This morning’s quote from the Lord’s Prayer continues the week focusing on our daily bread:
“GIVE US”: this means that the ultimate source of all this for us is God himself, his love, his concern for us; in whatever form or from whomever we may receive the gift, all is from him. But this means that the first meaning and goal of these gifts is God himself.
Alexander Schmemann, Our Father
When I was a child, my grandmothers would give me and my siblings gifts at Christmas and for our birthday’s. After a certain age, they both gave us money because they didn’t know what to buy young children any longer. When I was young I looked forward to these gifts – honestly more than I did to the act of love and the relationship with my grandparents.
Now, in middle age, I miss my grandparents. I would give all the money back to see any of them one more time, for my kids to know them as I did. This quote reminds me of that growth – it is one thing to ask God for the good gifts that God offers and shares. It is another thing – a better thing – and what God really wants – to want the Giver more than the gift.
May we seek today the Giver whose great gift is Himself…
You may know someone who struggles with “emotional eating.” I admit at times I do – that and boredom eating! Eating to satisfy an emotional need with a physical substance.
Frederick Buechner (well-known writer and theologian) writes in Wishful Thinking: A Seeker’s ABC:
“A glutton is one who raids the icebox for a cure for spiritual malnutrition.”
Now there is spiritual eating! But maybe I already knew that. Often what I call “emotional eating” is really about my spirit rather than my emotion. Filling a space that life has left and God wants to occupy. Craving peanuts when what I really need is peace.
The line between these things – emotion and spirit – are blurry at best. But they are distinct and worth reflection. It is no coincidence that the same One who said we should pray for “our daily bread” also spoke ” “Man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.”
E.M. Bounds, the Methodist Episcopal pastor best known for his books on prayer, says about this first petition of the Lord’s Prayer —
“When we pray, “Give us this day our daily bread,” we are, in a measure, shutting tomorrow out of our prayer. We do not live in tomorrow but in today. We do not seek tomorrow’s grace or tomorrow’s bread. They thrive best, and get most out of life, who live in the living present. They pray best who pray for today’s needs, not for tomorrow’s, which may render our prayers unnecessary and redundant by not existing at all!”
To pray for today’s bread — today’s needs, today’s hungers, today’s sustenance – is to live in this moment. Today is the arena of God’s action, today is the time to receive what God promises and offers and gives. Tomorrow may never come… and if it does, it will be the today in which we then live.
To journey through Lent, in the midst of which we find ourselves, is to live in today of the journey. Every day is a day in which God has things to teach us, transformation to make. Tomorrow will come when we are ready for it. Today is enough!
Adam Clarke was an early Methodist theologian and biblical scholar who is best known for his commentary on the Bible. In it he writes concerning the phrase “thy will be done” in the Lord’s Prayer —
The will of God is infinitely good, wise, and holy; to have it
fulfilled in and among men, is to have infinite goodness, wisdom,
and holiness diffused throughout the universe; and earth made the
counterpart of heaven.
To pray “thy will be done” is to acknowledge that often it is not. That heaven is an ideal that God desires to make a reality. But it is not yet real here and now. To pray these words is to confess, to long, to dream, to hope.
In my continuing commentary on the Lord’s Prayer and Lent, today’s quote comes from Star Trek – specifically the movie “Star Trek IV – The Voyage Home” —
“A ship is a ship.” — Kirk
“Whatever you say…thy will be done.” — Scotty
Now I like Captain Kirk and I love Star Trek. But Scotty needs to find a better place to put his faith!
When we say “thy will be done,” we say it to Someone who can be trusted with our future and our present. Someone who loves us. Someone whose will is better than ours, whose wisdom is deeper, whose understanding is higher.
Captain Kirk may always save the day… but he cannot save our soul.
In my daily search for quotes and reflections, mostly connected to the Lord’s Prayer, I found this marvelous piece from Paulo Coelho:
“Thy will be done, my Lord. Because you know the weakness in the heart of your
children, and you assign each of them only the burden they can bear. May you
understand my love–because it is the only thing I have that is really mine, the only thing that I will be able to take with me into the next life. Please allow it to be courageous and pure; please make it capable of surviving the snares of the world.”
― Paulo Coelho, By the River Piedra I Sat Down and Wept
What it spoke to me was the thought that saying ‘Thy will be done’ is an act of love as well as of submission or obedience. To appropriate his thought here, our will is the only thing we can really give to God. And it is connected to our love. Perhaps is another facet of the same thing. Our will, our love, our lives. God does not take them by force. But wants us to offer them freely – as freely as God has offered grace and mercy in Jesus Christ. To which our submission is only a response of love.
Continuing my infrequent Lenten quotation posting, came across this today…
“There are two kinds of people: those who say to God, ‘Thy will be done,’ and those to whom God says, ‘All right, then, have it your way.'”
—C. S. Lewis (1898–1963)
My, oh my, does this one grab me by the throat. Our doing God’s will is not a passive activity in which we either submit to God’s will or not. It is an active, moment-by-moment decision in which we either settle for having it our way (and all that implies) or seeking and surrendering to God’s will.
Hoping today is a day I and you say “Thy will be done!”
I’ve failed utterly this week to keep my discipline and promise to post something daily for Lent.
Our church is using the Lord’s Prayer to center our Lenten worship and devotions and I came across this quote from Napoleon Bonaparte today (I am unsure of the source so proceed with caution here!) —
““Alexander, Caesar, Charlemagne, and I have founded empires. But on what did we rest the creations of our genius? Upon force. Jesus Christ founded his empire upon love; and at this hour millions of men would die for him. ”
Often we want things to happen so we push – we force – we use power to exert influence – etc. But does that bring about the kingdom of God, even in ourselves? To pray “They kingdom come” is to pray for the is kingdom of love to reign in me. And for my feeble attempts to force things to fade away.
Saw this late last night post-Ash Wednesday worship:
“Marking the body with sign of the cross,
we profess that only through the cross will the body be raised to life.”
(Matt O’Reilly – https://twitter.com/mporeilly)
The body matters… a lot. This body in which I live is also me. Not a vehicle in which my soul moves around the world. It is me – not all of me. But me. Ash Wednesday is among the things (like the sacraments) that remind me that the physical world does matter. The fundamental truth of the faith the Easter celebrates is the resurrection of the body – not the immortality of disembodied souls or the release from needing a body. But a new body, a renewed body.
“The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” (Galatians 2:20b NIV)
For Ash Wednesday I will share a link to this haunting poem for Lent. It has certainly haunted me since I read it last week.
Too often Jesus is my genie in a bottle, my fallback position, the one whose victory over death signifies no more than assurance of my victory over the mundane and unimportant challenges of life.
Surely this journey is about more than sacrifice that leads to self-actualization? Surely it is more than my wishes held at bay until I let them out again when the tomb is opened?
I am not so sure…
An American Lent.