Give us this day our daily bread

The Revd Canon Dr William Lamb

Bread has been a staple part of our diet for centuries. And yet we live in a society in which bread is increasingly a political issue. A loaf of bread in a local artisanal bakery costs £5 while the cheapest loaf in a local supermarket can cost as little as 45p. The ‘choice’ of bread reveals much about social status, wealth, and health. And yet bread is also imbued with religious significance. A precious commodity, we pray ‘Give us this day our daily bread’. In the Eucharist, we consecrate bread: ‘Blessed are you, Lord God of all creation, through your goodness we have this bread to offer, which earth has given and human hands have made, it will become for us the bread of life.’

On Wednesday, a round table took place in the Old Library when we reflected on these issues with Professor Andrew McGowan, our Theologian-in-Residence. Andrew is Dean of the Berkeley Divinity School and McFaddin Professor of Anglican Studies at Yale University in the USA. An Australian Anglican priest, he is a scholar of ancient Christianity

whose work has focussed on the early liturgy, food and meals in the ancient world, and on the idea and practice of sacrifice. He is author of books including Ascetic Eucharists: Food and Drink in Early Christian Ritual Meals (Oxford, 1999), Ancient Christian Worship (Baker Academic, 2014), and Seven Last Words: Cross and Creation (Cascade, 2021) based on sermons given at the University Church. 

Andrew also bakes bread! On Saturday 15th June, he will be leading a Quiet Day at St Mary’s between 10.00am-4.00pm, which will be made up of some reflections on the significance of bread, and an opportunity to bake some bread. If you would like to attend, please email for further details. You will be very welcome to join us.