May 26, 2013 – First Baptist Church Edmonton – Rev. Dr. Ryan Sato
THE LORD’S PRAYER – Part 1
Today we start a 5-part series on the Lord’s prayer…I hope you will fall in love with the Lord’s prayer…that it might become something that you can NOT live without in your spiritual life!
Let’s pause and think of our life with the Lord’s prayer…when did you first hear it? When did you memorize it? What is it like to live with/without the Lord’s prayer as a common part of your life?
My experience: FBC Lethbridge…the Lord’s prayer was always in connection with the “pastoral prayer.”
In Jr. High, our school principal would always lead us in the Lord’s prayer as part of the morning routine/announcements!
And then it was “gone” from my life for years…1984-2008. [for 24 years!]
When I came to FBC Edmonton I became re-acquainted with the Lord’s prayer and now I can’t live without it! We do it every Sunday, we close our centering prayer time with the Lord’s prayer and I often use it other times during the week as I come out of a time of silence.
So, for 5 weeks…will you consider re-acquainting yourselves with this prayer and allowing this prayer to be a part of your journey of spiritual formation?
Today we begin with the opening words…and the first petition…
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In the middle of Jesus’ most famous sermon that he would preach to masses (commonly called “the sermon on the mount”) Jesus pauses and teaches his followers “how” to pray. The first part of the SERMON on the MOUNT talks about this radical, non-violent, generous, benevolent way of being in the world…the 2nd part of the sermon talks about how that way is lived out in the world. So perhaps it’s fitting that in the middle of the sermon Jesus stops to talk about prayer. It’s almost as if Jesus had laid out the “way of life” and then tells his followers that to “live this way” depends not on your fortitude, your giftedness, your strengths and strategic planning sessions…but it depends on relationship with God…through communication with God… through prayer.
And so Jesus says our prayers ought to start this way:
It’s interesting that right from the “get go”, Jesus is saying that this is a “we” journey. It’s not “my father” or “your father” we’re talking to…it’s “our father.”
Jesus, who lives in community with the Father & Spirit (hey, it’s trinity Sunday!) invites us to pray as a community to a God who lives in community.
And so we pray: “our father.”
Now, it’s this second word that might a few us to stumble. Father.
One of our theological professors at our seminary (Carey) wrote her whole doctoral dissertation on re-imaging God. She worked with women who had been in situations of abuse, who struggled in praying to a male-image of God and thus she encouraged them to re-image God as Shepherd, as Comforter, as Companion versus Father. Some of us might need to do that as we try to live deeper into the Lord’s prayer.
At the same time, perhaps as we pray, and even as we participate in a service of healing today, our image of father might start to be healed…so that we might pray the words “our father” and image a God who dearly loves us…a God who calls us beloved….a God who is always wooing us, loving us, desiring to nurture us, a God who names us and claims us as precious daughters and sons.
“WHO ART IN HEAVEN”
This parenting God who we pray to as beloved children dwells in heaven. Now, this is not pie-in-the-sky, God being in some heavenly realm where God is untouchable and unknowable. This phrasing in the greek would imply that God is the one “who IS in all the skies.” [this is “plural” talk] This is a God who is everywhere, for everyone. Thus when we talk about “our father”…this “our” is not just within this church, or in this city, or even in this province. When we pray “our father who art in heaven” we are addressing the God of ALL the earth, the God of all the skies, the God who hears from all of his children on earth.
* That’s another thing I’ve grown to appreciate about the Lord’s prayer…
if there are a billion Christians on this earth, then no matter what moment of time I say this prayer, I can believe that there is someone on the planet, in community with me, praying to “our Father who is in the skies”…
isn’t that marvelous!?
[And if that’s not enough to marvel at…theologian Stanley Hauerwas notes that when we pray the Lord’s prayer,
“we pray with the whole communion of saints who surround the father in heaven”…imagine that!]
“HALLOWED BE THY NAME”
After Jesus teaches us the opening address, he teaches us the first petition… “Holy be your name.”
God is HOLY…we see that repeated time and time again in our scriptures. Therefore the first cry of our prayer is that God’s name might be HOLY and LIFTED UP…through our worship, through our prayer, and through our lives.
Theologian Frederick Bruner re-phrased this petition this way:
“Please make your real identity known so that we and others will recognize you as you really are” (Bruner).
[in other words…God help us to live as if you move as a living God in the world…and may others know this too]
As we pray this morning, as we enter a time of intentional prayer for healing by coming forward to the healing stations and receiving the sacraments of water & the oil…we pray:
“Gracious God, make your real identity known to us, through the presence of the Ris’n Christ… come as healer…come as the one who heals us, and heals the world… so that we and others might recognize you as you really are.”
The good (and audacious!) news of the GodStory is that God chooses to make his name holy by gathering US together and transforming US into people of wholeness and healing for the good glory of his name.
As we partake in the healing liturgy of today’s service, we are praying that God’s “whole” & holy presence might move amongst us AND that God’s [who-God-is-ness] might be known to ALL of God’s children…under ALL the skies…even to the ends of the earth.
It’s Trinity Sunday, so let’s repeat the opening part of the Lord’s prayer, 3 times: [slowly!]
“Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy Name”