Saturday, November 2, 2019

City Notes '19 Special | Praying Jesus' Prayer: Giving & Receiving Abundant Life Together in the Kingdom of Love


Notice that the teachings of Jesus in the apostolic letters of the New Testament and the prayer that Jesus taught His disciples seem to relate to five basic themes of the human experience: (1) identity: Who am I?; (2) purpose: Why am I here?; (3) security: How will I survive and thrive?; (4) community: How can I belong?; and (5) freedom and peace: What can I do about my temptations and suffering? ... + Mark Scandrette, Practicing the Way of Jesus


In the midst of my recent silent retreat at The Abbey of the GeneseeI think the Lord has been inviting me into a new discipline of prayer and fasting that I'm planning to submit to beginning December 1. This reflection has also been shaped by being steeped in the books The Kingdom UnleashedPracticing the Way of Jesus, and From Weakness to StrengthThe timing of this retreat, the gift of these books, and the whispered invitation of God in relation to prayer, fasting, and enemy-love have also provided many seemingly divine winks as the past weekends Emmaus City Church has been in Matthew's Gospel focused on Matthew 9:27-38: Jesus' Compassionate Power to Send Us to See & Labor to Set Free, Matthew 9:37-10:16: Jesus' Sending Power to Free Us to Be "Tumblers for God"Matthew 10:16-31: Jesus' Fearless Power to Preserve Us & Protect Us to Proclaim, and Matthew 10:29-42: Jesus' Cross-Shaped Power to Give Us Courage in Conflict.

The Special City Notes to come will feature excerpts from The Kingdom UnleashedPracticing the Way of Jesus, and From Weakness to Strength. Here is a link to the previous post:

City Notes '19 Special | Kingdom Unleashed: Praying Shamelessly, Boldly, Persistently to an Almighty God

If these City Notes whet your appetite, I encourage you to purchase the books above and step into being discipled with me by faithful sisters and brothers around the world who are practicing the way of Jesus by living the Our Father | Lord's Prayer and loving their neighbors and enemies. 

Chapter 4 | The Vision and Physicality of Spiritual Transformation

The Lord's Prayer is an abridgement of the entire Gospel. + Tertullian, early 200s A.D. 


There may never have been another prayer written that was not already contained in the Pater ("Our Father" or "Lord's Prayer"). + Simone Weil


The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes. + Marcel Proust


A Vision for Life in the Kingdom of Love from Practicing the Way of Jesus by Mark Scandrette

Do you think it's possible that Jesus may have taught His disciples to pray in relation to identity + purpose + security + community + freedom and peace because of the vision it gives for the life we were made for? 

Here is a picture of life that we get from the instructions of Jesus:

Identity | "Our Father in heaven, hallowed by Your name." 

Our Creator is present and caring. Who are we? We are intimately loved by a Creator who is closer than our very breath. We are not alone and we have not been abandoned. We are beloved and cared for simply because we are God's children. We don't have to earn, beg or appease God. We may have called another "Mother" or "Father," and they were a gift to reveal a glimpse of our true parent and our real home in the eternal Abba. We were created for intimate union with our eternal parent, sourcing our life from God's life. Nothing else can ultimately satisfy us. In faith we surrender to Jesus as our Savior and Teacher, trusting that the one who made us always has our best interests in mind. This is why we are invited to live and pray the words "Our Father in heaven, hallowed be Your name." An apprentice to Jesus learns to find their primary identity in communion with God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.

Purpose | "Your Kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven."

We were created to serve the higher purposes and healing heart of the eternal God. Why are we here? Look! All around us the Creator is at work liberating and restoring what is broken and inviting all people to return to their source. You and I were made to find our deepest joy and greatest satisfaction not from doing whatever we want, but in surrender to the Creator's desire and imagination. As Jesus said, we are the light this world needs (Matthew 5:14-16). We are agents of God's healing, justice and love – especially for the poor and weak and those who suffer. We don't have to be concerned about becoming the greatest or getting credit. The Father sees and knows the good work we do to serve in love. We can ask for God's reign to come to every place and person in our path and expect to see freedom multiplied. This is why we are invited to pray and live the words "Your Kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven." An apprentice to Jesus learns to make the realization of God's creative and restoring work their highest priority.

Security | "Give us today our daily bread."

