Sunday, 24th of May, 2020 - The Lord's Prayer
Good morning or evening everyone. Today we gather together again in our homes, by our computers, over a cup of tea, or sitting in the sunshine. It is a real pleasure to welcome you to worship today, and I pray that in this time that you have set aside, you will gather your hearts and minds, you will set your spirit towards the things of God and you will find in this time a place of restoration, a place of peace and a space to breathe.
I know that we don’t have a lot of announcements at the moment, but I want to be sure that everyone is aware that next Sunday 31 May, Kerryn Morrison and I will be putting together a ‘goody-bag’ for worship. It is aimed at children and families, but will be suitable for any ages. We particularly want people to be aware that it is not just for the people who normally come in the evening. We are happy to make as many goody bags as we need, but we are hoping to have a bit of an idea about how many that is. We are going to make them available at church on Friday afternoon, or we can deliver if people need us to. Kerryn will be sending out an email to remind everyone, so if you can reply to that and let us know if you would like a goody bag, that would be great. We want to make sure there are enough.
Also, I wanted to draw people’s attention to the emails going around on the egroup about our church family. Keep reading them, and responding if you feel led. Thanks to everyone who has shared already. I think Pauline would be happy to hear from anyone else who is happy to share. I also want to note that this week there was one from Sue Woodland, our other new Church and Community Worker. I think most people met Khairul Hamdan before we went into lockdown, but you wouldn’t have met Sue, so I encourage you to have a read of her story and a look at her pictures so that if you see her around or she gives you a call, you will know who she is.
Acknowledgement of Country
As we gather on these ancient lands, we acknowledge the Wadi Wadi people of the Dharawal country, who are the traditional custodians of this land in which our church building stands. We pay our respects to Elders, past, present and emerging.
Jesus said, “Ask, and it will be given you; seek, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you.” — Luke 11:9
Lord, as we seek now, let us find you. As we knock, open the door to us. Let us know you that we may praise you and love you. As we ask, let us be given the gifts we need to serve you. Amen.
Song - How Great Thou Art
O Lord my God!
when I in awesome wonder
consider all the works Thou hand has made
I see the stars,
I hear the mighty thunder,
the power throughout
the universe displayed;
Then sings my soul,
my Saviour God, to Thee,
how great Thou art,
how great Thou art!
Then sings my soul,
my Saviour God, to Thee,
how great Thou art,
how great Thou art!
When through the woods and forest glades I wander
and hear the birds
sing sweetly in the trees;
when I look down
from lofty mountain grandeur,
and hear the brook,
and feel the gentle breeze;
And when I think
that God His Son not sparing,
sent Him to die –
I scarce can take it in,
that on the cross
my burden gladly bearing,
He bled and died
to take away my sin:
When Christ shall come
with shouts of acclamation
and take me home –
what joy shall fill my heart!
Then shall I bow
in humble adoration
and there proclaim, my God,
how great Thou art!
Hopefully, you all saw during the week the Scavenger Hunt which was prepared with help from the Young Samarateens. If you haven’t had a chance yet, I would encourage you to have a go. You can do it any time and could even go for a walk to find spot some of these things in your neighbourhood instead of in your own house.
There are a couple of other activities for today too. I want to encourage especially the kids, but also the adults to see if you can write your own simple version of the Lord’s Prayer, in language that is meaningful to you. If words aren’t your thing, you could try drawing your prayer. Start with any outline or even a whole A5 or A4 piece of paper and colour without having to draw anything specific. Let your colours be your prayers – see if you can include the different parts of the Lord’s prayer in it. I would love to see your prayers, your pictures and any photos of people’s Scavenger Hunt efforts.
I also have a special recording which might help us understand a little better what the Lord’s Prayer is all about. Let’s have a listen to it now:
Bible Readings – Luke 11:1-13
1 He was praying in a certain place, and after he had finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples.” 2 He said to them, “When you pray, say:
Father, hallowed be your name.
Your kingdom come.
3 Give us each day our daily bread.
4 And forgive us our sins,
for we ourselves forgive everyone indebted to us.
And do not bring us to the time of trial.”
