How do you hear, experience, or think about Jesus’ prayer differently than you did before we began this sermon series? Over the past few weeks, how have you experienced Jesus teaching you and inviting you to pray or think about prayer in new ways?
Teach Us to Pray…Doxology!
The Rev. J. Carl Gregg
6 March 2011
Broadview Church; Chesapeake Beach, Maryland
For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen
Matthew 6:13b, KJV
The Sermon: Part One
We began our current sermon series on Jesus’ most famous prayer on January 9th. Eight weeks later we find ourselves on the final line. To skip briefly to the very end, the word “Amen” has the connotation of “May it be so” — acknowledging and affirming the entirety of the prayer as a whole. In that spirit I would like for us to pray together over the course of today’s service three different versions of Jesus’ prayer. After each prayer, there will be a brief time of silence and sharing in which you are invited to begin reflecting on what we have learned and experienced together over the past fews weeks in our line-by-line exploration of Jesus’ prayer.
To begin, let us pray together a version of Jesus’ prayer adapted from the work of the Independent Catholic theologian John Mabry:
Loving God, Sacred One,
God our Father, God our Mother,
Holy are Your Names.
May Your commonwealth of love be realized.
May Your loving will be done, on earth as in heaven.
Grant us this day all that we need.
As we have been forgiven by You, help us to forgive others.
And may we trust in Your presence during times of adversity,
For all things are held in Your grace, now and forever. Amen.
How do you hear, experience, or think about Jesus’ prayer differently today than perhaps you would have a few months ago before we began our study? Or what are you most grateful for having heard or experienced in our study of Jesus’ prayer?
The Sermon: Part Two
Let us pray together a second version of Jesus’ prayer as paraphrased by Tom Turner
How deep within You are! How high above, how far beyond!
Your name be hallowed. Your new creation come.
Your way be followed everywhere.
Give us bread to share.
Forgive us the wounds we have caused,
and help us forgive those who have wounded us.
Do not let evil exploit our weaknesses or hold us in bondage,
but let your grace heal and free us, your love sustain,
your Spirit enliven, your wisdom guide.
And may our last word to You always be “Yes.”
We saw in the first week of our study that in the Gospel of Luke, Jesus shares his prayer in response to the disciples’ request “Teach us to pray.” As a result of our study together, how have you experienced Jesus teaching you and inviting you to pray or think about prayer differently?
The Sermon: Part Three
To turn our attention directly to the final line of Jesus’ prayer, we hear the classic intonation of “For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.” I quoted this concluding doxology from the King James Version because it is so familiar to many of us; however, in the year 2011 — 400 years after the initial publication of the King James Bible — it is important to acknowledge that there have been both important manuscript discoveries and significant improvements in the study of text criticism since the publication of the KJV. Accordingly, we know today that our earliest manuscripts do not include this familiar ending for Jesus’ prayer. Instead, many of our best Greek New Testament manuscripts end with the focus of last week’s sermon — either Luke’s shorter version, “And do not bring us to the time of trial” or Matthew’s longer version which adds “but rescue us from the evil one.”
Accordingly, in all likelihood, the final doxology — ascribing “the kingdom, power, and the glory” to God — may well have originated not with the historical Jesus, but only later as Jesus’ prayer was incorporated into the liturgy of early Christian worship services. Then, decades after Jesus, it seems that this liturgical tradition came to be copied into the Gospel manuscripts. Curiously, however, an even older, textual tradition from the Hebrew Bible may have been the original inspiration for this liturgical innovation, which came to be appended as a doxological conclusion to Jesus’ prayer. I Chronicles 29:11-13 says,
11 Yours, O LORD, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory and the majesty, indeed everything that is in the heavens and the earth ; Yours is the dominion, O LORD, and You exalt Yourself as head over all. 12 “Both riches and honor come from You, and You rule over all, and in Your hand is power and might ; and it lies in Your hand to make great and to strengthen everyone. 13 “Now therefore, our God, we thank You, and praise Your glorious name.
Thus, we can see in I Chronicles the essence of the doxology that was eventually added to the end of Jesus’ prayer.
But, again, this week as we stand on the edge of the season of Lent — which begin next week with Ash Wednesday, I am most interested not in these important matters of historical reconstruction, but in what has resonated with you personally in our study of the Jesus’ most famous prayer. As we pray Jesus’ prayer together a third and final time — using a version from The New Zealand Anglican/Maori liturgy — be open during the time of contemplative silence that follows to how God may be teaching you to pray, not only with words or with your voice — but with your actions and your life. Let us pray together:
Eternal Spirit, Earth-maker, Pain-bearer, Life-giver,
Source of all that is and that shall be,
Father and Mother of us all, Loving God, in whom is heaven:
The hallowing of your name echo throughout the universe!
The way of your justice be followed by the people of the world!
Your heavenly will be done by all created beings!
Your commonwealth of peace and freedom
sustain our hope and come on earth!
With the bread we need today, feed us.
In times of temptation and test, strengthen us.
From trials too great to endure, spare us.
From the grip of all that is evil, free us.
For you reign in the glory of the power that is love,
now and forever. A-men.
How has our study of Jesus’ prayer intersected with your life or the life of the world? What will you take away from our study to integrate into your life?
1 John R. Mabry, Crisis And Communion: The Remythologization Of The Eucharist.
2 Bruce M. Metzger A Textual Commentary on the New Testament, 2nd Edition (1994: 13-14).