Papu – In Honor of My Grandfather, Archbishop Adler

Today I go to the funeral of my first mentor, my first pastor, my bishop, my grandfather. Archbishop Randolph Adler began an international movement of churches, ministered in 70 countries, and pastored a church of over 300 people. His life was amazing and a full eulogy, written beautifully by his son, can be found here. This post is my reflection on his impact in my life:
Papu was my Dumbledore, he was my Gandalf. He was a larger than life person who saw me and caused me to know that I was significant. I have one of my second-grade homework assignments that asked who was my hero. “Papu” was my answer then and “Papu” is my answer now. Papu was changing the world by leading an international movement of churches and yet he spent so many hours pouring into my life.
When there was a terrible accident that took the life of my cousin, Jonah, Aunt Gina, and unborn cousin, Chloe, my grandpa was there for a 9-year-old boy. In the midst of his grieving, he helped me process the loss and changed my life.
I was always bullied in school. Papu had told Jonah to befriend me because I had been getting into a lot of trouble (almost burning down my school in kindergarten as a prime example) and Papu saw rightly that I needed a friend. When Jonah died he was my best friend and I remember being angry at God because he gave me Jonah just to take him away. But Papu gave me the Chronicles of Narnia and I tore through them. When Digory looked into Aslan’s eyes after stealing the apple of life for his dying mother and saw Aslan looking at him with lion tears in his eyes, I knew that God wept with his children in their pain. When Aslan welcomed the children into the doors of heaven and invited them “further up and further in”, I knew that God had a secret joy even in his full experience of our sorrow. I knew that Jonah and Gina and Chloe were more alive than ever.
I went to Papu’s house nearly every day that summer. I poured myself a green glass of heavily sweetened iced tea, sat in a large wicker chair that was far too big for me and talked with him on his porch. We talked about how God was like Aslan and that God saw me and loved me. We talked about how Jonah was in a better place now and that, while we grieved over our separation, we knew it was but for a little while. Papu taught me that pain is not my enemy and that God’s providential love did not scorn pain but entered into fellowship with our suffering. Papu taught me to know that God was not an angry, indifferent, or impotent God.
Papu was my Gandalf. He looked me in the eyes and called me into adventure. I was a large kid and he always said, “Jesse, act your size, not your age.” He always saw and called out the good inside of me instead of reacting to my outward rebellion. He gave me the help and the knowledge to conquer my fears. When I couldn’t ride an elevator because of severe claustrophobia, Papu took me to the mall to ride the glass elevator with me—where I didn’t feel so panicky because I could see through the enclosure—over and over again, all the while praying in tongues with me. He loved me. I know he did the same for so many people. Even as he leaves us for just a little while, let’s remember that Christ conquered death and Papu is with us still, in more than just memories and recorded sermons, but in spirit and in truth.
“All his life in this world and all his adventures have only been the cover and title page; now at last he is beginning Chapter One of the Great Story which no one on earth has ever read: which goes on forever and ever: in which every chapter is better than the one before.” – C.S. Lewis The Last Battle

Inspired by my Dad

In the beginning, God made man and woman to be the first expression of his likeness. The center of God’s purposes for humanity begins and ends with the love of a man and a woman for each other and the raising of children out of that love. God himself relates to us as a Father and Jesus is his son. This relationship of love and unity forms the foundation for the cosmos. 
Before you can be a good father or husband, you must first have been fathered well. This is only partially fulfilled by your earthly father. As one of my favorite scenes in all of literature points out so vividly, “We have never known our true Mothers and Fathers.” This from Perelandra by C.S. Lewis as Ransom weeps before the revelation of a true and unblemished Adam and Eve. God’s intent for the perfect manifestation of fatherhood and motherhood was marred by the Fall and we are only partially able to represent that heavenly perfection through the grace of God. This does not mean parenting is hopeless, God fills all things, restores all things, and makes all things good. This does mean that we need to be fathered by the one Good Father. “We love because we were first loved.” If your dad was amazing, or absent, or abusive, or average, then you must turn to God and experience the true love of the Father. It was always meant to be that we would be fathered by an earthly representative and also by the true Father of all. In no way does this diminish our earthly fathers, they are the first expression of fatherhood most of us experience and that can either push us from the fullest expression found in God or draw us close. This can make all the difference. 

