Sunday, June 21, 2015

Sunday Reading, “The Lord and His Prayer” by NT Wright

15830Today I began a new book for my Sunday reading, The Lord and His Prayer, by N. T. Wright. The book was a result of a series of sermons preached in 1995 for Advent and published in 1996. In this book Dr. Wright looks at the Lord’s prayer phrase by phrase in six chapters. Each week we will look at one chapter. My plan is to pray through the book as well, each Sunday focused on one phrase of the prayer. This week, of course, we open with, “Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be your name.” I will also be posting some quotes on my Facebook page and a weekly chapter summary here on my blog. I welcome comments on my Facebook page. It would be cool to hear from you as you pray the prayer along with me. Quotes from the book are in blue.

Father; Our Father; Our Father in heaven; Our Father in heaven, may your name be honoured. That is, may you be worshipped by your whole creation; may the whole cosmos resound with your praise; may the whole world be freed from injustice, disfigurement, sin, and death, and may your name be hallowed. Tom Wright, The Lord and His Prayer, 21–22

This prayer starts by addressing God intimately and lovingly, as ‘Father’—and by bowing before his greatness and majesty. If you can hold those two together, you’re already on the way to understanding what Christianity is all about. 7

Wright begins by pointing out that none of us have the right to say this prayer. It is a goal, something we are striving to grow into. We can only say it because of the boldness we have to enter the throne room of God (Hebrews 4) based on what Jesus has done. As our older brother, he connects us to the Father, and as Wright illustrates we “put on the clothes of our older brother” and “impersonate him” and in doing so  we understand more of what it means to be him and really become more like him. In doing that we also commit to taking on his mission to serve God as we get to know our Father better.

That’s why calling God ‘Father’ is the great act of faith, of holy boldness, of risk. Saying ‘our father’ isn’t just the boldness, the sheer cheek, of walking into the presence of the living and almighty God and saying ‘Hi, Dad.’ It is the boldness, the sheer total risk, of saying quietly ‘Please may I, too, be considered an apprentice son.’ It means signing on for the Kingdom of God. 19–20

Calling God our Father is also a statement of hope. Wright points out that God is first pictured as “father” in the Old Testament in Exodus 4.22-23 when he liberates Israel and changes their status from “slave” to “son.” The Messiah was to be the “son of God” (1 Sam. 7.14) and Jesus at his baptism is announced with “this is my Son.” (Psalm 2.7) Asking our Father to “make holy your name” is to enter into His kingdom plan for the world through prayer, calling on Him to set the world right; now as we walk around in this world as emissaries of the kingdom, and ultimately, when he sets everything right.

Most Jews knew in their bones, because they celebrated it at Passover and sang about it in the Psalms, that freedom would come when God gave them the new, final Exodus. Many believed that this would happen when the Messiah came. The very first word of the Lord’s Prayer says: Let it be now; and let it be us. Father … Our Father … 17

Our task is to grow up into the Our Father, to dare to impersonate our older brother, seeking daily bread and daily forgiveness as we do so: to wear his clothes, to walk in his shoes, to feast at his table, to weep with him in the garden, to share his suffering, and to know his victory. As our Saviour Jesus Christ has commanded and taught us, by his life and death, even more than by his words, we are bold, very bold,—even crazy, some might think—to say ‘Our Father’. 23

God as my Father lifts my mission in a tiny school on this little island of Guam to a worldwide scope. Significance and meaning does not come from doing something big, it comes from being in close relationship with a big God. Every small task of service to the seemingly insignificant thus takes on cosmic, eternal and kingdom-wide meaning. When we serve and honor our Father, we also shine with His glory, Can’t think of anything more important than that.

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