I’ve been challenged the last few days by soya beans, NT Wright, The Lord’s Prayer and few Facebook friends.
Sitting by myself in St George’s Market like a Billy-no-Mates (Mrs Canal Ways is being cultured in Paris until Wednesday) I scribbled all over my notepad(and when I say notepad I mean paper and pen like in the old days, not fancy pants electronic tablet device with WiFi blah-de-blah), and drew thought bubbles here and there, and tried to work out what was going on…
Anyway, after a bit of mind judo and looking ‘intellectual’ I think my thoughts revolve around words Christian’s pray regularly and what those words actually mean
‘..Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done on Earth as it is in heaven…Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses…’
Firstly, what does the phrase ‘give us this day our daily bread‘ mean?
Is is it just the essentials like basic food, basic clothes, basic shelter, water etc?
Like should we be praying every day for chocolate cake?
Does that count as daily bread?
It would be a messy discussion for church to have but my feeling is we loose sight of the essentials all too easily and confuse ‘wants’ with ‘needs’. For example a family may say we need a large people carry to bring the kids from A to B and comply with EU laws. Maybe that is a need in our culture and society.But is a people carrier for our family daily bread? What are we going to do when families in China and India for examply want to eat the same people carrier daily bread? Are we going to say ‘Er no, because the earths resources won’t take the strain..?”
And secondly would the God who Christians proclaim is loving and just, the Jesus who is Lord and we make a big fuss about on Sunday mornings provide our ‘daily bread’ by exploiting our neighbours around the world?
Obviously once again these matters are complicated and the world is messy (for want of a better word) but do we just leave it at that and say something like ‘I’ve got to live my life, I can’t worry about everything going on in the world sad though it is…oh well,what can you do.?’
Do you ever notice that sometimes when people are slagging off the church some evangelical book writers or speaker will say ‘Ah, yes, but what about William Wilberforce?He helped abolish slavery you know..‘
Now abolishing slavery is obviously good except for the inconvient fact that slavery still goes on and needs abolished. As this video shows they’re not just working the sugar plantations anymore, they’re working in the salad farms in Southern Spain to supply us here in Lisburn and Dublin with our out of season salads and tomatoes.
If a tomato is essential daily bread(and we do need to eat) has God somehow given us that tomato using slave labour?
Because hard though it is for us to get our heads and disembodied bodies around that tomato wasn’t just plucked out of a pallet from thin air at the LIDL/ASDA/Tesco distribution cente.
It’s interesting the gentleman at the end of the film says
‘People just don’t want to hear.Everyone knows this system exists. It’s slavery in Europe.At the door to Europe there’s slavery as if we were in the 16th century.Let’s speak out together. No! Everybody can say it. No! You can say that if you continue like that, I’m not going to buy your products. Why do we not say this?’
He’s right. We often don’t want to hear.
Yet (and this is the point where I go into a self-righteous, hypocritical rant writing my blog) we hip, cutting edge Christians seem very adept at hearing that Rob Bell’s latest book is theologically unsound and then having endless theological discussions/fights/tweets/blogs around the reaction to that, or _______.
All the while there are areas of life that we don’t even begin to peak into because they’re too complicated or
you need to be an expert they say you need to be an expert to understand and we’ve more important things to be getting on with.
Eurovision is on!
Man Utd are playing Barca!
iPad2 is out and Steve Jobs is doing a launch!
But how can we (and especially a Christian ‘we’) have become so used to not looking into where our daily bread comes from or how it actually got there on our plates?
How can we pray ‘give us this day our daily bread’ and not wonder how God supplied it?
Is it unreasonable?Have I just got a bee in my bonnet about something and ‘oh well, what can you do,life goes on?’
All those ingredients in your stock cube that we don’t even know how to pronounce come from somewhere on planet earth. They where not supplied out of thin air in some magic portal out the back of Tesco. Perhaps it was grown in Brazil by slave labour. But who cares eh?
Meanwhile our daily salad or tomatoes most likely has been supplied by slave labour in Southern Spain. Forgive us our trespasses?