Well, I am off to Uganda, courtesy of British Airways (don’t worry I haven’t got a free flight.)
I will be spending a week doing some teaching, visiting friends and acquaintances in the village of Kabubbu and, getting acquainted with an initiative called Godly farming. I am going with a small party from Quicken Trust, a charity I have been involved with for the last ten years. It should be an interesting week.
In my teaching role I will be leading a series of reflections based on the Lord’s Prayer. Now I know that reams and reams of books have been written on this most famous of prayers but, I thought it might be interesting to provide a few points for reflection, as sometimes familiarity breeds, not necessarily contempt, but, some form of liturgical stupor, where we just trot out the words, because we trot out the words.
So here we go:
- The introduction, ‘Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name,’ and the doxology, ‘for thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory, forever and ever, Amen,’ remind us that all things flow from, and are gifted by God (the Father) and, that our earthly life is just one part of our eternal journey (the forever and ever bit). Our response to is to be one of humility and praise, both of which are integral to the word ‘hallowed.’
- The intersession begins with a plea for the kingdom of heaven to be made known, brought to bear, and so forth, ‘on earth as in heaven.’ The implications of this are theologically enormous. Through the Lord’s Prayer we ask to be provided with a picture of heaven. Christianity is frequently attacked for having an inadequate world view, or an apologetic that doesn’t hold up to scrutiny when compared with other robustly presented world views; both Pope Francis and Archbishop Justin were criticised for this over the Christmas period. But, as Christians we don’t pray for a world view, we instead ask for a view of heaven. Our heaven-view will, presumably, inform our approach to mission, this is the only way I can make sense of the phrase ‘thy kingdom come on earth as in heaven.’ Those who seek a world-view may well be disappointed, but in reality even if we could reduce Christianity to a world-view it would be difficult to see how it would effect real, transformational, change.All a world-view can do is capture the mind, a heaven-view is far more holistic; it is concerned with capturing body, mind and soul.
- We also ask for our daily bread and in doing so accept that sufficiency is a theological motif. This request applies to all aspects of our being; we need sufficient spiritual nourishment and we need sufficient material nourishment. We also need to nourish others; otherwise we fail to ‘love our neighbour as ourselves.’ I think we need to recapture the essence of sufficiency in order to grow in the Christian life and, this is a real challenge.
- The invitation to confession, ‘forgive us our trespasses as we forgive others,’ reminds us that we exist in a Trinitarian relationship, as individuals, with others, before God and, that we are called upon to be agents (or angels) of peace and reconciliation. This is a major New Testament theme. When the disciples were sent out in pairs they were instructed, by Jesus to begin any conversation with the words ‘peace be with you. ‘St Paul reminds us that we must repair damaged relationships before participating in corporate worship. Wisdom suggests that we would be foolish to ‘let the sun go down on our anger.’
So there you have it, some brief reflections, the Lord’s Prayer asks us to reflect on the following questions:
Do you ‘hallow’ God?
Are you inclined to a world view, or a heaven view of things?
How seriously do you take the theology of sufficiency? And,
Are you an agent of peace and reconciliation?
Are you /me /we truly praying the Lord’s Prayer, each and every day – it could make all the difference in ,and to, the world.