Sermon 28th July 2019 – 7th Sunday after Pentecost
Text Luke 11:1-13 – Lord, teach us to pray.
In our Gospel reading today we have Luke’s version of the Lord’s Prayer which Jesus gave to his disciples to teach them how to pray.
It’s a little bit different to Matthew’s version which is a more fuller account and which we have come to know as we pray the Lord’s Prayer.
I thought perhaps we could again look at Luke’s version in today’s Gospel using Luther’s explanation and what it means today.
Probably the most audacious part of the Lord’s Prayer is that we can dare call God “Father”.
After all we have done to God by our disobedience and all that we did to his Son – we dare to call him “father”.
And yet this is what Jesus invites us to do.
This invitation shows the very heart of God who cannot disown his children despites their disobedience.
That is true love.
This invitation is Jesus’ work of reconciliation of the world to God when after his resurrection, when the work of dying for our sins was over, Jesus sends Mary with the message to the disciples – tell them I am ascending to my father and YOUR father.
Luther says that we should embrace this invitation to call God “our Father”
We are to believe that God is truly our Father and we are his children.
We are to pray to him with complete confidence and speak to him just as a child speaks with their parents.
Prayer is communicating with God.
It is speaking to God as we would speak to our parents.
The challenge in this is that not everyone has or had a good relationship with their earthly parents;
But God is the true reflection of Fatherhood in his unconditional love for his children.
But prayer is also listening to God like listening to our parents – and that can be hard at times also.
Children don’t always like to hear what their parents have to say to them especially when it is to discipline them by saying “no”.
But as we mature and maybe become parents ourselves, we begin to understand what that discipline meant and how it actually benefitted us.
And so Jesus says: 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 to those who ask him!
Hallowed be your name,
Hallowed is not a word we are altogether too familiar with.
What does it mean?
Basically it means to keep something special – in this prayer – to keep God’s name special or sacred.
Why is that important?
Because your name is who you are.
Your name is what identifies you.
So when Moses went to fight against Pharaoh to release Israel from slavery, the weapon God gave to Moses was his name.
A name that he, and we now, can call upon at God’s invitation.
When Jesus fulfilled all that God asked of him Philippians says that God gave to him the name that is above all names.
So how do we keep God’s name special?
We do that by remembering that everything we say – everything we do – reflects on God’s name.
When we say and do things that upset or hurt people and they know that we are Christians it reflects on God’s name.
We see that so often in the media whether it’s clergy or laypeople who do the wrong thing – they criticise the Church and God.
So as Christians we need to be aware that what we do affects God’s name.
This is more than just the 2nd Commandment – do not misuse God’s name – this is at the heart of the First and Greatest Commandment – to love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength – and your neighbour as yourself.
As we are created in the image of God, what we do is as if God himself has done it.
Your kingdom come.
Why do we pray this?
Aren’t we waiting for Heaven when God’s kingdom will come?
Isn’t this world evil and rejected by God?
The wonderful thing about this part of the Lord’s Prayer is God’s continued love for this world.
Despite how far many have drifted away from God – God will never drift away from anyone.
Despite all that we did to his Son Jesus God still wants his Kingdom here on earth until we are with him in heaven.
It’s what Luther described as the 2 Kingdoms of God;
God’s left kingdom – the worldly Government – and his right Kingdom – the Kingdom of his Gospel.
Just because we chose to disobey him and were removed from the Garden of Eden does not mean God has abandoned us to our own devices until we are in heaven.
No, God still wants to make his home here amongst us and so we pray – your Kingdom come.
A kingdom, where through our Baptism as promised – I am with you always till the end of the age.
And that means that we too, according to Luther’s Small Catechism – that we are to live a godly life on earth now as in heaven.
If it is something we won’t be doing in heaven then we should not be doing it here on earth while we await God’s Kingdom.
Give us each day our daily bread.
Bread, according to Luther, is symbolic of everything we need for this life – such as food, clothing, home, work and income, community, good government. Favourable weather, peace, health, a good name and true friends and neighbours.
But bread is also symbolic of the love and care that God extends to us as we journey to our heavenly home.
Just as God provided daily bread to the Israelites as they wandered the desert for 40 years onward to the Promised Land.
Each day God would provide them with Manna to show them that he cared for their daily needs.
So too God has promised to love and care for us on our journey to our promised land with the promise of Jesus, the Bread of Life – I am with you always till the end of the age.
Forgive us our sins,
This part is easy to pray – forgive us our sins – but it’s what follows that pricks our conscience:
for we also forgive everyone who sins against us.
Not some – not most – not almost everyone – but we forgive everyone who sins against us.
Is that blackmail?
I won’t forgive you unless you forgive others?
It’s a reality check that if we cannot forgive someone who has sinned against us – have we truly understood the gravity of our sin against God and how much he has forgiven us?
How can we truly justify saying – God should surely understand why I can’t forgive that person for what they did to me – and yet readily accept God’s forgiveness for having caused great suffering, humiliation and death to his son Jesus.
God’s concern in this petition is wanting us to know the full extent of his love and mercy to us which can only be experienced when we show the same unconditional love and mercy to others.
And finally - lead us not into temptation.
This is a tricky one as many have argued that God does not tempt anyone –
And that’s true as St James says in his letter: When tempted, no one should say, "God is tempting me." For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone;
And so some have changed this part of the prayer to “save us from the time of trial”.
This petition does not say – don’t tempt us.
It says, lead us not into temptation.
Luther explains it best when he says in his Catechism:
We ask in this prayer that God would watch over us and keep us so that the devil, the world, and our sinful self may not deceive us and that even though we are tempted that we may still win the final victory.
Temptation doesn’t come from God but it is to God we go when we feel tempted and don’t know which way to go – so we pray – lead us not into temptation.
In other words – lead us in a way that leads to doing your will.
Temptation is a part of our human existence to turn away from God.
It was how Satan lured Adam and Eve away from God.
It was how Satan lured Jesus to turn his back on God too – but as we know from the writer to the Hebrews – he was tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin.
And it is because of this that not only can we come to him but the Hebrews writer says - Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.
This is a very powerful prayer and should never just become something we say or do.
It encompasses everything that God enshrines in his love and mercy for us – who knows us more intimately than we know ourselves – who knows what we need and not just what we want.
So often we hear people respond to situations – my thoughts and prayers are with you.
But this is not what Jesus is doing.
He is giving us access to the presence of God and says - Ask, and it will be given you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you. For everyone who asks receives, and everyone who searches finds, and for everyone who knocks, the door will be opened.
And this is not just any door – it is the door to the Kingdom of Heaven to which Jesus has given us the Keys.
Like any relationship, communication is the key to sustaining and growing and here Jesus has given to us the Masterkey so we can with confidence pray and come to the Father – our Father in Heaven.