In this series, we’re looking at the narrative themes of Covenant and Kingdom, as they are the DNA of the Bible and integral for Kingdom people to have active, alive, and relevant walks with Jesus.
Osheta defined Covenant as: Our commitment to become a “beloved community”, a people who choose to be in relationship with God and others because of God’s example of love for us throughout the whole of Scripture.
And Kingdom as: The collective and individual responsibility of the “beloved community” to live in the world as ambassadors of Christ, our King who is the very embodiment of love.
To help us live this Out Jesus gave us a prayer to remember so that we can take these big ideas and make them accessible for us now. Much like a preschool teacher uses rhymes and songs like, “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star” or “Humpty Dumpty”, Jesus used his prayer, which is often called, “The Lord’s Prayer” to help his disciples lives these values out in their every day lives.
The Lord’s Prayer is found in Matthew and goes as follows:
Our Father, who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name,
thy kingdom come,
thy will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those
who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom,
and the power, and the glory,
for ever and ever. Amen.
The fact that it’s found in Matthew is significant. Matthew, in writing his Gospel, was focused on highlighting the way Jesus embodied the way of the Messiah, and it’s in his account that we receive this valuable guide for embodying the Jesus way. Some scholars believe that Jesus crafted the prayer as a strategic way to teach the disciples — because he knew throughout his ministry, death, and resurrection that he was planning to embody the value in the prayer so that when the disciples would pray it, their minds would call up snapshots of their time with Jesus and his teaching.
Osheta suggests we read and reflect on the Lord’s Prayer daily to reaffirm and recommit our lives to living in Covenant with God and others, and living the Kingdom way, so she led the group through a time of reflecting on each line using the N.T Wright Kingdom New Testament translation which makes the original Greek more readable and natural for a contemporary audience.
This goes as follows:
Our father in heaven,
May your name be honored,
May your kingdom come,
May your will be done
As in heaven, so on earth.
Give us today the bread we need now;
And forgive us the things we owe,
As we too have forgiven what was owed to us.
Don’t bring us into the great trial, but rescue us from evil.
Each line has one big idea for the reader and because Jesus was such an amazing teacher, Osheta highlighted possibly one teaching or snapshot from his ministry where he lived this out.
Our father in heaven, may your name be honored: Our picture of God matters. We should have a picture of God as a tender and loving father, much like in the parable of the Prodigal Son or as many like to refer to it, the parable of the “Loving Father”. When Jesus prayed, “Abba Father” and in this prayer when he begins with “Our Heavenly Father,” Jesus is teaching us about the character of God, that we are in covenant with a tender and loving father and when we speak out this truth, we honor him. Which bears asking a question we consider here often: What is our picture of God? If your picture of God is good, loving, and tender, then why on earth would you even want to pray to him and furthermore, why on earth would you want live for him?
As in heaven, so on earth: We begin looking at this line by reflecting on Matthew 6:33
But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
Jesus teaches about what we should be worried/concerned/occupied with. The whole of Jesus’ ministry was to proclaim that the Kingdom of God has come… in fact this proclamation is the first thing Jesus says in his public ministry. Matthew tells us that Jesus says, “The time has come, the Kingdom of Heaven has arrived.”
So pray this prayer for the success of Jesus’ Kingdom ministry and so that we can partner with God to restore all things as they should be. We are aligning our “say so” with God’s, that shalom is God’s desire for the world to be made right. When we pray, “your kingdom come, may your will be done as in heaven so on earth,” we are saying that we desire what God desires: that heaven and earth will be brought together in as Wright puts it, “a single bond, with he himself as King and Lord.” And we’re committing to create that around us as we are led.
Give us today the bread we need now: In Matthew 14 we see that Jesus met the physical, and felt needs of his people. This is important for us to note because Isaiah said that the Messiah would feed the hungry. In Isaiah 55:1 we’re told the when the King comes he will proclaim “Everyone who thirsts come to the waters, and you that have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price.”
God cares about our needs. He cares when we’re hungry. He cares when we’re worried about making the mortgage. He cares when we don’t have enough to put gas in the car. He cares about our students going back to school with all the supplies they need.
So this line in the Lord’s prayer has the capacity to unlock three important things in us.
1. A trust that God desires to provide
2. A courage to ask for what we need
3. A resolve to step in and meet the needs of those who ask
Right in the heart of the Lord’s prayer, we’re reminded God cares.
And forgive us the things we owe, as we too have forgiven what was owed to us: The Lord’s prayer reorients our relationship to the God we’re in covenant with, but now Jesus is getting all up in our business — he’s now asking us to reorient the way we live in covenant with others, and Jesus desires for his disciples to be a community known for the love and a family that practices forgiveness. Throughout the Gospel of Matthew Jesus teaches on forgiveness because forgiveness is at the heart of the Kingdom Way. Forgiveness is what Jesus showed when he told the woman caught in the act of adultery: Then Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are your accusers? Has no one condemned you?” “No one, Lord,” she answered.“Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Now go and sin no more.”
And from the cross Jesus prayed! Prayed for forgiveness. If we want to know how we should pray then it might make sense to pay attention to how Jesus prayed and forgiveness is one of the things that matters to God. This is a defining attribute of Kingdom people, we know we are forgiven and so we forgive others.
Osheta told a story about forgiving her sister while they were planning their mother’s funeral which points to the power of forgiveness and empathy that we can have as Kingdom people. She makes sure to highlight that:
1. Forgiveness is a heart issue… we choose to forgive without expecting anything from others.
2. Forgiveness is not reconciliation… boundaries and healthy expectations are good.
3. Forgiveness requires perseverance… it’s a choice everyday.
Don’t bring us into the great trial, but rescue us from evil: God doesn’t entice us to sin. That’s antithetical to the God we have in Covenant and the God we prayed to at the beginning who is a holy and Good Father. So that’s not what this means. In fact, recently, Pope John Francis approved a change to the Lord’s Prayer. Instead of saying, “Lead us not into temptation,” he suggested it be changed to, “Do not let us fall into temptation, [because] a father doesn’t do that; a father helps you to get up immediately. It’s Satan who leads us into temptation, that’s his department.” So when we read this last line remembering whom we’re in Covenant with – a Good Father – and committing to live the Kingdom way, then we must be prepared for opposition. This is what we learn in Jesus’ time in the wilderness. So when we pray for the Kingdom of God to come and we ask God to rescue us from evil, we are asking for protection and perseverance when we face opposition. You see, the Kingdom is completely opposite to the world: while the world uses violence and dehumanization, anxiety and fear to accomplish peace; the Kingdom of God uses love, and serving others, and forgiveness to bring peace, and these are always always at odds with each other. We’re caught in the middle of a war and when we pray, “Don’t bring us in to the great trial, but rescue us from evil” we are:
1. Acknowledging the battle that is raging around us.
2. Accepting that we’re vulnerable to it and maybe even feel as if we’re in our own kind of wilderness.
3: Asking God to protect us or empower us to resist the enemy whose greatest delight is that we would reject our Covenant to God and abandon our Kingdom identity.
Osheta then led us in praying the Lord’s prayer together in whatever translation and language felt most natural.
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