Daily Bread

When praying for “daily bread” in the Lord’s Prayer, we are not just praying for some good sourdough for supper (or dinner depending where you live). Daily bread is so much more than what we often think about. Martin Luther, in his explanation in the Small Catechism, offers a list of things included. To probe the depths of this petition requires more than a short post, but hopefully the following poem will begin to help you think more deeply about this petition when you pray, Give us this day our daily bread...

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Give me this day my daily bread.
All that I need to live each day.
You’re my Provider and my God,
Putting Your glory on display.

Food and water and air I breathe.
Home and clothing and family.
Work and income and friends with me.
All these blessings come happily.

But there is more than what I see,
Your holy gifts are more complete.
Your grace extends beyond my eyes.
Your blessings just can not be beat.

What I need is Jesus my Lord,
the true and only living bread.
Without this awesome grace from You,
I would most certainly be dead.

But this bread is not mine alone.
You bless that I may give and give.
Turn my heart to see more than me.
Oh God, my greed, oh please forgive.

So may I see Your holy gifts;
returning to You praise that’s due.
Without this holy bread each day,
My days would certainly be few.

Thy Kingdom Come

God’s kingdom comes when our heavenly Father gives us his Holy Spirit, so that by his grace we believe his holy Word and live a godly life on earth now and in heaven forever.
[Martin Luther’s Small Catechism]

Jesus said, “Repent for the kingdom of heaven is near
[Matthew 3:2 and 4:17]

Reflecting on God’s kingdom is one that gives me great peace. When Pilate questioned Jesus, our Lord said, “My kingdom is not of this world.” Which means nothing of this world can touch those who are within. And to be within is a gift of God through His Holy Spirit.

God’s kingdom is not a place,
With walls and buildings to embrace.
His kingdom is not a base,
That exists out there just someplace.

His kingdom is Jesus our Lord.
His kingdom is not of this world.
His kingdom exists without end.
His kingdom is our great reward.

God’s kingdom is here.
God’s kingdom is coming.
God’s kingdom is present.
God’s kingdom won’t disappear.

So,

Repent! The kingdom is near.
Hear this and turn from your sin.
Jesus the Lord died for you.
That in death you may never fear.

A big fat lie

When I was growing up I was taught a big, fat, lie.  It was not from my parents or a teacher or some other trusted adult.  The lie came through friends who they themselves learned from someone else.  And the lie came in the form of a childhood rhyme that you probably know very well because you were taught the same big, fat, lie.  And it goes like this…

“Sticks and stones may break my bones but names will never hurt me.”

I am not too sure why I bought into that lie.  I think maybe I used it as a make-shift shield against bullies trying to make me cry (and believe me ~ I had a few of those people in my life growing up).  Maybe it was because I knew that those bullies would never use sticks and stones to actually break my bones so you might as well stop with the names.  But all the while I was using this rhyme as a weak, invisible shield, I was being hurt more than any damage that sticks and stones could inflict.

Names and words do hurt.

I started thinking about this rhyme as I began my sermon prep this week on the 8th Commandment, “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.”  And as I was remembering, all those names I was called as a child came rushing back.  I still remember the pain those names caused.  I still remember the laughter of those kids.  In a way, I wish they had broken some of my bones with stick and stones instead of using words to hurt me.

And today, the use of words continues to be a problem as many kids experience bullying online.  Even rough and tough football players are not immune to the power of words.  In the book of James, the author says that the tongue  is something that can not be tamed.  The same tongue we use to praise God is used to hurt our neighbor.  And I think the worst thing about this is that often times we don’t realize the pain we are causing because so many people try to hide their pain lest they look weak.

Maybe we spread a rumor about someone (true or not, it doesn’t matter).  Maybe we attack a person’s character without all the facts.  Maybe we participate in back stabbing.  Maybe we betray a person’s trust through sharing a secret.  Maybe we use words in a way that sounds comforting but really causes more hurt.  Whatever the form and context of our words, we need to be very mindful of what we are saying.  Luther’s Small Catechism has a great explanation of this commandment; one that we would do well to remember:

We are to fear and love God so that we do not betray, slander, or lie about our neighbor, but defend him, speak well of him, and explain his actions in the kindest way.

Romans 10 says that faith comes from hearing.  Since that is true then how do we proclaim the Gospel and build faith if we are using words in destructive ways?  May God be praised in all we SAY and do.

Dear Lord, grant me a kind tongue that seeks to speak well of others and gives you glory.  May my words not harm my neighbor but rather lift them up. In Jesus name, Amen.

The pastor -|—

Bread is bread…right?

I know that there are many various beliefs on what kind of bread “should” be used for Holy Communion.  Among the various beliefs is the popular notion that it must be unleavened bread.  I know scripture talks about unleavened bread.  I for one have never used it for Holy Communion…not that I am against it, I just haven’t used it.  Here at Salem we have used flat bread, bread machine bread, super market bread, bread bowl bread, wafers, etc.  My main criteria is that I don’t want any sliced bread.  But at our final First Communion class I asked the kids and parents if they wanted to make their own bread or just have me take care of it.  One of the students suggested that they would like cinnamon bread.

Hmmm…Intriguing…

…because bread is bread…right?

In Luther’s Small Catechism, Luther poses the question:  How can eating and drinking do all this? He then answers his question by saying “It is not eating and drinking that does this, but the words, ‘given and shed for you for the remission of sins’.  These words, along with eating and drinking, are the main thing in the sacrament.  And whoever believes these words has exactly what they say, forgiveness of sins.”  That says to me that bread is bread…and what is important is hearing the words of promise.  So…is cinnamon bread OK?

My faith tells me that it is OK…but I can see how some people might be a little put off and maybe even a little offended.  So with that I go back to Paul where he says that if eating meat causes someone to stumble in their faith, then I won’t eat meat (etc…).  Basically…he won’t exercise his Christian freedom in such a way that might cause someone who is weaker in the faith to stumble.  I can respect that.

But then I was thinking that I could explain the cinnamon as representing the “sweetness of Christ”.  I am not sure if that would fly.  So I don’t know.

Would you use cinnamon bread for Holy Communion or any other “usual” bread?

Just something I am pondering…

-edh-