The LORD’s Prayer

So, now, with my mom’s unknowing encouragement, after-all the LORD’s prayer is “just a model prayer,” I will attempt to pray all of the things that usually go through my mind when I pray the WIND’s prayer (with the confidence of one of God’s own children, I now pray the prayer you prayed to yourself) [which is cobbled together from the email I write to myself for the blog I write for myself so I can really think about what I’m thinking about].

Our Father (care giver, musher, Keeper), who lives in heaven, hallowed be thy name.
Thy kingdom (kinship, neighborhood) come (and) Thy will be done, on earth (the here-now) as it is in heaven.

(Heaven: There is. Another world waiting. Anyone can tell that I’m not lying. Anyone Can Tell by Crowded House. There is a heaven, the earth as it should be. Heaven is all around us, among us. It is within reach. Heaven is the there-then and forever-after. It is the new Jerusalem.)

(Kingdom: Kingdom is loaded. It is all wrong for me, full of negative, medieval connotations. It is a throw-back. But somehow, I also feel comforted by its ancientness, its remoteness; and I understand what everyone is trying to get at. It is a good kingdom, the perfectly-ruled Kingdom, abounding in grace [undeserved favor], justice, and truth.)

Give us this day our daily bread, like You did for the Hebrews, when they were in the desert, wandering, evading pharaoh, trying to find themselves and you, before you would let them enter their own land, before they could cash-in on the promise, before they could rest, before Sabbath. (We have so much in common with the Hebrews.) Teach us to trust you.

And forgive us our debts, in the same way that we forgive our debtors.

And lead us not into temptation (or try us or test us, like Job or Abraham with Isaac), but deliver (and save) us from (the) evil (easy path).

Because thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory, now and forever.

(That last line always reminds me of Jesus (in Jesus Christ Superstar) weeping over Jerusalem. In the movie, Simon the Zealot and his fifty-thousand devotees do a frenzied, sweating dance in which they pledge to give their lives for Jesus. They are ready to throw off the Roman oppressors. Simon sings, “There must be over fifty thousand, screaming out their love for you. And every one of fifty thousand, would do whatever you ask them to…” But after they have finished, Jesus sings, “Neither you Simon, (nor you Nelson), nor the fifty-thousand, nor the Romans, nor the Jews, nor Judas, nor the twelve, nor the Priests, nor the Scribes, nor doomed Jerusalem itself… understand what power is, understand what glory is, understand at all. Understand at all.”)

Amen. (Let it be.)

And I am reminded of my high school girlfriend who said she wasn’t going to say “Amen” until she figured out what it meant. She figured it out within the week. She asked her pastor, and he translated it to “so be it”. Close enough.

I like that the LORD’s prayer is a corporate prayer. We say it together. There’s no “me” in the LORD’s prayer; there’s we and us.

I’m going to keep on saying “Father,” even though I haven’t figured it out yet. Even though I am one. Trapped in these ideas and words, this world, this time, what’s a mortal to do? I follow the model, the script when I don’t understand.

And I am reminded of the Book of Acts, where Paul preaches to the Greeks, the Athenians, whom I admire. And he says (Acts 17:29), “Therefore since we are God’s offspring, we should not think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone—an image made by human design and skill.” (Now, I’m going to run with that.) God is not earth, nor water, nor fire. And God is not just not things; God is not an idea either. God is not something we can imagine or have an idea of: not a perfect Father (or Mother), nor Son, nor Holy Ghost. Then why mold, cast, and carve our god from these things and pray to them? Even the best dad (even the best King, President, or CEO) I can imagine is not anything like God.

I fear when I do these things (when I imagine God as a perfect version of something) that I am praying to my own idea of God, putting God on a pedestal. I remind myself, “Be careful. Walk humbly.” God is neither this nor that. Neither not, nor naught, nor knot. But not nothing either. God is like nothing I have ever known, except through God’s Word and Work and Jesus. Oh, and some traditions, my experience, and the confessions. And snippets of songs that go through my head.

When I think about being God’s offspring, I think about all the time that it took to bring us into existence. And I think that we must have a future, because our past is so full of hardships overcome and promises fulfilled. And the God who brought us this far will not abandon us. We are in God’s hands. God will be with us.

And I am as confused and confounded by Caitlyn Jenner as anyone, but I find some justification there for acquiescing to addressing God as “Father” in the LORD’s prayer. NPR received many letters about their use of pronouns during a story on Jenner. He or she? His or hers? Of course, NPR had an explanation. They honor the pronoun that the person uses to refer to themselves. And sure enough, when Caitlyn refers to herself in the present, she uses “she” and “hers;” but in the past tense, she uses “he” and “his.”

I find that interesting, because I take some comfort in Galatians 3:28, where Paul writes that  “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” And there are definitely not his and hers towels.

So, I will honor Jesus by referring to God (at least in the prayer that Jesus taught us to pray in the time when the Romans occupied Judah, Israel, and Jerusalem) with a salutary “Our Father.” But after that I am glad to switch to thee and thine.

And “thee” and “thine” used to feel stand-offish, olde-school, moldy-fashioned, until I learned something about Spanish pronouns. There is Yo for “I,” Usted for the “formal-you-third-person,” and there is Tu for the “familiar-you.” (My Spanish teacher would say “Hola, pared (wall),” when prompting for the answer from a checked-out, silent class.) He cautioned us, “Do not use the tu pronoun until you get to know someone, until they tell you it is ok to call them tu.” That’s when you know you are friends, part of the family, when you have become familiar, no longer a stranger.

I didn’t connect this immediately with the LORD’s prayer. It wasn’t until sometime later when I heard someone say that “thee” and “thine” were the familiar forms of “you” from Middle English. They had just fallen out of common usage. It’s a shame, because I like the familiar-you. It is a way to signify your closeness, acceptance.

So God is family. Jesus introduced us, and Jesus said it was ok to address God in the familiar form, no matter how strange and other God is. Jesus is my brother. And (see what grace God has that) I am bold (and humbled) to claim my place as a child of God. There is a many personed God: God, Jesus, Spirit, and you and thee and me. We are family.

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