Bread – Because

June 7, 2013


Readings for Friday, June 7, designated by the 1979 Book of Common Prayer: Deut. 26:1-11; 2 Cor. 8:16-24; Luke 18:9-14; Psalms 40,51,54

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My last Bread was about parenting. One of the events which occurs between a parent and child is when the child asks “why?” The parent always attempts to give a good, but complete, answer, tailored to the age of the child. But the child keeps asking “why,” and sooner or later the parent does not know why and ends the conversation with “Because” or “Because I said so.”

In the last Bread, we read from Deuteronomy that we as parents were to talk about God’s words all of the time.

In today’s readings, we now have the answer to our children when they as “why?” Instead of saying “because” or “because I said so,” we can say “because of God,” or “because of who God is,” or “because God has acted to make it so.” And as our Scriptures today remind us, we can say that about everything.

In Deuteronomy 26:1, the Israelites are going into a land, to take possession of it. Why? Because God gave it to them.

In Deuteronomy 26:2, the Israelites go to a place which we would call church. Why is the church there? Because it is a place chosen by God “to make His name to dwell there.”

In Deuteronomy 26:10, the ground produces plants for our sustenance. Why? Because God gave us both the ground and the fruit of the ground.

In 2 Corinthians 8:16, Titus has a heart for the gospel and for other people. Why? Because “God put into his heart the same earnest care I [Paul] have for you.”

In Luke 18:9, the sinner who confessed his sin, repented, and turned toward the Lord was justified before God. Why? Because God has decreed it so, “For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.” Lk. 18:14b

For those people who do not wish to acknowledge God, the answer to “Why?” is simple. The answer ultimately is “I don’t know.”

For those people who follow God, the answer to “Why?” is also simple, but profoundly different. The answer always is “Because God [said, did, promised, says, does, promises]”

What is your answer to the “Why?” of the world. Is it because of you or because of God? Is it because of your boss or because of God? Is it because of good luck or because of God? Is it because you did something right or because of God?

Yes, often our woes and blessings are traceable to us. However, we are wrong to believe that we are the only “because” of that event or circumstance. There is a bigger “because” for those who would see. There is a bigger “because” for those who would hear.

There is a bigger “because” than us. And we call that “because” God – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

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© 2013 GBF

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Bread – By

May 30, 2013


Readings for Thursday, May 30, designated by the 1979 Book of Common Prayer: Deut. 4:32-40; 2 Cor. 4:1-12; Luke 16:1-9; Psalm 37

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Not “buy” (like to purchase), but “by” (like expressing the way or means through which something happens or gets done, the cause of something).

This word appears a bunch in today’s reading from Deuteronomy: “Or has any god ever attempted to go and take a nation for himself from the midst of another nation, by trials, by signs, by wonders, and by war, by a mighty hand and an outstretched arm, and by great deeds of terror….And because He loved your fathers and chose their offspring after them and brought you out of Egypt with His own presence, by His great power…” Deut. 4:34,37

This got me to thinking about how we think about how things are interrelated. For example, there are at least three ways of finishing this sentence — “I got a raise in pay today by …” One way to complete the sentence is to say “the sweat of my brow,” so that the sentence reads “I got a raise in pay today by the sweat of my brow.” Another way to complete the sentence is to say “my company” so that the sentence reads “I got a raise today by my company.” The third way to complete the sentence is with the words “the mighty hand of God,” so that now the sentence reads “I got a raise in pay today by the mighty hand of God.”

Which sentence is right? The answer to that question tells us a whole lot about how we see the world and how we assume things work. The first choice tells us that we are an “up by your bootstraps” kind of person, you eat what you kill. We might call those people “independents.” The second choice tells us that we are a “inter-dependent” kind of person, thinking that others more than we have control over our lives and good or bad fortune. This type of person thinks that they are dependent upon other people’s decisions. Carry this idea far enough and you get to the stage of victim, where nothing happens to you which is not “by” someone else. The third choice tells us that we recognize a source well beyond us and them, upon whom we are radically dependent for everything.

We who call ourselves Christians ought to be in the third category, but I really wonder for myself how often I get caught up in the “by me” or “by them” mentality, rather than the “by Him” mentality. I think more often than I care to admit.

This gave rise to a series of sentences built on our reading today, and I wonder how differently we would act as Christians if we began each day this way. The statements are:

O Lord, today as I rise I thank you.

I thank you because it is by Your wonders that I am alive today.

I thank you because it is by Your trials that I am made stronger.

I thank you because it is by Your signs that I know where to go.

I thank you because it is by Your Spirit that I am sustained.

I thank you because it is by Your mercy that I am forgiven.

I thank you because it is by Your love that I able to love.

I thank you because it is by Your provision that I have food.

I thank you because it is by Your decision that my name is written in the Book of Life.

I thank you because it is by Your grace that I am saved.

I thank you because it is by Your death that I will dwell in Your presence throughout eternity.

I thank you because it is by Your power I can be fearless today.

Amen.

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© 2013 GBF

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