Picnic lunch

On one of those glorious spring days that make your heart sing, our family went on a day’s outing to Bodnant, a famous botanical garden in North Wales. We spent hours exploring 80 acres of lawns and terraces; bathing in a cascade of color and fragrance as we walked amongst the rhododendrons, tulips, and lilies; admiring the specimen trees lurching up to touch the blue sky, framed in the distance by the mountains of Snowdonia.

By then, we were ready for lunch and sat down to enjoy our picnic of cheese, ham, and tomato sandwiches.

For this we might have said a word of appreciation to John Montagu. He was an eighteenth-century British Lord of the Admiralty. The story goes that sometimes he was too busy to take a meal, so he would ask his servants to bring him meat inside two slices of bread, so that he could eat at his desk. His formal title was the Earl of Sandwich, and that is how the “sandwich” came about.

Bread is the food most frequently mentioned in the Bible. Lehem, the Hebrew word for “bread” in the Old Testament, is used 295 times. In the New Testament, the Greek word is artos, and it is used 98 times. The Bible lists breads made of wheat, barley, rye, beans, lentils, millet, and even manna. They would have been cooked on flat stones or iron griddles, perhaps in an oven; they would have been flat and hard, or leavened cakes.

“Give us this day our daily bread,” Jesus taught us to pray.1 Of course, we mean a lot more than bread itself—the “sustenance of life” might be more precise, and it is both literal and figurative. We are not to “live by bread alone,” but “by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of the Lord.”2

God nourishes our bodies, our minds, and our spirits. His provision of our needs—both literal and spiritual—is another of those things to make your heart sing.

He makes grass grow for the cattle,
and plants for people to cultivate—
bringing forth food from the earth:
wine that gladdens human hearts,
oil to make their faces shine,
and bread that sustains their hearts.
—Psalm 104:14–15 NIV

  1. Luke 11:3
  2. Matthew 4:4; Deuteronomy 8:3