5 And he said to them, “Suppose one of you has a friend, and you go to him at midnight and say to him, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves of bread; 6 for a friend of mine has arrived, and I have nothing to set before him.’ 7 And he answers from within, ‘Do not bother me; the door has already been locked, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot get up and give you anything.’ 8 I tell you, even though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, at least because of his persistence he will get up and give him whatever he needs.
9 “So I say to you, Ask, and it will be given you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you. 10 For everyone who asks receives, and everyone who searches finds, and for everyone who knocks, the door will be opened. 11 Is there anyone among you who, if your child asks for[e] a fish, will give a snake instead of a fish? 12 Or if the child asks for an egg, will give a scorpion? 13 If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit[f] to those who ask him!”
Bible Readings – Matthew 6:5-15
5 “And whenever you pray, do not be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, so that they may be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. 6 But whenever you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
7 “When you are praying, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do; for they think that they will be heard because of their many words. 8 Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.
9 “Pray then in this way:
Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name.
10 Your kingdom come.
Your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
11 Give us this day our daily bread.
12 And forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
13 And do not bring us to the time of trial,
but rescue us from the evil one.
14 For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you; 15 but if you do not forgive others, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.
Song – What A Friend We Have In Jesus
What a friend we have in Jesus
all our sins and griefs to bear,
what a privilege to carry
everything to God in prayer:
O what peace we often forfeit,
O what needless pain we bear,
all because we do not carry
everything to God in prayer.
Have we trials and temptations,
is there trouble anywhere?
We should never be discouraged:
take it to the Lord in prayer.
Can we find a friend so faithful
who will all our sorrows share?
Jesus knows our every weakness:
take it to the Lord in prayer
Are we weak and heavy-laden,
cumbered with a load of care?
Jesus is our only refuge:
take it to the Lord in prayer.
Do your friends despise, forsake you?
Take it to the Lord in prayer;
in his arms he’ll take and shield you,
you will find a solace there.
When Nathaniel suggested to me that for a service we could get the youth to help with we should focus on the Lord’s Prayer, its meaning and purpose, I thought it was a great idea – and then I thought, oh gee, how are we going to tackle that?? Truth be told, there is so much in here that I could do a four part series and we still wouldn’t cover it all, but I will do my best in what limited time we have.
The Lord’s Prayer is something that many of us have been reciting since we were tiny. I certainly remember first learning the ‘old’ version: “Our Father, who art in heaven…” and having competitions with my friends in Scripture classes to see if we could say it all the way though without taking a breath!
It can sometimes be true though that familiarity breeds contempt – or at least complacency and indifference. We have said it so many times that it just becomes words (our religious duty as we heard earlier). So my challenge to you today is to find afresh the meaning in the words of this beloved prayer – to pray it like you mean it and to expect God to listen and to answer you.
By way of background, it is helpful to understand the context in which Jesus teaches this prayer to his disciples – and there are two slightly different versions here from the two gospel readings we heard earlier.
In Matthew’s gospel at chapter 5 we hear that Jesus sees the crowds, goes up on the mountain and sat down with his disciples to teach them. This is the famous ‘Sermon on the Mount’. We have the beatitudes (all the different ‘Blessed are the…’). We have Jesus telling people about being the ‘salt of the earth’ and the ‘light of the world’. We have him claiming his purpose as coming to fulfil the Law and prophets – and then describing this in the context of a number of misunderstood laws. We have Jesus telling people what righteousness looks like (ps NOT the scribes and Pharisees). We have him instructing people to love everyone equally as God does (the sun rises and the rain falls indiscriminately) and to do good things for their own sake and not in order to be seen by others.
It is in this context that he goes on to say, “So, when you pray…”
After he teaches them the prayer, he goes on with some of the most quoted lines in the Bible: where your treasure is, there your heart will be also, do not worry, seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, sufficient for each day is its own trouble, God give good gifts to His children, good trees bear good fruit and then ending with the story of the Wise man who built his house on a rock and the Foolish man who built his house on sand – the wise following the words of Jesus and the foolish not.
