August 5, 2018: “Give us this bread always”

Eleventh Sunday after Pentecost

The book Sleeping with Bread: Holding What Gives You Life begins with the story of children orphaned after bombing raids in World War II. Many were safe and cared for in refugee camps, but could not sleep because of the magnitude of what they had lost. Their fears of waking up with no home and no food were so great that someone suggested giving them a piece of bread to take to bed with them. When they held the bread, they could finally sleep. The bread reminded them that they had been fed that day, and they had the security of knowing they would eat again the next day.

The authors of the book—Dennis, Sheila, and Matthew Linn— use this story as a metaphor to introduce a prayer method called the Examen, which originated with Ignatius. In the Examen you reflect upon each day as it ends, with two questions: “For what am I most grateful?” “For what am I least grateful?”

When used daily, these questions, can help identify moments when we are most aware of God’s presence in our days and most in need of God’s presence in our days. This prayer practice can deepen one’s spiritual life and help discern one’s call.

After Jesus fed the five thousand on the lakeshore, the crowds followed him and asked him for signs that he was from God. Jesus knew they were looking not for spiritual answers but for more physical food. Like the orphaned children, they could not believe they would be fed again without seeing more bread. The crowds wanted proof of God to quell their fears and doubts.

And so it is with us at times.

Hold on to what gives you life—Jesus, the bread of life—and you will rest in his love always.

Staci Marrese-Wheeler, pastor, Lakeview Moravian Church, Madison, Wisconsin