For 5 weeks in this lectionary year we are hearing passages from the Gospel of John about bread. Jesus feeding the multitude, Jesus as the bread of life, that comes down from heaven and give life to the world. What is more basic than bread? Every culture has something that is equivalent to bread.
The Lord’s prayer even mentions bread. But we need to listen to that prayer carefully “Give us this day our daily bread…” Note it is not in the singular “give me …my daily bread.” It is in the plural “give us…our daily bread.” That seems consistent with Jesus message to his followers throughout the four Gospels. We are to be in community and live as a community of God’s people. And by being in community we recognize our responsibility to one another. It is not enough for us to make sure we have food for ourselves and our loved ones,. We are to feed not just ourselves but to active work that the rest of God’s people have their daily bread as well.
We help to do that when we contribute to the Center for Lay Ministries food program or give to another feeding program. We may volunteer with Loaves & Fishes or the Community Kitchen in Jeffersonville, or countless other similar programs across the globe. We may choose to make donations to programs that feed the poor or the homeless such as Jesus Care at Exit 0, or the Blessings in a Backpack program. But the case may be made that these programs, as good as they are, simply put a band aid on the wound. What we need to do is solve the underlying systemic problem itself. I personally think we need to do both. The primary difficuclty is the definition what constitutes that solving of the latter is highly charged politically – especially in this presidential election year.
While I hold some really deep and dear beliefs about what solution I would like to see, I also realize they are in conflict with the thinking of some other faithful and sincere followers of the Christ who are friends, family and fellow Christians. So what I can and will commend is that in making our decisions of who to support in the various political races we stop focusing on the singular “me” and “mine” start focusing on Christina community sense of “us” and “ours” as God’s people.
Jesus tells us in his instruction to “render to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to give to God what is God’s”. I hear in that admonition that our primary allegiance is not to a political ideology, party or even to our own financial best interests. Rather we as God’s people are charged, as best we are able, to make life on earth better for all by the living the values of the kingdom of God here and now. Values like providing daily bread, compassionate care, respect and dignity not just for ourselves and our friends and peer group but for all of God’s people. And perhaps if we can lead the way we might have a number willing to work with us to make it happen.