Gospel: Luke 11:1–13
He was praying in a certain place, and after he had finished, one of his disciples said to him, "Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples." 2He said to them, "When you pray, say:
Father, hallowed be your name.
Your kingdom come.
3Give us each day our daily bread.
4And forgive us our sins,
for we ourselves forgive everyone indebted to us.
And do not bring us to the time of trial."
5And he said to them, "Suppose one of you has a friend, and you go to him at midnight and say to him, 'Friend, lend me three loaves of bread; 6for a friend of mine has arrived, and I have nothing to set before him.' 7And he answers from within, 'Do not bother me; the door has already been locked, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot get up and give you anything.' 8I tell you, even though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, at least because of his persistence he will get up and give him whatever he needs.
9So I say to you, Ask, and it will be given you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you. 10For everyone who asks receives, and everyone who searches finds, and for everyone who knocks, the door will be opened. 11Is there anyone among you who, if your child asks for a fish, will give a snake instead of a fish? 12Or if the child asks for an egg, will give a scorpion? 13If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!"
Greetings to you in the name of Jesus Christ,
Last Friday, Carrie and I drove up to our new house to get the keys. As we approached 89 Winthrop St., Carrie said “Should I pull into the driveway?”
It was in that moment that the fact that we had become homeowners suddenly hit me, and I responded, “of course, it’s now our driveway.”
As we begin to work on settling into our home, and I reflect on how we got to this point, the process of purchasing it seems to have moved very fast. I think a big reason for this is that our options which we’re available to us, we’re pretty limited. In case you haven’t been following real estate news in the area, the inventory right now is pretty limited. And so we went for this house and look forward to making it a home, even though it’s not “perfect”.
That being said, I’m grateful not only for the chance to buy this house, but for the process. I imagine that if we’d have had too many options to look at, we’d have become very good at picking out the negatives in each house, nitpicking over minor inconveniences or imperfections, and losing perspective over what it is we were trying to do.
Which is, when it comes down to it, finding a place that we can live in and share with each other. A place where we can be a family.
But the truth is, that our new house, which is 142 years old, though it doesn’t suit all our wants, is still, much more than we actually need. Amazing as it is, people in the not too distant past got by not only without an extra-room, but also without plumbing, and electricity.
And, to keep things in perspective, there are many people today who get by without those things. Indeed there are many people today, too many, whose concept of a “dream home” is somewhere other than a car, or shelter, or bridge.
As I we’ve been settling in, and I’ve thought about what our house “needs”, I struggle to remind myself that it doesn’t “need” anything. That it is already more than enough to shelter our family and be a place of love.
You see, I need to remind myself that having a bathroom on the second floor is a want, not a need. Walking down a flight of stairs to take a shower is a pretty minor inconvenience as I remember the people who are served by Family Promise MetroWest, and who stayed with us here at Christ the King just a few weeks ago. I need to remind myself that those good people didn’t just go down a flight of stairs, they had to go all the way to Natick to take a shower before they go to work.
It is in light of this reflection, that I find myself really needing to listen as Jesus teaches me how to pray. I, and all of us, need to listen to this, our Lord’s Prayer, and we need to listen to a line that I personally have taken for granted. “Give us each day, our daily bread.”
For those of us, like myself, who’ve never known what it means to be hungry, this petition of the Lord ’s Prayer may not have a lot of meaning. Rightfully, this petition reminds us to give thanks for the fact that we have been fed throughout our lives. But this petition also has meaning for us that we tend to overlook. For those of us who have bread for not just a day, but for weeks, months, even years; for those of us who have so much bread that we can’t possibly eat it all before it rots, our Lord, Jesus Christ is really and surely teaching us to pray for less.
Jesus is teaching us to pray for less not only in regards to food, but in the rest of our lives as well. Jesus is teaching us to pray in this way, so that we can become more dependent and trusting in the goodness of God, than in things.
And this is for good reason. Because we like to worship, serve, and try to find life from things, but the reality is that these things take the life from us. We pursue things, like houses, or cars, or the perfect lawn, only to find that when we get them, they often only cause us to desire and covet it the next best thing. Or we really do fall in love with things, and we admire a car so much that we don’t use it, or put plastic over our furniture, too afraid of dings and dents to actually enjoy what these things are made for. We spend our lives pursuing more, and we get less.
So Jesus teaches us to pray, “Give us each day, our daily bread.”
Though, before we feel too sorry for ourselves. Jesus isn’t teaching us this so that we can somehow become these really whole, peaceful people. Well, maybe a little bit.
Primarily, Jesus is teaching us to pray like this so that we will stop stealing the bread from our neighbors. We are human beings, caught in a system of sin that has been around since Adam and Eve, and spends a great deal of time causing and excusing our greed. This sinful system tells us that “we can have it all” and it convinces us that we get what we deserve, it convinces us that God helps those who help themselves, and conversely those who don’t have anything don’t deserve it. This system of sin does a great job of convincing us that wants, desires, the things we indeed “covet” are needs. This greedy system causes us to be blind, or uncaring of those to whom “daily bread” is not a sure thing, and ignorant of the way our hoarding and oppulance prevents them from getting it.
So, what should we do? What can we do? Even thinking about things we can give up, or do without is disconcerting to all of us.
So what should we do? We should pray. Pray for our daily bread, pray that God will help us and transform us little by little, every day, to become less dependent on our things. Pray that God will use our gifts to help our neighbors receive their daily bread. Pray that God’s Kingdom of peace, justice, and love will come through us to this world.
And we should trust. Trust that our prayer for daily bread will be answered when Jesus says ask and it will be given to you, seek and you will find, knock and the door will be opened to you.
Dear Lord, teach us to pray.
In the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, Amen