Once you have been fathered by God and shown the amazing love of the true bridegroom, the first key to being a good father is found in the relationship between husband and wife. It is out of that relationship that sons and daughters are created and the reflection of that relationship will be manifested in the children. In order to be a good father, one must first love his wife and even give himself up for her as Christ gave himself up for the Church. Love begets love, and being committed to your wife will form the most sure foundation for your children. This should be abundantly evident in our culture that is filled with fatherless people. 

A prevailing opinion among women these days is that the children must always come first. This is not true. First, you must love each other as husband and wife, it is only out of that love that your children will feel stable and safe. Out of the strength of your relationship as husband and wife, one flesh, you will be able to love and provide for your children in a way that you could never have accomplished by yourself. There is a Divine plan and intelligence in the design of the family. One person can never fulfill the role of both parents. Of course, God is faithful to widows and orphans and they are his special care. So if there is a single parent, God is quick to fill the role of the absent father or mother. 

The mother/father unit is the single most powerful force for change in the world. When raising children, the most important concept is to listen. First, listen to God, then listen to each other, and then listen to your children. If you humble yourself and listen, you will love in your action and inaction. God is the true Father and he will lead you in all that you need. Your wife is your mirror, partner, helper and she will give you strength and discernment or give you the opportunity to encourage her (which will grow your strength and discernment as well). Your children are often more in tune with their needs than you might think. And even if they are not, they will give you Windows into themselves if they know you are listening and your discernment will sift the wheat from the chaff. If you are receiving direction from above, insight from your wife, and the identity of your children, then you will be able to act in accordance with love. You will make mistakes, but you will always come back to listening and loving. By this you will lead. 

There is a special anointing on husbands to pray for and lead their family. God empowers us to accomplish our purposes and the purpose of a husband to love his wife and children starts in a place of prayer. This is listening prayer as we learn to pray the heart of God into all situations. Our first place of praying with God allows God’s heart to flow down into all aspects of our family.

Ultimately, there are a thousand more things to say about fatherhood, but these are the keys that I have seen in my dad. 

While these principles are listed in order of importance, they can often happen out of order and that is okay. We are living redemptive stories and God is always bringing us from brokenness to healing. Wherever you are at, come to Jesus. He will transform your relationships from the top down. He will restore your relationship with him, he will redeem your relationship with your wife, he will renew your relationship with your children. 

The Discipline of God

 

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Heb. 12:1-2)

The opening verse of Hebrews chapter 12 give a vision and a context for the writer’s discussion of God’s discipline. First, we must see that sin is the weight that keeps us from running the race to the fullest of our ability. Sin here is not addressed as shame to be hidden or fearful of. You can hear the heart of the writing: “put away your sin, it’s weighing you down, it’s holding you back from what God has for you.” Our call against sin is only Godly and effective if it is an invitation into God’s best and not a condemnation into God’s worst. This is mandated because, “There is now, therefore, no condemnation in Christ Jesus.” (Rom. 8:1)

The second highlight in the verses above is the communal aspect of our life in Christ. We are never alone, but are “surround by so great a cloud of witnesses” and “looking to Jesus” we are able to run this race. Not only are we called to be a part of the body of Christ on earth which practices the gifts of the spirit for the building up of the faithful, but we are also surrounded by a heavenly witness. I am reminded of the powerful story in the Old Testament when Elisha and his servant are surround by a great army who has come out against them. Elisha is as calm as Jesus sleeping in the bottom of the storm tossed boat, but his servant cries out, “What’re we gonna do?” with the echo of the same desperation from Jesus’ disciple, “Don’t you care that we are gonna die?” Elisha simply prays that God will open the servants eyes to see that, “those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” (1 Kings 2:16) Do we really live our lives like this? Do we confront our personal mountains with confidence and faith that we are surrounded by a powerful heavenly host?

