Pentecost 7C 2019
Fr. Dale Matson
My homily is based on our opening Collect and our Gospel Lesson (Luke 11:1-13).
“O God, the protector of all who trust in you, without whom nothing is strong, nothing is holy: Increase and multiply upon us your mercy; that, with you as our ruler and guide, we may so pass through things temporal, that we lose not the things eternal; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.” Thomas Cranmer, included this Collect in his first Book of Common Prayer. I believe the Collect is a paraphrase of what St. Paul stated. “For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever. So, we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.” (2 Corinthians 4: 17-18)
As I age, my visual acuity continues to decline but even more remarkable is how easy it is to see with jaundiced eyes those things, which lie before me. The more serious cataracts form distorted templates through which I process the world around me.
It is all too easy to suffer a misstep and become discouraged about my balance. It is all too common to use the wrong word in a sentence and worry that my memory is fading.
A portion of Sundays Collect lodged in my thoughts. I was reminded of the enormous collective burdens we share as pilgrims in this life. There is so much suffering and pain. As a priest, I am privy to the prayers of the Daughters of the Holy Cross who continually pray a firewall around our faith community. They need prayer also. Rest assured that the prayer warriors in our congregation are under attack. I think the DHC should be included in our weekly “prayers of the people”. “Increase and multiply upon us your mercy; that, with you as our ruler and guide, we may so pass through things temporal, that we lose not the things eternal”
How easy it is to get caught up in the cares of this world, to become discouraged and lose hope. This is especially true as we age. When sin entered this world, entropy crept closely behind. All creation was subject to decay.
St. Paul said it best. “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but also we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.” (Romans 8:18-25, ESV)
Lord I pray that we would never lose hope.
Now I would like to discuss our Gospel Lesson from St. Luke.
“Our Father Who art in heaven.” Our Lord’s Prayer begins with an acknowledgement of the Glory of God the Father. “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done.” This is a submitting of our will to God. This is a submission to the Sovereignty of God. We are saying in modern terms, “You are the boss over me.” How willing are we for God’s kingdom to come? How willing are we for God’s will to be done? Do we really mean it when we pray these two sentences?
Some of you young folks are saying, “Well, I’d like to get my driver’s license first.” Others are saying, “I’d like to get married first.” Don’t laugh you older folks. Some of you are saying, “How about a couple of years of retirement first.” In other words, when we say Your will be done, we may have a five or ten-year plan but are willing to cancel it if God intervenes.
“Give us this day our daily bread” This may not have occurred to you but what does this phrase tell us about how often we should pray the Lord’s Prayer? Daily.
But what is our daily bread?
In Luther’s catechism speaking on our Lord’s Prayer, Luther defines it thus:
“What is meant by daily bread? --Answer. Everything that belongs to the support and wants of the body, such as meat, drink, clothing, shoes, house, homestead, field, cattle, money, goods, a pious spouse, pious children, pious servants, pious and faithful magistrates’ good government, good weather, peace, health, discipline, honor, good friends, faithful neighbors, and the like.”
I believe it is here that Luther misunderstands what Jesus is teaching us in the Lord’s Prayer by understanding our daily bread as support for the body. That is the kingdom of this world. Luther is interpreting our daily bread in the sense of the Old Testament wilderness experience of the manna God provided daily for sustenance for the Israelites. That is not however what Christ is referring to.
In Matthew chapter 6, Christ provides both His prayer and the context for understanding our daily bread. Following his presentation of the prayer (6:9-13), He then discusses the unnecessary and material concerns of the world in verses 19-32. “So, do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. These are the material concerns that Luther incorrectly refers to as our daily bread. In verse 6:33 Christ states, “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” The daily bread Christ is referring to is the daily bread required for sustenance in the Kingdom of God. He is referring to Himself.
"I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me will not hunger, and he who believes in Me will never thirst.” (John 6:35, NASB).
“Your forefathers ate the manna in the desert, yet they died. But here is the bread that comes down from heaven, which a man may eat and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world." (John 6:49-51)
“Just as the living Father sent me and I live because of the Father, so the one who feeds on me will live because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven. Your forefathers ate manna and died, but he who feeds on this bread will live forever." (John 6:57-58).
My brothers and sisters, there is no purer gospel than this. Christ has brought us back into the Garden of Eden. We again may partake of the tree of life. He continues to feed His people the church with His body and blood and has done so for two thousand years. In the Eucharist, we are given the bread with these words spoken, “The body of Christ; the bread of heaven.” When we are given the chalice, we are told, “The blood of Christ; the cup of salvation.” In Him we have eternal life and in Him we are more than conquerors. Just as Yahweh provided daily manna in the wilderness to the Israelites, Christ offers himself as our bread daily in the Kingdom of God. Lord, give us this day our daily bread.
Let us examine further teachings of our Lord on prayer in our continuing discussion of Luke Chapter 11. "Which of you who has a friend will go to him at midnight and say to him, 'Friend, lend me three loaves, for a friend of mine has arrived on a journey, and I have nothing to set before him'” What does this example teach us about prayer? If this were a prayer, what kind of prayer would it be? This is an intercessory prayer. You are asking for God to help on behalf of your friend. What else can we learn by this narrative? “I tell you, though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, yet because of his impudence he will rise and give him whatever he needs.” I like this better from the J.B. Phillips N.T. “Yet, I tell you, that even if he won’t get up and give him what he wants simply because he is his friend, yet if he persists, he will rouse himself and give him everything he needs.” I like the word persists better because it is what is being taught. Be persistent in prayer. It is the same concept as the parable of the woman and the unjust judge. (Luke 18:1-8)
“If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!" I would say that this was one of the favorite verses of the Charismatic Movement. (Luke 11:13) For those of you who want to become more spiritual, this verse is like rocket fuel. Just remember, Jesus baptizes us with the Holy Ghost and fire. The fire is hot and spiritual progress involves repentance, sacrifice and self-denial. Count the cost, put your hand to the plow and don’t turn back. Amen