Give us today the bread of tomorrow…

A few weeks ago, I read you a quote from a book called Take this Bread; a wonderful book about the atheist photographer turned radical Christian who had her conversion experience whilst eating the body of Christ in the eucharist. Reading that book, back in 2013, took me on a journey to St Gregory’s Church in San Francisco, to take part in the work of feeding the hungry around that same altar where Sara Miles first met Jesus. That place, that church, takes feeding…especially with bread… especially feeding with bread in the mass really seriously. Everyone is welcome. People come from all over the world to share in what they do. They never know how many people will come but they sing a mantra while they work and while they worship.

Their mantra, which we have sometimes sung here at our sunset service says ‘there is enough, there is enough, there is enough, there’s enough and some to share…’

…and time and again it proves to be true.

And, when I read this morning’s gospel passage, I got as far as the third line and then I stopped, because it reminded me of that beautiful work and of the example of lavish hospitality and hope that they provide in their distribution of bread from that altar.

‘When you pray’, Jesus says, ‘say Father, hallowed be your name’.

‘Your kingdom come.

Give us each day our daily bread’.

Give us each day our daily bread.

And as I read those words I remembered that song from St Gregorys – and the places I have sung it since – and I remembered something else I heard years before. I remember hearing that the best translation of that line from the Lord’s Prayer is something more like ‘give us today the bread we need for tomorrow’ or ‘give us today the bread of the morrow’.

And that is what we are really asking for, praying for, each time we say those words, or hold out our hands in prayer.

Father, Mother, God; give us today the bread of tomorrow.

Give us enough for today, enough and some to share.

And that reminds me of a beautifully heart wrenching story, called ‘Sleeping with Bread’. Let me read you the introduction…

During the bombing raids of World War II, thousands of children were orphaned and left to starve. The fortunate ones were rescued and placed in refugee camps where they received food and good care. Many of these children who had lost so much could not sleep at night. They feared waking up to find themselves once again homeless and without food. Nothing seemed to reassure them. Finally, someone hit upon the idea of giving each child a piece of bread to hold at bedtime. Holding their bread, these children could finally sleep in peace. All through the night the bread reminded them, ‘today I ate, and I will eat again tomorrow…’

Give us each day our daily bread.

Give us today the bread for tomorrow.

Let us know that there will always be enough – enough and some to share.

Bread is a constant in scripture.

It is the way God shows faithfulness to the wanderers escaping slavery.

It is multiplied to show the abundance of the Divine in the feeding miracles.

It is how we are invited to remember Jesus’ life and death.

It is the way we are fed, literally and spiritually, to feed others.

And we are taught to ask for it every single day.

Give us each day our daily bread.

Give us today the bread for tomorrow.

So, why might we need to ask for tomorrow’s bread today?

What if we are encouraged to ask for enough bread for tomorrow so we might share it with others?

What if tomorrow’s bread is for those who are hungry, or like those children in that story – for those who are frightened or in need of hope?

What if that request is, like that beautiful hymn says, for strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow?

Having enough bread for today, and for tomorrow will always be a good thing because it gives us enough; enough and some to share.

And when we pray about today’s bread and tomorrow’s bread, we aren’t talking about literal time; it is more figurative than that. The best translation hints at something that is coming – the tomorrow we are really waiting for, when we all feast at God’s eternal banquet. Give us bread today that shows what is coming next. Give us the bread to share so that nobody is hungry, nobody goes without. Give us the bread so that everyone has enough – enough and some to share. The promise of that which is to come.

And that is what is offered here, at this altar, in every mass.

In this moment when we eat the bread of heaven, the body of the Lord Jesus, we taste that which is coming.

We are eating, today, the bread of tomorrow. Today it is bread, but in the eternal tomorrow it is life! Life for all people with enough and some to share.

Give us today the bread of tomorrow, we pray, and Jesus gives us his very self to feed and transform and nourish and sustain us, so that we might go from here and be the change we want to see in the world. We receive it today, so that tomorrow might be different.

Friends, we are fortunate enough to be the ones who sleep with bread. We are the ones with enough and some to share. We know where our next meal is coming from, and we have tasted the living bread. We have all that we need.  So, when we pray ‘give us today the bread for tomorrow’, what will we do with the bread we receive?

Amen.

With thanks to Dennis Linn, Sheila Fabricant Linn and Matthew Linn, writers of Sleeping with Bread: Holding what gives you life.

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