Our Daily Bread

Jesus said, “Give us this day our daily bread.”

Brian McLaren pointed out that this statement evokes the idea of Moses and Isrealites, hundreds of years before Jesus.  God rained down his bread, called manna.  And they were not allowed to save or stock pile it.  Each day they could only gather as much as they would eat in that one day.

In asking God for daily bread, Jesus seems to be saying that he, like the Isrealites who followed Moses, wants only enough bread for that one day.

I found myself pondering this.  What’s so important about the whole thing of receiving bread from God each day?

The answer that immediately comes to mind is trust.  It’s all about trust.

But there’s a pretty wide array of things that I mean by trust, of ways that this plays out.

One aspect is that it requires us to trust every single day.  If the Isrealites, or Jesus, or us, received a big huge truck delivery of bread, enough bread for the whole year, then we would be able to live off this for quite some time.  Faith would not become a habbit.  It would be a thing that is only necessary occasionally.

Secondly, receiving daily bread requires trusting that God won’t change.  This is an incredibly hard thing to do.  So many of our models of how to deal with God are based on how we deal with other people. 

And people change.  We have a good thing going with somebody, and we have this desire to want to hoard it, out of the fear that the good thing won’t last.  To accept enough to only get ourselves through each day is to say, “I trust that you will not change, and that this arrangement will keep going as long as I need it to.”

Thirdly, accepting my daily bread from God each day is important because it reminds me of where all good things come from.  It is tempting for me to try to draw a distinction between myself and Moses.  There is a part of me that wants to say that I am different from Jesus’ followers.

“After all” I want to say “God never fed me that way; It’s not like I’ve ever seen manna rain down from the sky.  It’s not like I’ve ever watched a few loaves of bread mutliply into thousands.”

And yet?  I eat every day.  And everything that gives me this ability to eat comes from God: the hands that bring it to my mouth, the teeth that chew it up, the abilities that allow me to earn the money I buy it with, the systems which make food so available in our culture… All these things come from God.

And so the real queston becomes: Is there any difference?  Is there any difference between my life and the life of the Isrealites.  Carefully considering the matter leaves me with the realization that in every important way, God has rained down manna into my life, too.

Maybe the most important aspect of trust related to accepting my daily bread is built around Jesus’ miracle of the fishes and loaves.  Both times that Jesus multiplied this food, he did not summon it out of the air.

He certainly could have.  The whole universe had been made through Jesus.  I’m pretty sure he could have managed a couple footlongs ex nihilo.

But he began with the daily bread that was already there.  The meager crumbs, the daily bread, if you will, that was already among them, this was the seed for the feeding of thousands.

Trusting that our daily bread is enough is about knowing that what little we have is all that we need.  Even when we look out and see an ocean of bodies, when we are doing God’s will, whatever we bring, if we bring it in the right heart, it will be enough.

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jeffsdeepthoughts

The stories that speak to our soul begin at a home where things are good. Cinderella is happy with her father. The three little pigs have grown up and are ready to move on. Bilbo Baggins knows his shire. Adam and Eve walk with God in the garden. My story isn’t much different. There was a time and a place where it was so good. There was a community for me. And there was joy. We were filled with a sincere desire to do what God wanted us to do. We possessed explanations and understandings that went a certain distance. We offered security and tradition and laughter. For a lot of years, that was enough. I have this sense that it was also necessary. I have this surety, now, that it certainly wasn’t everything. There were some things that became increasingly problematic as time went by. There was a desire to package things up so very neatly. Sunday morning services were efficient and strategic. Responses to differences of opinion were premeditated. Formula began to feel more important than being real. A real desire for everybody to be one of us, but also a real sense that there is an us, and there is a them. They carried a regret that it has to be this way, but deeper than this regret was a surety that this is how it is. I began to recognize that there was a cost of admission to that group. There were people who sat at the door, collecting it. Those people wished they didn’t have to. But I guess they felt like they did have to. They let some people in, and they left others out. There was a provisional membership. My friends did possess a desire to accommodate people that are different… But it would be best for everyone concerned if they were only a little bit different. I did make many steps forward in this place. Before I went there, there were lies that I believed. Some of the things that I learned there, I still hold on to. But that place is not my home anymore. Those people are not my community anymore. There were times it was hard. I am engaged in a different community now. And I am working hard at finding a place in many different places now, embracing many different kind of families. I don’t always get it right. I am trying and I am learning and I am moving foreward. I have this sense that I am not alone in these experiences. I believe that we are tribe and we are growing. We are pilgrims, looking for a new holy land. Perhaps we won’t settle on the same spot of land. But if you’ve read this far, I am thinking that we are probably headed in the same general direction. I have begun this blog to talk about where my journey is taking me. In every space, we find people who help us along. And maybe we can get to know each other, here. We embrace ideas that provide a structure for the things we believe, and perhaps we can share these too. Maybe we can form a group, a tribe, a community, if we can figure out a way to work through the shadow of these kinds of groups, if we can bigger than the us-and-them ideas that have caused so much trouble in the past. As important as they are, I think the very nature of online interactions will lend itself to something equally powerful. I am stumbling onto these practices that my grandfathers and great grandfathers in the faith engaged in. I am learning about these attitudes and intuitions are so different than the kinds of things we call doctrine today. I don’t know about you, but I am running out of patience, and even interest, in conversations about doctrine. I hope that maybe you’ll share a little something about where your journey is taking you, and maybe our common joys and challenges might help each other along, and we might lift each other up. Thanks for doing this journey with me.

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