True Bread

A theme for worship and preaching, July 29 through August 26, 2018 with Pastor Bernt

Open the newspaper and you’re forced to think big: there are changes going on in our world – everything from rising ocean levels to conflict between nations armed with nuclear weapons – and we’re called to respond as we can.  Add to that our personal crises and it’s easy to get overwhelmed.

Which is why we shouldn’t just think big, we should think small.  What opportunities, what gifts has God set before me, right here and now? What do I need to sustain me, come what may?  What wisdom, values, pathways do I need to hold on to?  What are the signs of hope?

When Israel found itself in the wilderness on the way to some unknown land, God rained down a flakey bread-like substance from heaven – “manna” which means “what is it?”  What is our true bread today?

By “bread” we don’t just mean the high carb loaf from the bakery or the paycheck we bring home from work.  Think of bread as a symbol for all the everyday ways our Creator provides for us and shows us grace.  The presence of true bread in our kitchens and lives       may seem perfectly obvious, but it’s not.  We need God to open our eyes to what’s right there in front of us.

Some themes we might explore – let Pastor Bernt know any of particular interest to you:

  • Lectionary passages from Old and New Testaments, especially the “Bread of Life” discourse in John 6 but also Exodus, Proverbs and the Psalms.
  • Revisit the Stoics, who came up in last Summer’s theme sermons – set alongside biblical wisdom traditions.
  • Bread is a product of technology (oven, mill, etc..).  Is technology a gift from God?
  • Bread is gift of creation.  How does the created world sustain us?
  • Simple gifts such as bread in a wealthy place such as Palo Alto.
  • Not “my” but “our” daily bread – what place does sharing have in our lives as a way of sustaining us?

Luther on daily bread, from the Small Catechism:

Give us today our daily bread.

What is this?

In fact, God gives daily bread without our prayer, even to all evil people, but we ask in this prayer that God cause us to recognize what our daily bread is and to receive it with thanksgiving.

What then does “daily bread” mean?

Everything included in the necessities and nourishment for our bodies, such as food, drink, clothing, shoes, house, farm, fields, livestock, money, property, an upright spouse, upright children, upright members of the household, upright and faithful rulers, good government, good weather, peace, health, decency, honor, good friends, faithful neighbors, and the like.