GO and DO
Luke 10: 37 “Jesus said to him, ‘Go and do likewise.’”
When Jesus was being tested by a lawyer, he told one of the most famous stories in the Bible: The Good Samaritan. A man was robbed, beaten, and left by the side of the road. Some people who should have helped, just passed on by. Then a Samaritan, who was a hated outsider, stopped and cared for the injured man. Jesus asked the lawyer ‘Who was a neighbour? He said ‘The one who showed him mercy.”. To which Jesus said, ‘Go and do likewise.’
What does it mean to show mercy? Mercy is showing compassion when you don’t have to. Mercy is forgiveness even when it’s hard. Mercy is being kind just because it is the right thing to do. Mercy is caring for those in need even if it’s inconvenient. For Christians, showing mercy is an essential part of loving God and loving our neighbours as ourselves. From Jesus, we learn that it may be in unexpected people and surprising situations that mercy is shown, and with his example, we can go and do likewise.
For THINE is the Kingdom, Power, and Glory
1 Chronicles 29: 11 “Thine, O Lord, is the greatness, and the power, and the glory, and the victory, and the majesty: for all that is in heaven and in earth is thine.”
As we come to the end of our series on “The Lord’s Prayer: the power and meaning of the prayer Jesus taught” by Adam Hamilton, we turn to the final line. ‘For thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory for ever and ever, Amen. Even though the line was probably not part of the original words of Jesus, it is an appropriate end to the prayer. It is a doxology, which is a fancy word for an expression of praise to God. Christians believe God is worthy to be praised for all that God has done and all that God will do. The kingdom, the power, and the glory of God is to be celebrated, so we sing, worship, and pray in response.
The Lord’s Prayer is an important part of Christian worship. It teaches about the nature of God and is a call to live out our faith. It strengthens our relationship with the divine and turns our eyes to the needs of the world. Adam Hamilton says “May these powerful words daily shape our hearts and lives, and through us the world in which we live. Forever. Amen”.
Lead Us God
Matthew 6: 13 “Lead us, not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.”
Temptation: when we think of that word we imagine all those things we know we shouldn’t have or the things we shouldn’t do? Bingeing on unhealthy foods or watching too many shows on Netflix. Telling a little white lie or ‘borrowing’ office supplies from work. Engaging in an inappropriate relationship or committing a crime. These are not life-giving activities and they may even lead to harm for ourselves and for others.
The reality is that temptations begin in our thoughts. So, it makes sense that a change of behaviour starts in our minds and that is why prayer plays a role in shaping who we are and what we do. In the prayer that Jesus taught, we pray ‘Lead us, not into temptation’. We are not suggesting that God would lead us into tempting situations, but that God would lead us on the right path, away from temptations. When we pray, we ask God to change our thoughts, to give us strength, and to lead us to make good and life-giving choices.
Forgive…As We Forgive
Matthew 6:12 “And forgive us our sins, as we have forgiven those who sin against us.”
One of the main messages of Jesus was forgiveness and reconciliation. In a world where vengeance and revenge were the norm, he taught love, mercy, and grace. It was message needed in the first century just as much as it’s needed today. Forgiveness is about letting go of bitterness and anger so that we can be in right relationship with each other and with God. Forgiveness is about accountability and taking the first step to apologize for our hurtful actions. Forgiveness is about freedom to live an abundant life.
Adam Hamilton says, “Forgiveness is both a choice and a process. This is true in accepting it for yourself, as well as in practicing it towards others. Jesus links God’s forgiveness with our forgiveness of others. In a sense, we cannot fully accept God’s forgiveness when we continue to hold on to our anger or bitterness towards others.” As we continue our series on the Lord’s Prayer, we will explore the many characteristics of forgiveness from the example set by Jesus.
Our Daily Bread
Matthew 6:11 “Give us this day our daily bread.”
In prayer, we praise and thank God, but we also pray for the things we need and want for ourselves and for others. In the Lord’s prayer, Jesus taught his followers to say, ‘give us this day our daily bread’. Bread can mean the literal bread we need to live and thrive and is featured in a number of miracles in the Bible. Bread can also represent Jesus as the one who feeds our souls.
Adam Hamilton says, “When we’re literally hungry, we pray ‘Give us this day the bread we need’. When we have plenty, we pray ‘Give all of us this day the bread that we need’, we are both praying for and offering to help those in need. And we are also praying for the bread of life, Christ, who satisfies our hungry hearts.” As we continue to study the power and meaning of the prayer Jesus taught, we will consider what it means to ask for, and be given, our daily bread.
Whose kingdom come? Whose will be done?
Matthew 6:10 “Your kingdom come. Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”
As we continue to look at the Lord’s Prayer, we explore what it means to have God’s kingdom come and who will be done. It has been argued that this is the most important line in the prayer that Jesus taught his followers. Author Adam Hamilton writes, “In fact it is the central concern of Jesus’ whole ministry. His teaching, life, death, and resurrection focused on announcing God’s kingdom, inviting people to be a part of it, and encouraging people to not only pray, but to live in such a way that God’s kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven.” To live in God’s kingdom is to do the will of God when we embody the love and compassion, and the hope and grace of God. The Lord’s Prayer becomes more than a prayer, when we see it as a call to action and a guide to living out God’s vision of the world.
The Lord’s Prayer
Luke 11: 1 “Jesus was praying in a certain place, and after he had finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples.”
This Sunday, we begin a series about the Lord’s Prayer. It was a prayer Jesus directed his followers to say when they wanted to learn how to pray. For many years, the prayer has been faithfully recited in churches as part of their worship to God. But, how often have we actually really considered what the words mean to our faith and to our lives. The first line: “Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name” proclaims the majesty, power, and holiness of God. It lays the foundation of who we pray to, one who is worthy to be honoured and praised. Over the next few weeks, we’ll be exploring the meaning and power of the prayer Jesus taught.
From Dry Bones to Life
Ezekiel 37: 4-5 “Then he said to me, “Prophesy to these bones, and say to them: O dry bones, hear the word of the Lord. Thus says the Lord God to these bones: I will cause breath to enter you, and you shall live.”
There is story in the Bible about dry old bones in a valley that come to life through the spirit of God. It might bring up images of dancing skeletons or a scene from a horror movie, but the metaphor used by the ancient writer was meant to give the reader hope in desperate times. God’s Spirit was, and is, always a source of life.
Many of us have experienced our own “valley of dry bones”, especially in the past two years. The isolation, illness, loss of income, and total change of routine because of the pandemic, may have left us feeling hopeless and discouraged. However, even when we might feel like that pile of dry bones, God’s Spirit never falters. For in the most difficult circumstances, we are assured that through Jesus, death was overcome, and through the Holy Spirit, we can know new and hopeful life. Thanks be to God.