Give us Our Daily Bread - Midtown

Give us Our Daily Bread - Midtown

March 03, 2024 • Rev. Mindie Moore

Together We Pray Week 3 // Give Us This Day Our Daily Bread 

John 6:32-35 

During the early days of the pandemic, we, like all of you, were stuck inside of our house. The days were really long, I would wake up every morning and stand in our kitchen and just say, “we’re going to do” I would love to tell you we were the parents that were really precious during the pandemic, making schedules and charts and special adventures for our kids...we were not. We were the “survival mode, I’m really grouchy but trying not to show it” parents. 

And then one day, a couple months in, my little grouchy heart started to soften a bit. Because these little painted rocks (SLIDE) started showing up in our mulch beds. It was super random, they were cute. They’d have hearts or silly faces or rainbows on them, and it became this delight to me to find these rocks a couple times a week. 

And I would call my mother-in-law with delight every time I saw one, because this is one of those things we have in common, we love cute things like this, and she would always get so excited with me. I had no idea where they were coming from or who was leaving them, and she seemed just as into the mystery as I was. Until, a few weeks into the mysterious rocks...she broke. I think probably because she figured that I would catch on, and I absolutely was NOT...but she broke and revealed that as much as she liked hearing how happy these little surprises were making me, did I not have ANY idea who was leaving 

them? Could it BE, my creative and crafty mother-in-law, who lived just two blocks away and also shared my love of cute things?! 

It could. It was. And I had no clue! 

And those painted rocks made me think that sometimes what we need and where it comes from...that can take us by surprise. 

We’re spending this whole season leading up to Easter studying The Lord’s Prayer, line by line. Today, we’re exploring this moment where we boldly ask God (SLIDE): “Give us this day our daily bread.” And I want to name for you that today is a shift. Because for the past few weeks, we’ve looked at pieces of the prayer that really address God who God is and how God works in the world. We’ve said things like, “God, you’re holy. God, you’re our perfect loving parent. God, have your way in this world and make that way a reality through us.” 

But today, it changes. Today, we’re making less statement about God and we start asking God to do things for us. And at face value, what it feels like we’re doing here is we are saying, “God, give us what we need for this day.” 

And you know…yes. That’s part of it. But honestly, the thing about this part of the prayer that is that it is a little more nuanced, a little more complicated than we often think about it being. And that kind of surprised me to learn that. Maybe it surprises you. And the thing that makes this piece of scripture 

more complicated than we usually give it credit for, is that there’s this one rogue Greek word. Don’t you love a good rogue Greek word in the New Testament?! That’ll get you to church! 

But seriously, I want us to look at this word. So it’s the English word (SLIDE) DAILY, which in Greek is epiousian. It's used in both the Matthew and Luke version of the prayer, but here’s why I called it a rogue’s not used anywhere else in Greek, not like in the Bible, but in the WHOLE language, until this sentence. This is the FIRST time this word sees the light of day. So that makes me pay attention, it makes me wonder if maybe there’s a little bit more going on here than we can see just with a quick glance. 

And it turns out that as this word gets broken down, it isn’t as simple as what we’d associate with meaning of “daily”. In fact, if it was most accurately translated, it would mean, (SLIDE) “that which is needed to be” or “that which is essential.” So maybe a better way to describe this bread that we’re asking God to give us isn’t just to call it DAILY, but to call it “the bread we need to survive.” 

That feels a little different to me. I mean, I do a lot of stuff every day, and you do too. We might call these things our daily habits. Every day I brush my teeth. Every day I check the mail. Every day I scroll on Instagram. All of that makes up my daily routine...but even though it happens frequently, none of it is essential or needed to survive. Ok, maybe the teeth should definitely brush your teeth! But think about that. We do 

so many things every single day that probably aren’t that necessary but they are for sure part of our daily lives. 

But there’s something that feels urgent when we say- God, give me the bread, give me the THINGS, I need to make it. Give me the things that are essential, not just frequent. And I just want to be real here—this prayer hits differently depending where we are in our lives. People in this room are hearing this request of God in different ways, and we need to be aware of that. I know that for my family, when I was in seminary, we were just married, early 20s, living in the VERY affordable area of Southern California, positively bleeding cash, going to the seminary food pantry so I could have some canned goods for my pantry...this prayer hit different. 

When I think about the very real problems of poverty and hunger that exist in our city, that hits differently. 25% of Indiana residents need assistance with food and in Marion County, 31% of residents need assistance with food. 2 in 5 households with food needs were unable to patch together enough food assistance resources to meet all their meal needs. The point is, the idea of HUNGER and not having our physical needs met—this is not an abstract concept for so many people. And God CARES about that. God wants to meet those physical needs, wants us as the church to work together to meet those physical needs. When we talk about the essential bread we need to survive, God gets what a challenge that can be for some of us. 

But I think that we can pray this prayer with urgency no matter what our financial situation is. Because our needs aren’t always physical...sometimes they’re spiritual. And when Jesus talks to his disciples in this passage in John, as he’s telling them, I’m the bread of life, he gets that. Sometimes I think we make up this false understanding about Jesus, that he only cares about our physical needs, or he only cares about the spiritual state of people, we create this weird either or situation. But everything about his teaching and his ministry shows us that these things are never meant to be mutually exclusive. Jesus ate with people, he took part in doing the FEEDING. He washed feet, he healed bodies, Jesus cared about people’s physical needs and when there was poverty or suffering, Jesus showed up. 

