What is Our Daily Bread?

“Give us this day our daily bread.”  Matthew 6:11

This well-known and much used phrase comes from what Christians call The Lord’s Prayer, the prayer Jesus taught to His disciples.  I was just reading about it recently in Eugene Petersons’ book about the Scriptures, “Eat This Book.”  Evidently at one point in the history of Bible translation and interpretation, the word used for daily(espiousion) was not found in very any other ancient document written in classical Greek;  many scholars assumed this meant it was a very unusual word, and must refer to some deeper, uncommon, probably spiritual meaning.  However, after the discovery of a number of ancient “housekeeping” documents they realized that the word was actually one used in the everyday language of normal life.  It means exactly what it says:  bread produced today;  fresh bread, ready for consumption.  The word wasn’t in any literary documents, because it was too ordinary, too unassuming for a real author to use.  It was a word meant for housewives and shopping lists.

So when Jesus told us to pray for daily bread, He did, indeed mean we should pray for things that are real and physical.  Martin Luther casts a wide net for the term when he explains it in the Small Catechism:

What is meant by daily bread?

Everything that is required to satisfy our bodily needs;  such as food and rainment, house and home, fields and flocks, money and goods;  pious parents, children and servants;  godly and faithful rulers, good government, seasonable weather, peace and health;  order and honor;  true friends, good neighbors, and the like.”

Wow!  That’s a lot to ask for, isn’t it.  Many are things we accept from God without much thought at all.  Yet they are all gifts, gifts we should reflect on, and be thankful for.  So this month of Thanksgiving, let’s each make time to give thanks for those everyday blessings from our good God.

 

Eat This Book

“I went to the angel and told him to give me the little scroll;  and he said to me, ‘Take it and eat;  it will be bitter to your stomach, but sweet as honey in your mouth.’  And I took the little scroll from the hand of the angel and ate it;  it was sweet as honey in my mouth, but when I had eaten it my stomach was made bitter.”  Rev. 10:  9-10

If you’ve never read anything by Eugene Peterson, you should.  Peterson is professor emeritus of spiritual theology at Reagent College, Vancouver, British Columbia.  He is author of the popular modern paraphrase of the Bible, The Message.  

Eat This Book, has been sitting on our bookshelf for some time and I decided that as it went along with our November theme, now was the time to delve into it.  As usual, I’m not disappointed with Peterson’s work.  It deals with the topic of “spiritual reading.”  According to Peterson we need to read the Bible not just for information;  not just for inspiration and comfort; not just as a guide for ethical living.  We need to “eat” the Bible –digest it, and take it into our lives so that it nourishes us and affects us on a very basic level.  Most of the time, we use the Bible to help us in our life;  we need to take the Bible in so that it uses us — instead of making the Bible part of our lives, we need to become part of its’ life and narrative.

In the quote above from Revelations, an angel gives John a scroll to eat;  first it is sweet, but it becomes bitter.  According to Peterson, when we become Christians, our first taste of Scripture is wondrously tasty — however, as we continue in the Word, we find that there are many things that are hard to digest, understand and accept.

“We are fond of saying that the Bible has all the answers.  And that is certainly correct.  ….But the Bible also has all the questions, many of them that we would just as soon were never asked of us, and some of which we will spend the rest of our lives doing our best to dodge. …you can’t domesticate this book to what you are comfortable with.”  from Eat This Book

I hope some other authors and readers will take a look at Peterson’s book this month.  You’ll be challenged to a whole new level of reading the Scriptures.