Our Father in Heaven

Just to pray to a God who is “in heaven,” is a warning against contemporary domestication of God. Here is God who is not some pale image of ourselves and our best aspirations. This God doesn’t live here in our country, is not housed within our sanctuaries. God the Father rules from heaven. So don’t be confused by some Christian talk about “a personal relationship with Jesus,” as if this were the whole point of the Christian faith – to get cozy and comfy with God. The God whom we address with the intimate, “Father” is also “in heaven.” The God revealed in the Jew from Nazareth, Jesus, is the God who moves the sun and the stars.

– Hauerwas & Willimon, Lord, Teach Us, p. 37.

Not Just Any Ol’ Prayer

By praying the Lord’s Prayer we are being made into a people whose journey is a sign to the world that God has not abandoned the world to its own devices but is present as a people on the move, a people moving out from their old ways and means, ordinary people who have been given the extraordinary authority to be part of the divine assault upon the realm of evil as those who “cast out many demons, and anointed with oil many who were sick and cured them” (Mark 6:13).

– Stanley Hauerwas & William Willimon, Lord, Teach Us, p. 14.

A Great Comfort Indeed

It is comforting to know that even though you don’t always feel like a Christian, though you do not always act like a Christian, much less believe like a Christian, your relationship as a friend of God is not based on what  you have felt, done, or believed. Rather, you are friend with God because of God’s choice of you in Jesus through the church.

– William Willimon & Stanely Hauerwas, Lord Teach Us: The Lord’s Prayer & The Christian Life, p. 27.

Poets’ Corner – Vanity of the Creature Sanctified

1 Honey though the bee prepares,
An envenomed sting he wears;
Piercing thorns a guard compose
Round the fragrant blooming rose.

2 When we think we find a sweet,
Oft a painful sting we meet;
When the rose invites our eye,
We forget the thorn is nigh.

3 Why are thus our hopes beguiled,
Why are all our pleasures spoiled?
Why do agony and woe
From our choicest comforts grow?

4 Sin has been the cause of all,
‘Twas not thus before the fall:
What but pain, and thorn and sting,
From the root of sin can spring.

5 Now with every good we find
Vanity and grief entwined;
What we see, or what we fear,
All our joys embitter here.

6 Yet through the Redeemer’s love,
These afflictions blessings prove,
He the wounding stings and thorns,
Into healing medecines turns.

7 From the earth our hearts they wean,
Teach us on his arm to lean;
Urge us to a throne of grace,
Make us seek a resting place.

8 In the mansions of our King,
Sweets abound without a sting;
Thornless there the roses blow,
All the joys unmingled flow.

– John Newton, Olney Hymns #57

Poets’ Corner – Upward I Lift My Eyes

1 Upward I lift mine eyes,
From God is all my aid;
The God who built the skies,
And earth and nature made,
God is the Tower
To which I fly;
His grace is nigh
In every hour.

2 My feet shall never slide
And fall in fatal snares,
Since God, my Guard and Guide,
Defends me from my fears.
Those wakeful eyes
That never sleep
Shall Israel keep
When dangers rise.

3 No burning heats by day,
Nor blasts of evening air,
Shall take my health away,
If God be with me there.
Thou art my Sun,
And Thou my Shade,
To guard my head
By night or noon.

4 Hast Thou not given Thy word
To save my soul from death?
And I can trust my Lord
To keep my mortal breath.
I’ll go and come,
Nor fear to die,
Till from on high
Thou call me home.

– Isaac Watts

Sermon Text for January 18th – Matthew 6:5-15

“And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

“And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. Pray then like this:

“Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name.
10 Your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
11 Give us this day our daily bread,
12 and forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
13 And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.

14 For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, 15 but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

Click here for the sermon audio.