Thy Kingdom Come

The world of American politics is very divisive.  People have strong feelings that this party and its supporters are good and the other party is wrong, bad, even frightening.  Politics seems fundamentally about power and being able to have power over others.  In the midst of the Republican and Democratic National Conventions I find myself turning again to the Lord’s Prayer (the Our Father), this time to Thy kingdom come.

When I was younger I was upset by the appeal Thy kingdom come.  It seemed like a plea for a male-dominated, hierarchical governing system, which didn’t interest me then, nor does it now.  Admittedly if God is a white male with a long, flowing beard, seated in heaven far away, pulling strings and sending down lightning bolts to punish, God’s kingdom won’t have much appeal for many of us.

I now yearn for God’s kingdom because I believe it is a time when there is shalom, a Hebrew word meaning peace and wellbeing for all.  I think of it as Eden renewed, when God’s word is written on our hearts and God is God of us all and we are all God’s people.  It is like a hidden treasure in a field or a pearl of great value that is worth selling all that I have in order to buy.

The prayer asks for God’s kingdom to come and God’s will to be done, and for that to happen on earth, I think right here and right now.  So how do we open to that possibility, because it does happen already in moments and in part?

I think we can choose to try to know all of us as God’s beloved children.  There is so much social change happening now and international insecurity of terrible proportions.  How can we comfort and be comforted?  Can we ask what are the fears, needs, dreams, and hurts of those with whom we disagree?  What am I blind to in those whose views I find unacceptable that keeps me from recognizing our common humanity?  I think everyone yearns to be listened to, heard, and respected.  Everyone wants a sense of having a valued place at the table.

Queries:

What do I understand as the kingdom of God?

What do I have to let go in order not to slam and box up those with whom I disagree?  How do I disagree strongly with someone and yet be open to hear that person’s soul?

Prayer:  “Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”

For further reference: 

“I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people” (See Jeremiah 31:31-34).

Do what you can to be peace and to do justice, but never expect or demand perfection on this earth. It usually leads to a false moral outrage, a negative identity, intolerance, paranoia, and self-serving crusades against “the contaminating element,” instead of “becoming a new creation” ourselves (Galatians 6:15)—Richard Rohr, Daily Meditations, July 27, 2016.

Our Father

There was a period of time when I did not like the Lord’s Prayer (or the Our Father).  I thought it was sexist and presented a theology I didn’t appreciate or believe.  Especially after I learned from Judy Brutz to write in my own words what each part of the prayer meant for me, I was able to open to it more.  And as time has gone on and I have prayed the prayer, new things have come to me.

One thing I have liked about the prayer is its having been prayed for centuries and by people all over the world.  Currently most of the hours of the day it must be being prayed somewhere.  That feels like such a uniting force.  I value the “Our” in the prayer.  This God to whom we pray belongs to all of us—not to only one of us or to only one group of us.  We all belong to God.  And in God we all are in relationship with each other.

Only recently have I appreciated the naming of God as “Father” in this prayer.  To have been fathered is to have been given birth, to bear some of the genetic makeup of that father.  How wonderful to think that as a child of the Father, we bear characteristics of the Father.  As Friends say, “there is that of God in each of us.”  There is a kinship and a commonality that we share with all people.  There is in us that which reflects God’s being if we will let it.  We don’t have to create that nature; it is already present in us.  What joy to grow into that inheritance.

Queries:

How does the Our Father/Lord’s Prayer function in your life?

What helps you feel one with God and all of creation?  How are you called to make real that oneness?

Prayer:

Pray the Lord’s Prayer (the Our Father).  The value of this prayer does not depend on your beliefs or feelings.  To simply repeat it makes a difference, whether you notice that difference or not.  If it helps, put the prayer into words that are meaningful to you at this time.

For further reflection:

“To [his saints] God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Colossians 1:27).

“The Father . . . will give you another Advocate, to be with you forever.  This is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him.  You know him, because he abides with you, and he will be in you” (See John 14: 15-17).

[Of the Lord’s Prayer] “what you do not understand, treat with reverence and be patient, and what you do understand, cherish and keep” (St. Augustine: Sermons for Christmas and Epiphany, trans. by Thomas Comerford Lawler, Newman Press, 1952, p. 70).