16 So Jesus told them this story:
A rich man’s farm produced a big crop, 17 and he said to himself, “What can I do? I don’t have a place large enough to store everything.”
18 Later, he said, “Now I know what I’ll do. I’ll tear down my barns and build bigger ones, where I can store all my grain and other goods. 19 Then I’ll say to myself, ‘You have stored up enough good things to last for years to come. Live it up! Eat, drink, and enjoy yourself.’”
20 But God said to him, “You fool! Tonight you will die. Then who will get what you have stored up?”
21 “This is what happens to people who store up everything for themselves, but are poor in the sight of God.”
22 Jesus said to his disciples:
I tell you not to worry about your life! Don’t worry about having something to eat or wear. 23 Life is more than food or clothing. 24 Look at the crows! They don’t plant or harvest, and they don’t have storehouses or barns. But God takes care of them. You are much more important than any birds. 25 Can worry make you live longer? 26 If you don’t have power over small things, why worry about everything else?
27 Look how the wild flowers grow! They don’t work hard to make their clothes. But I tell you that Solomon with all his wealth wasn’t as well clothed as one of these flowers. 28 God gives such beauty to everything that grows in the fields, even though it is here today and thrown into a fire tomorrow. Won’t he do even more for you? You have such little faith!
29 Don’t keep worrying about having something to eat or drink. 30 Only people who don’t know God are always worrying about such things. Your Father knows what you need. 31 But put God’s work first, and these things will be yours as well.
What if we didn’t receive our daily bread? What does having a full tummy allow us to do? When I have a full tummy, first of all, I am able to sleep well. After I have slept well, I have the energy to do the dishes, make a grocery list, weed my flower beds, chase after my grandsons, read a book, go out with my friends, attend meetings….if I’m well-fed and well-rested, I can accomplish a lot.
I never worry about my daily bread. I have a refrigerator full, a freezer full, and a cupboard full of food. That is not the case for everyone.
There is a term for people who often go hungry. It is “food insecure.” If you can’t buy enough healthy food for your family with the money you have, you are food insecure. The most common characteristics of food insecurity include having to buy cheap, filling, unhealthy food, which can cause increased hospitalizations, poor health, iron deficiency, developmental risk and behavior problems, primarily aggression, anxiety, depression, and attention deficit disorder.
In 2016, an estimated 1 in 8 Americans were food insecure, equating to 42 million Americans including 13 million children.
Dixon–247= 31 who are hungry most of the time.
Toronto—124=16 who are hungry most of the time.
Lost Nation—446= 55 who are hungry most of the time.
Eldridge—6,162=770 who are hungry most of the time.
Teachers are often the first to notice that some children do not always get their daily bread. When that information becomes available in the community, it is often the churches who step up and provide summer lunches to children when they have no school lunch available to them.
Why do children need a full tummy? Kids who don’t have enough to eat are less likely to be social and participate in activities, both in school and out. Additionally, children who are hungry lack focus, which can result in poor academic performance.
And what about adults who are hungry? Are they any less immune to the effects of hunger? How does hunger affect relationships, both at home and in the workplace?
When we complain about the bad behavior we see among children, it may be that they simply don’t have enough to eat. That’s how important daily bread is. In Jesus’ times, nobody knew the detailed consequences of lack of nutrition, but nobody wanted to go hungry and food for one’s family was always a priority. So “give us today our daily bread” was obviously important enough to include in this short prayer.
Again, the possessive pronoun is “our”—OUR daily bread. When we pray for OUR daily bread, we are praying for sustenance not only for our immediate family, but for all the children in God’s family.
Martin Luther makes a good point in his Small Catchism:
Give us today our daily bread.
What does this mean?
God gives daily bread, even without our prayer, to all people, though sinful, but we ask in this prayer that he will help us to realize this and to receive our daily bread with thanks.
Luther says we do not have to ask for daily bread, but by praying this petition, we are reminded of where our food comes from and we are prompted to give thanks for our food, instead of taking it for granted.
Bim and I grew up in families that prayed before each meal. His family prayer is “Heavenly Father, bless this food, to thy glory and thy good. Amen.” My parents taught us to say, “Come Lord Jesus, be our guest. Let these gifts to us be blest. Amen.” Hence we both grew up acknowledging from where our food comes. Likewise, our children grew up praying before meals. And our grandson learned a prayer at preschool to the tune of the Superman theme song. “Thank you, God, for giving us food! Thank you, God, for giving us food! For the friends we meet, for the food we eat, Thank you, God!” For the Christian home, whether it is just two people or a table-full, that meal time prayer is critical to our connection to God, because it awakens our gratitude and directs it to where it belongs: to God.
What is meant by “daily bread”?
Daily bread includes everything needed for this life, such as food and clothing, home and property, work and income, a devoted family, an orderly community, good government, favorable weather, peace and health, a good name, and true friends and neighbors.
Daily bread is central to our existence. It is the result of other gifts from God. Listen to Martin Luther’s reasoning:
Commentary on the Petitions in the Lord’s Prayer, from Martin Luther’s Large Catechism.
“For though we have received of God all good things in abundance we are not able to retain any of them or use them in security and happiness, if He did not give us a permanent and peaceful government. For where there are dissension, strife, and war, there the daily bread is already taken away, or at least checked.”
That means that receiving our daily bread is dependent not only on our own financial resources and the local grocery stores. We receive our daily bread because farmers grow food, farm workers harvest the food, factory workers process and package the food and truck drivers transport the food. Protecting every step of the way are laws and rules that insure the safety of our food. And don’t forget the bankers, who finance the farms and factories and trucks.
None of the tractors or factories or workers invented themselves. Everything comes from God’s creation. Thus our daily bread is the result of an orderly society that sees the benefit of providing for each other. You might argue that all those jobs are filled because people just what more money, but what is that money spent on? First of all, it is spent on daily bread.
While at first asking for bread may seem like a small thing, it is a very large thing indeed. As Luther pointed out, we need a permanent and peaceful government to secure our daily bread. Likewise, the partaking of daily bread—and butter, and vegetables, and meat, and dessert, gives each of us the energy to do more than stand upright. God gives us enough energy and enough resources to spread the kingdom that we pray for in the third petition.
One more point: we are praying for our daily bread. Not a week’s worth, not a warehouse full. We are trusting God to provide our food one day at a time. I can’t do that. I have to have a refrigerator and a freezer and a cupboard filled with food. And yet how many people pray for one day’s worth? How many children depend on one cafeteria meal at a time, dreading the snow-day that means no hot lunch? How many people pray that the food allotment from the local food pantry will last for thirty days, when they are once again allowed to shop for a few bags full of groceries?
This sermon has two purposes: One is to help us focus on our own gratitude for our own daily bread. The other is to focus on building the kingdom, one meal at a time, one sack lunch at a time, one box of macaroni and cheese at a time, one can of soup at a time.
May our own secure cupboards help us to fill the empty cupboards and the empty tummies of our community as we build God’s kingdom on earth. Amen.