It’s in this context that God’s discipline is addressed. It is not addressed in a spirit of condemnation and it is in no way addressed as God punishing a lone individual who is expected to overcome sin on their own. The last major point I want to address in this verse is the image of Christ going to the cross “for the joy that was set before him.” Now here I find it necessary to make one very important distinction that will help us to understand God’s discipline in our own lives. I do not believe that the cross was God’s divine will in the sense that God orchestrated and caused the cross to occur so that we might be saved and Jesus might, “learn obedience through the things he suffered.” Rather, I believe that it was God’s divine will to allow our free choice of the rejection and crucifixion of his son. God sent Jesus to preach the way of peace, knowing full well that we would reject him and his teaching and crucify him by our own sin. “He took on him the sins of us all,” is more literal in this image as our sin literally condemned him to the cross. So we see the distinction here is that God can use our sin and the results of that sin to save the world and teach obedience in Christ. Now, Christ was perfect, and yet he was learning obedience. This is the mystery of incarnation and it is so good for us because we do not have a high priest who does not know our suffering and temptations. Jesus can teach us obedience in suffering because he learned the same way. The important point to remember throughout is that Jesus did all these things for the “joy that was set before him.” The key to growth through God’s discipline is to remember that it is for the joy that God has set before us. Discipline’s purpose is to remove that which keeps us from joy and fulfillment in Christ.

One last note on this seeming paradox about enduring suffering and giving up sin in exchange for joy… There is a parable Jesus tells that seems to sum up what is meant by these things: “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.” (Matthew 13:44) This is what the discipline of God calls us into: joyful surrender of all that we have. “And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons?
‘My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord,
nor be weary when reproved by him.
For the Lord disciplines the one he loves,
and chastises every son whom he receives.’” (Heb. 12:5-6)
This is so powerful. God is using the trials and tribulations in our life to train us in the way we should go as a father would for his children.

So what does this Godly discipline look like? It looks like bringing everything that we experience before God in humble submission to him. Are you experiencing financial difficulties? Bring it before God, get counsel from a wise brother in Christ. Maybe God desires to teach you to trust him, to steward your finances well, to rejoice in all things. Are you experiencing relational difficulties with your spouse? Bring it before God, get counsel from a wise father in the church. Maybe God is teaching you how to prefer others before yourself, maybe God is teaching you to build your house on the Rock instead of on your own ability to maintain yourself. Are you struggling with a sin pattern in your life? Bring it to the Lord, submit yourself to a leader in your church. Maybe God desires to teach you grace and humility and the life-saving power of the Holy Spirit.

God’s discipline is not an act of punishment that seeks to cause pain, rather, it is the transformation of the tribulations in this life into the life changing lessons of how to be like Jesus. God takes our earthly suffering and uses it like fire to forge us into people who can enjoy perfect freedom and communion with him. Simplest definition of the discipline of God is this: God’s miraculous ability to transform the suffering resultant in the effects of sin (our own sin and that of others) into the lessons that shape us into who he has called us to be. Even the effects of sin and a broken world are used by God to meet us and heal us and change us. Does this mean that you must look for sin whenever you experience tribulation? No, instead look for God and what he has provided you in this time for your benefit and sustenance. The ultimate result is the kingdom of God in your heart, a kingdom that cannot be shaken. The result of God’s discipline is “the removal of things that are shaken… in order that the things that cannot be shaken may remain. Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire.” (Heb. 12:27-29) What then remains? “So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.” (1 Cor. 13:13)

The Problem of Evil

To conclude my series of blog posts with an apologetic theme, this post will wrestle with one of the classic objections to the Christian faith, the Problem of Evil. It can be stated as follows:

If God is all-powerful and all-good, there would not be evil and suffering in the world.

There is evil and suffering in the world; therefore, God is either not all-powerful, not all-good, or non-existent.

This argument is probably the most compelling argument I have heard and most people I have engaged with seem to find their biggest issues with Christianity here. I think this is because we are hurting and something in us knows that the world is not how it ought to be. Even if you believe in Christianity, you must answer this objection. First, I will layout the philosophical answer to the problem of evil and then I will give the uniquely Christian answer to this problem.

Imagine a perfect world where no-one ever does anything wrong… Did you come up with an image? If you did, it was probably grey, sterile or even boring and oddly futuristic. Maybe that’s not what you thought of, but because of our over-saturation of dystopian films and literature, we are often given a view of the issue that occurs when someone in power tries to eliminate all evil and suffering from the world. Equilibrium, Divergent, 1984, and even Avengers: Age of Ultron or Captain America: Winter Soldier are wrestling with the trade off between eliminating suffering and eliminating freedom. The focus of the debate on the problem of evil has always been whether God could, in His infinite power, create a world where evil did not exist but freedom of choice did exist. It truly seems impossible for such a world to exist. It seems that in order for human beings to have the ability to choose to live by love, they have to have the ability to reject the same. If God were to have created the world without that freedom, then we would be robots following our programming and functioning well, but we would not be humans loving well and creating community. While this is a much-repeated response, it seems to solve the philosophical dilemma. God is all-powerful and all-good. In his goodness and power, he created humans with an ability to choose freely (thus choosing to limit his power by his goodness) and God is constantly drawing humanity towards himself and towards love. This may seem like a sterile philosophical answer that does not go into the depths of suffering, but the next section of the blog will explore the uniquely Christian response that does not shy away from this tension.

