common element in private and corporate Christian worship, the Lord's Prayer.
THE LORD'S PRAYER
In the Episcopal order of worship, the priest sometimes introduces the
Lord's Prayer with the words, "Now, as our Savior Christ hath taught us, we
are bold to say . . ." The word "bold" is worth thinking about. We do well
not to pray the prayer lightly. It takes guts to pray it all. We can pray it
in the unthinking and perfunctory way we usually do only by disregarding what
we are saying.
"Thy will be done" is what we are saying. That is the climax of the first
half of the prayer. We are asking God to be God. We are asking God to do not
what we want but what God wants. We are asking God to make manifest the
holiness that is now mostly hidden, to set free in all its terrible splendor
the devastating power that is now mostly under restraint. "Thy kingdom come .
. . on earth" is what we are saying. And if that were suddenly to happen, what
then? What would stand and what would fall? Who would be welcomed in and who
would be thrown the Hell out? Which if any of our most precious visions of
what God is and of what human beings are would prove to be more or less on the
mark and which would turn out to be phony as a three-dollar bill? Boldness
indeed. To speak those words is to invite the tiger out of the cage, to
unleash a power that makes atomic power look like a warm breeze.
You need to be bold in another way to speak the other half. Give us.
Forgive us. Don't test us. Deliver us. If it takes guts to face the
omnipotence that is God's, it takes perhaps no less to face the impotence that
is ours. We can do nothing without God. We can have nothing without God.
Without God we are nothing.
It is only the words "Our Father" that make the prayer bearable. If
God is indeed something like a father, then as something like children maybe
we can risk approaching him anyway.
-Frederick Buechner, in LISTENING TO YOUR LIFE: DAILY MEDITATIONS WITH
FREDERICK BUECHNER, Compiled by George Connor, Harper Collins, 1992.
Have a great week,
Pastor of Worship and Music
Chapel Hill Bible Church
Chapel Hill, North Carolina