On the remaining days until Pentecost, we will reflect each day on a phrase from the Lord’s Prayer. Each phrase is so rich in meaning and is steeped in the history of Jewish people and can be found in the Old Testament. However, what are absolutely unique are the words with which we are encouraged by Jesus to address God– “Our Father”.
The prayer begins with no grand title, only the address as to the father of a family. The prayer we say every Sunday – sometimes without even thinking of the words – was in fact a radical departure from the normal way of praying. Nowadays we have lost the sense of just how radical it is in its call to intimacy with God. As Rowan Williams notes, “This is the prayer which you address to God in the most intimate of terms, not telling him how wonderful he is, not grovelling in any way before him, but just coming with complete confidence”.
In the first century world, such a concept was shocking and strange. It was not a one-off comment: Jesus continues the theme when speaking to Mary Magdalene saying, “I’m ascending to my father and your father”.
This image of father can be problematic for those amongst us that have had far from ideal relationships with our own fathers. However, the best example of the ‘father’ Jesus pictured when saying this prayer or when he cried out on the cross to His father, was the image of the forgiving father in the parable of the prodigal son, a father who is always ready to love, forgive, allow us to wipe the slate clean and begin again even when we are ’still far off’.
It is this intimate and transforming personal relationship with God which is at the heart of the Gospel. It is the very words with which we start our most well-known prayer that tell us a huge amount about who we are as Christians, about our Christian belief.
So please read again Luke 15:11-32. Today we pray for evangelization in the area of Maidenbower bounded by Maidenbower Drive, Billinton Drive and Laud Drive/Tudor Close and, amongst the schools in the parish, for Maidenbower Infant School – please pray for families, for the head, Sarah and her staff and all the children that go to the School. Also pray for the Messy Church that meets monthly in the school and for the trip to Worth Church by Year 2 children this term. And please lift up our Parish Vision Day, being held today, that the Father’s love will be seen and experienced.
Who in your Son Jesus Christ,
Declared the coming of your Kingdom,
Strengthen us in the ways of righteousness
And peace, that our brothers and sisters may
Know the healing power of the gospel,
And that you will be done on earth,
as it is in heaven;
Through Jesus Christ our Lord.