The bread in the fourth petition (Mathew 6:11) could be think of as both physical and spiritual needs. Luther in the small catechism thought of our daily bread in the broadest possible terms ranging from food to clothing, to property (including money),to people who enhance human life, to government, weather, health and reputation. Luther further emphasized the fact that the first three petitions were devoted to the welfare of the soul, whereas in the fourth petition “we consider the poor breadbasket-the need of our body and our life on earth” (large catechism 72, kolb, p.449).I must hasten to mention that our interpretation and perspective of daily bread differs depending on where you live on the earth. What is however clear is that the word “daily bread” can be divided into both physical aspect like food, clothing and shelter; and spiritual aspect.
With this brief background, I wish to talk a little about the physical aspect of our interpretation of the Fourth petition specifically about food and shelter. In addition to that insight ,I will like to uplift the issue of the Kitchen table as something that I found common in almost all homes in the US.
On a personal note, I was born and raised in Sierra Leone, West Africa but now live in the United States. It is in the United States that I fully understand the disparity between rich and poor nations . Even as I prepare to attend the LWF General Assembly in Stuttgart,Germany later this year, I keep pondering on the theme of the Assembly “give us today our daily bread”. In my search for answers to the many questions in my head,I soon realised that I had these thoughts because I grew up in a community where most people go without food for the day and many are homeless; and so cant even talk about a kitchen table..Unfortunately,the situation still remains the same if not to say is getting worst by day.But when you look into the eyes of those in desperate need of food and shelter you see something different.You see hope,you see joy and the desire to live on.
The shape of the Kitchen table is normally round, which depicts togetherness of a family while they sit for a meal. It is often at the centre spot of the kitchen. It is amazing that not every home around the world has a kitchen table. This is tue because of the fact that most people cannot afford a meal for the day in order to enable them utilize the Kitchen table. In addition to this reality, millions of people are homeless.
This past week I was opportune to travel to Mexico with 24 other folks on a Volunteering Mission Trip to help build a home for a Mexican family of four-the youngest being a baby of about four month old named Christian. They used to live a makeshift structure( photos below) of cinder blocks and scrap wood-the wood covering the roof sat upon the walls, leaving a huge gap where wind whipped through. There were only two entrances to the home and no windows. The cold concrete and dirt floor had any covering and tar dripped from the ceiling in places they tried to protect themselves from the rain. They had no kitchen table,which implies that a meal for a day was hard to come by.
My heart is burdened for what I saw. I shed tears not just for that family but for the millions of people around the world in such unspeakable conditions. My first reaction was to ask myself what does daily bread means for this family? You can tell from their story that for that family all they care about is to be able to see the next day with hopes and dreams of a better day. It is micracle how they survive each day with little to eat, wear or a place to lay their heads at night. But in their eyes there is hope, the hope that God will make a way.May the Lord provide and strengthened those without daily bread.Amen!