Monday, January 22, 2018

Lord's Prayer - Names


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.

Over the next few posts, we will explore the New Zealand version of the Lord's Prayer above.  There are so many powerful, profound, and beautiful parts of this prayer.  I want to encourage you to not only read this...but let it roam around.  Don't only read it with your mind, let it rummage around your life.  Enter into the prayer with an openness and prayerful-ness that might make a difference in these early days 2018.

We start with the truth that New Zealand Lord's prayer starts with a variety of names.
Eternal Spirit;
Earth Maker;
Pain Bearer;
Source of all that is and will be;
Father and Mother...

There are so many names for God.  To refer to God as, "Eternal Spirit" reminds us that there is a timelessness to God.  There is no time when God was not.  The eternal part of God encompasses and embraces the whole of history.  Yet, there is a mystery...a spirit to God.  In John 3, Jesus says to Nicodemus that the Spirit is like the wind.  I cannot see the wind, but I feel it.  I may tune into the weather and hear the direction and pressure, but that doesn't tell you what it feels like to have a refreshing breeze baptize your face when you are standing in the warmth of the sun.  It doesn't tell you how the wind can cut through you when it is negative 12 below zero outside.  It doesn't tell you how a wind can knock you off your feet.  The Eternal Spirit suggests there is an endless presence that swirls and stirs around us.
We can know this mystery through the marvel of the earth.  Creation does proclaim and preach the glory, splendor and sacredness of God.  God crafting and creating all that is around us...from the smallest participle to a porcupine to a palm tree outside my window...there is a connection to God through creation itself.
Yet, it isn't only beauty, but also brokenness...God as the pain bearer.  Often we point to God's self-giving on the cross...but this quality of God was there from the beginning of Exodus when God heard the cry of the Israelites in Egypt.  This isn't a distant or disinterested hearing...it is an intimate one that impacts God's whole being.  God's heart breaks.  God sends the prophets not to judge but to lead the people back to relationship with God.  God sends Jesus to show love embodied, even to the point of a cross.  This Eternal Spirit who fashioned humans in the divine image...knows our deepest woundedness and wonderfulness. 
So, God is the Source, the starting point of all that is and will be.  God as the center or core.  Theologian Paul Tillich would call God the ground of our being...the foundation on which faith flows from and forth.  Such a beautiful image says that we are not the center of our own universe, it isn't all up to us, we are part of a play in a thousand places...with people we don't even know.  The source, the start...as well as the end...as well as everything in-between...this is God.
Finally, I love that the New Zealand prayer breaks wide open the names of God to embrace both Father and Mother...the sacred female and male images.  Sometimes we need God to be our Father and other times our mother and still other times the Spirit source beyond definition or description. 

The New Zealand prayer starts this way to not be exhaustive in the ways we can name God.  Nor does this prayer say we have to choose one of these title exclusively.  The prayer starts something that we need to continue.  We continually have to ask ourselves, how do I understand God today?  What are the ways our understandings are helpful?  Are they hurtful?  Where do they stumble or soar; sink or stand tall?  All these questions are vital and important. 

How would you name God?

May that question open you to more than a trace of God's grace in these days.

Grace and peace ~~ 

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