This sermon is the second in a set of six that will delve into the Lord’s Prayer. We had the opening phrase last week, a beginning of Adoration. Today we have a Supplication section; “Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” Sounds simple enough.
In the beginning of the Lord’s Prayer we are looking toward our intimate connection with our creator – our heavenly parent whom we adore as holy, hallowed. In the Heart of Christianity, which the Wednesday Book Study group will begin this week, Marcus Borg rephrases it as “Eternal Spirit, Earth-maker, Pain-bearer, Life-giver, Source of all that is and that shall be.” That is who we are praying to – this is who we are appealing for thy will to be done. All of a sudden we remember the Archbishop’s words from last week: “this is serious… wonderful and frightening.”
What would the earth look like if God’s will was truly being done everywhere by all of us? We get a glimpse in today’s readings. In Hosea we have the voice of God whose compassion is warm and tender. We have a God who delivers us from hunger and thirst in the Psalm, Paul reminds of us some practical considerations of how we will should live as we strive toward the Kingdom. Then we have Jesus speaking on one of his favorite topics in the Gospel – how we handle our riches. I pass many self-storage businesses every day to and from here and they have stuck out like a sore thumb to me this week as I have been pondering our Gospel and this section of the Lord’s Prayer: “thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”
It’s easy to look at the Rich man in the Gospel and see a hoarder of riches – yet there was a story just this last week about the new bar set for those who consider themselves rich. It used to be the to have $1 million dollars in assets seemed like enough, but now the bar has moved to $5 million. The gospel story parallels our lives – the rich man – who was already rich – builds a bigger barn so that he can accumulate even more – from $1 million to $5 million. This is relevant!
What would daily life look like if God’s will were done? I wonder how our earth would look to us if we could see it through God’s eyes – as a creation of beauty and wonder – as a creation abused and misused for the gain of a few and to the detriment of many, many more. God’s will be done might be a lifestyle we might not choose if we are truly honest with ourselves.
When we pray “God’s will be done” we are asking for the softening of our hardened hearts towards the least, the lost and the last. We are praying that we will become compassionate towards everyone around us – not just those like us. We are praying that we will be shown those who hunger and thirst and that we will want to feed them and give them cool water. We are praying that we will become kingdom-bearers in this life – that this church will be filled with those who understand the fear that comes of praying God’s will be done – and that we will know fearlessness in living out the Love of God on this earth.
“Thy will be done” sounds very passive at first listen – It sounds like “whatever God.” John Wesley wrote a Covenant Prayer though that I believe encapsulates the fierceness of “thy will be done” – it has been important to me in my life and I want to share with you all:
I am no longer my own, but yours.
Put me to what you will,
Rank me with whom you will;
Put me to doing, put me to suffering.
Let me be employed by you,
Or laid aside by you,
Exalted by you or brought low by you.
Let me be full, let me be empty.
Let me have all things, let me have nothing.
I freely and heartily yield all things
To your pleasure and disposal.
And now, O glorious and blessed God,
Father, Son, and Holy Spirit,
you are mine, and I am yours.
So be it.
And the covenant which I have made on earth,
Let it be ratified in heaven.
There have been times in my life when I have prayed that prayer with trembling and trepidation, trusting that God’s will would be done, yet not knowing what that would look like. That's when I can lean back into the God portrayed in the Hosea reading: tender, compassionate, warm and loving.
This week, there will be a meeting on the possibility of creating a labyrinth on our church property. If you do not know, labyrinths are an ancient way to pray – to put yourself in the presence of God – they foster prayers while walking and meditating. Walking and praying a labyrinth can be life-changing.
Last week, I asked you to go away and pray prayers of Adoration, stopping to hear God each day. I got a few texts and emails through the week as you did that. It was a significant exercise for some of you as you prayed and listened. Here’s your assignment for this week: Simply pray “thy will be done” each day (without qualifiers) and listen to God for how you can facilitate that. Amen.
Audio of this sermon can be found in the PodBean Player on the right sidebar.