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Wednesday, February 12, 2014

02092014 Transfiguration Sunday

Gospel Reading
Sermon Audio

May the words of my mouth and the meditations of our hearts be pleasing in Your sight, O Lord, our Rock and our Redeemer.  AMEN.

When one looks at the fields at this time of year, especially before we received this wonderful moisture in the form of snow, you could see the wheat planted in the fall that had germinated and started to grow.  One of the agriculture programs that I listened to recently talked how the shoot of the wheat begins to grow and tiller and can remain dormant for the winter.  But how the crown can be broken if not protected during the winter.  But even if damaged, the plant will yield a harvest.  Even the wheat plant knows how to develop and grow with the right conditions and to come back from adversity.  And this morning as we consider the petition of ‘Give us this day our daily bread’, it gives new meaning for me of not only the growth of wheat, but how we are not unlike the winter wheat that we grow here in Western Kansas.

Let’s pull out our bulletin insert for this morning and read responsively as a congregation the “What does this mean?”  and “What is meant by daily bread?” sections.  “The Fourth Petition of the Lord’s Prayer,  Give us this day our daily bread.  What does this mean?  God certainly gives daily bread to everyone without our prayers, even to all evil people, but we pray in this petition that God would lead us to realize this and to receive our daily bread with thanksgiving.  What is meant by daily bread?  Daily bread includes everything that has to do with the support and needs of the body, such as food, drink, clothing, shoes, house, home, land, animals, money, goods, a devout husband or wife, devout children, devout workers, devout and faithful rulers, good government, good weather, peace health, self-control, good reputation, good friends, faithful neighbors, and the like.  Let’s go to God in prayer asking for our daily bread.

Let us pray, Gracious God giver of our daily bread, we come before You this morning asking You help us receive our daily bread with thanksgiving.  For not only are these the gifts given freely to us without our asking, but they enable us to be faithful with the gifts given daily by You that we return in our tithes and offerings.  For we receive these gifts out of Your gracious will because of what Your Son Jesus Christ did for all of mankind, including all of us saints gathered here at Emmanuel this morning.  AMEN.

Believe it or not, I am spoiled.  I say that not to be glib, funny or shallow, but to let some of you who come week in and week out to hear God’s Word to know how my wife Michele spoils me.  There may be some that wonder what she does that spoils me, or if I am just saying that because she is not here this morning, but it is not a matter of what she does, but more her intent behind what she does.  You see, I have before us a bread maker, which is one that Michele and I received as a wedding gift.  Michele has become not just a proficient bread maker, she is a master cook and baker and has even shared her talent during our Lenten Soup Suppers.  Michele spoils me in this regard, just like my Mother would when I was younger, for both my mother and Michele bake me homemade bread.  Michele and I on many occasions have cut a hot fresh loaf of freshly baked bread and smothered it with butter and made a meal out of it.  And this is exactly what this petition in the Lord’s Prayer is about, our being spoiled by God with our ‘daily bread’.  As we heard earlier, God clearly gives us so many things to be thankful for in our lives and spoils us in many and various ways.  I personally am blessed and lucky enough to have a loving and devout wife and child who spoil me, not only with bread, but with their unending love and forgiveness, which I need on a hourly, daily and weekly basis.

But unlike previous petitions we have studied, this petition of the Lord’s Prayer does not ask for ‘spiritual things’ only for needs of the body, hence our praying for ‘our daily bread’ forgets how God has already spoiled us.  We forget that by giving His Son Jesus Christ on the Cross of Calvary, God offered to each of us life, salvation and blessings beyond measure.  We have received the greatest gifts of mankind and the promises of life and salvation and spending eternity in the Kingdom of God.  This and these are the promises that God through His Son Jesus Christ offers us and what we receive in our ‘daily bread’ is ‘gravy’ or ‘icing on the cake’ or the ‘cherry that is on top of a sundae’.  Our daily bread is given not only because of His love for us, but because of His promise to care for us and our every need.

So no matter if we buy bread from Wal-Mart that Stuart stacks and changes the location of the freshest bread to keep people guessing, or if we make our own bread in a bread maker.  When we pray this petition of the Lord’s Prayer, may we be reminded that we are spoiled by God with salvation and what we receive ‘in addition’ is not just a gift, but a sure fulfillment of the promise we have in our salvation through Jesus Christ.

For we may look at bread and wheat and think of our daily meal or our lively hood on the farm, but God provides us far more out of His mercy and great love for each and every one of us.  May we see these gifts as not just for us, but that we can share with one another during our journey here on earth.  This is the blessing of daily bread and what we can share with one another as we journey during our life time.

If one were to talk to the dying breed of veterans that served both in the World War II, Korea and Vietnam that experienced the torture of being a prisoner of war, whether by the Germans, Japanese, Koreans or Vietnamese, the stories they tell are horrific.  But what was very clear was that when they were prisoners, they consistently would share food in order to survive and their daily ration of daily bread took on new meaning.  One such survivor I personally knew, Reginald Pettus, survived a Japanese POW camp.  Though he never would talk about his experience, it deeply and profoundly changed his life.  One of the clearest indications of how bad it was for him was a picture I saw at his house while delivering papers.  It showed him right after his liberation, he stood over six feet tall and in the picture he was nothing but skin and bones.  I can only imagine the impact his experience had upon him and countless others and how today our understanding of daily bread as we pray this petition needs to be a prayer of thanks and praise.

For God clearly gives each of us what we do not deserve out of His great love for each and every one of us.  Thanks be to God for the gift of eternal life and salvation through Jesus Christ and the gift of our daily bread offered for all of mankind, but especially for each and every one of us saints gathered here at Emmanuel this morning.  AMEN.
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