The end of chapter 7 has the crowds being astonished and then Jesus comes back down the mountain. Is it any wonder they were astonished?? Here are 2 whole chapters of instruction about life, love, prayer, good deeds, and God’s provision. It is in this context that Matthew has Jesus teaching the way to pray – not to be seen by others, not so you will be thought holy, but regardless of your circumstances, so you will be heard by God. The instruction is to pray simply, not with lots of words (or complicated ones) but with specific attention to our relationship with God and how we can live that out in the world.
Luke has the context a little differently. Immediately prior to this, Jesus has already sent the disciples out 2 by 2 to spread the news of Christ. This is followed by the question about ‘Who is my neighbor?’ resulting in the story of the Good Samaritan, calling for a much broader perspective about loving everyone. This story is followed immediately by Jesus’ visit to Mary and Martha and the admonition we have heard so often: “Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things…” The lesson there was that Mary’s choice to sit and listen at the feet of Jesus was the better path. The next chapter then has Jesus praying alone somewhere (which you will notice he does pretty often throughout all the gospels) and one of the disciples approaching him to ask for him to teach them to pray, just as John the Baptist had taught his disciples to pray. Interesting that it is only ONE disciple. Was he nervous to ask? Were the others too nervous?
After teaching them the prayer, Jesus goes on to advise persistence in prayer. Some scholars say that where it says ask, seek and knock, the original Greek would more accurately be translated as ask and keep asking, seek and keep seeking, knock and keep knocking. This is not a lesson in say a prayer, get mad when you don’t get the answer you want. This is a lesson in deliberately and faithfully setting yourself to the task of prayer. More than that, Luke has Jesus going on to talk about how God, as heavenly Father, WANTS to give good gifts to His children – the Holy Spirit being the greatest of these gifts. Jesus then goes on to teach his disciples that there is power in prayer, including to drive out demons. Again, we have the ending of this section with Jesus making a distinction between those who hear, obey and practice what he has said (the blessed) and those who won’t (the Pharisees – hypocrites…woe to them).
So have you got the sense, then, that Jesus was telling his disciples that this prayer business was pretty important? He modelled it in his behavior and he told them that wisdom was to follow his instructions too.
So what about the words of the prayer itself? Well, I have 3 ways to look at the words of the prayer that I think are pretty important.
Firstly, look at the very first word – OUR. That word comes up 3 times in the form of the prayer as we now pray it. Also in there are WE and the word US 4 times. So a total of 8 collective pronouns and not ONE singular pronoun. What does that tell you about this prayer? Notwithstanding that Jesus says you can go and pray in a room by yourself, we are a Christian community. Our prayers are communal, our needs are communal and the desire of our hearts as expressed in our prayers ought to be communal. The very essence of the prayer captures the idea of loving your neighbor, showering our love on all of humanity equally through our prayers.
Secondly, I think it is really interesting to think about what the prayer tells us about whom God is, and who we are in relationship to God. Think about the names and attributes which are associated with God in this prayer:
FATHER (I think this can equally be parent or carer – the image of Father is not a positive one for everyone and it is important to remember that whatever you know of earthly fathers, the importance of this image is that it is one of care, intimacy and love. The word Jesus uses is Abba. This is the equivalent of Dad or Daddy, rather than the more aloof ‘Father’. If it helps you to think of God as Mother, or Mummy, or Mum that works too).
We also have HALLOWED, KING, WILLER, GIVER/PROVIDER, FORGIVER, SAVER, DELIVERER, POWERFUL, GLORIOUS and TIMELESS (think now and forever).
And what of us? We are named in this prayer as children of God (for who also can call God ‘Father’?). We are provided for, we are forgiven and are forgivers, we are saved and we are delivered. Most of this requires action by God. Other than learning to be forgivers, the principle action required of us is submission, surrender to, or receipt of that which God provides. I want to challenge you right now to think about the last time you said this prayer and whether you thought about it as a prayer of submission? A prayer of humble acceptance of God’s love, grace and action in your life? I suspect that too often we are actually more like teenagers than we would like to admit….adamant that we know everything about everything and asking for God to make earth as we think it should be, and with a sense that we are actually pretty good at providing for ourselves, thankyou very much. Can we really humble ourselves enough to pray this prayer of submission and dependence?
My third and final way of looking at the Lord’s Prayer is at the words themselves. You may want to refer to your Scavenger Hunt to give you some additional insight here.
