Each time we gather for Morning or Evening Prayer here at St. Anthony’s, we pray the Our Father.  As we did so one morning this week, one phrase in particular struck me: “Give us this day our daily bread.”  These words we pray, often too casually and without thought, are a prayer for the grace to trust that God will provide us what we need for each day.

Yet without realizing it, here at St. Anthony’s we do trust that God will provide what we need.  Throughout the year, our “daily bread” bears the faces of our generous volunteers who share in the work of our ministry.  In the late spring and early summer, our “daily bread” comes under the appearance of asparagus, raspberries, blueberries, blackberries and currants from our garden and sometimes from the gardens of friends of St. Anthony’s.  As summer progresses, our “daily bread” looks more like green beans, tomatoes, lettuce, cabbage, cucumbers, summer squash and so much more from our garden and our friends.  Late summer and early fall, our “daily bread” might resemble apples, cherries and plums from our fruit trees; pumpkins and gourds from the garden provide “daily bread” for our eyes and our spirits in the form of some beauty for our grounds as the summer beauty fades away.  They also double as the “daily bread” for some of our four-legged brothers and sisters.

But none of these examples were the reason that phrase struck me.  What struck me was the “daily bread” I discovered in our mailbag yesterday, and again today.  The “daily bread” at this time of the year comes enclosed in small, buff-colored envelopes which represent the response of our friends to this year’s Annual Appeal.  The Appeal letter was mailed late last week, and already the response has been gratifying.  In just two days we received dozens of the envelopes, each one representing the care, concern, love, support and sacrifice of our friends.

Since March 2020, our trust that God will provide has been challenged by the consequences of the pandemic.  Initially, we locked the doors for nearly three months.  We sent our staff home but we were able to continue to pay their salaries as well as utility expenses thanks to the “daily bread” provided by our donors and by a government grant.  Since we reopened in June last year, we have operated at limited capacity despite expenses remaining very close to normal.  For more than a year, the “daily bread” came from our generous monthly donors who continued to find a way to support us, together with a few unexpected larger gifts and the income from those who were comfortable coming to St. Anthony’s.

Now, twenty months after locking our doors and seventeen months after cautiously reopening them, we continue to limit capacity and to take other precautions out of love and concern for the safety of all who do come through our doors.  These are not popular decisions, or easy decisions, but we trust they are the right decisions.  And by the grace and providence of God, we continue to trust that God will provide our daily bread despite the struggles and limitations of the pandemic.

For our “daily bread”, and for the grace to continue to trust that God will provide what we need each day, we say Deo Gratias!