“Our daily bread”
Did you notice that the version of The Lord’s Prayer that is in our gospel lesson today is not the same as the version we know? We know the version from Matthew’s gospel, and Luke’s version—the one in our gospel lesson today—is a bit different.
Matthew’s and Luke’s gospels were written at about the same time, two or three generations after Jesus’ death. Matthew’s gospel was written in Antioch, Syria (where Jesus followers were first called “Christians”). However, we don’t know where Luke’s gospel was written. Both Luke and Matthew probably drew on Mark’s gospel and on a written listing of Jesus’ “sayings.”
There apparently was a school in Antioch, a training program for disciples being sent as missionaries. I imagine the gospels were used as training manuals by this school. If so, can you imagine Matthew’s and Luke’s shock to realize that Jesus had taught his disciples how to pray, and that Mark hadn’t passed on that information?
Mark must have had different questions to answer. However, Matthew and Luke both passed on The Lord’s Prayer. But there are differences between Luke’s and Matthew’s versions. Listen again, and notice the differences:
Father, (not “OUR” Father, just “Father,” but both versions give God a name. And next, both praise God by calling him “hallowed,” or “holy:” hallowed be your name). How do YOU address God?
Your kingdom come. (Good, both agree that we need to ask for the coming of God’s kingdom, to ask that God’s values replace our values).
Give us each day our daily bread. (Luke is more specific than Matthew that our asking is for what we need each day, THAT DAY, today, EACH day.)
And forgive us our sins, for we ourselves forgive everyone indebted to us. (Debts in Matthew and sins in Luke. We could argue about the difference, as long as we realize that the measure by which as forgive is the measure by which we will be judged.)
And do not bring us to the time of trial. (Matthew also asks that we be rescued from the evil one. Luke doesn’t mention evil or an evil one.)
So there are a lot of differences between the two versions, even as the basic prayer is the same. But Luke seems a lot less certain than Matthew about WHERE God is located. Matthew would say, “Of course God is in heaven, where God has always been. Why do you need to envision God in any other place?” To which Luke might answer, “But Christ’s Spirit lives within each of us, so God isn’t only in heaven.” I am very glad for both versions. This way we know that we don’t have to agree on the unimportant things, like where God IS. What is important is that we pray to God.
And what should we ask of God? “Our daily bread.” Jesus taught his disciples to pray for what we need. Not for wealth, you understand, but for what we need each day, the day at hand.
Perhaps, some have suggested, if we were to pray for bread beyond one day’s worth we would forget to be grateful for what God provides. We would forget to be thankful to God for having provided for our needs that very day.
But doesn’t “daily bread” remind you of other “one-day-bread” that God gave his people? When the Israelites were wandering in the wilderness, didn’t God give them bread each day, manna, to sustain them? And the daily bread spoiled if people tried to stockpile or gain competitive advantage using the manna. Jesus is saying here that God STILL provides manna to those in need, still sustains each of us by giving us what we need to eat each day.
Jesus told his disciples to pray IN THE PLURAL for daily bread. We are to ask that we—collectively—will get what we need to survive until the next day. In other words, we are to share bread with those who need bread, so that we ALL have daily bread. Isn’t this part of what is meant by the coming of God’s kingdom?
I know that you pray; I feel your prayers in and for ou
This is why I would like to begin a food pantry here at Resurrection. We have been given the asset of a room, a physical space, to use in some new way. However, Church of the Resurrection does not have the money, the food, or the people to use this room as a food pantry. Or do we? That is something Rev. Sharon is helping us discover this summer. A number of you are helping explore this possibility (some in a very big way), and I thank you.
But here is how God works. This week Hunger Free Alexandria donated a refrigerator and ALIVE! delivered it to our empty room. The leader of a nearby Episcopal food pantry pledged her expertise. The Capital Area Food Bank and ALIVE! pledged to provide food. I could go on and on about this, but I won’t. Let me just say that the coincidences astound me.
I know that you pray; I feel your prayers in and for our community. I know that you pray for me, and for each other. I ask your continued prayers for our daily bread as a congregation, and that God will help us to provide for our community, in whatever way God has purposed for us.