Let's Get Political

The Lord’s Prayer, that we say every Sunday before communion, is found twice in the bible, first in Matthew 6 and again in Luke 11. In both instances, Jesus is publicly teaching his disciples how to pray. In my travels this summer, I was surprised to learn how radical and political this prayer was for the time.

Our Father
In the ancient world, gods were viewed as distant and detached, uncaring or uninterest in the affairs of humanity. But this god that Jesus prays to is a father figure, who cares about humanity as his children.

Who art in Heaven
All the ancient gods had homes; Heaven was the place this Hebrew God lived.

Hallowed by thy name
Words mattered to the ancient Jews. God created the world with words. The name of this god is a powerful word.

Your Kingdom come
Here we get political. In the middle of the Roman empire—the most powerful military kingdom the world had ever seen—this rabbi Jesus is publicly praying for a new kingdom.

Your will be done
And the politics continue. People had no voice in this ancient world. The empire controlled every aspect of life and told the people what to do. But this rabbi Jesus teaches submission to God, not to Rome.

On Earth as it is in Heaven
The church tends to talk about Heaven as some place we all go after death, but Jesus is praying for this life to be Heaven. The political statement here is “We can all do better than this.”

Give us this day our daily bread
In the ancient roman empire, whenever food was given to the people the response was “Hail Caesar, who gives us our daily bread.” Jesus hijacks it and says “No, God provides, not Caesar.”

And forgive us our trespasses
Another unique thing about this God: forgiveness is freely given, not earned.

As we forgive those who trespass against us
We know that there are two sides to every story. We sometimes hurt others unknowingly, and we realize that others hurt us, not out of malice, but ignorance. So we pray that we can let it go.

And lead us not into temptation
We acknowledge two things here (1) God is in charge, we are not (2) life is hard. Because life is hard, we need God to be with us, because it is easy to lose our path with all of the obstacles and temptations.

But deliver us from evil
Evil is all around. School shootings, wars, systematic oppression, racism, sexual assault, etc…. we’ve made a mess of things. We need God to help us fix it.

For thine is the kingdom, the power, and the glory forever and ever. Amen.
This part is known as “the doxology” and is not in the bible. It was added by the church years later. Different denominations use slightly different versions of it.

When we pray this prayer, we are joining hundreds of thousands of believers across the generations in boldly announcing, we have a God who loves us, who knows we can do better, who cares about the struggles of this life, and who will be with us forever and ever.

Amen!

Zach

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