Friday, February 29, 2008

The Lord's Prayer

And, now in the words our Savior taught us, we pray......

Who is present at every meeting....

Let us open by saying....

...Our Father, who art in Heaven, hallowed be thy Name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, on earth as in Heaven. Give us today our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.

For thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory, forever and ever. Amen.

Different words, same meanings in various places. The first part is what Jesus said in response to the plea: Teach us to pray. The second part was added later.

This is a Hebrew prayer. Jesus was a Jew. Jesus was not a Christian. This is not a Christian prayer. This is a devout prayer of an ancient Jewish man.

Assumptions that everyone who says this prayer is a Christian are usually wrong. It is not a prayer said in temples or synagogues, I would guess. Though some might see it as rather presumptuous, I suspect that David or Solomon, composers of many psalms, might be comfortable with it - they spoke with familiarity about the daily woes and the not-so-daily trials and blessings of ordinary people, using some quite graphic language to do so.

If you are in a meeting, a worship service, a group gathering, or a retreat where this prayer is said, don't bother looking around to see who is Christian by watching who is really saying this prayer. You'd be wrong.

Some may be translating it in their minds to fit the God or Goddess or Higher Power of their understanding. Some may be saying it just because it's expected. Some may be saying it to be part of the fellowship. Some may be just saying words they memorized long ago. (That's why the changes in wording of the prayer in the 1979 Episcopal Book of Common Prayer cause such mayhem in gatherings of many generations.)

It is a prayer for the things that we need to sustain daily life - safety, challenge, food (clothing and shelter), and forgiveness. Recognizing what is necessary for our daily life is a basic assumption of this prayer...our daily bread, forgiveness, freedom from temptation and lack of evil.

But, what do I really need for my daily life - what is my daily bread? Brother Dave Gardner said, "Man does not live by bread alone; he must have peanut butter." And, some people don't live by bread alone, they "need" escargot, truffles, steak oscar, and chocolate surprise. But, back to the question: What is my daily bread?

I do need challenge - temptation is great when I can resist it. Baking a dozen chocolate chip muffins and eating them all in two days is not resisting temptation. It's a pound and half on the scales and a horribly terrific sugar high...and a stomach that balks at everything I put in it now. But, they were soooooo good, and I enjoyed every bite...even the ones of hard muffin - I just thought "cookie". I don't regret (at least not much) that episode. But, I do wish the stomach would get back to normal.

And, temptation to sit on my bottom when the treadmill is now ready to go. But, I'd have to move some rolling storage bins to actually plug it in. And, they have stuff stacked on top of them that needs to be put somewhere. And, that somewhere has not made itself apparent to me yet. I have successfully resisted the temptation of exercise. Doing laundry doesn't count as exercise since I have had a washer/dryer for many years now. Neither does loading the dishwasher.

I suspect that exercise is one of the parts of my daily bread. Just like wholesome food in reasonable amounts - with an occasional splurge.

Forgiveness. The more people you see, the more you're liable to need and use that.

Evil. lurks everywhere. That's why a good review of the day before I go to bed is necessary to make tomorrow a better day. I can see behind me much better than I can see before me...don't even need glasses for the hindsight and they don't do much good for foresight...or even now-sight.

Our Father - Jesus said "Daddy". Doesn't fit for me, neither does Mother. But, God - ah, that's the word. Adonai. And, truly holy is the name - all nine million names of God. The goodness in that word, the purposefulness of creation encompass the "kingdom", the realm, the universe of God's dwelling place...and we ask that earth be included in that dwelling place.

When I say this prayer, I don't ask that all people become Christian; I just ask that they have the things they need for life, just as I have the things I need for life. A good argument against that is made in the book Illusions, but I'll take that up later. I don't ask what image or concept others have to fit "Father", I just say the word and translate it into my own soul's creator.

When we meet and say this prayer, I don't care what you believe. I do care that you show reverence for the holiness that I am calling to be present. I do care that you respect the intent of the prayer. And, I do care that you, whoever you are, are present in the fellowship that brings us together.

May God give you today your daily bread.

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