Friday, February 02, 2007

Daily Bread

Do you know that line in the "Lord's Prayer" that says Give us this day our daily bread? Today's Old Testament reading shows us what "daily bread" might mean, literally. At this point, the people of Israel had left Egypt; they've crossed the Red Sea miraculously on dry ground while the pursuing Egyptian army drowned; and they're now out of food.
Then the Lord said to Moses, "I will rain down bread from heaven for you. The people are to go out each day and gather enough for that day...."
from Exodus 16.4
There's an interesting pattern to this stuff; it falls six days out of seven, and the stuff spoils when kept overnight, usually. But what really fascinates me about this stuff is that it ceases to feel miraculous after a while.

On one hand, it's surprising. Imagine -- you're out in the desert with nothing to eat, and one morning all this edible stuff appears on the ground. And the next morning too. But they get used to it, come to expect it, come to despise it.

How about us? Could we get used to bread falling from heaven six days out of seven? I think yes. I don't know about you, but when I look at the things I'm used to right now, I'm astonished.

I wake up every morning; in spite of all the things that could have happened during the night, I'm still here, and have been for over half a century. In spite of all the dangers, including crazy drivers on the freeways, the San Andreas fault, toxic chemicals all over the valley -- in spite of all those, my wife and children are alive and with me. Several times a week, I open a metal box, climb into it, and am transported faster than the fastest man has ever run. And every morning, my little part of the world rotates in such a way that a golden ball of fire appears to rise in the eastern sky, bringing light and beauty for us to see.

I've gotten used to all those things -- I could certainly get used to bread from heaven. I could even start to complain about it. (Come to think of it, I do complain sometimes about my six-times-a-week oatmeal.) So, though I've sometimes thought of these Israelites as being silly (Weren't they rescued miraculously from their captors? Weren't they fed miraculously every day? Why then could they doubt God?) I have to confess that I'm silly myself. (Haven't I been blessed just as much as they were? Why then do I sometimes doubt?)

May we receive every blessing today with appreciation. May we see them for the gifts that they are, and not take them for granted. Let's receive them with joy. This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.

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