Sunday, March 14, 2010

Daily Bread

Laetare – The Fourth Sunday in Lent

John 6:1-15    (Audio)

In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit.

“The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want.” Most of us can’t even imagine what that must be like, to not want, to lack no-thing, to be fully and completely satisfied, fulfilled and complete.

For, in our lives we want for much. We are a hungry people: hungry for food, hungry for meaning and purpose, hungry for love, hungry for justice, hungry for forgiveness. We spend our lives searching for these things, craving these things, and finding them, temporarily, but often in the wrong people, the wrong places, and the wrong things. Bruce Springsteen was right, “Everybody’s got a hungry heart,” but like Bono sings, we “still haven’t found what [we’re] looking for,” so, like Mick Jagger, we “can’t get no satisfaction.”

Jesus knows this about you. He has compassion for you. He says to you, “You shall not want.” He gives you all that you need and more for your body and your life now, and in the life to come. His grace is sufficient for you. However, in our lives, sufficiency is usually not want we want; we think that we need more than we have, and we want more than we need. But God’s grace in Jesus Christ is sufficient, and it is all and more than we need.

Jesus gives us daily bread. Daily bread includes everything that has to do with the support and needs of the body, such as food, drink, clothing, shoes, house, home, land, animals, money, goods, a devout husband or wife, devout children, devout workers, devout and faithful rulers, good government, good weather, peace, health, self-control, good reputation, good friends, faithful neighbors, and the like. God gives this daily bread to all people, even those who hate Him, but we pray that God would lead us to realize this and to receive our daily bread with thanksgiving. All this He lovingly provides us out of fatherly, divine goodness and mercy, without any merit or worthiness in us.

And we grumble. O, we of little faith, how we grumble. We look the gift horse in the mouth and we grumble that we do not have enough. We grumble that what we have is not what we want. So we labor and we struggle to earn our daily bread, believing that it is by our works and our striving that we are fed and clothed and sheltered and that these things are constitutes life. What poor and pitiable people we are; what a poor and pitiable Church we are. The truth is that we are poor, wretched, beggars. What meager offerings we present before the Lord: two fish and five loaves, not enough for a crumb apiece. On our own, by our own devices, we are hopeless and lost.

But we are not on our own. We have never been on our own. With thanksgiving, Jesus takes our meager provisions and provides satisfaction, what we need, and more. There is no need to gather or to hoard, to look upon others with jealousy, for with Jesus there is no need, no want. Jesus is our daily bread, our Bread of Life, our bread king. The one who comes to Him shall never hunger; the one who believes in Him shall never thirst. He provides for all your needs of body and soul, and His mercies are new each and every morning. That’s the first lesson for today.

There is a second lesson, it has to do with the leftovers, for the Bread of Life always gives more than we need. The lesson is this: give it away. Give it away! Even if you think that you don’t have enough, give it away. You deceive yourself. Give it away, even then. For in the giving you lighten your load that you might keep on receiving. “Give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you." When the Israelites tried to hoard the manna it bred worms and stank. The widow’s oil and meal was never exhausted throughout the prophet’s stay. Use what is given to you, for you and your family, it is a gift of God’s grace in Jesus Christ and it is sufficient for you for today. Give the rest of it away, and do not worry about tomorrow, God will provide you tomorrow’s bread tomorrow.

And a third lesson is this: The Bread of Life is present now to satisfy your hunger and thirst with His body and blood. Each Lord’s Day He takes much less than five loaves and two small fish and He satisfies all His people with His immeasurable gifts of forgiveness, everlasting life and salvation. Take and eat, you shall not want. Take and drink, your cup runneth over.

In the + Name of Jesus. Amen.

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