Last week, we began our journey through Lent by looking at the beginning of the Lord’s Prayer. It is the prayer that Jesus teaches to his disciples. Jesus is saying if you don’t know how to pray, pray like this: Our Father, who art in heaven…
Because we all know this prayer too well, the hope is that we might reignite some meaning back into it, so that when we pray it, we have a sense of what it is that we are saying.
A quick review of last week, we learned that God is not my god or your god, but our God. It means that when we pray this prayer, we are not alone. But we pray it with the whole people of God. And that we all are family, because we share the same parent. Our Father. God is like a parent to us. Not a king who lords over us, but a parent who loves us.
Who art in heaven. This isn’t a location for God, but it is to remind us of how big God is. That God is in heaven, meaning everywhere. So while God is close, God is also far away, because God is the god of the universe.
Hallowed by thy name. We pray that God’s name would be holy. We are praying that God would keep God’s name holy. Be who you are supposed to be God. For God’s name to be holy is for God to bring about love, justice, compassion, forgiveness, mercy, peace, and hope to our hurting world. And then we pray that God will help us to keep God’s name holy by us doing the same.
Tonight, we move on to the next petition in this prayer: thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
Thy kingdom come. We are praying that God’s kingdom would come. One of the things that Jesus thinks about and talks about the most is the kingdom of God. The kingdom of God has come near, believe in this good news, Jesus says in his first sermon.
Back in Jesus’ day, people believed that there would only be 5 great kingdoms in the world. And by the time Jesus arrived, the world had already experienced 4. So you can imagine everyone’s anxiety was up. What’s going to be the last and final kingdom? Well, during Jesus’ time, Rome was the ruler of the world. So everyone was talking about the kingdom of Rome, thinking that it would be the final great kingdom of the world.
But then along comes Jesus preaching – no, no, no…the kingdom of GOD has come near. What’s he saying? He saying that final kingdom of the world will not be a violent and oppressive kingdom, it will not be destructive and evil like that of Rome. No. The final kingdom, whenever it is, will be the kingdom of God. The kingdom of a loving parent.
And that is meant to give us hope. That the kingdom of God is near. It is on its way. That things won’t always be the way they are. And that the things in our life that are destructive and evil will not get the final word. God gets the final word.
Your kingdom come, God. Not ours. If it is our kingdom, we will mess it up. May your kingdom come.
So, we are invited to think about, what are the false kingdoms that we put our trust in these days? What do you put your trust in when you wake up in the morning? Some of us put our trust in ourselves – that we have the right answers, that we know everything we need to know, and that’s what’s best for me is best for everyone. So we build a kingdom around our own ego. Some of us put our trust in status and money and power – if I can just be the smartest one in the class, or the best on the team, or the farmer with the most land, if I can just make more money, then all will be right with the world. Or someone us put trust in the kingdom of fear – that the world is a threat and fearful and out to get you and so we think we must protect ourselves from anything risky or different, and then everything will be okay.
Those are just some of the kingdoms that we build. But in this prayer, we pray that God’s kingdom would come. Not ours. And that is meant to free us from our worries.
Thy will be done. Very similar to what we’ve already said. We pray that God’s will is done and not ours. Too often, if I pray for my will to be done, it will be what is best for me, rather than what is best for all. But we have to be careful here. Because sometimes people will use this line to imply that God wants us to suffer. I’ve heard people struggling with cancer or an illness or job loss to say, “Well if it is God’s will, then it is God’s will.” Not everything that happens to us is God’s will! I do not believe that it is God’s will, God’s desire, that someone suffer from cancer. Or die much too young. That’s why we pray that God’s will is done, because so often it isn’t God’s will.
So what then is the will of God? What is the kingdom of God? Throughout scripture, Jesus’ gives us images, glimpses of the kingdom of God, but the primary image that he gives is that of people eating a meal together. The kingdom of God is like people eating a meal together. What do we twice a month during worship? We eat a meal together. We eat the meal together. God’s meal. To eat together implies so many things – friendship, family, equality (everyone gets enough). A lot of times around the dinner table is where we reconcile with one another. What does the kingdom of God look like, it looks like a family eating a meal together.
What is the will of God? I think this is best summed up by our text for tonight – Micah 6:8 – God has told you what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God. Think of how our world would change if we constantly asked if what we are doing brings about justice, and love, and kindness to one another.
That’s the will of God. That justice and love and kindness would come.
Come where? Come here! Thy will be done on earth as it already is in heaven. We have to remember that the goal of the Christian life is not to get to heaven when we die.
This prayer that we say every week is meant to remind us that the goal of the Christian life, what we pray for is for heaven to brought to here to earth. Your will be done on earth, as it already is in heaven. And if God’s kingdom is coming to earth, then the good news, is that it is coming for everyone.
So when we pray this prayer, we are praying that not only will God bring about justice and love and kindness to the world, but that we might be part of helping it to come to earth.
It is the best kind of work around. But it is hard, long work. Which is why we need to be reminded of it and pray for it, every single week. Amen.