God's abundance supplies everything we need. How will we survive and thrive? We are sustained through the Creator's abundance. Our Maker delights in giving us what we ask for. We don't have to be greedy because the resources we need will always be provided. We can share what we have and what we receive. We don't have to worry or be afraid of anything, including the future or what will happen to us after we die. We don't have to be jealous of people who hoard things, thinking that we live only by what we can see. Knowing where true provision comes from, we are free to live generously with content and grateful hearts. This is why we are invited to live and pray the words " Give us today our daily bread." An apprentice of Jesus learns to rely on the resources the Creator provides.

Community | "Forgive us our trespasses | debts | sins, as we also have forgiven our debtors."

Access to an infinite source of love can transform our relationships with one another. How can we belong? We are infinitely loved, having received an eternal source of love to share with others. We are forgiven by God, and are empowered to forgive whenever we are wronged. Broken relationships can be restored. We can live at peace with one another. Love frees us to live without anger, bitterness, lust or judgment. We can be authentic and honest with each other and keep our promises. We can love and bless the people who take advantage of us or even hate us – because love wins over all. This is why we are invited to live and pray the words "Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors." An apprentice of Jesus learns to love as we are loved.

Freedom and peace | "Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one."

We can have victory over temptations and peace in suffering. What can we do about our temptations and sufferings? Be awake to God's presence and power here with us. We have the strength to overcome any obstacle. We don't have to be dominated by our feelings or impulses or the tyranny of rules and regulations. When we are weary, tired, stressed or sad we don't have to give in to habits or compulsions that we are destructive. We can overcome any temptation and endure any difficulty. Grace will meet us in the moment of our greatest weakness. We can have peace when we suffer. Nothing that happens can separate us from the eternal source of love. This is why we are invited to live and pray the words "Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one." An apprentice of Jesus learns to practice self-denial and endure the difficulties that come from living in a divided world.

We've been invited into an amazing life through the sacrifice of Jesus and the miracle of His resurrection. Looking over this description of life in the Kingdom of love it can sound almost too good to be true. Imagine a life of complete trust and contentment, a life without anger, jealousy or lust, a life where every moment is lived in response to the loving heart of God. One step toward experiencing life in the Kingdom is to have a vision for what is possible and to want what is possible. It might help to even speak these intentions: "I want to taste the intimacy of being God's beloved child. I want to collaborate with God's creative and redemptive work in the world. I want to live without worry, jealousy or lust. I want to forgive and love as I have been forgiven and loved. I want to experience victory over the temptations I struggle with and feel God's peace when I suffer."

Discussion:

Human experience. Discuss how the Gospel of Jesus addresses these five basic questions:

+ Identity: Who am I? 
+ Purpose: Why am I here? 
+ Security: How will I survive and thrive? 
+ Community: How can I belong? 
+ Freedom and peace: What can I do about my temptation and suffering?

Desire: Jesus often asked people, "What do you want Me to do for you?" What do you want Jesus to do for you? Where do you desire the transformation offered through life in the Kingdom of God?

Exercise:

Pray the Our FatherLord's Prayer for another person: If the Our Father | Lord's Prayer provides a summary of the life we have been created for, praying this prayer for ourselves and for one another can be a powerful way to train and express our desires for life in the Kingdom of love. Pray with someone through the phases of the Our Father | Lord's Prayer for each other, keeping eye contact as you work to personalize the words to fit their situation. For example, "God, you are ______ true parent. Help them embrace their identity as Your beloved child, learning to be constantly aware of Your presence in each moment of this day."

Our Father in heaven: How do You want this person to know the assurance of Your love today?

Your Kingdom come, will be done: What will it look like for Kingdom to be revealed in person’s life today?

Give us today our daily bread: What specific provision are You pouring out on this person today?

Forgive us as we also have forgiven: What are Your words of grace to this person today?

Lead us not into temptation: What is the right path You have laid out for this person to walk today?

Deliver us from the evil one: How can I pray Your protection over this person today?
Listen to sermons: 

Kingdom Prayer and Power
Free to Pray with Shameless Boldness for the Holy Spirit

Read previous posts on the Our Father | Lord's Prayer:

Simply Good News | Praying the Good News of the Lord's Prayer by N.T. Wright 
The Divine Conspiracy | The Grandest Prayer of All is the Lord's Prayer by Dallas Willard 
Our Father | Reflections on the Lord's Prayer by Pope Francis 
How Shall We Pray? | Ethical Implications of the Lord's Prayer by Anna Case-Winters 
The Lord's Prayer | God's Will on Earth in Us and through Us as it is in Heaven by Stanley Hauerwas 

Christ is all,

Rev. Mike "Sully" Sullivan


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