June 02, 2013 – First Baptist Church Edmonton – Rev. Dr. Ryan Sato
Lord’s Prayer, Part 2
Today we continue our 5-part series on the Lord’s Prayer.
Did you think about last week’s challenge? To re-acquaint ourselves with the Lord’s prayer… can we live without it? Would you miss it if it was gone from your life or our weekly liturgy? Has it become an empty ritual of prayer? Or has it become a life-giving way of communication in your prayer life to God?
My challenge for us in these weeks is to fall in love anew with the Lord’s prayer. Might it become a prayer that we can not live without. An “essential” in our Christian journey…
That’s what Jesus seemed to be pushing for…he put this prayer smackdab in the middle of the sermon on the mount…as he talked about this radical, generous, benevolent way of living a life following God, he recognized that we would not be able to live this life “out” without being in relationship with God.
And so here we are, 2000 years later…we can talk about the “way” of the beatitudes “blessed are the weak, the poor, the mourning, the persecuted…” but I would suggest that we can NOT live this way in the world without being sustained and strengthened through prayer…prayer to a living God, who we believe lives IN us….lives THROUGH us, through the presence of the ris’n Christ.
And one of the practical ways that we “access” this Jesus-life is through the prayer that Jesus taught us to pray…
Last week we reflected on the address and the first petition…
Our Father (this is a “we” movement)
Who art in heaven (who lives in ALL the skies, for ALL people)
Hallowed by thy Name (may your “who you are-ness” be recognized in all the earth…to us & through us)
– this week, we reflect on 2 more petitions:
“THY KINGDOM COME”
We don’t talk much of kingdoms in these days do we? That’s why you often here me talk of different words for “kingdom”…
In the message translation that we heard read for us this morning, Eugene Peterson doesn’t even come up with another word, he re-phrases this petition to be: “Set the world right.”
That resonates with a word that I often use for Kingdom, borrowed from Brian Mclaren’s book the “Secret Message of Jesus”… he suggests several different words for kingdom (reign, commonwealth, revolution…). I’ve clinged to the word “dream”…Thy dream come, O God…
What is God’s dream for the world?
[pause, invite answers]
When we think back on the GodStory that we learned through this past year, what is God’s dream for the world?
– Blessing…God called Abraham to raise up a “people” who would be a blessing to the world…thus god’s dream = blessing
– Restoration…God called his people to be restorers… to build up broken places, to mend up broken relationships…thus god’s dream = restoration
– Healing…God healed people! In the Elijah story, God raised the dead son of the widow at Nain. Thus god’s dream = healing
– Freedom … Moses cried out “let my people go.” A people who lived in oppressive slavery were being set free. God’s dream = freedom
– Life…whether it’s healing someone’s who’s possessed by an evil spirit OR letting a eunuch know that he can fully be a participant in the NPoG…. Jesus and the Spirit call ALL people to the way of Life VS death… Jesus breathes on the disciples and offers them the spirit of life and says “do not be afraid”…
Let’s keep these images of God’s dream in our minds as we move on…
The 4th petition includes a plead…and a place…
“THY WILL BE DONE on EARTH as it is in HEAVEN”
We’ve talked about God’s dream…now, what is God’s will?
[that is one of the million $ questions of the Christian life is it not?]
My hunch is that God’s will goes hand in hand with God’s dream.
What do we know about God’s will in Heaven?
From our scriptures we believe that heaven is a place of community…the Trinity dwells in heaven… we believe that heaven is a place of creativity… in Genesis we read that God said “let US make humans in our image.”
We believe that heaven is a place of no more sorrow…in the revelation of John, John has a vision of a new heaven and a new earth…and in this place “God will wipe every tear from their eyes…there will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away” (Rev. 21:3-4).
And so our prayer is that God’s will,
God’s loving community,
God’s new order of life and healing…might come to earth as it is in heaven.
One of the best insights I’ve recently read on this image of God’s will/kingdom/dream is from a book from a Baptist Minister at FBC Richmond (Virginia), Jim Somerville. He wrote a short e-book called “When the Sandcastle Crumbles: Why My Church is Dying and What I Can do about it.”
He talks about the adventure of us as 21st century Christians being in an era when the church is dying…because it forces us to re-think and re-imagine how we might be a church that still matters in North America.
Let me read an excerpt:
This is what I think the church of Jesus Christ ought to be doing—bringing heaven to earth—and the more I think about it the more I think the Lord’s Prayer is a perfect reminder. . .
Can you see how bringing heaven to earth is completely different from propping up the institutional church? I don’t think it’s easier; not at all. Without God’s help it would be impossible. But it is so much more…liberating. When the members of First Baptist Church [Richmond] ask me how to do it I say,
“Just look around for anything that doesn’t look like heaven and then roll up your sleeves and go to work.”
…As a result, church begins to happen everywhere, all the time, and not only in our building at 11:00 on Sunday. In fact, I have said to my congregation,
“Let’s stop counting how many people happen to be in church on Sunday morning and instead start counting how many times church happens between one Sunday and the next.”
That’s liberating, isn’t it?
When Rev. Somerville prays the Lord’s prayer with his church, sometimes he changes the phrasing of this 4th petition… they pray “thy will be done in RICHMOND as it is in heaven.”
Perhaps that’s a good & “earthy” way of bring this prayer closer to home.
“Thy will be done in EDMONTON as it is in heaven.”
Suddenly this prayer becomes “right here” versus “out there.”
As we look ahead to the weeks and months ahead that are shaped FOR US by this prayer…I want to invite you to pause and imagine those places that you will end up this week:
– at home
– at work
– recreational places
– school….you name it…
What do you think it means for us to “become the answers” to our prayers this week? (have you ever heard that phrase? It’s also a book by Shaine Claiborne…the heart of the book is saying “God does not want to change the world without us”)
We pray… “God our Father…Thy dream be done…. Thy will be done in Edmonton as it is in heaven.”
Imagine those places that you will be and the people that you will meet with this week…
What would it take for you to bring God’s dream into your workplace, your home, your school, to Tim Horton’s, to that grocery line, to that busker that you see on Jasper Avenue after church…
Will you like Jim Somerville says: “Look around for anything that doesn’t look like heaven, roll up your sleeves…and go to work!”
[invite some to share “revelations” of what they might be imagining]
God who is on the move…move ahead of us to these places that we are imagining and praying for today…
Help us to be the people of God, who bring the blessing, healing and restoration of God to the places you send us to this week.
Fill us with anew with the life of Christ so that we might be creative reconcilers…bringing words of freedom, words of comfort, hope and peace.
May your kingdom and dream come… may your will be done, in Edmonton, as it is heaven.
Let us live our lives as the answer to our prayers…the living Christ has fed us and filled us today, may God’s kingdom and dream be done in Edmonton as it is in heaven, Amen.