Monday, March 17, 2014

Looking Forward to March 23, 2014 -- Lent 3, Lord's Prayer Series continues

The Scripture Readings this week are:
  • Isaiah 11:1-10
  • Jeremiah 22:1-3
  • Mark 6:34-44
The Sermon title is Lord, Teach Us to Pray: Daily Bread, Kingdom Sign

Early Thoughts:  Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done.  We say those words every week.  What would happen if they were true?

The Kingdom of God is central to the ministry and message of Jesus .  In Mark's Gospel the first words Jesus utters are "The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news".  Elsewhere Jesus responds to critiques of his work by saying that if it is by the power of God he can do these things then the kingdom is being revealed in their midst.

But what does that mean?  One possibility is in the idea of daily bread.

Every culture has its base staple food.  Bread is one of those.  So the prayer is asking that each day we get what we need to survive.  Right after we pray that God's kingdom will come, that God's will will be done, on earth as it is in heaven (leaving aside for today the debate of where/what "heaven" is) we pray that we will get what we need to survive.  Does that say something about the kingdom?

Certainly many scholars (often those who have a bit of a socialist bent) would say so.  If the kingdom of God is here among us, if God desires that God's children have life in abundance, then yes, everybody getting what they need to survive is a sign of the kingdom.  Jesus and the prophets challenged people to look at the world with different eyes and different priorities.  They called their listeners (and continue to call us) to look with kingdom eyes, to look for how God would have us living together.

And so I would argue that each week when we say the Lord's Prayer we make a rather revolutionary request.  Because if we are honest we know that the kingdom of God has not come in all its fullness.  If we are honest we admit that in order for the kingdom to reach full bloom the world, our culture, our way of life, will need to be transformed.  And yet we ask for that every week.

Do we really mean it?

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