The Lord's Prayer is God's Vision for the World: X Pentecost (Proper 12C)

July 24, 2016

 

Luke 11:1-13 

Jesus was praying in a certain place, and after he had finished, one of his disciples said to him, "Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples." He said to them, "When you pray, say:

Father, hallowed be your name.
Your kingdom come.
Give us each day our daily bread.
And forgive us our sins,
for we ourselves forgive everyone indebted to us.
And do not bring us to the time of trial."

And he said to them, "Suppose one of you has a friend, and you go to him at midnight and say to him, `Friend, lend me three loaves of bread; for a friend of mine has arrived, and I have nothing to set before him.' And he answers from within, `Do not bother me; the door has already been locked, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot get up and give you anything.' I tell you, even though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, at least because of his persistence he will get up and give him whatever he needs.

"So I say to you, Ask, and it will be given you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you. For everyone who asks receives, and everyone who searches finds, and for everyone who knocks, the door will be opened. Is there anyone among you who, if your child asks for a fish, will give a snake instead of a fish? Or if the child asks for an egg, will give a scorpion? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!"

 

  • 5 petitions in Lukan version of The Lord’s Prayer - All of them are things God already wants. Forms us to be more godly. Part of our sanctification and transformation (theosis)

    • Father, hallowed be your name.

    • Your kingdom come.

    • Give us each day our daily bread.

    • And forgive us our sins, for we ourselves forgive everyone indebted to us.

    • And do not bring us to the time of trial."

  • Father, may your name be sanctified (hagiasthētō)

    • Prayer awakens the Holy Spirit already at work in us

      • “How much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him?” (Luke 11:13)

      • “Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words.” (Rom 8:26)

      • This is how we know the Lord’s Prayer asks for things God already desires. The Holy Spirit of God, the fullness of the Godhead, speaks in and through us when we pray. God’s heart comes close to our when we pray as our Savior taught us.

    • This is an active prayer, not simply a praise of God. We are asking the Father to act in a way that leads creatures to worship God.

  • May your kingdom come

    • Jesus points to God’s Kingdom in all of his teaching; e.g. Sermon at Nazareth, Sermon on the Plain

    • This is GOD’s Kingdom, not a kingdom built on the selfish, greedy desires of humankind. Jesus paints God’s kingdom as a stark contrast to the Roman kingdom under which he lived. Jesus is “the head of every ruler and authority” (Col 2)

      • We spent some time in VBS this week talking about the similarities between the Roman empire in Jesus’ day and the American nation we live in.

      • Both were far-reaching empires with very large and powerful military complexes. Both empowered armed police to use violence and the threat of violence to subjugate second-class citizens.

      • Jesus and his Jewish brethren were far away from the center of the empire. Rome had conquered them, taxed them heavily to pay for their own luxury, and allowed the military-police to harass and brutalize Jews simply because they were not Roman.

      • Jewish relations with their government and law enforcement then were not all that different from how Blacks and Latinos relate to the US government and police today. Fear and hatred ran freely between the people and the police.

      • But in Christ’s Kingdom, there is no harassment, no abuse of power, no brutality, no unjustified shootings, indeed, no death. And so Jesus treated everyone who came to him the same. He showed no partiality.

        • He did not turn away the leper who the rest of society outcast; but neither did he turn away the powerful Roman soldiers who came to him seeking healing and wholeness.

      • In Christ, the lowly shall be lifted up and the mighty will be brought down from their thrones. The humble will be exalted and the proud will be humbled. Then, all life will finally be treated equally.

      • That is the sort of kingdom we pray for, the kind of life we want on earth that we know exists in the heavenly places.

  • Give us each day our daily bread

    • Small humble petition for the necessities of life

      • We must trust on God for everything and not forget our dependence - do not hoard, but wait on God’s provision

      • Stay focused on what is needed, not what we’re greedy for. This challenges the never ending hunger for “more” that pervades our culture.

        • Later “debt” language reminds us that money is a spiritual matter

    • Pay attention to God’s blessings in all the little things (#stayWOKE)

      • This encourages an attitude of gratitude.

      • Prayer of examen, looking for the things in life that we are thankful for, that help us come joyfully before God in worship.

      • Holy Eucharist is Holy Thanksgiving to God

  • Forgive us our sins, for we ourselves forgive all those indebted to us

    • Hosea reading shows us a side of God that we may not be comfortable hearing about: Judgment.

      • The Prophet Hosea delivers God’s message of judgment to Israel over their social inequality and injustice among to the poor; God is angry that those whom he loves are being mistreated. God directly ties this to Israel’s abandonment of their religion and seeking after other gods.

      • Hosea’s imagery in particular can be disturbing. The metaphor that this prophet uses is that of a broken family and a cheating spouse. When we read Hosea too literally, we can misunderstand God’s intention here. The point is not that men are God-like and women are unfaithful, treacherous, and hypersexualized. This misogynistic reading has harmed Christian women for centuries. It is not the point of our OT lesson today.

      • Rather, the point is that the Lord cares about how we express our love for God in our love for neighbor. When we as a people systematically fail to care for the poor, needy, and oppressed among us, this is not just a political, economic, or even moral failure. It is a spiritual failure. We have failed to see and honor the image of God in all people.

      • The way we organize our money, and forgive (or don’t forgive) our debts says a lot about who and what we think are important. Do we value people over profit? Will we show mercy as God shows us mercy?

        • “You have been gracious to our land, O Lord … You have forgiven the iniquity of your people”

      • The key in Hosea is that as God’s people emerge from God’s judgment, they will receive mercy.

        • As indeed he says in Hosea,“Those who were not my people I will call ‘my people,’ and her who was not beloved I will call ‘beloved.’” “And in the very place where it was said to them, ‘You are not my people,’ there they shall be called children of the living God.” (Rom 8:25-26)

    • Forgiveness is an action and attribute of God. As the Spirit lives in us, as we follow Christ, as we become more like the Father, forgiveness should flow from us.

      • Forgiving others is not a precondition, but a response of gratitude to God, expressed to our neighbors.

  • Do not lead us into temptation

    • Only the Holy Spirit can defend us from temptations of the evil one. The same breath of God that gave us life, that filled us in our baptism, will carry us through all the challenges of the world.

    • Even when we are beaten and bruised, when we are pushed to our very limits, we pray these words of Christ. We soak in the love God has for each of us and even for our enemies. May we stand firm in that time of temptation and live as lights to the world for every generation.

  • This is God’s vision for our world.

    • “When God’s name is hallowed and God’s kingdom comes, there is daily bread for all, forgiveness is practiced, and God delivers the faithful from the time of trial” (Prof. Elizabeth Johnson, http://www.workingpreacher.org/preaching.aspx?commentary_id=1724 ).

 

Other Sources:

http://www.workingpreacher.org/preaching.aspx?commentary_id=2918 

http://www.pulpitfiction.us/show-notes/177-proper-12c-july-24-2016 

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