This morning in worship, we built our entire service around the Lord’s Prayer, using songs and brief meditations to help us focus on the various parts of the prayer itself. Below are the three meditations:
Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven
Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be they name. Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven…
That little tiny phrase is one of the most subversive and radical things that we can say as Christian people. And we say it every week. Too often, we rush over the words, practically tripping over them to get to the end, because we know the Lord’s Prayer so well.
For the last two thousand years, Christians have tried to let God use them to bring about glimpses of the Kingdom on this earth. If we are going to be daring enough to pray for the kingdom to come on earth – then let us also be daring enough to participate when we see it!
In, “Listening to your Life,” (page 304), Fred Beuchner writes:
“…the Kingdom of God in the sense of holiness, goodness, beauty is as close as breathing and is crying out to be born within ourselves and within the world; …[it] is what all of us hunger for above all other things even when we don’t know its name or realize that it’s what we’re starving to death for. The Kingdom of God is where our best dreams come from and our truest prayers. We glimpse it at those moments when we find ourselves being better than we are and wiser than we know… The Kingdom of God is where we belong. It is home, and whether we realize it or not, I think we are all of us homesick for it.”
We are homesick for it and yet it is as close as our next breath. Thy Kingdom come on earth.
Thy Kingdom, Oh Holy Lord, come on this earth and pull us beyond the borders we have artificially made.
Thy Kingdom, Oh Lord and King, come on this earth and root all of our actions in the care of your creation.
Thy Kingdom, Blessed Ruler, come on earth and let us find the boldness to feed and clothe and heal our brothers and sisters without waiting for the government to help.
Thy Kingdom, Glorious King, come on earth and make us uncomfortable. Don’t let us be content with peace in our hearts until your peace truly reigns over the nations.
Thy Kingdom, Ancient of Days, come on earth and turn our allegiance from brand names and politicians and flags and nations … but help us imagine and embody life on earth, here and now, as though you were truly the king of it all and the rulers of this world were not.
Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.
I want to tell you a story about a church here in Iowa that took seriously Jesus’ prayer and the command to forgive. (from Becoming Jesus’ Prayer)
Farmers Chapel UMC, “was burned to the ground by an arsonist. In the weeks and months that followed, the congregation had to wrestle with how to forgive the person who destroyed their 107-year-old church…. [so, their pastor] wrote an open letter to the unknown arsonist and had it printed in the local newspaper…” (page 37-38)
He wrote: “Our worship time is 9:00AM every Sunday. I tell you this because I want you to know that you are invited. In fact, we even plan to reserve a seat just for you. Our faith has a lot to say about forgiveness. Every Sunday we ask God to forgive our sins but only as we have forgiven those who have sinned against us. That would be you. So if you would join us for worship, we could practice this kind of forgiveness face to face. I say “practice” for a reason. I don’t expect us to get it right the first or even the second time. Of course we’ll continue to work to forgive you even if you decline our invitation to worship. Forgiveness is the cornerstone of the faith we have inherited. Some people think it is impossible. They may be right. I only know that we have to try. Our forgiveness of you is tied to God’s forgiveness of us. We can’t receive something we are not willing to give others. So you see, if we harbor hatred for you in our hearts, we harbor the smoldering ashes of your arson. If we cling to bitterness, we fan the embers of your violent act. If we fantasize about revenge, we rekindle a destructive flame that will consume us. Forgiveness may indeed be impossible, but for us it is not optional.” (as printed in Becoming Jesus’ Prayer)
That church has been rebuilt and at the focal point of their worship space is a cross that has been built out of the charred timbers of their old building. Every single time that Body of Christ comes together, they are a living witness to the power of forgiveness. And when we pray Jesus’ prayer – when we truly pray it – we are asking… no we are begging for our lives to be changed. We are asking for this church to be transformed and for it to be a place of transformation.
Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
All throughout the gospels, Jesus shows us what it means to be delivered from evil.
He teaches about the ways that we should follow and does so with authority and power.
And when the demons show up, questioning his wisdom, he casts them out.
Ofelia Ortega writes that “the forces of evil know of the healing power of Jesus’ word; they are not submissive or indifferent. Jesus’ powerful teaching not only is fresh to the ears of the faithful, but it also disrupts the undisturbed presence of evil. Evil discovers that it is running its course.” (Feasting on the Word, Year B, Volume 1, page 312)
All Jesus had to do was speak, and the evil powers of the world started shaking in their boots.
“Be silent.” Jesus commanded. “Come out.” He said firmly. And the spirit obeyed.
I don’t know what to tell all of you about evil, demons and spirits. I have never personally experienced them, although I know people who have. What I can tell you is that I firmly believe that God has power over the evil in this world.
The reign of God… the Kingdom of God is at hand. And when we pray the Lord’s Prayer, it is a personal prayer and we are talking about God’s authority and power within us. We are praying for God to help us tap into that amazing power that the people witnessed within the synagogue. We are praying not only to be cleansed of our own internal demons – but we are also praying for the power to love others who have their own internal demons.
A Cherokee elder was teaching his children about life.
A fight is going on inside me,” he said to them. “It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One is evil – he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.” He continued, “The other is good – he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. The same fight is going on inside you – and inside every other person, too.”
The grandchildren thought about it and after a minute one of them asked, “Which wolf will win?” The elder simply replied, “The one you feed.”
Every time we pray this prayer, we are feeding the wolf of love in our lives. We are asking God to help us to be imitators of Christ, to be ones who can truly praise God as our King.