Each time we pray the Lord’s Prayer, we say ‘Give us this day our daily bread..’ and we might be tempted to add,’ give us this day our milk, and cheese and butter and eggs and fruit and veg and meat and fish.’
Today is the second of three Rogation days; days traditionally set aside for prayer that the crops will flourish and the harvest for the year be a good one. As I walked our favourite walk on Sunday, I noticed how dry and cracked the earth is at present – a far cry from the early months of the year when we were squelching almost ankle deep through mud. And yet now the wheat is flourishing in the field alongside the path, and the oilseed rape has already begun to set its seed. How gracious God is – and how fortunate we are to live in a land where, despite the recent vagaries of the weather, the skill of our farmers and agronomists continues to bring in the harvest.
Recently however, even the most fortunate amongst us have discovered what it is like to be short of some of the foods we usually take very much for granted – an experience that is regularly familiar to many people in this country as well as in developing countries abroad. Perhaps it is time for us all to think much more carefully about our relationship with food – where it comes from, how we get it, and how we can share it more equally.
But today is a day when we give thanks for our farmers, and for all who work to bring us our ‘daily bread’ – and all the other foods we enjoy – and when we praise God for his great goodness and remember that all gifts come ultimately from Him – as the words of Psalm 65 remind us …
You visit the earth and water it;
You make it very plenteous.
The river of God is full of water;
You prepare grain for your people, for so you provide for the earth.
You drench the furrows and smooth out the ridges;
You soften the ground with showers and bless its increase.
You crown the year with your goodness;
And your paths overflow with plenty.
May the pastures of the wilderness flow with goodness
And the hills be girded with joy.
May the meadows be clothed with flocks of sheep
And the valleys stand so thick with corn that they shall laugh and sing.