Our Father in heaven – as I have already said, this beginning really speaks to God’s intimate knowledge of, and love for, us.
Hallowed be your name – Hallowed is a pretty old fashioned word, but is about reverence. We are saying God is Holy, wonderful, to be honoured and praised, treated with respect and worshipped. It is our attitude of submission and supplication before God.
Your kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as in heaven – And so the prayer goes on. Because God is to be honoured and praised, it is God’s kingdom and God’s will which should be done in the world. If it is God’s kingdom, then we need to be asking what are God’s plans for earth? If we want earth to be like heaven, don’t we need to have an understanding of what heaven is like in the first place? To my mind, heaven isn’t so much about fluffy clouds and angels or the best party you can ever imagine. I believe that heaven is being fully immersed in the presence of God – abiding with God. So if we are to have earth as heaven then we, those who are praying for it, can start that process by living fully in the presence of God, listening wholeheartedly to the Spirit and surrendering our will to God’s will.
Give us today our daily bread – remember Jesus goes on in his sermon to say that sufficient for each day is its own trouble. This line, I believe, is a call to be fully reliant on God. Just as the Israelites relied on the manna from God every day – they couldn’t store it in fact – so we must turn to God every single day. The Israelites are told in Deuteronomy that they cannot live on bread alone, but on every word which comes from the mouth of the Lord. Jesus, in chapter 6 of John’s gospel, makes some reference to this when he talks about those who ate the manna still going on to die. He promises that as the bread of heaven, those who feed on him will never die. Jesus wants us to let go of our worries, to live in such a way that we seek God first for the provision of our needs. This might seem very difficult in the midst of a pandemic, following on from devastating bushfires, which came in the wake of years of drought (and with a few floods thrown in too). I could say from a personal view that it is pretty hard to take in the midst of grief and chronic illness. But that is exactly the value of focusing on the present day and asking, Lord what is it that I can do today? Give me what I need to achieve it, the heart to do it and the right people to travel with.
And forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us – in the older version this is ‘trespass’ rather than sin. Again, this is just an older word for the same thing. Important to think about sin here being as against another person. ‘Trespass’ helps to give this idea of stepping over or invading someone else’s space, rights, boundaries or feelings. It is this breaking of relationship that happens when we sin against God or one another that we are being called to restore here. These lines are not meant to be a guilt trip. Rather, we are humbly asking God for us to both be AWARE – to convict our hearts of our own sins and to show us where we hold bitterness for the sins of others – and to be TAUGHT – that God’s forgiveness is for all (even me) and complete (think, clean slate) and we can also become forgivers, just like God is a forgiver.
Save us in the time of trial and deliver us from evil – importantly, this is the only line that is really quite different from the older version that some of you would be more familiar with. It says: “Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil”. The difficulty with this older translation is that it gives the impression that God might want to deliberately take you into temptation, which has all the hallmarks of the seductiveness of the devil about it. The newer translation came after a re-examination of the original text so that the first and second part of the line are more in step – God as saver and deliverer. There has also been significant debate about one single word in this newer version: Save us FROM the time of trial OR Save us IN the time of trial. Apparently, it can be translated either way. I have a very strong preference for the latter, and I will tell you why. Just as we said before that God asks us to focus on the cares of each day, so I want to tell you that not one of us is saved from every experiencing trial in our lives. The promise of God, I believe, is not that our faith will make our lives trouble free, but that God will be with us in the midst of the trouble. Think about the messiness of the stable at Bethlehem, the mess of Jesus’ trial, torture and crucifixion. God’s promise is the promise of resurrection – that we will see the sun rise again, that in the midst of the mess and the darkness God will be with us IN the time of our trial – however trying it may be – come pandemic, come isolation, come sickness, come death, come grief. GOD IS WITH US.
For the kingdom, the power and the glory are yours, now and forever. Amen – the last line is a reminder, again, that this really comes back to surrender. We don’t have to rely on our own strength and capacity to control the world, our friends and family, or even ourselves. The kingdom is God’s kingdom, the power is God’s power and the glory is God’s glory. God is in control. On top of that – God is in control forever because God has no beginning and no end. So my friends, do not worry and do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God who loves us, now and forever. Amen.
