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There’s an expression that is often used in Christian circles as a trump card to try to win any argument or prove any point. The expression is, “It’s biblical!” Normally, what we mean by that is, “It’s in the Bible so it’s true or it’s okay.” Sometimes this will be flipped on its head to cast something aside by saying, “It’s not biblical.” But does whether or not something is in the Bible determine whether it is good or right? I would suggest that there are things in the Bible that are definitely not appropriate. (Consider polygamy in the OT or violence in the book of Judges as a couple of examples.) But does that work the other way? Are there things that go beyond the Bible’s words that we should adopt? If so, how do we determine them and how should we use them? This becomes a very important issue as we finish off our consideration of The Lord’s Prayer. We’re going to explore this in today's Covenant Weekly - An Echo.

Just as we have been doing throughout this series, let’s begin by reading a contemporary translation of The Lord’s Prayer.

Our Father who is in heaven, uphold the holiness of your name.
10 Bring in your kingdom so that your will is done on earth as it’s done in heaven.
11 Give us the bread we need for today.
12 Forgive us for the ways we have wronged you, just as we also forgive those who have wronged us.
13 And don’t lead us into temptation, but rescue us from the evil one.

Last week we discussed the final section of the prayer we just read. Those of you who know the traditional version of the prayer may have wondered why this is the end of the contemporary translation! In the traditional version of the prayer that we recite, there is more that has been added to the prayer.

The traditional version concludes by saying, “For thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory, forever and ever. Amen.”

I have a confession to make. This part of the prayer has kind of entertained me for years. I’ve spent a lot of time in contexts that were so focused on what was Biblical that they felt they should eliminate almost everything that wasn’t in the Bible.

The thing is, in the oldest and best versions of the Greek New Testament, this final phrase of the Lord’s Prayer isn’t included. Our best guess is that it was an addendum added later by some editors who felt the prayer was missing an appropriate ending. Because it isn’t in our most reliable manuscripts, most contemporary translations don’t include this phrase.

But, many Christians who are very committed to wanting to only include what is in the text of scripture are also very connected to tradition. So here, in the Lord’s Prayer, there is a conflict between values. Should we include only what seems to be the most reliable text or should we hold to tradition? I find this tension kind of fun!

Personally…I would suggest that either and both are appropriate. If we are concerned with only holding on to what is in the text, there is a lot more than simply this last phrase that we will lose. On the other hand, just because something is tradition doesn’t mean we should hold on to it. I would suggest that we recognize that since the beginning of the church, followers of Jesus have added their own echos and affirmations to the words of Jesus and we can continue to do the same today. And I would suggest that we work to be aware of what is an echo and what is the original sound. The echo can be a beautiful and wonderful sound to hear, but it isn’t to be confused with the original voice.

And here, in the gospels, we have multiple layers of the original voice. There is the original voice of Jesus who spoke these words to his disciples. Then there is the original voice of the gospel writer who shaped it in writing for other followers to hear. In a very real way, it’s good to note that the writing we have is an echo of Jesus' original voice. It’s a reliable echo, but an echo all the same.

So what do we do or should we do with the further echo that’s been added to this prayer. “For thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory, forever and ever. Amen.”

Let me suggest three things quickly:

  1. Let’s consider whether it aligns with the rest of the early witnesses of the church. Is what this says, true? The answer is pretty obvious. Since Jesus himself does affirm that all authority has been placed on him and that it is his kingdom, this seems to align with what is true. If that’s the case, we should have no problem joining in confessing it and celebrating that the kingdom we are a part of is Christ’s kingdom!
  2. Take a prompt from early scribes and editors of scripture to recognize that our engagement with scripture isn’t just about hearing it and reciting it. It is about internalizing the gospel story and adding our echo to the telling of it. The early translator who added this certainly had become convinced that this was true of Jesus and their lives had been changed by that reality. This led them to add their voice to the testimony of Matthew in declaring what was true about Jesus. We are invited to do the same today. If all we ever do is recite scripture and tell people what the Bible says, they are likely to miss out on the living impact of Jesus today, now, in our lives. Something that is available in their lives as well.
  3. Let this passage be an example for us to determine the kinds of questions that are really important for us to ask about the Bible. It is easy to get sidetracked on debates about the Bible that leave us completely missing the point. Those who want to push tradition with The Lord’s Prayer can miss out on something helpful to think about. Those who want to cut off the tradition can miss out on something, too. It’s good to talk about and be aware of, but it doesn’t seem reasonable to lose much sleep over it. This is true about several other things in the Bible. Was it a whale or a fish in the story of Jonah? (It doesn’t matter…and many believe this story is a parable of sorts, which would lead it to matter even less.) Was it actually a talking snake in the garden? (Arguing over this…and even over the literalness of the “days” in creation…leaves us missing most of the point of the ancient text.) Let’s not miss the point of passages by getting sidetracked by debates that make no difference in our ability to follow Jesus into his way of living.

It’s likely that Jesus didn’t say these words. But they are true so we don’t need to shy away from them. So learn to pray the prayer Jesus taught us. And learn to sing along to the echo that’s added by the early translators. Either one and both is wonderful! And continue to add our own echo to the way of Jesus and the call to others to join us in following him.

Weekly Reminders

  • With our upcoming Inspire Maker Space Camp, we’re up to almost 35 registrations already! We are still working out the details for each station, but we are really excited about how it is coming along! Visit the events page at to register as a volunteer or to register kids to participate in the event.
  • One more reminder for today is that Easter is coming.
    • On Palm Sunday, we’ll be celebrating together and we look forward to having our kids join us at the end of the service to celebrate with Palm Branches. We will have communion as a part of that morning as well.
    • On Good Friday, we will be doing a service together with First Presbyterian Church and The Anglican Parish of the Town of Penetanguishene. We’ll be gathering at All Saints Anglican Church for a very early afternoon service. I’m still waiting to determine if it will be at noon or a little bit later, but we are looking forward to a time with these other protestant churches in our community. It will be livestreamed as well.
    • On Easter Sunday we will be gathering at Covenant for our Easter Celebration at our normal service time - 10:30 am. We look forward to celebrating the resurrection together that morning!

As we conclude this series, let us again pray the traditional version of the Lord’s Prayer together.

Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name;
thy kingdom come; thy will be done; on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass
against us.
And lead us not into temptation; but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory, for ever and ever.

God bless you as you go through this week.

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