Sunday, June 28, 2015

Sunday Reading “The Lord and His Prayer” by NT Wright #2

Last week 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, we focus on the 2nd phrase in the prayer, “Thy Kingdom Come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven!” I have already posted some quotes from this chapter on my Facebook page and there will continue to be 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.

With this Jesus before your eyes, pray again, Thy Kingdom Come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven! We are praying, as Jesus was praying and acting, for the redemption of the world; for the radical defeat and uprooting of evil; and for heaven and earth to be married at last, for God to be all in all. And if we pray this way, we must of course be prepared to live this way. 31.

This phrase in the prayer is both a plea with God to complete His kingdom plan for the world, begun at creation, decisively implemented by Jesus in his incarnation, crucifixion, resurrection and resurrection and consummated at his 2nd coming. It is a call for God to become king over all creation and for God to become king over own lives right now. It then becomes a commitment for us to live in the way Jesus did (be a servant and give up ourselves for others) as we live a kingdom servants now. This OT prophetic vision that the king is coming “there will be a new Exodus: the evil empire will be defeated, and God’s people will be free” must be the principle we live by.

The Kingdom did indeed come with Jesus; but it will fully come when the world is healed, when the whole creation finally joins in the song. But it must be Jesus’ medicine; it must be Jesus’ music. And the only way to be sure of that is to pray his prayer. 30

This is the risky, crazy prayer of submission and commission, or, if you like, the prayer of subversion and conversion. It is the way we sign on, in our turn, for the work of the kingdom. 32.

Jesus life and message pushes back on both wrong extremes the church has taken throughout history: 1) the kingdom is just spiritual and something that happens inside of us 2) or the kingdom is political and we fight for it by taking over the reins of power in this world. No this prayer deals with the material world and works itself out through our physical bodies. We fight sin, injustice and poverty, but we do it Jesus’ way: demonstration of Jesus’ ethic within the church community, bold prophetic announcement of the Gospel and its implications, and through loving engagement that reaches from the bottom up, not the top down.

Think of the vision at the end of Revelation. It isn’t about humans being snatched up from earth to heaven. The holy city, new Jerusalem, comes down from heaven to earth. God’s space and ours are finally married, integrated at last. 24-25

We can do this becauseJesus spoke and acted as if he was called to embody not just the return from exile, not just the defeat of evil, but also, astonishingly, the return of YHWH to Zion.” (29) Then He proved it was so by rising from the dead. He now calls us to be people of prayer and action until he returns to set things right and complete the kingdom plan. Let’s draw people into this prayer the way Jesus did.

You see, if it was part of Jesus’ task to teach his followers to pray in this way, it is in a sense our task to teach the world to pray in this way. How might we get the opportunity? In Luke’s gospel, Jesus waited until his followers asked him for a prayer; and the reason they asked was because they saw what he was doing. 35.

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