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Sermons on the Lord’s Prayer - Our Father
Date: 
Sun, 03/13/2011 (All day)

This season of Lent we are going to spend time looking at prayer and most especially the prayer the Lord’s prayer   The most famous prayer in the world

“A prayer from the heart of Judaism on the lips of Christianity for the conscience of the world. “ John Dominic Crosson

There are three kinds of prayer

1. request and petition – in other words help me

2. thanksgiving and praise – in other words – thank you

3. and participation and collaboration in other words empowermentby God -. 

God is wanting to change us and through that change the world changes.    And it is so true - you ask anyone in family therapy - all you have to do is change one person - and everything else shifts

Prayer changes people

 “The only thing that will truly alter who you are existentially and make you a better person,  More at peace with yourself and others, able to do more than you’ve ever done before is the daily practice of prayer.” (William Carl)

And this prayer is so powerful – but not as a ritual, not as a rote recitation.  This is powerful and life changing when we claim the words taught to us by Jesus

And so we come to this prayer - understanding of why this is so important - it is the gospel - right here . And truly we find it right at the beginning with these first words - Our Father

And I am going to take the second word first

Father - God is LIKE our Father.  God is LIKE a father to us.  It is a metaphor. And we need to know that this is one of many descriptions of who God is for us and to us.

Not the only - one of many  God is like a father to us. But it is not Father - it is Abba - it is dad, daddy.  It is a term of great intimacy.  The image we have of God is so important

For some of us may have had a dad who was “Father” - distant, provider, but not intimate, some of us may have had abusive father, or even no father

This father is Daddy - abba - gives us undivided divine attention. So, do you understand that God is here - next to you in the pew, riding in the car, in the air we breathe.. There is no busy signal with this God, no fourteen messages to listen to before you get through - handles all incoming calls simultaneously and the calls are always free.

Important - really important - to have a healthy image of God as father   In his book “Living the Lord’s Prayer” Albert Haase writes about attending the wake for 89 year old Irene

“Sadly her life had been spent guilt-ridden over a promiscuous past, fearing death and terrified by the thought of facing God.. One of her friends commented to me “You know Irene would have been a different person if only she had a different God. Unfortunately, the God she believed in carried a big stick and was hard as nails.”

What is your image of God as Father?

Jesus had a relationship with God of intimacy and undivided divine attention.  God is always with us and attentive to us.  We don’t come here and bring God in - God is always paying attention to us.  We just connect - with God who is already there. 

Story about Basil Hume whose mother said put cookies in a cookie jar and said - don’t eat any God is watching.  And for a long time that was his image of God - the police of the cookie jar

Later he became a Benedictine Monk and Priest , it suddenly dawned on him that if he had gone into that cookie and eaten a cookies, God would have looked down from heaven and said,    “Basil, they’re so good - have another one!”

Want you to this week ponder your image of God and your understanding of how present and available and interested in you - God is

Second - one we say all the time - Unconditional love.  Which is easy to say - but living in our reality of everything being conditional - hard to grasp

Why we trip over the parable of the prodigal son and the workers in the field - those who came early and those who came late got the same amount of many.  That isn’t fair -

Who remembers John Wayne? He was married three times and divorced twice and had 7 children.  All his wives were roman catholic - but the “duke” himself was never baptized.

However, a week before he died on June 11, 1979, while literally on his deathbed he apparently made a spiritual conversion.  He asked to be baptized a Roman Catholic and he was given a full Catholic funeral.  Some conservative Catholics were shocked and scandalized.  How unfair.  How could any priest in good conscience baptize such a terrible person

But I tell you - that deathbed conversion is a real life example of God’s lavish and generous love..God our Father - loves us unconditionally, available and waiting for us to turn to him

And like a Father - he is invested in us.  Who he is goes on through us.  When you look at me and hear me - I tell you - you see a little bit of my father - who loved to sing, who loved jokes, and who enjoyed standing up in front of people.

I am my father’s daughter in many ways..But even more I want to be my heavenly father’s daughter.  I want to become as loving as he is, as gracious,

Which brings to the next word - or rather the first word - OUR

We can be  in relationship with God intimately personally, totally and so can everyone else  And the OUR of the Prayer says - that we are connected to one another – intimately   Through our Father -

The way of God is of course a way of love.  Traditional African culture has a word - UBUNTU which believes that relationships are the key to our humanity “It is through our relationship with each other we learn how to be human.”      Archbishop Desmond Tutu -

Ubuntu is the essence of being human.  It speaks of the fact that my humanity is caught up and is inextricably bound up in yours.  I am human because I belong. Ubuntu is living in such a way that the community around us improves.  We are connected - our father - our familywith sensitivity and awareness to the needs of others

This season of the year - starts with Ash Wednesday as we come - with contrite hearts facing the ways in which we have been unloveable and unloving;  The ways in which we have not practiced UBUNTU

And so our prayers - our prayers of help me and gratitude are not enough - we also are empowered and empowering  We pray for each other - INTERCESSORY prayers - because of our connection to each other and the God who answers prayers

This is a church that believes in prayer - and the power of prayer - phone chain, email chain, and what we do Sunday mornings.  But also at our Bible studies - intercessory prayer - it is about our engagement with the world

And finally OUR father - means that we are people of radical hospitality - welcome and acceptance. God does not belong to any of us but to all of us and we belong to each other because he is OUR father

So that has to mean that we are connected – Our father – may we welcome all our brothers and sisters  - Hospitality - ..It's not just setting a nice table, it's not just having a nice room to come into, it's the attitude and the spirit of the people of God to communicate a sense of acceptance with those who are not like them.

We are meant as a church to be the group that goes to the edges – welcoming, accepting and invited – the least of these  - because we share OUR Father – together

And Our Father wants us to live that inclusive life. Richard Rohr wrote  When any church defines itself by exclusion, it is always wrong.  It is avoiding its only vocation, which is to be the Christ.

Only as the People of God receive the stranger, the sinner, and the immigrant, those who don’t play our game our way, do we discover not only the hidden, feared, and hated parts of our own souls, but the fullness of Jesus himself.  We need them for our own conversion.

The Church is always converted when the outcasts are re-invited back into the temple.  You see this in Jesus’ commonly sending marginalized people that he has healed, back into the village, back to their family, or back to the temple to “show themselves to the priests.”  It is not just for their re-inclusion and acceptance, but actually for the group itself to be renewed.   OUR FATHER – two simple words – which contain the gospel.

Which changes our soul as we recognize that our father is available to us at all times

And changes our world as we recognize our connectedness – and responsibility to each other and for each other.. May we say them and may we live them –

End by reminding you of the beginning – the context of this Lord’s prayer.

The disciples said to Jesus – teach us how to pray – and why do they say that?  Because they see something in him, something that happens to him because of prayer

They see him go off by himself and come back renewed, they see him in those moments and know that this is more than words – there is something life changing – and they want it

Lord Teach us to pray – and He said – Our father – may we sing this prayer together this morning

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