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The Lord's Prayer - Daily Bread

The Lord's Prayer - Daily Bread

Aug 11, 2019

Passage: Exodus 16:1-21

Preacher: The Reverend Andrew Van Kirk

Series: The Lord's Prayer

Detail:

"Give us this day our daily bread."

I want to acknowledge, first, that this line of the Lord’s Prayer must sound different if you’re hungry. Not hungry like it’s time for brunch, but hungry like you’re not sure where your next meal is going to come from.

There are children in McKinney who will go hungry today. Some of them are at churches right now, just like we are. And when they say the Lord’s Prayer together, this line will feel different to them. They’ll be thinking of food.

And feeding people is something dear to us at St. Andrew’s.
* Today, as we spotlight our ministry at Burks Elementary, you can learn about our Friday backpack program, where we send food home each and every week with students who otherwise might not have much on Saturday and Sunday to make up for the meals they eat at school Monday through Friday.
* You can donate to or help us stock the Little Free Pantries.
* Cook or serve with the BlessMobile.
* Many of you made sandwiches for The Gathering last month. And that’s just an occasional thing.
* Our lunch brigade makes sandwiches each and every week at Samaritan Inn.
* Our families have served with Meals on Wheels.

I could go on, but my point is this: if you get to that “our daily bread” line, and you realize the “our” includes the hungry in our community, then I want to invite you help us feed people at St. Andrew’s.

Jesus, of course, fed people too. That was an important part of his ministry. But he didn’t stop there. He was about more than loaves of bread. In fact, Jesus also chastised people for loitering around looking for lunch.

The Gospel of John tells us that after feeding the five thousand with the loaves and fishes, the crowd tracked him down again the next day, and Jesus turned to the people and said, “Truly I tell you, you are looking for me…because you ate you fill of the loaves. [You’re here for lunch.] Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures for eternal life which the Son of Man will give you.”

And shortly after that, he says to these ancient, first-century Jews with rumbling tummies, “I am the bread of life.”

So today, we’re going to try to think about bread-language in the Lord’s prayer as Jesus’ contemporaries would have heard it. What would “give us this day our daily bread” sounded like to them? What did Jesus mean?

Just like we Christians retell the stories of God’s saving us though Jesus, the Jews told and told again the stories of God’s saving them, especially the story of God’s delivering the Israelites out of slavery in Egypt.

Psalm 78 is an example of this; the Psalm is the story of God bringing the Israelite people out of Egypt to the promised land set to verse. We read part of it, just the part about the manna. We read the part of the Psalm that retells the story we heard from Exodus. That means we read the story twice.

And we read the same story twice because when Jesus taught a group of Jews to pray for “our daily bread,” this was undoubtedly the story they thought of. They knew this is the daily bread story.

To recap, by the 16th chapter in Exodus, the people have already escaped Egypt, they are in the wilderness, where there is no food, and they are hungry. And so they complain. And God hears their complaint, and, verse 13 — sends them quail in the evening (meat for dinner) and then this layer of dew in the morning, that, when it dries, leaves a fine flaky substance behind.

In verse 15, the Israelites are confused. “What is it?” And Moses said, this is the bread God sent. You each get an omer — which the Bible later tells us is a tenth of an ephah. Which is unhelpful.

An omer is like a 2 liter bottle full. 1 omer per person.

This goes, of course, exactly like leaving a bowl of candy on the doorstep at Halloween. You can say 1 piece per person, but you know there are some kids…well, you can say 1 omer per person, but there are some Israelites…

Some collected more, some less. But they got back to the tents and measured, and they all had 1 omer. And v. 19, Moses says, “Let no one leave any of it over until morning.”

But some of the Israelites then engaged in their very favorite pastime, which was to ignore Moses, and they kept some, only to find the next morning that it had “bred worms and became foul.” Manna was impossible to keep; it was perfectly perishable. Except on Friday. On Friday, the day before the sabbath, everyone got an extra omer and that extra omer kept overnight. That way no one had to work collecting manna on the sabbath.

We read all that. I didn’t have us read all the way until vs. 35, but vs. 35 says this: “The Israelites ate manna forty years…until they came to the land of Canaan.” Forty years, 12,250 days, not including sabbaths, of God sending bread day by day, one day at a time.

