Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Lord's Prayer - Heaven on Earth

Eternal Spirit,
Earth-maker, Pain-bearer, Life-giver,
Source of all that is and that shall be,
Father and Mother of us all,
Loving God, in whom is heaven:

The hallowing of your name echo through the universe!
The way of your justice be followed by the peoples of the world!
Your heavenly will be done by all created beings!
Your commonwealth of peace and freedom
sustain our hope and come on earth.

With the bread we need for today, feed us.
In the hurts we absorb from one another, forgive us.
In times of temptation and testing, strengthen us.
From trials too great to endure, spare us.
From the grip of all that is evil, free us.

For you reign in the glory of the power that is love,
now and for ever. Amen.

If the first stanza deals with the names of God, the second stanza invites us into the mystery of heaven on Earth.  God is the one whose presence is both vast and intimate.  About fifty years ago, two theologians embodied the diversity of thought about God.  Karl Barth would describe God as holy or wholly other.  God is distinctive and different...and even a bit distant.  Paul Tillich would define God as the ground of our being...the soil supporting our souls...which is an more intimate understanding of God.  So we might wonder, which is it?  Is God the one who is beyond our imaginations or is God the one we know because God is so woven inescapably into our lives?  My response?  Yes.  God is as close as our next breath...yet we don't ways understand God.  We get a glimpse, hints, guesses or traces of God's presence.  We don't get unquestionable truths or facts (as if there is such a thing in our world today).  While there is a timelessness to God, there is also a timeliness in our lives of the sacred.  And if we were to ask, well which is it?  I would suggest both...God as both the One moves in our midst, but does so with mystery.  So, how can we know God or sense God or be open to God?

This second stanza says that it is where justice, peace, freedom and hope are found.  It is where we work for the lost and least....where we bring peace...where we freely see everyone as created in God's image....and hope becomes real.  Yet, rarely does this happen with big neon, can't miss signs, where God sends a signal.  God moves subtly and simply and sometimes just beneath the surface.  God in the world won't work according to our carefully constructed plans.  There is so much in our world today that doesn't live out or lean into these words. We are too complacent with divisiveness, we shrug off brokenness, laugh at jokes said at the expense of the left behind and left out...this prayer won't allow us to be so complacent.  We are called to work for justice for all people.  We are called to walk humbly with God by loving both our family/friends as well as our enemy's.  As theologian once said, "The Christian way has not been tried and found has been found difficult so left untried."  We are good at giving lip service to our identity as followers of Christ, but don't always live that identity as central. 

I am grateful for this second stanza.  After naming God, we name our role/responsibility in this amazing grace, unconditional love relationship with God.  Who are we?  We are the justice seekers.  We are the hope bearers.  We are the one who tried to find peace, wholeness for others and all creation. Yet, this is not only up to us alone...we work as co-creators with God.  The ways of justice, peace, and hope are not according to our definitions, but to God's wisdom for such a time as this.  We do less pontificating, and more listening. 

Continue to trust in the slow work of the Spirit as these words work in our lives.

Grace and peace ~~   

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