“Give us this day our daily bread”
Bread is a universal food. In practically every culture when people offer others hospitality the first thing they generally do is offer them bread. It may look different and it may certainly taste different but bread is the common feature of the majority of culinary traditions across the globe.
Bread plays a very important role throughout the Bible. There are in fact 28 references to it which is more than any other foodstuff – even wine only gets 15 references!
Yesterday in the Gospel reading set for Holy Communion we read Jesus’s words “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty” ( John 6:35)
When we pray to God to give us our daily bread what do we really mean? Is it our physical appetite or our spiritual appetite we are asking Him to satisfy?
We live in a world where there is sadly great hunger due to the unequal distribution of the worlds resources which results in abject poverty for some and abundant wealth for others. This hunger doesn’t just exist in far flung corners of the globe. In our own community there are many who have the constant worry of how they are going to put food on the table.
The current crisis that we are living through has increased both the physical and spiritual hunger of many people.
Thus our prayer becomes ever more urgent. And God not only hears us, he responds. As a parish family we have been able to continue to provide food to those in need – just as we thought our store was running low we received a grant of £500 which enables us to truly bless our community. When the Israelites were wandering in the desert, having escaped from Egypt, God provided manna from Heaven to ensure they didn’t starve. When the crowds gathered to hear Jesus speak, he took just five loaves and two fishes and fed 5,000 with more to spare.
In the same way that our physical health would suffer if we didn’t eat the food that is fundamental to our survival, when we fail to recognise our need for the bread of life that Jesus embodies, our spiritual well being is similarly jeopardised and our relationship with God suffers.
There are times when we fail to put Jesus at the centre of all that we do, that we neglect our spiritual health through a lack of prayer, through not taking time simply to sit with God, to rest in his presence, to listen to what he is saying to us. Our spirituality is as important to our overall health as any other aspect of our wellbeing. We make sure we find time to eat and drink yet we don’t equally prioritise time to pray or reflect on God’s presence in our lives.
As Christians we are witnesses to the truth that Jesus is the living and true bread. We are blessed by God’s goodness to us. It is our duty and our joy to bring glory to his name and to love our neighbour.
Of course it would be naive to assume that faith in Jesus is all we need to survive. We need real bread as well as spiritual bread. What good is the bread of life when there is nothing to eat, when there is no water to drink?
Yet it is through faith that change can result. It is through both prayer and action that we can see God’s response to our plea that He feed us with the bread of life in all its manifestations.