Monday, July 29, 2013

July 28 Sermon - Lord's Prayer

O Lord, open our eyes, to behold your presence.
O Lord, open our ears, to hear your voice.
O Lord, open our hearts, to receive your love.
O Lord, help us to behold, hear and receive you in Word and Sacrament
That our mouths may proclaim your praise. Amen. (adapted from a prayer by David Adam)
Hosea: What is this book Hosea?
One of the twelve “Minor Prophets” of the Hebrew Scriptures. We have been reading from Amos.
He is a prophet of the Northern kingdom of Israel.
In the book: God is the forgiving husband, Israel the adulterous, harlot.
Plays out through Hosea who marries Gomer, a harlot.

(Note: this book does not appear often in Kid’s Bible Story Books – for good reason!)

In poems and prose Israel is indicted for its lack of faithfulness – “for bloody crime following bloody crime.” Remember this a prophet holding Israel to account for its actions (or lack of action).

In the final chapter (14) there is a plea to return to God – the promise of healing – but also a warning that the evildoers will stumble.

Next Week: Chapter 11 of Hosea – God will not give up on Israel even as it turns away…

Luke – Teach us to Pray!
What is your earliest memory of prayer?
Matthew, Mark, Luke and John,
Bless this bed I lie upon.
Four corners to my bed,
Four angels round my head;
One to watch and one to pray
And two to bear my soul away.
That’s one of the earliest prayers that I remember. The other is the Lord’s Prayer – as my father worked for the railroad and was gone so often, it was my mom who taught us to pray. I remember a little card with a nite glow cross on it and the words of the Lord’s Prayer next to my bed.

Author Anne Lamott believes we have three essential prayers: “Help, Thanks, and Wow.” It is these three prayers – asking for help, giving thanks for what we have and all that is good, and the feeling of awe in the beauty of the created world – are essential for our lives to be in relationship with God. I think you find all of that in the Lord’s Prayer too…

But what does the LP mean? Let’s think about the Lord’s Prayer…

The LP version most of us know dates to 1549 as revised in our 1789 BCP. But lets look at how the NRSV translates the Luken Lord’s Prayer (which is different from Matthew’s Lord’s Prayer):

We begin with the prayer being addressed to God:

“Father, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come.”

The prayer begins with the reminder that we are intimately connected with the one who created us. Father – Abba – implies a relationship we have. Then we honor God by “hallowing” or honoring/making holy God’s name. And our first petition is to ask that God’s kingdom come, which is asking God to be God, to let his peaceful reign begin on earth.

“Give us each day our daily bread.”

Next is our petition for our daily food, one of our basic needs.

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

A petition for forgiveness – God to forgive us as we ourselves forgive others.

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

And a final petition for God’s fidelity.

In giving us bread, forgiving our sins and not bringing us to the time of trial, the prayer reminds us that it is God who sustains our lives, forgives our sins and is always faithful to us.

What’s missing? The doxology – “for thine is the Kingdom, etc.” this was added by our Anglican ancestors in the 17th century (1662 BCP, and earlier Scottish rite) and it is why to this day Protestants end with the doxology and Roman Catholics do not.

Our reading from Luke today ends with a parable and exhortation, which reinforce the point of the prayer that Jesus just taught: that God stands ready to answer – ask and it shall be given – but you may have to be persistent, and what you get may be beneficial & necessary for you but not what was asked for!

Lord, teach us to pray. And Jesus gave us that prayer and calls us to be persistent in our offering that prayer. To which every service we do here, has the Lord’s Prayer in it. (and of course in our ecumenical gatherings, we are reminded of the differing translations of the LP!)

Again in the words of Anne Lamott:
“Prayer is communication from the heart to that which surpasses understanding… from one's heart to God. Some of us have cavernous vibrations inside us when we communicate with God. Others are more rational and less messy in our spiritual sense of reality, in our petitions and gratitude and expressions of pain or anger or desolation or praise. Prayer means that, in some unique way, we believe we're invited into a relationship with someone who hears us when we speak in silence.” (from Help, Thanks, Wow by Anne Lamott)
The prayer that Jesus taught us, invites us into a deeper relationship with God, who hears us when we pray. May we say that prayer not just to repeat it as we always have but as a means to live into and explore our bond with God and to live our lives more deeply and fruitfully with our God. Amen.

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