Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Thanksgiving, 2005, San Diego, California.

These years have given me bitter deprivation and some sweet recompense...a few years back, as I was preparing to leave Salt Lake City, the participants in the Tuesday morning Bible study I sometimes facilitated gave me a gift from one of the local Christian stores; I keep it on the windowsill in my bedroom so I can regularly remember that group, admire the design and make note of the text! It's a 6" x 5" plaque decorated with flowery flourishes and features a version of Philippians 4:6, with bold text as I've formatted:
Don't worry about anything – instead, pray about everything. Tell God your needs and don't forget to thank Him for His answers.
Philippians' legendary author frequently is called the Theologian of Grace, and I'm recalling the times Paul wrote about again, again and once more again finally getting the "aha" of grace and the obligatory response in thankful living and sacrificial giving. From centuries later, Martin Luther also has been called a Theologian of Grace—no one remotely matches the way Paul and Martin present and juxtapose the infinite demands and the infinite freedom of both law and grace! For this eve of the American Thanksgiving for Harvest Festival, here's Luther, from his 1529 Small Catechism:
Give us today our daily bread.

To be sure, God provides daily bread, even to the wicked, without our prayer, but we pray in this petition that God may make us aware of his gifts and enable us to receive our daily bread with thanksgiving.
Luther then asks,
What is meant by daily bread?

Everything required to satisfy our bodily needs, such as food and clothing, house and home, fields and flocks, money and property; a pious spouse and good children, trustworthy servants, godly and faithful rulers, good government; seasonable weather, peace and health, order and honor; true friends, faithful neighbors, and the like.
And another, far more recent explanation of the fourth petition of the Lord's Prayer—from the Study Catechism 1998 of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.):
Question 130. What is meant by the fourth petition, "Give us today our daily bread"?

We ask God to provide for all our needs, for we know that God, who cares for us in every area of our life, has promised us temporal as well as spiritual blessings. God commands us to pray each day for all that we need and no more, so that we will learn to rely completely on God. We pray that we will use what we are given wisely, remembering especially the poor and the needy. Along with every living creature we look to God, the source of all generosity, to bless us and nourish us, according to the divine good pleasure.
Dag Hammarskjöld, from Markings:

For all that has been, thanks. For all that will be, yes.

Amen and Amen!!!

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