As we begin the new year we will be entering into a series on Sunday mornings which focuses on what we commonly call The Sermon on the Mount. This is a lengthy collection of Jesus' teachings about how to live. Notably, it is in the book that concludes by defining disciples as those who learn to obey everything Jesus has commanded. This is probably pretty important stuff!
One section of this sermon on the mount is what we have come to know as "The Lord's Prayer." Rather than unpacking that part of the Sermon on the Mount over several sermons, we are going to explore it in our weekly e-mail. For the coming weeks, I'd like us to slowly and patiently reflect on this prayer that Jesus prayed and taught. To help us orient ourselves, here is the prayer as translated in the New Living Translation:
Our Father in heaven, may your name be kept holy.
May your Kingdom come soon.
May your will be done on earth, as it is in heaven.
Give us today the food we need, and forgive us our sins, as we have forgiven those who sin against us.
And don't let us yield to temptation, but rescue us from the evil one.
For yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.
It begins with Our Father.
Father is a word rife with baggage - both good and bad - for many people in our world. If your father is good, present, loving, caring, and protecting - to think of God as our father can be heard as an invitation into something wonderful.
If your father is abusive, neglectful, cruel, addicted, or absent - to think of God as our father can be heard as a threat.
If your father was good, but has died, it may feel unimaginable to consider anyone else as your father - even God.
And yet, this is where Jesus begins and invites us to begin our prayer - to God as our father. What does it mean to acknowledge God as our father?
In the very opening address of this prayer, Jesus taught us he is reminding us that our life is from God, a father who loves us and invites us to come to him. And that our life is one lived in community - in family. Let us meditate on that foundation before moving into all that is to come in this prayer and all that is to come in our life as we continue to learn to love God and love each other.