Cultural Encounters: A Journal For The Theology Of Culture Volume 11 Number 2 (Summer 2016) - Page 7

VOLUME 11, NUMBER 2 A JOURNAL FOR THE THEOLOGY OF CULTURE Jesus’s fight with the forces of evil included food. In John 13–17, we find that Jesus battled against these forces with a foot washing, a farewell discourse, a prayer, and a family meal (Jn 13–17; see also Mt 6:9–13, 14:13– 21 and Mt 26:17–30). The only thing missing was pipe-weed! In what immediately follows, let’s focus on prayer and its relation to food. Thanksgiving and prayer for food is an act of warfare against the forces of disorder and chaos in our world. Karl Barth is quoted as saying, “To clasp the hands in prayer is the beginning of an uprising against the disorder of the world.”1 Prayer moves us beyond the burdensome anxiety over food that accompanies the world’s disorder. Prayer helps free us from what Walter Brueggemann calls the fear of scarcity.2 Only as we learn to trust and seek God will we be able to steward God’s abundant grace and mercy well. In the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus says, “Give us this day our daily bread.” It starts out, Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, . . . (Mt 6:9–11 ESV) N. T. Wright talks about Jesus’s prayer for our daily bread and its relation to his entire ministry and our lives: The prayer for bread, as in “give us today [or, ‘day by day’] our daily bread” (Matt. 6:11//Luke 11:3), awakens echoes that resound throughout Jesus’ public ministry. The two evangelists who give us the Lord’s Prayer also give us the temptation stories, where Jesus’ hunger and his refusal to create bread for himself feature prominently (cf. Matt. 4:2–4; Luke 4:2–3). The wilderness f eeding stories suggest both a literal feeding and a symbolic act that demonstrated God’s power, operative through Jesus, to provide for the needs of the people (cf. Mark 6:32–44 par.; 8:1–10 par.). Jesus’ own prayers of thanks on these occasions (cf. Mark 6:41 par.; 8:6 1. Here is an online article that launches from the alleged quotation to a meditation on prayer: Donna Schaper, “Prayer: A Renewable Energy Source,” National Catholic Reporter, November 27, 2013, accessed on Mach 19, 2016, http://ncronline.org/blogs/eco-catholic/prayer-renewable-energy-source. 2. See Walter Brueggemann’s article on this theme of the fear of scarcity and the abundance of God: “The Liturgy of Abundance, the Myth of Scarcity,” The Christian Century, March 24–31, 1999, 342–47. 4