24 July 2022
Year C (Proper 12)
Colossians 2:6-15, (16-19)
Sunday Cycle of Prayer
The Church in Wales
St. Matthew’s Church, Orlando
St. Michael’s Church, Orlando
In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, Amen.
The Lord’s Prayer: praying with and in Jesus.
Who taught you, and who continues to teach you, how to pray? Prayer, as we know, is an essential foundation in the Judeo-Christian tradition and in the life of Jesus himself. Especially in Luke’s Gospel Jesus prays before he is baptized (Luke 3:21), chooses the 12 (Luke 6:12), is transfigured (Luke 9:18) and dies on the cross (Luke 23:34, 46).
Not surprisingly, in our Gospel lesson this morning one of the disciples, having witnessed Jesus’ faithful practice of prayer asks Jesus Not how to perform miracles or to preach but how to pray.
How am I to pray? This is a question I suspect both you have asked Jesus from time to time. For it is all too human to wonder when you and I pray, am I using the right words? Am I praying enough? Does GOD even hear me?
This morning’s Gospel is a rich lesson in which Jesus teaches us with the Lord’s prayer to whom and what we are to pray and then follows with two short parables which remind us how to pray. Persistently asking, seeking, and knocking on God’s door and why we pray. We can trust in God’s promise to bring us favor and the gift of the Holy Spirit.
This morning I want to focus on what Jesus teaches to pray in his model for our prayers, The Lord’s prayer or the Pater Noster. (246) The Convent of the Pater Noster, the home of an order of Carmelite nuns, sits atop the Mt. of Olives in Jerusalem stands amidst 4th century church ruins and lies above a cave one level below the cave believed to be where Jesus taught his disciples to pray, to pray the Lord’s prayer. Adorned on the 4th century church’s ruined walls are dozens of 8-to-10-foot painted tile plaques with the Lord’s Prayer written on them in at least 100 different languages. Over the years, these 4th century plaques, especially those unprotected by the cloister walks have become dusty, or even worse, covered with earthly elements; dust, pollen, and bits of moss and mildew as well as the occasional graffiti drawn by irreverent pilgrims. From time to time, tender, careful cleaning and repair has been needed to restore the sacred writings’ luster
I got to thinking this week, maybe the prayer rooms of our hearts, like the 4th century plaques, need to be dusted and cleaned from time to time as well to preserve the sacred Lord’s Prayer’s luster. The Lord’s prayer is a pearl of great price, a pearl many of us have known since we were knee high to a grasshopper, been called to pray boldly at almost every service we celebrate. And perhaps allowed to get dusty over time when we roll over the words and fail to stop and reflect upon them and their power.
So let’s slow down this morning to take in each phrase, lovingly abide with it and invite the words’ light to illuminate our hearts. Jesus begins by telling us with whom and to whom we pray… “Our Father who art in heaven.” Our … all of us pray together to OUR Father, we, God’s children, pray to first and foremost to adore God. All of us God’s children, created in God’s image and embodying the beautiful rainbow of diversity of color, age, gender, race, and sexual orientation. All of us pray to share, support, and bear one another’s burdens. We pray to our Father, which was a common Jewish practice, but Jesus prays not to YHWH, but to Daddy, Abba, in Hebrew. Daddy, a beloved parent, who invites us to share, like our children and grandchildren do spontaneously, our praises, thanksgivings, confessions, and requests for what we need and want; honestly, openly, and with confidence.
For as theologian Henri Nouwen writes, “Praying demands a relationship in which you allow someone other than yourself to enter into the very center of your person, to see there what you would rather leave in darkness, and to touch there what you would rather leave untouched.”
All of us have places in the prayer rooms of our hearts that we would rather leave untouched, in the shadows. Anyone who has suffered from abuse or neglect or abandonment at the hands of their earthly father likely has a diminished a sense of both trust in and willingness to risk being emotionally vulnerable with a Father figure. No matter what our life experiences, there are times when welcoming God as Father into the center of our hearts may be the last thing we want to do.
But Jesus reminds us we pray to our heavenly Father and our lesson from Hosea this morning reminds us that Our God is I AM, no mere mortal who has over 16 Biblical name and just as Hosea was a loving companion to Gomer, God is a beloved parent who led the stubborn children of Israel with cords of human kindness and bands of love empowering the people with freedom to choose the responsibility to be accountable for their actions and the choice to turn and return again and again like the Prodigal son repenting to receive his beloved parent’s tender, compassionate embrace.
After identifying to whom we are to pray, Jesus continues with two more petitions about God,
Hallowed be thy name. You notice it is God’s name and reputation, and not our own name or reputation, is to be hallowed, to be honored and revered by all persons. We are to pray that all persons would recognize God as set apart, and holy in their hearts and then in their actions.
This petition sets the groundwork for Jesus’s second petition, Thy Kingdom come. Jesus teaches us to desire and pray God’s circular ever-inclusive Kingdom of justice, peace, and love would prevail over our worldly hierarchy of haves and have nots. Insiders and outsiders, us and them.
These two petitions, as our wise brothers and sisters in the Recovery programs know invite us to
turn our lives over to God’s will, trust God is at work with us and among us and to know only God can bring a world filled with peace and justice which passes all understanding.
We hear that Jesus then shifts from inviting adoration and a growing relationship with God to petition God, asking for what is essential for both our community and ourselves and what flows from God who sustains, forgives, and is faithful to us
Give us each day our daily bread. God gifts us with daily bread, all of us rely upon God’s grace and our willingness to do our part, to follow God who feeds and sustains us, as the Israelites learned wandering in the desert for 40 years, while God provided their daily manna.
But our daily bread is also for the “bread of life” the bread and wine of the Holy Eucharist which we yearn for and also the Kingdom moments where we sense our heavenly Father is right here with us on earth in 2022 bringing presence, healing, and comfort sometimes in the most surprising ways and with the most unexpected people or circumstances.
And Jesus goes on; Forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who have sinned against us. All of us, I suspect, want to live our lives with a clean slate free of the resentment and pain we hold onto after being hurt by another or the guilt and shame of having hurt others ourselves. Forgiveness is a process of letting go of the pain we have received or we have caused, forgiveness takes time and is grounded first in knowing that we are only human, flawed and sinful and that God forgives us first sending his only son, Jesus, to take on our sins yours and mine to restore us to right relationship with God and others.
Remember Christ died for you and you and you and from that restored relationship we have both the freedom and the obligation to forgive others their trespasses. In Jesus’ model prayer the last petition is do not bring us to the time of trial. God, our protector we pray do not lead us astray to situations and/or people that tempt us to be unfaithful to you. Jesus reminds us to be people of discernment looking for our own sinfulness and our world’s traps and special effects that try to convince us we are not your children, we don’t need you and we don’t’ want to walk hand in hand with you every step of the way. Each day to adore you and to share honestly our needs and wants.
Theologian Tim Keller writes…Praying our Lord’s prayer daily forces us to look for things to thank and praise God for in our dark times, presses us to repent and seek forgiveness in times of prosperity and success and disciplines us as God’s beloved children.
So, I invite you, sit with our Lord’s prayer this week. pray as Jesus taught all his disciples to pray, take time to adore God and ask for what you need and adore the words which may have become dusty and allow our Lord to restore their brilliant luster, to become a sparkling jewel in the prayer room of your heart.
 Henri Nouwen, “First Unclench Your Fists,” Beliefnet, https://www.beliefnet.com/faiths/2006/06/first-unclench-your-fists.aspx