That is daily bread. Every day, God faithfully gave them what they needed to survive. Give them that day their daily bread.

I’m not really jealous of that experience. For one thing, I’ve eaten quail, and while it tastes fine, it’s really like an appetizer. I feel like I’d need God to send me some half-chickens. And also, I’m sure manna is delicious, but 12,250 nights of the same dinner seems like a lot.

But I do recognize that this had to have a profound effect on their relationship with God. Each night the Israelites went to bed without anything to eat the next day, trusting the manna would be outside their tent when they woke up. Either God showed up each day, or they starved. There weren’t other options.

Even if the rest of their day in the wilderness was rubbish — if nothing went right and the bugs were terrible and Moses seemed in need of map — each day began with proof of the presence of God with his people.

When God gave the Israelites each day their daily bread, what he gave them was his presence and power in their life. Physical *and* spiritual sustenance for the journey. Each and every morning, evidence of God said, “I am with you, I care for you, I’ve got you.”

I don’t know about you, but I don’t need a feeding miracle of cosmic proportions so I can have breakfast tomorrow. But Eggos also don’t communicate God’s presence and power in my life. Rice Krispies at least speak to me, but they mostly say “Snap, crackle, and pop.” That’s hardly the divine voice saying “I am with you, I care for you, I’ve got you.”

Do you, daily, hear that? Do you get the gift of manna? The sense of God saying, “I am with you, I care for you, I’ve got you.” That, I daresay, is the daily bread that most of in here need.

Give us this day our daily bread.

When we pray that, we ask for a daily sense of God’s power and presence in our lives.

Our grocery situation is significantly improved over that of the Israelites; but we need God each day just as much as they did.

For a lot of us — parents and grandparents, students, and teachers and educators (especially teachers and educators) — life is about to get crazy this week. Wouldn’t confidence that God is with you; that God cares for you; that God’s got you, wouldn’t that go a long way — when you hug your kindergartner — or college freshman — in the doorway and turn down the hall with tears swimming in your eyes. Or when you can’t find a place to sit at lunch in the cafeteria. Or when the classroom finally empties and you feel completely overwhelmed by the problems and by the possibilities of your students all at once.

Give us this day our daily bread.

The daily gift of God’s power and presence is not supposed to be a rare spiritual gift. God offers that to every Christian. We follow the bread of life; give us that, O God; give us Jesus every day.

And yet…yet…if you have some hungry days you’re not alone. For most of us, our stomachs are better fed than our spirits.

In closing, I want to share three things about the daily presence and power of God. The first is that even if God gives it, it’s completely possible for us to skip the meal. Even if we know we shouldn’t. Like we do with breakfast.

You know how breakfast is the most important meal of the day? Yeah, me too. But I ate animal crackers (which, by the way, are obviously cookies!) out of a ziploc bag on the way to work 4 days out of 5 last week.

God will give us daily bread of his presence and power; but he won’t shove it down our throats. We can skip the meal; we can forget to pay attention.

The good news is you can get better at noticing and being nourished by God’s presence and power. If you’d like to do that, we’re going to have a whole series on this during the fall, between the services. It’s called Invited — but we could have called it “Eating Your Daily Bread” just as well. I think it’s going to be great, and I hope many of you will be a part.

So first, we’ve got to eat what is given.

Second, at least once a week, God gives us this daily bread in a real and tangible sense. What happens in the sacrament of Holy Communion is that we receive God’s presence — Christ is truly present in the bread and wine — and God’s power — for that’s what grace is, God’s undeserved power in our life — at the Eucharist. We will pray “give us this day our daily bread,” and then we will receive daily bread. Do so, today. With reverence, awe, thanksgiving, and full knowledge of what it is I place in your hand when I say, “The Body of Christ, the bread of heaven.”

Finally, what I want you to do most of all is pray for this sort of daily bread. Each time you say the Lord’s Prayer, don’t be content with anything short of asking for the daily presence and power of God in your life. It’s a big ask, but anything less it too small. That’s what Jesus taught us to pray. Jesus came that in our land of plenty, we might have spirits even more full than our stomachs.