted to a fault.  Look, someone is worried about their job.  Someone else is worried about having enough tuition money for their child to attend college.  Someone else is worried about a family member who remains ill.  It can become all-consuming… then you go the grocery store for a quick ‘daily bread’ run and you walk by all the things you don’t need to get the one thing you do need and then you go out to the parking lot and backing your car out of the spot you bump the car behind you. (Pause) And you think “I can’t afford another ticket and an insurance increase…” you say to yourself and then you make a quick look around and see that no one saw you… so you speed off home and… who-ah… it’s all good.  No damage to your car… not sure about the other guy!  Thanks be to God!  Then a day later you get a knock on the door and the sheriff deputy shows you a picture of the car you hit from the grocery store parking lot video camera… and you get a ticket and a summons to appear in court… <laughter arises from the congregation>… And he was right!  St. Augustine said once… “anxiety is the garden in which sin grows.”

It’s God’s nature to provide. The one who made the world… sustains the world. So, your anxiety will be cured when you redirect your attention from your physical needs to the greater purposes of life. Now do not misunderstand this and think that Jesus is unconcerned with your physical needs. Jesus wants us to have everything we need … not always what we want and wants also for us to be ‘daily bread’ to others… more on that in a moment…

Jesus calls himself “the bread of life” and he pointed to his kingdom like that of a loaf of bread that has leaven and making it grow!  Just as others become ‘daily bread’ to us… we have rise to do the same! In John chapter 14… Jesus is getting his disciples ready for some huge change.  This is SHIFT happens stuff in a big way!  He says, “I give you my peace… a peace that the world cannot give to you…”  Now imagine what it must have been like to hear that…  I’m a young Jewish man who just left my business… and I’m following Jesus and learning his teachings and I’m living in a land that is occupied by a foreign government and there are Roman soldiers on every street… and Jesus is offering a “peace” that the world cannot give… and the reason is… is because Jesus is that peace!  He is the bread of life come down from heaven… politics, power, domination, money-grab… all of the above have no impact here…

But, put that in our context today… what is the “peace” the world wants you to have?  What is the “peace” the world thinks it can give…?  Do you recall what happened after the 9/11 attacks?  The stock market closed down for a week… but the world didn’t stop… New York didn’t stop… God is way more influential than that!  The world’s peace is contrary… It’s all about the “daily bread” we don’t need… but are told we must have… that big job promotion for that bigger house for that car which costs 4 times more than the cost of your parents first house, that…whatever it is… fill in the blank… that even after you think God has given this to you… it’s not enough and remains ineffective to make you happy!  Truth is simple… Happiness is an inside job and when I am in Christ and he is in me… then there’s really not much more daily bread I need… Jesus is confronting the upside down way the world thinks – a way of thinking that is absolutely preoccupied with stuff.  In a prayer… and as Christians we know that life is so much more.

And let’s not neglect taking a look at the petition’s simple nuance… “give us TODAY… our DAILY bread…”  how clever of Jesus to place the word “today” in the midst of what we need… and “daily” to remind us that God does not stop giving… and so each TODAY we have… God will offer DAILY bread to all… kind of like when Jesus said… “consider the birds in the air”… they don’t plant, weed or harvest… they don’t build storage barns or construct rail lines and highways or build huge tankers for the shipping and storage of grain… the birds of the air eat what they need and then go off and do what birds do… Jesus told his disciples take note of that and we should, too!

Now, here’s where this all comes together… for us to ignore this prayer and for us to ignore this petition… and when we think that we are in control of our daily bread and when it falls onto our shoulders for the quality of joy from our daily bread… and when anxiety offers us a garden of sin… then as Dr. Helmut Theilicke once wrote… this behavior is our way of “casting a vote of no-confidence” in God’s rule and God’s generosity.

God is the giver of BIG things and little things… daily bread… all that we need and all that we are… thank you for being ‘daily bread’ to one another… for the quilts you make for LWR, for the Sunday’s Cool ministry we have for children and adults… for Stephen ministry, for gifts to the food banks, for offering our facilities to AA and Al-Anon,  and for those empty containers of m&m’s filled with quarters to help our companion synods in the C.A.R and Peru and for sharing your gifts with Water to Thrive to be daily bread to the village of Iringa in Tanzania who this year will have a water well in their village allowing the young girls there to attend school… that kind of daily bread… and we give thanks to God for daily bread… because WE are that daily bread to the world…

So, redirect your attention. Focus on God, Jesus is teaching us how to pray and on knowing him and enjoying him… our daily bread… present on this altar in Holy Communion… to give strength and faith to the body of Christ… how did Martin Luther say it?  He really meant it…

“God certainly gives daily bread to everyone without our prayers, even to all evil people, but we pray in this petition that God would lead us to realize this and to receive our daily bread with thanksgiving.”

Amen and Alleluia!  Christ is risen! He is risen indeed!

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About briangigee

Loves life; lives love! Bud and Doris' eldest son. Descendant of 'refiners' and 'reformers.' Husband to Margo. Father of 5. Grandfather to 2. Brother, uncle, friend and colleague. Working parish pastor. Became a naturalized Texan in February 2013.
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