Every worldview wrestles with the problem of evil. Some Buddhists claim that suffering is illusion, Hinduism claims that suffering is the result of Kharma, Muslims claim that God is ineffable and unquestionable in his absolute power but also balances his own scales of justice, Secular Humanists claim that innovation and progress will free us from incorrect thinking or the imbalance of power, Naturalists really have no grounding for what evil is but tend to cry out against injustice all the same. Amidst thousands of answers, Christianity tells the most compelling story in response to evil in the world.

God created the world and it was beautiful and good. He created humans and they were very good. Humans, in their freedom, chose pride and control over relationship with God. Since that point, God has been pursuing humanity throughout the ages. First he spoke to a small backwards tribe, the Hebrews, and constantly met them in their evolving understanding of God and the world. His message was communicated in poetry and power, in beauty and story and it was always an invitation to return to God. Instead, they chose to kill the prophets he sent and worship other gods (gods of power, money, and debauchery). The Hebrews were a microcosm of the problem with humanity in the entire world. We all needed healing from the cultural, systemic sin that demanded sacrifice and violence. Rene Girard spoke of the mimetic desire that describes human tribe’s need to find a scapegoat for their own guilt and difficulties in life. There is a famine, sacrifice a virgin. There is a murder, kill the murderer. A woman will not have you, take her anyways. There is a land dispute, go to war. Always moving towards violence instead of relationship with the Creator and the Created. Throughout all of this, God kept calling the Hebrews towards the beautiful and the good. He still saw the beauty that humanity could be and create. The world was broken but good and man would occasionally respond to challenges with singular acts of love and beauty. Yet still the cycle of violence and hatred remained.

Finally, at the time when his message could be heard and spread, Jesus came and entered into our suffering. God, the God of the universe, did not shun the world that was marked by suffering and evil. He dined with sinners and healed lepers. He lost loved ones to death and he experienced betrayal. God-as-man was tempted in every way as we are, but Jesus resisted and learned obedience through what he suffered. The uniquely Christian answer, and the one answer that truly gets to the core of the problem, is that God took upon himself the pain and suffering of us all. We demanded sacrifice, He provided the Lamb. All of our brokenness and systemic sin took Love personified and nailed him to the cross. God did not demand Jesus’ death, we did. God did not fear our darkness, he entered into it and the light overcame that darkness. Jesus entered into the depths of Hades and returned victorious over death.

He then returned to the close friends he had invested in (because it’s always a relational transformation) and empowered them with the knowledge and peace of the risen Christ. God’s answer to evil was submission to the effects of evil and victory through that submission. He then began with a small group of Hebrew fisherman and transformed the world by their lived message. Many of them were persecuted and killed, again conquering evil by giving themselves up in love. “Greater love has no man then he that lays down his life for his friends.” So when we consider the philosophical problem of evil and are faced with the reality of evil and suffering in our lives, God has an answer and it is Jesus. Because of Him we can be transformed into people who are free from systemic sin and healed from brokenness. A people transformed conquering the world through love and not violence. A people who do not have to fear injustice or even death, but can embrace all men through the power of the resurrection. The problem of evil has been answered, the challenge for Christians is to be a part of the solution.

Moment of Surrender


There once was a man who flew to Rome to meet Jesus. He had been told my a close friend that Jesus wanted to meet him there. When he got there he skipped the tourist sites and went to a basement chapel in one of those storied cathedrals. As he walked towards the altar he saw a man kneeling in the dust in unremarkable clothing. Jesus knelt before him and despite his promises not to ask anything stupid, the man asked, “What are you doing?” “Praying,” Jesus replied. “For what?” the man asked. “I gave man free will and I will never take that away, but I pray always that the hearts of man would be surrendered to my will.”

