Our Daily Bread: A Mantra for the Revolution
When you pray the Lord’s Prayer, do you think about what you are praying for? I confess that sometimes when I lead the congregation in praying that prayer in unison, I’m more concerned with remembering the words than with following Mary’s example of pondering them in her heart (Luke 2:19). “Our Father, Who art in heaven…” can roll off the tongue so easily after years of practice that we might forget or even lose the conscious ability to appreciate those words’ meaning and apply them to our daily living. It’s like Millhouse, Bart’s friend, says in an episode of The Simpsons when he is playing the role of Fallout Boy, Radioactive Man’s trusty sidekick, shooting countless scenes for a movie where he must recite his character’s fan-favorite line parodying Robin’s corny “Holy [insert subject], Batman,” “I’ve said ‘jimminy jillikers’ so many times, the words have lost all meaning!” But the words Jesus teaches us to pray are far from nonsensical and are not meant for rote memorization.
A few years ago our church’s Social Justice Class took up a book by John Dominic Crossan called The Greatest Prayer: Rediscovering the Revolutionary Message of the Lord's Prayer. Have you ever thought about those words having revolutionary power? Being forgiven and forgiving others’ debts. Being led away from temptations to think and do and be things that go against our best selves. Being delivered—set free—from anything that would do us harm or even do harm toward others through us. That’s revolutionary stuff. It’s our mantra for the revolution.
It all starts, though, with what we need to embody Jesus’ revolutionary message of forgiveness, mercy, and love every single day: “our daily bread.” Ponder this: When we pray, “Give us this day our daily bread,” we are praying for what we need to not only get by today, but to do and be all that God dreams for us to carry out and become every day. The daily bread provided by the Creator of all good things is not just for survival, but for thriving; for having life and having it to the fullest (John 10:10). That’s transformative stuff, revolutionary stuff.
On their summer mission trip to Albuquerque last month, the youth group learned about Indigenous culture and communities. Learning from Indigenous people’s appreciation, cultivation, and sharing of abundance, our church’s youth gained a deeper understanding and respect for the provisions of God—of the land, sea, and sky—and the deeper meaning of what we mean when we pray the words Jesus lays out in Matthew 6:11: “Give us this day our daily bread.”
The youth learned about the three sisters—corn, beans, and squash—and how that diet was more than enough to sustain Indigenous communities in mind, body, and spirit. The First Nations Version, an Indigenous translation of the New Testament, interprets Matthew 6:11 plainly: “Provide for us day by day—the elk, the buffalo, and the salmon. The corn, the squash, and the wild rice. All the things we need for each day.” The elk, the buffalo, the salmon. The three sisters. That is their daily bread. That is what is needed for the revolutionary work of God.
Taking a page from our Indigenous neighbors, then—the ones from whom access to daily bread was stolen by greed-driven colonization that is the opposite of “thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven”—I’m wondering, what is our daily bread? What are the things we truly need for each day?
Ponder it and put it in a prayer:
Provide for us day by day—water, sunshine, and coffee beans. Labor, meals, and rest. Music, art, and play. Relationships, community, and belonging. Tears, laughter, and healing. Honesty, vulnerability, and trust. Patience, truth, and understanding. Wisdom, repentance, and transformation. Time, space, and silence. Faith, hope, and love. All the things we need for each day.
What do you need? What are the provisions of God that give you more than enough to live out the revolutionary message of Jesus every day? What is your daily bread? Name it. Pray it. Let it be your mantra for the revolution.