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Sunday, July 25, 2010

Living the Lord's Prayer

The gospel appointed for today is Luke 11:1-13 in which Jesus teaches his disciples to pray.

Much has been said about the authenticity of this prayer - whether Jesus really prayed it.  Indeed, it is such a controversial topic with such convincing arguments that I can no longer say the words of preface in the BCP Eucharistic Prayer, "And now, as our Savior Jesus Christ has taught us, we are bold to say . . ."

What I can say, with integrity is, "In the Spirit of the teachings of Jesus, we are bold to say . . ."

I've been using this introduction for about four years now. No one has even raised an eyebrow, much less a question or objection.   I think everyone "gets it."

The real point of the Lord's Prayer, at least as I have heard it, is not the words themselves, but what the words call us to do and be.

It acknowledges God's holiness and the work of bringing about God's Realm.

It asks for nothing more than what we really need: "our daily bread." 

The heart of the prayer, for me, is about being forgiven and forgiving others.  I don't know anything else that captures the heart of the life, ministry, death and resurrection of Jesus than forgiveness and reconciliation.

I really don't care whether or not you use 'your' or 'thy/thine'. 

'Trespasses' or 'sins'

'Temptation' or 'time of trial'.

I care about what you do about all those words. 

What difference do they make in your life?

How do you live them out?

How do they inform or inspire your faith?

Your life?

Your work?

Your relationship with God and Jesus and others?

If you want to understand a bit of what that looks like, I encourage you to read this essay over at 'Stone of Witness'.  

The Rev'd Lauren Gough has recently retired to her "home diocese" of Ft. Worth, TX.  This week, instead of preaching, she's visiting yet another of the churches in the 'remaining diocese' of Ft. Worth.

I don't think I've heard a better description of what it means to live out the Lord's Prayer.

You'll get yet another image over at "Leave it Lay Where Jesus Flang It."  Margaret's husband, Joel, is in the ICU in guarded condition.  She's got a very modern, cultural, musical version of this prayer.

G'wan over there and pray with her.  She needs it.

One more request:  Sometime today, just sit with this prayer.  Read it, say it in your own language, in whatever version pleases you. 

As you sit with it, try to take it in.  Breathe in the words and the intent. Let it metabolize in your body.  Follow the ancient practice of letting your body find a posture that expresses the words.

It may not be exactly as Jesus spoke the words. That's not what's important.

The important thing is that you live these words "in the spirit of the teaching of Jesus."

Today.  Every day.

So that, the Realm of God will come, the will of God be done, on earth as it is in heaven."



Josh Thomas said...

What exactly is the difference between "in the spirit of the teaching of Jesus" and "as our Savior Christ has taught us"?

Don't mess with the Prayer Book. You haven't the authority.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

In fact , Josh, I do. My bishop knows and as the chief liturgical officer says it's okay. Besides, I worship God, not the BCP - much as I love iy

whiteycat said...

Elizabeth, I happen to prefer your version.

Bill said...

Words come and words go. The original words of the prayer predate Middle English by a thousand years and who really speaks or understands that any longer. I believe you have the right of it. All that matters is the spirit of the words. All you need ask is, do the words we use today, reflect accurately on what we know of the life of Christ.

As far as who has authority to mess with the prayer book, that depends on what is meant by messing with. It also depends on what prayer book you’re referring to. We have the Anglican, Episcopal and New Zealand to name just three. The prayer book has been changed quite a few times since the mid 1500s. Obviously making the language contemporary has a long history of acceptance. And by contemporary I mean both with language and understanding. To say that you’re “Gay” in pre 1950 America had an entirely different meaning than it does today. It is apparent that there is a danger in setting the spirit of meaning in the concrete of words. Again, words come and words go.

Steve Samples said...

In preaching this yesterday I learned that a prayer in common usage in synagogue during Jesus' time very closely follows the "Lord's" prayer. Jesus didn't just make everything up! He used what was in place that was good. My source, a conservative commentary, also said that the tradition of Jesus' time was "evolving" that like re-writing the BCP?

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Hey, Steve. I think that if faith doesn't evolve, it dies or becomes irrelevant or extinct. I fear sometimes that we worship the BCP and our liturgy more than we worship God.

MarkBrunson said...

Words do matter.

They are how we relate ourselves and our surroundings to one another. They are the symbols without which we cannot interact as a society. That is why lying is one of the greatest sins - one of the Ten.

People believe what they are told - look at the "orthodox" christians, the Tea Partiers, the "Instruments of Communion" - and their ability to simply rewrite reality comes because people do not take words seriously. At one time, the very ability to write was sacred.

Words matter.

Elizabeth's version shows her integrity, her truth to the words, and through that, to The Word.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Thank you, Mark.

Anonymous said...

Talk about straining the gnat and swallowing the camel...

With a woman priest presiding weekly and heresy preached at least monthly from the pulpit, changing around a few words in BCP '79 is hardly worth getting worked up about.


Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Why, Michael. You assign me such powers. I'm deeply flattered. Thank you.