The most powerful moments in the Bible are characterized by the weakness of surrender. Abraham who surrendered his comfortable life to become a nomad with a promise. Moses who left his dessert home to return to certain death in Egypt as a prophet declaring freedom without hope of success. David who was so surrendered to God’s will that he would not kill Saul even as Saul hunted him. Mary who said let it be, disregarding the scandal and death that might await her if she was found to be pregnant. The ultimate moment of surrender as Jesus prayed, “Father not my will but thine,” in a garden; the very opposite of the first sin in the Garden.

The first sin of man was to reject God’s will, not to surrender. Ever since then, the battle for men’s hearts has been fought with the goal of surrender. The mystery of Christianity is that our surrender does not lead to the abolishment of identity or efficacy, in fact it leads to the very opposite. We surrender to God and become more truly ourselves. We surrender to God’s will and find ourselves more in control of ourselves than ever before.

Nevertheless, we continue to seek control in our lives. We are an anxious and striving people. We find the illusion of control in many ways. We try to get money which symbolizes the power to control our lives. We buy shiny things to distract ourselves from the lie. We build ourselves little kingdoms which are characterized by addictions, escapes from reality, self-loathing, or a false sense of holiness. The call of Jesus denies all these things. Our plans for our lives, our guarantees of success, our dependence on substance abuse, our media-insulated isolation… all of these things are obstacles in the way of surrender. Bonhoeffer writes that the call of Jesus can be summarized, “Come and die.” Everything in our fallen outlook screams at us to run from this invitation and clean to our false sense of control.

The lie is shown in the reaction that follows excess, the emptiness that succeeds our attempts at self-fulfillment. “There is a God-shaped hole in the heart of every man.” That moment of emptiness is when the call can be heard. “Pain is God’s megaphone to an unhearing world.” That is why Jesus says, “It is harder for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of heaven…” When we fill ourselves with the shadows of God’s goodness, the earthly things that fade, we cause ourselves to believe in our own control, our own sufficiency apart from God. When that rug is torn out from under us we have two responses before us: we can proclaim all is meaningless and eventually cycle back into the illusion of control (whether through suicide or less extreme sedative) or we can embrace the moment of surrender. The invitation is always there, He stands at the door and knocks. It is an invitation into a “condition of complete simplicity costing not less than everything.”

The most powerful moments in history are when humans give back the gift of free will and find themselves truly free. God is always calling us to give up that thing that we need to be happy, that thing that you cannot live without. That is why it is a call to die, a call to die and experience resurrection. The result is love, joy, and peace if we will only let go. We need the moments of surrender, because it is only in our weakness that Christ can be strong in us.

Maranatha

Cruciform

In Power
Dead walking
Dry bones crying out
Nations bowing
Light dawning
Oceans roaring
Mountains crumbling
Life exploding
Blinding, and giving, sight
Unfettering captives
Freedom trumpeting
Fleeing sorrows
Jericho’s walls
Hell’s gates
Blown to bits by the Song

In Truth
Lived, touched, indwelt
Communicated at the KeyThat sets free
Written in trembling fear
Or joy or excitement or revelation
Truth reveived
Like arriving at a place you always knew but never visited
Like seed poking through soil with first tender shoots
Like a glimpse of something at the edge of perception
Gone upon further inspection
Transforming nevertheless
Gentle truth
That double-edged sword
That pierces and cuts and liberates and expands

In Beauty
Seen, heard, recalled, discovered, realized
The back door
Reality peeking into our grey worldBreathless
Felt, as deep calls to deep
Tears find their place
Paradigms shift
Lenses replaced
Clarity, awe, peace, challenge
The rose most appreciated among thorns
or in dirty hands

In Love
Sacrificial, Embodied
Health to bones
Life to flesh
Death to Self
Resurrection
All life finds expression
Power, Truth, Beauty…
Given substance and purpose
Mouths fed
Sick healed
Orphans adopted
Hearts restored
Longings fulfilled
Transformation, Birth, Marriage
Whoever says people cannot change
has not Encountered Love
Creation, dancing, laughterWild, gentle, messy perfection
Once upon a time and happily ever after
All in one

Come and Die

Forest Fire

A couple months ago I began reading the Bible all the way through. In order to get manageable chunks, every day I read 2-3 chapters from the Old Testament (beginning with Genesis), a Psalm, a chapter in Proverbs (following the day of the month; February 6th I read ch. 6), a chapter in the Gospels, and a chapter in the New Testament (beginning with Acts). It’s been awe-inspiring to see the consistency and arc of Scripture this way.

