Sweetwater Presbyterian

Small in size, Big in Faith and Love

Give Us This Day our Daily Bread

Give Us This Day our Daily Bread

When I was young, I couldn’t wait until the Sears Christmas Catalog came out. I would wait each day as the mail would come and say, “Did it come yet?” “is it here?”. And when it came I was captivated for hours - if not days. It was called the “Wish Book” and that is what I did. I would go through and circle everything I wanted. I concentrated on the toy section but I checked out the whole catalog and I was sure to mark everything I wanted. That is why it sometimes took me a couple days because I would go through the book multiple times and every time I went through the book I would find more things……
And when I thought I was finally done and I had found everything I wanted, I would give it to my parents and tell them these were the things I wanted for Christmas. Now I probably had a hundred or more of things marked and I really think somewhere in my adolescent brain I really was going to get everything I wanted. Not that I needed any of it, but my wants were great.
I think that for many of us, we can say we understand the difference between what we need and what we want, but I really don’t think we do. What would you do if you were forced for one reason or another to give up everything you owned except the things you really needed - needed for your existence, not needed for your pleasure but needed for you existence. What would you have? What do we really need? Air to breathe, food to eat - and probably far less food than most of us like to eat each day - clothes to wear - not my 2 closets full of clothes but clothes to do what I needed - shelter. I have a really nice house but what would it look like if I just had shelter?
We pretty much need a source of income - maybe not the job we want but the job we have that pays the bills. Not money for luxuries or even enough money to save for the future, but just enough to get by each day. What would your life look like? And certainly our society frowns on daily subsistence - we are bombarded with ways to ‘save for our future’. Much like we are bombarded with pictures and commercials of the things we can’t live without - and we are told you deserve all these things.
But think about what essentials do you think you need over and above subsistence?
There is a show on Netflix called Tidying Up. In the show Marie Kondo comes to your house to help you get rid of all the things you don’t need that clutter your house. She is actually a practicer of the Shinto religion that emphasizes cleaning out what you don’t need as a spiritual practice. Shintoism sees energy or divine spirit in the things that surround us and and calls the person to only have those things around you that you value as essential. When she comes to your house to help you clean out the clutter, she has you hold every object in your house and if it doesn’t immediately give you a feeling of joy you are to get rid of it…. And when you watch the show it is amazing the amount of things she convinces people to get rid of!
We are people of things and clutter and many wants and very few needs.
In the Exodus passage we read this morning, Moses has freed the Hebrew people from slavery in Egypt. They have crossed through the Red Sea and are now living in the desert of Saudi Arabia. What we need to understand is that the purpose of this journey of the Hebrews through the wilderness is not only to get to the promised land, but to learn they could depend on God. So they begin their journey and it isn’t too long before they are worried God won’t care for them. They accuse Moses and God of just freeing them from slavery so they could be abandoned in the wilderness and die of thirst. And God in his patience, provided water for them. And continued to provide water for them when they needed it.
Now they cry out for food. “We are hungry!” they cried out to Moses and they accused him of the same thing again. “You just brought us out into this desert so we could starve!”. And God in his great patience provided for them manna.

We really don’t know what this manna was but we know something about it. It was nutritious, it tasted good, and it was abundant. But we also know that manna was based on need. Each morning when the Hebrews woke up they would go out of their tents, they would collect as much manna as they needed for the day - enough to feed everyone in their tents for the entire day. God had told them not to try and store it. He told them up front that if they tried to store it it would go bad overnight. And you know there were people who tried to store it and what happened - it went bad. You only got what you needed for one day.
An interesting aspect of manna - even before the 10 commandments, God had instituted for the Hebrew people a day of rest, a Sabbath. So the day before the Hebrews were suppose to rest, there was twice as much manna and that one night the manna could be stored overnight to provide for them enough to eat for the next day and they didn’t have to do anything that day to collect it - they didn’t have to work. The manna was provided the day before.
This is the concept God is trying to teach about our Daily Bread. For the Hebrews manna was truly daily bread. God provided enough for a day.
When we pray the Lord’s prayer we pray, “And give us this day our daily bread”. Every time you pray the Lord’s prayer you are asking God to provide enough for you for a day. OK God, provide me just what I need for today. One day. Not for tomorrow or next week or 10 years from now - God provide for me for today. And if you pray that - it means that you acknowledge God will provide for you for today and that means you don’t have to worry about your needs for today - or about your needs for tomorrow or next year.
Jesus says in Matthew 6:25-34. (read).
I just want you to think about what Jesus said…… and hold yourself back from saying, “But Jesus……”
Following Jesus is so different than how we were brought up. I was brought up and it was pounded into me that I was going to be an adult one day and that I was going to be expected to provide for myself - so I needed to know how to do things and I needed to get a good job so I could make money so I could provide….. Then Jesus comes along and says, “Don’t worry. I will provide what you need.” It is no long on my shoulders to make sure I make it through the day, but on God’s.
I guess we do need to stop and say that doesn’t mean I can go sit in a chair and not do anything and just expect God to deliver food and water to me and put a shelter over my head and put clothes on me…. altho he might. He did for Jonah when he through his fit and sat on the side of a hill; he did for Elijah when he was depressed and laid down to die; he did for Jesus after Jesus’ 40 days in the wilderness.
But the Hebrews did have to go out and and collect their manna and we believe they had to do things with it to eat it…. So God may provide a means for you to get your food or shelter or clothing or water and you do what he calls you to do even if it isn’t exactly what we want to do.
The point of this is - when we pray ‘give us this day our daily bread’ we are saying that we trust God to provide what we need and we are willing to accept what God provides.
We don’t pray God I would really like a 4 bedroom house with 3 bathrooms and an open concept; God I would really like enough outfits to dress to the 9’s all the time; God I want a good steak every night for dinner; God I want a boat, or a Mercedes, or name whatever….
We simply pray, “God, provide what I need today” and then we believe it. We do the job before us, we eat the food on our plate, we wear the clothes we have…
And we give thanks that we have a God who loves us so much that he will provide our needs….
But it is not just the physical needs God provides. We have spiritual needs as well. That is harder to put a finger on than our physical needs. But we have a spiritual hunger that can only be filled by God no matter what we may try to achieve that need - jobs, people, sports, hobbies, substances - the only thing that will sustain us is trusting that each day God will shower us with the grace we need, the spirit we need, to get through the day. “Give us this day this daily bread” is saying, “God I cannot get through this day on my own. Give me your spirit to get me through.” Just like manna we can’t store it up…… Each day God will provide our spiritual needs as well as our physical ones - and know the spiritual needs are every bit important as the need for food, water, air, shelter and clothing.
This Lent, as you spend time in prayer and reflection, think about your daily bread. How much do you really trust God to provide?

Amen.