Thursday, February 23, 2012

The Lord’s Prayer: God in Heaven

This is the first article of a five part series on the Lord’s Prayer.

Well, if the truth be known – I’ve never been there, so I am hardly qualified to write much about it at all. I am referring to heaven, of course.

The first part of the Lord’s Prayer is about God. The Lord’s Prayer follows a typically Anglican threefold style of prayer (and I know how silly a sentence this is). Typically, our prayers have a distinct pattern; an opening addressed to God; a petition of some sort (what we want); and a closing, usually claiming that we do this in the name of (or style of) Jesus. The prayer Jesus taught us, commonly called “the Lord’s Prayer” establishes a pattern mimicked by liturgists ever since.

The Lord’s Prayer begins by acknowledging that God is in heaven and that the name of God is holy. The fact that Jesus would say, if he has spoken pre-Elizabethan English, “hallowed be thy name,” is simple enough to understand. It was commonly understood, at the time, that the name of God was too holy to be spoken. But the phrase, “who art in heaven,” is more to the point. These days, it’s difficult to imagine that heaven is just beyond the clouds when we know that the universe or universes go on infinitely (or pretty nearly so).

I doubt; given everything Jesus teaches, that the point he’s making here is that heaven is just a place. I think he’s saying that heaven is a present reality, as close to us as our own heart. In fact, the radical teaching, in the first part of the Lord’s Prayer is that God is as close to us as a relative, like a parent. And if God is that close then so too is heaven. I think we can all agree that heaven is wherever God is.

So maybe, we are all qualified to write about heaven.

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