After the joy and excitement of the baptism last Sunday, the week, we return to the joy and excitement of the Lord’s Prayer as our sermon topic.
While part of the purpose of the blog is to look ahead to Sunday, it is worth noting a couple of things (a fraction of QPBC life) which are happening between now and Sunday.
Transforming Media (Friday)
BBC Question Time is a program which can stir strong emotions. It is interesting to note that it takes flak from both the right and the left of the political spectrum for partiality.
- Where does the truth lie?
- Does it have a bias?
- Is 55 Tufton Street unduly represented in the panel guests?
These (other questions are available) I’m sure may be questions which will be asked to the editor of this BBC flagship political program, Gerry Gay, as he joins us on Friday night. It will be interesting to hear what he has to say.
As well as asking Gerry questions there are three we might want to ask ourselves:
- Have I signed up for this event yet, and if not why not?
- Who out of my not-yet-Christian friends have I invited?
- Given this is a transforming event, how can we – in how we ask or frame our questions – host Gerry as our guest, ask probing and hard questions, and host our invited friends, in a way which speaks of the transforming good news of the kingdom?
On Saturday night our building will be full for the bi-monthly Magnitude Worship night as young people from all over Glasgow and beyond gather to encounter God as they spend time in worship.
Events like this don’t happen without a lot of work, and the Magnitude team are aided in this event happening by Colin and Alasdair from our tech team, “Big” Robert who clears the chairs in the sanctuary, Robert who acts as church officer, and Stuart who early on Sunday morning will be busy putting the chairs back so you have something to sit on!
Why don’t you take a moment to pray for all the young people and their leaders who will be at Magnitude and give thanks for those who help make this event happen?
Our Daily Bread
On Sunday morning we’ll be thinking about the line in The Lord’s Prayer where we ask that God would provide for us that which is necessary for life, our bread for today.
We know from written records and various archaeological finds that the average person at the time of Jesus was a “functional” vegetarian. Gildas Hamel, a historian of Roman Palestine notes:
“Most people ate bread or porridge made of barley, various cereals and legumes, or more rarely wheat. They supplemented them usually with salt and olives, occasionally a strong sauce, honey, or sweet fruit juices.”
Meat was rarely eaten by the average person.
Bread not fish
The strong sauce which people occasionally had with their bread was often a fish sauce. It helped soften and make more palatable your hard barley bread which you would dip into it.
While Peter and other disciples may have been fishermen, fish was an amazingly small part of the common person’s diet. That fish was a small part of the common person’s diet is backed up by archaeological evidence.
The feeding on the 5 thousand given it included fish would, I suspect, have been a real treat. But note the proportion of what the young boy had, five loaves but only two fish!
The Sea of Galilee and the fish in it were controlled by the ruling elites. Peter would have paid a tax to fish and most of his catch would have gone to wealthy elites.
Bread, rather than fish, was critical to sustaining life.
Today in Scotland our food choices are wider than those available to most people in the time of Jesus. Yet food poverty, inequalities around access and availability, and poor nutritional value of food are issues which are all too current in our day and context. The British Diabetic Society estimate that over 3 million people in the UK are in danger of malnutrition, and last year (2023) The Times reported over 11,000 people in England were admitted to hospital with malnutrition.
Shocking as those figures are, life expectancy from the time of Jesus compared to today has dramatically improved.
Bread on Saturday!
Not that we planned it that way, but on Saturday there will be at least 70,000 Welsh men, women, boys and girls singing the hymn commonly known as “bread of heaven” (originally called ‘Arglwydd, arwain trwy’r anialwch’ in Welsh) in the Millenium Stadium as Wales take on Scotland in the rugby 6 Nations. It is a stirring song, and I’m sure that being present during its singing would give you goosebumps.
The words to this song, “bread of heaven, bread of heaven, feed me now and evermore” represents a tradition which spiritualises the idea of bread, i.e. what we are asking for is spiritual rather than physical nourishment.
Is this, i.e. spiritual nourishment, how we should think when we pray “Give us today our bread for today”?
We will think about this a little on Sunday and about why Jesus taught his disciples to pray for bread, and for what this might mean for us.
See you then.