Rev Bob Hammond,

Lord’s Prayer reveals divine priorities

Searching for ‘tweets’ in the writings of iconic Australian social reformer and evangelist Rev Robert Hammond, this comment stuck in my thinking:

‘The Lord’s Prayer does say: “And forgive us our debts,” but first it says “Give us this day our daily bread.”‘

In context, Hammond was suggesting before we worry about someone’s sin (wrongdoing), we should see to their daily needs of survival, in keeping with his commitment to practical Christianity.

This morning I woke early, and was thinking, among other things, of what other divine prioritisation we might see in a form of praying that came directly from Jesus. Whatever you think of Jesus, you would have to agree, understanding how he ordered his view of the world is worth considering.

Here’s a few early morning thoughts.

Our Father in Heaven: Not just God first, but relating to God so intimately that it transcends all of life and reaches to where God exists.

Hallowed (praised) be your name: Our choice to honour God’s identity, character, presence.

Your kingdom come, your will be done: His explanation of how to live purposely and perfectly now.

On earth as in heaven: Completing the circle – intimate relationship that honours the character and ways of God leads to a heaven on earth potential.

Give us this day: Not just ‘forever’ but living for today.

Our daily bread: Be practical about our (individual and communal) whole and healthy life

And forgive our sins: Be accountable for your own choices before God.

As we forgive others: Having the humility to acknowledge our own shortcomings means we might be able to release others from theirs.

Lead us not into temptation: Prepare for what choices we will face today by relying on God’s goodness.

Deliver us from evil: Prepare for the choices of others and the randomness of a broken world by relying on God’s goodness.

Your’s is the kingdom, power and glory forever: Come what may, be wrapped up in God’s completeness.

Amen: So be it.

The Lord’s Prayer, as it is commonly known to Protestant Christians, or the Pater Noster (Our Father) to many Catholics, is not so much a prayer, but a way of praying.

And as we have seen, it is also a way of living and seeing, today and forever.

PH

PS You can follow RBS Hammond on Twitter here.

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Let the little children come to me, echoes Barbara in life and death

The funeral of Barbara Holborow today showed that she was a woman of faith as well as the woman of constant action that we all knew her to be.

No doubt planning the event meticulously, she included a welcome to country by Millie Ingram and then the funeral continued with the ‘negro spiritual’, Shine On Me:

‘Shine on me
Let the light from the lighthouse
Shine on me’

Phrases such as “Therefore in faith and hope we turn to God, who created and sustains all things” sat alongside Scriptures such as “I am the resurrection and the life, says the Lord. Those who believe in me will live, even though they die.”

The congregation was invited to pray:

“Heavenly Father,
in your Son jesus Christ
you have given us a true faith and a sure hope.
Help us to live as those who believe in the communion of saints,
the forgiveness of sins,
and the resurrection to eternal life;
through your Son Jesus Christ our Lord.
Amen”

Beautiful hymns, the Lord’s Prayer, Scripture readings from Ecclesiastes 3, Amos 5:24 and Psalm 23 accompanied perhaps the most fitting passage for a woman who devoted her life to the protection and nourishment of children: Mark 10:13-16, which includes the well-known words of Jesus:

People were bringing little children to Jesus for him to place his hands on them, but the disciples rebuked them. When Jesus saw this, he was indignant. He said to them, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.”

One sign of Barbara Holborow’s guiding hand was the involvement of clergy from the Anglican, Catholic and Uniting Churches and the Salvation Army. The tributes from Father Chris Riley AM and Reverend Dr Bill Crews AM, both close friends of Barbara’s, were deeply moving as they spoke of the sadness and challenge and love felt as she approached death.

There were many other highlights for the those gathered, including the Irish recessional and Goodnight Sweetheart sung by Col Joye as young men – perhaps some who have benefitted from Barbara Holborow’s benevolence – carried her towards her last earthly journey.

Armondo Hurley sang What A Wonderful World which connected with a radio interview with Richard Fidler in which Barbara had spoken about her hopes for a wonderful world. Hear it here.

One memorable quote, in response to the question, “Have you upset many of the lawmakers over the years?” Barbara answered, “Oh yes, and I still am. The day I stop is the day I know the marrow of my bone has melted.”

Many have asked the question since the death of Barbara Holborow, who will step up and continue her role as a champion of the most vulnerable of society. Probably it will not be just one, but will take many, similarly equipped – as she apparently was – with a faith that brings hope and love.

As my wife and I go through the process of becoming foster carers, we hope in some very small way to be part of continuing her legacy.

Finding faith in the deathly grip of AIDS

Being unable to sleep sometimes has its rewards such as seeing some extraordinary world cinema late at night (or early morning) on SBS.

Early Saturday morning as part of SOS (Shorts on Screen), SBS showed an 18 minute film by somewhat notorious French director Gaspar Noe called, Sida.

In Sida, Noe moves away from the explicit nature of his feature films such as Irreversible, and instead presents the story of an AIDS victim, Dieudonne Ilboudo, in Burkina Faso.

Dieudonne tells his story, withholding nothing, and as the story of his illness is portrayed, so to is his Christian faith, to the extent that the film ends with Dieudonne reciting the Lord’s Prayer.

Sida is part of a longer film titled 8 in which each segment promotes one of the eight Millennium Goals. Sida picks up the theme of Millennium Goal six which is ‘combating HIV/AIDS, Malaria and other diseases’.

Another of the films, The Water Dairy, is directed by Australian producer, Jane Campion.

Please take 20 minutes to listen to Dieudonne’s story – to honour his life, to remember the plight of AIDS victims worldwide and to be inspired by the power of faith even in the darkest hour. (The film is in French and if subtitles are not showing, click the CC button at the bottom of the YouTube screen.)

Thou, our and thy but no me, my and I

Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name.
Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread
And forgive us our trespasses,
As we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation
For thine is the kingdom, the power and glory
Forever and ever, Amen.

So reads the Lord’s Prayer or the ‘Our Father’ as I learned it as a child. It was not so much a single prayer that Jesus taught his disciples but a way of praying (see Matthew 6:9-13). Nevertheless it is a much-loved Christian prayer that has been prayed hundreds of billions of times.

I was using it as a way to guide my praying in the middle of the night recently, pausing on each phrase and thinking and praying around its intent, when something simple and profound stopped me.

I realised, as I must have already known but forgotten, that there are no I’s or me’s in the prayer. The only pronouns refer to God (thy/your) and us or our.

Which reminds us that the heart of prayer is to focus on God and to see ourselves as part of a community. Prayer, and the Christian walk, are not solitary occupations.

When Jesus taught prayer he lived and moved with 12 disciples and numerous other close followers, both men and women. He visited homes and families and turned strangers into friends. He called out to God as father and sought not his own will, ‘but your will be done’.

For this reason, it was natural he would prayer ‘our Father’ rather than ‘my Father’ and ‘give us’ daily bread and forgiveness and guidance, not ‘give me’.

The one time he did cry out ‘my God, my God’ was when doing something unique – carrying the world’s sin and shame solely in his own being on the Cross. How lonely he must have been to do so. Perhaps we too are more inclined, but from a less holy position, to focus our prayers on ourselves when we feel lonely, isolated and despairing.

Maybe the antidote is not more self-focused prayer, but to break out again into community and find the reality of praying ‘our Father’. PH