Prayers of Confession
Let us pray. Father, mother God. We confess that we have not always prayed the prayer that Jesus taught us like we meant it. We confess that days have passed when we have not prayed at all. We confess that we have not given you our full attention or our whole hearts. We confess that we have not surrendered our will, our worries, our lives to you. Forgive us and fill us with your Holy Spirit. Teach us, Lord Jesus, to pray simply and with sincerity.
Let us pray together now the Lord’s Prayer, in whatever version and language you are most comfortable:
Our Father in heaven,
Hallowed be Your name,
Your kingdom come, Your will be done,
On earth as in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread,
And forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us.
Save us in the time of trial, and deliver us from evil,
For the kingdom, the power and the glory are yours,
Now and forever. Amen.
Song – An Aboriginal Lord’s Prayer
You are our Father,
you live in heaven,
We talk to you,
Father, you are good
We believe your word,
We are your children,
give us bread today.
We have done wrong,
we are sorry,
Teach us, Father,
all about your word.
Others have done wrong
to us and we are
Sorry for them,
Stop us from doing wrong,
Save us all
from the evil one.
You are our Father,
you live in heaven,
We talk to you,
Father, you are good
Prayers for Others
Our loving Father,
I pray for the young adults of today.
Let us grow in grace and in our knowledge of our Lord and saviour Jesus Christ.
Allow us loving Father, to develop our desire to work in spirit and truth.
Allow us to grow in faith and be stablished in the truth of the gospel.
Guide us through the power of the holy spirit that we will come to know your loving care.
I pray through Jesus Christ our Lord.
In these troubling times we are reminded of the wisdom in God’s Holy Word.
In the day of Prosperity – Rejoice!
In the day of Adversity – Consider.
Let us all pray:
Divine and merciful God,
In this time of lockdown and isolation from people and things we love so much we have indeed had the space and opportunity to consider. We are looking at the world through COVID-coloured glasses because of the way the virus pandemic has impacted out lives in ways we never would have dreamed of. But you are still God and we are still your Easter people, living in your Resurrection hopes and promises.
There will always be the temptation to behave like spoilt children with all our whims and wants to be satisfied by unlimited freedom and we have to face the realization that we can either put our trust in the shifting sands of false security of the or the Rock of Salvation, our Lord Jesus Christ. We may have learned a little about how the virus behaves, but a whole lot more about our own behaviour under pressure.
Lord, we pray for all your faithful servants who hold the Christ-light out to those who live in spiritual isolation and self-distancing for reasons that are unbeknown, even to themselves
Lord we prayer for all those who mourn the loss of loved ones and have been unable to experience the customary rituals and comfort from other that are normally expressed at these life events. We continue to hold Pat and the family in our prayers, losing Ross so unexpectedly, and the decisions that need to be made concerning Keith.
We prayer for our beloved Net and her continuing treatment and we prayer for your closest bonds of strength and peace to surround the whole family Nigel, Nat, Sam, newly-married Andrew and Chelsea, Tim, and the much-loved matriarch of the family, Heather.
And now let us come together in silence, as a community of faith, with the people and the needs known to us the most personally. We lay them at the foot of your Cross now.
On Saturday, 30th May, we will celebrate our National Day of Thanks, and Lord, we have so much to be thankful for.
We thank you for the vising and determination of our Minister, Net, who would have built the refurbished Church building with her own bare hands if she had to. Thank you, Lord, for the way she inspired and empowered the gifts and expertise of a Christ-motivated team of people to bring it all to fruition. And we thank you for our newly-appointed and just as Christ-motivated Church and Community Workers, Sue and Khairul, as they share this new chapter of our faith-story with us; the sharing of Your Grace and the furthering of Your Kingdom.
We thank you for all the blessings that our human minds cannot even comprehend or acknowledge and so we thankfully and humbly pray they prayer taught to us by our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
So go from this time of worship into this day, knowing you are a beloved child of God. Go, seeking first God’s will. Go, listening with wisdom to all that Jesus taught us. Go, abiding in the Spirit. Amen
As a final note, I just want to encourage anyone who has access to the internet to have a listen to this Andrea Bocelli version of the Lord’s Prayer with the Tabernacle Choir. Enjoy and God bless you.