Today I am going to claim an old preacher’s trick and change up the Gospel reading just a bit. I want to back up to a piece of Luke that we just skipped over between last week and this week. Remember last week when we read about the Rich Fool? This is what actually follows that:
He said to his disciples, ‘Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat, or about your body, what you will wear. For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing. Consider the ravens: they neither sow nor reap, they have neither storehouse nor barn, and yet God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds! And can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your span of life? If then you are not able to do so small a thing as that, why do you worry about the rest? Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not clothed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, how much more will he clothe you—you of little faith! And do not keep striving for what you are to eat and what you are to drink, and do not keep worrying. For it is the nations of the world that strive after all these things, and your Father knows that you need them. Instead, strive for his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well. ‘Do not be afraid, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. Sell your possessions, and give alms. Make purses for yourselves that do not wear out, an unfailing treasure in heaven, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
You heard the last bit in today’s gospel lesson and then the story of the watchful slaves. In every Bible I own that has headings, the text is broken into the Do Not Worry with the Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also – and the watchful slaves is a stand-alone story that follows. I would love to find the notes on how those who put the Lectionary together divided and combined sections.
Every time I hear the “Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also,” I think of Dumbledore. I was so surprised when the boys and I were reading the Harry Potter books to find a Scripture quote. It was in The Deathly Hallows, and it was the inscriptions on a gravestone.
Today also, we have our piece of the Lord’s Prayer to factor in – Give us this day our daily bread. Do you see now why I am reading a different part of the Gospel? Episcopalians, Anglicans, do not talk a lot about Divine Providence per se. Calvinists (Presbyterians) and Lutherans have a lot more developed and formal theology about Divine Providence. The idea found in the reading I read – the idea that God will provide for our true needs. As Anglicans, we have a core belief in Divine Providence – we have it is out prayers all the time “O God our times are in your hand,” “O God you have so consecrated the covenant of marriage…send your blessing” & Pg 840, #9 For the Harvest.
In this prayer: “give us this day our daily bread” – there are different interpretations:
Give us each day what we need for sustenance – Providence - Lukan
Give us today tomorrow’s bread – Eschatalogical – Matthew
One is physical – like the feeding of the 5000, one is spiritual – Man Cannot live by bread alone.
We all know there are differences between what we want and what we need – I have this conversation every year at this time with my children about school clothes and school supplies. Give us this bread is asking for our needs to be met – not necessarily our desires. We have other places when we pray for those to be sorted out, “Almighty God to you all hearts are open all desires known” is Cranmer’s way for us to corporately ask God to help us sort out need from desire, to help us bring order to the chaos.
I sometimes think those with less are better at sorting want from need because they have to be. However, I wonder if this part of the Lord’s Prayer might also invite us to enter into God’s work of making sure those without daily bread get some. How can we not only trust in God’s providence but also become God’s hands and feet in providing for those who cannot provide for themselves – be Kingdom-bearers?
The last part to consider is the bread we find here – at the altar – the body of Christ, the bread of heaven. We approach with empty hands and are fed the bread, which gives not everlasting life, for solace and strength, for pardon and renewal. Who is missing around this table – who should we be inviting? How can we be more inviting to provide the bread the world so desperately needs?
Here’s you assignment for this week’s prayer challenge: every single meal – every place you are, give thanks and ask God to order your wants and needs for that day. Let me know how that goes for you – I love swapping stories and hearing about God’s voice in your life. Amen.