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.

 

Teaching Thanksgiving

“You shall therefore lay up these words of mine in your heart and your soul, and you shall bind them as a sign on your hand and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes.  You shall teach them to your children, talking of them when you are sitting in your house and when you are walking by the way, and when you lie down and when you rise.”  Deuteronomy 11:18-19

I was in South Carolina this week with my daughter and my granddaughter.  Both of them said in elementary school, they were taught that the thanksgiving feast was about the pilgrims thanking the Indians for their help in surviving the winter.  I explained that although they may have invited the Indians as a gesture and friendship and thanks, the primary intention of the pilgrims was to thank God, who brought them to the new world and graciously provided for them there.

This led me to think about how we all have a responsibility to teach God’s truth, not only our children, but everyone with whom we come in contact. In the anecdote above, you can see how quickly even historical truth can become perverted by the world.  If we don’t teach God’s word, in a generation or two, it may be lost.  This happened in the Bible (for an example, read about King Josiah in 2 Kings chapters 22 and 23) and it happens today.  Martin Luther wrote the catechism so that parents could teach their children about God each day in their own home, not just once a week in church.

So don’t allow Thanksgiving to become “turkey day”.  Use it as reminder to have an attitude of thanks every day, all year long.  Let your children, your grandchildren, your friends and neighbors know that you are thankful to the God for all that you have and are.

 

Martin Luther on Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving Thoughts from Martin Luther Excerpts from Luther’s Large Catechism (1529) The Explanation of the First Article of the Apostles Creed

I hold and believe that I am God’s creature, that is, that he has given me and constantly sustains my body, soul, and life, my members great and small, all my senses, my reason and understanding, and the like; my food and drink, clothing, nourishment, spouse and children, servants, house and farm, etc. Besides, he makes all creation help provide the benefits and necessities of life—sun, moon, and stars in the heavens; day and night; air, fire, water, the earth and all that it yields and brings forth; birds, fish, animals, grain, and all sorts of produce. Moreover, he gives all physical and temporal blessings—good government, peace, security. Thus we learn from this article that none of us has life—or anything else that has been mentioned here or can be mentioned—from ourselves, nor can we by ourselves preserve any of them, however small and unimportant. All this is comprehended in the word ―Creator.‖ Moreover, we also confess that God the Father has given us not only all that we have and what we see before our eyes, but also that he daily guards and defends us against every evil and misfortune, warding off all sorts of danger and disaster. All this he does out of pure love and goodness, without our merit, as a kind father who cares for us so that no evil may befall us. Hence, because everything we possess, and everything in heaven and on earth besides, is daily given, sustained, and protected by God, it inevitably follows that we are in duty bound to love, praise, and thank him without ceasing, and, in short, to devote all these things to his service, as he has required and enjoined in the Ten Commandments. Here much could be said if we were to describe how few people believe this article. We all pass over it; we hear it and recite it, but we neither see nor think about what the words command us to do. For if we believed it with our whole heart, we would also act accordingly, and not swagger about and boast and brag as if we had life, riches, power, honor, and such things of ourselves, as if we ourselves were to be feared and served. This is the way the wretched, perverse world acts, drowned in its blindness, misusing all the blessings and gifts of God solely for its own pride, greed, pleasure, and enjoyment, and never once turning to God to thank him or acknowledge him as Lord or Creator. Therefore, if we believe it, this article should humble and terrify all of us. For we sin daily with eyes, ears, hands, body and soul, money and property, and with all that we have, especially those who even fight against the Word of God. Yet Christians have this advantage, that they acknowledge that they owe it to God to serve and obey him for all these things. For this reason we ought daily to practice this article, impress it upon our minds, and remember it in everything we see and in every blessing that comes our way. Whenever we escape distress or danger, we should recognize how God gives and does all of this so that we may sense and see in them his fatherly heart and his boundless love toward us. Thus our hearts will be warmed and kindled with gratitude to God and a desire to use all these blessings to his glory and praiseThanksgiving Thoughts from Martin Luther Excerpts from Luther’s Large Catechism (1529) The Explanation of the First Article of the Apostles Creed

Over and Over

As for myself, let me say that I am a doctor and a preacher.  I am as learned and experienced as any of those who are so presumptuous and confident.  Yet I do as a child that is learning the Catechism.  I read and repeat in the morning and whenever I have time, the Ten Commandments, Apostle’s Creed, the Lord’s Prayer, the Psalms, etc.  I daily read and study the Catechism, and still I am not able to master it as thoroughly as I wish.  I must remain a child and a pupil of the Catechism, and this I do very willingly.

Martin Luther

If Martin Luther was willing to study  the basics of the faith over and over, shouldn’t each of us be willing to do likewise?