Daily bread and more…

In times, when people are not just worried about daily bread, but so much more about toilet paper for the next decade, it´s opportune to listen to Dr. Martin Luther explaining the basic question:  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.”

4th Petition in Luther´s Small Catechism

It´s a funny thing, that God taught his people for forty years in the desert, that he would provide daily bread in the form of Manna: “So he humbled you by making you hungry and then feeding you with unfamiliar manna. He did this to teach you that humankind cannot live by bread[ alone, but also by everything that comes from the Lord’s mouth.” (Dt.8,3) and our Lord takes it up in His sermon of the mount: “‘Man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” (Mt.4,4)

Funny stuff really – perhaps something like “elven bread” – not so tasty as the home cooking of Bilbo – the Hobbit, but sure nourished them for four decades without signs of malnutrition to talk about. Basic food stuffs. It´s what people should store in their pantry – if they have such luxuries and are not dependent on some soup kitchen down the road from Idlib (Syria) all the way to peace and the promised land.   

Here in town, we´ve got a place called “Wittenberger Tafel”. It provides food for those in need. Good place! We´ve also got other and even more places where they provide daily doses of God´s good gifts – His Holy Word. Where they sing to God´s glory, pray for all people across the globe and especially for those in need and where they encourage each other with Psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. It´s what You´d expect in God´s house – His church – and especially in Lutherstadt Wittenberg – the home of the Lutheran Reformation and where the light of our Lord´s saving Gospel once again was put on the lampstand for all to see from far and wide. We know and trust, that´s how He talks to His people – clearly, efficaciously, sufficiently and most comfortingly too. That´s why we pay close attention to it as the holy Apostle St. Peter wrote in his 2nd letter verses 19-21:

Moreover, we possess the prophetic word as an altogether reliable thing. You do well if you pay attention to this as you would to a light shining in a murky place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts. Above all, you do well if you recognize this: No prophecy of scripture ever comes about by the prophet’s own imagination, for no prophecy was ever borne of human impulse; rather, men carried along by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.

Now, of course, we have strict rules, forbidding church gatherings just like those of other societies and fraternities. It´s all part of the sensible approach of the euphemistic: “social distancing”. It´s tough love. No question, but these are tough times calling for responsible and caring approaches.

So, even the beloved and holy Sisters of the local Christian brotherhood can´t continue with the public worship in the city church nor in the little Corpus Christi chapel next door. Yesterday, when I cleared my postbox, Sister Elisabeth walked by. She had collected some groceries for their community and was going home. We were both happy to see each other and keen to share the latest titbits of local gossip. She was obviously distraught about not being able to continue with the public services, but so grateful, that they could continue privately and in their small circle. I am sure, that there are many, many such devotional hotspots not only in this little town, but across the province and all over Europe and even the world.

The John´s Hopkins University draws up the daily updates on the spread of the Corona Virus, but our Lord promises that our heavenly Father sees all and everyone – even if they are praying alone in their little rooms: “But whenever you pray, go into your inner room, close the door, and pray to your Father in secret. And your Father, who sees in secret, will reward you.” (Mt.6,6). He also promised: “Pray to me when you are in trouble. I will deliver you, and you will honor me.” (Psalm 50,15) and “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened for you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.”  

So, let us sing trusting that He will hear us:  

1 What a friend we have in Jesus, 
all our sins and griefs to bear! 
What a privilege to carry 
everything to God in prayer! 
O what peace we often forfeit, 
O what needless pain we bear, 
all because we do not carry 
everything to God in prayer! 

2 Have we trials and temptations? 
Is there trouble anywhere? 
We should never be discouraged; 
take it to the Lord in prayer! 
Can we find a friend so faithful 
who will all our sorrows share? 
Jesus knows our every weakness; 
take it to the Lord in prayer! 

3 Are we weak and heavy laden, 
cumbered with a load of care? 
Precious Savior, still our refuge– 
take it to the Lord in prayer! 
Do your friends despise, forsake you? 
Take it to the Lord in prayer! 
In his arms he’ll take and shield you; 
you will find a solace there. 

Joseph Medlicott Scriven (1855) 

About Wilhelm Weber

Pastor at the Old Latin School in the Lutherstadt Wittenberg
This entry was posted in Gedankensplitter, Inside Germany, Lutheran World, Old Latin School in Wittenberg, You comfort me + and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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