And as Jesus cared for those here and now things...he didn’t lose sight of the ongoing spiritual health of the people around him. Because sometimes our survival doesn’t just depend on getting enough to eat, or having a roof over our heads, or having all the boxes checked for our physical needs and even wants. There are plenty of us walking around with every single “bread” need met, we’ve got an actual over excess of money and stuff and resources. We’ve got it all...and our spiritual selves are barely making it. 

It makes me wonder if the biggest gift that this line of the prayer gives us is actually the ability to admit that we need something from God. I mean, we are, collectively as people, BIG 

fans of never admitting we need something and trying to do it all on our own. It starts before we’re even aware of it. 

Case in point: Rhys Andrew Moore, age almost 2. (SLIDE) 

The kid wanted some cheerios. And his mother had inexplicably left the pantry door—that was fully equipped with a child lock—unlatched. It was his time to shine. In fact, look at a close up on this face (SLIDE). Do you see those eyes?! I mean, independence has arrived, he is about to do the thing and enjoy a snack on his own volition. 

However! This did not go as young Rhys planned. Because at this point, I’ve simply assumed the role of photographer, like, it was clear that I had lost all control of the situation. But instead of acquiring a lovely, independent snack for himself...(SLIDE) Rhys just ended up with a mess. 

Look, this cheerio incident didn’t cost us anything, except a few minutes of me sweeping up some cereal. Don’t worry about this child, he did eventually get a snack. But you know...sometimes our resistance to being dependent, particularly being dependent on God...that DOES come with a cost. And Jesus references it in this conversation with his disciples. He says, “Very truly, I tell you, it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven, but it is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven.” And when he makes that reference, he is talking about what happened to the Israelites in the wilderness, back in Exodus 16. He actually happens to be referencing my favorite Bible story, which is just so nice of him. 

Here’s why it matters that Jesus throws back to that thing that happened thousands of years ago, when the Israelites were wandering the wilderness and God shows up for them every single day with the bread they needed to survive. Because even though this whole group of people were at risk of starving to death and literally not having any of their physical needs met if God did not give them that day their daily bread...they couldn’t always understand that needed it. They couldn’t always let themselves depend on God. In fact, if you know the story of the Israelites, the whole reason they ended up in the wilderness in the first place was because God intervened on their behalf and got them out of slavery in Egypt and even though that was was so hard for them to trust God in that moment. To actually believe that God could give them everything they would need to survive that season. 

They had to admit that they were vulnerable. They had to admit that they couldn’t do it all on their own. They had to believe that God would actually come through for them. 

Maybe we need to believe this sometimes. Full disclosure, I don’t really LOVE this idea for myself. And I’m not expecting you will either. But there’s something about the idea that God is going to give us what we need and that Jesus is the bread of life that just keeps showing up throughout Scripture. Like the whole narrative, it comes up again and again! It’s this push pull of the relationship that God and the people have where God tries to show them that they can depend on the God who loves 

them and the people say, “well...maybe we could just hoard this bread and store up some IN CASE you don’t come through.” Spoiler alert- it gets moldy and gross, it doesn’t work to try and make your own way when God has told you God’s got it. OR, once they get settled in their new land, they say, “God, it’s been real, but could you just give us a king that we could follow?” And...they get it. But a good 1/3 of the Old Testament is hot mess after hot mess of how THAT works out for them. Or we get to the time of Jesus and the people are skeptical. They say, “no, we didn’t expect YOU! We weren’t looking for a messiah who shows up as a teacher who washes people’s feet. We were looking for power and control...could we get that instead?” 

I mean, over and over we see this struggle. And so that’s why this prayer, God give us our daily’s not simple or easy to pray. It takes some humility and vulnerability to really let ourselves depend on God on that level. 

I’m reading this book right now and I am loving it SO much, called (SLIDE) Liturgy In the Wilderness by DJ Marotta and here’s what he says about this part of the Lord’s Prayer: 

“We have a lot of unlearning to do before we can learn to trust God and be dependent on him as our provider. You and I are not ready to pray “Give us this day our daily bread” until we can admit, even if it’s just to ourselves, “I feel vulnerable. I don’t feel safe. I don’t know if I’ll have enough. I don’t know if 

I can make it. I’m afraid. I’m fragile.” (DJ Marotta: Liturgy in the Wilderness) 

This kind of unlearning, this kind of honesty is scary. But it’s so freeing too. I don’t know where you are with that, but I just want to tell you it’s ok to be dependent on God. It doesn’t make you weak. It doesn’t make you not enough. It’s kind of the point of this line of the prayer, but also our faith. We get to say: God, we can’t do it without you. We don’t WANT to do it without you. It’s the invitation to live like the disciples, when they hear Jesus tell them that he’s the bread of life and they say—then we want this bread all the time! 

What would it look like for us to have that same kind of urgency, that same sense of dependency on God, when we pray this prayer and when we live our lives? What would that do to our faith? 

I want us to hold on to that question as we go to the Communion table. (TRANSITION INTO COMMUNION) 

Where Jesus reminds us that he gives us something no one else can, and he, in a way that only he can, meets us exactly where we are. As we receive THIS bread and juice, we pray over it, we believe that something holy is happening. But as we take it, as we become a receiver, we remember that Christ is with us and in us...not just this once a month thing that we do. Just as the Israelites received the bread every day, we receive it now. We carry this grace with us and we live out what we receive.