Through the thousands of years and several authors, God weaves a story of redemption, Love and Truth, cultural history, poetry and wisdom, genealogies and miraculous testimony that brings life to its readers even 2000 years after it was written. The Old Testament often gets a bad rap from Christians. It’s amazing! It was only in the context of the Old Testament that Jesus taught the Kingdom of God and the New Testament writers understood His message. I ran into this series of verses in Deuteronomy that got me really excited. It’s amazing the foreshadowing and revelation that comes when reading the Old Testament in the light of Christ and the New Covenant.

When the Lord came upon the mountain to speak to the Israelites in the desert after He had rescued them from the Egyptians, they had the appropriate reaction:

24 “Behold, the Lord our God has shown us his glory and greatness, and we have heard his voice out of the midst of the fire. This day we have seen God speak with man, and man still live. 25 Now therefore why should we die? For this great fire will consume us. If we hear the voice of the Lord our God any more, we shall die. 26 For who is there of all flesh, that has heard the voice of the living God speaking out of the midst of fire as we have, and has still lived?” (Deut. 5:24-26)

They understood the awesomeness and holiness of God and were rightly fearful for their lives in His presence. The Lord was pleased with their response, “All that they have said is right.” They ask Moses to be their intermediary and go up to the mountain to receive what the Lord has for them. Maybe you are already seeing the connections. In the new Kingdom, Christ has brought God to restored relationship with man. God has made his dwelling with man and men have heard his voice.

However, God has not changed. He is still the “all-consuming fire.” The difference lies in the invitation of Jesus. Bonhoeffer wrote, “When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die.” The Israelites asked, “why should we die?” Jesus response, “For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” (Matt. 16:25) The call of Christ is to be consumed by the fire that the Israelites witnessed that day. This is a painful process! God is purifying us and making us into who we truly are. T.S. Eliot wrote of this journey in his poem, “Little Gidding”:

The dove descending breaks the air
With flame of incandescent terror
Of which the tongues declare
The one dischage from sin and error.
The only hope, or else despair
Lies in the choice of pyre or pyre-
To be redeemed from fire by fire.

Who then devised the torment? Love.
Love is the unfamiliar Name
Behind the hands that wove
The intolerable shirt of flame
Which human power cannot remove.
We only live, only suspire
Consumed by either fire or fire.

Thousands of years before Pentecost, the Israelites saw God’s  fire and new it was death to be in His presence. Now God’s fire has fallen on us, His presence dwells in us, and we are called to die that we may truly live. Let us all be consumed by this Great Fire.

The Lord’s Prayer

kozzi-praying-people-at-the-church-1774-x-1183

Growing up in a Christian home and part of a Sacramental Church we prayed the “Our Father” a lot. In fact, almost every night before bed my dad would come up and say our prayers with us. The prayers would start with the Lord’s prayer said in unison and then we would repeat after my father as he said, “We pray for Papu and Nama,” echo, “we pray for Papu and Nama” and we would cover every member of our family this way with a few specific prayers brought up by us or introduced by him. There were times when I was tired and would barely manage to say the words to the Lord’s Prayer and I definitely was not focusing on them but I am positive that God used those prayer times to form me as a child. I thought plenty of times, “This prayer doesn’t seem all that amazing to be the prayer Jesus taught!” and I am sure many other people have thought this way as well or just haven’t thought about the prayer much at all through lack of use or through too much use leading to mindlessness. However, this prayer is a treasure trove of theological truth and below I will attempt to expound upon some of the concepts within the words to the best of my ability. Others have done this better than I could but this is an exercise for myself as much as an opportunity to share with you.

Our Father who art in heaven
-Right away we hear the communal nature of the prayer… “Our…” This is one of the most beautiful concepts in Christianity: we are apart of a Body and are praying with all the saints on earth and in heaven as we pray this prayer.
-“Father,” “Abba,” “Daddy,” this word carries in it the central message of Christianity: Christ came to restore relationship and establish our identities as sons and daughters of the Father. You belong. God is no longer to be thought of as the distant God of deism or the impossible to distinguish everything God of pantheism. God is the personal creator in heaven who has granted us the right to call him “Father” by adoption into his family through Jesus.

Hallowed be thy name
-The Word is powerful in Scripture, the spoken Word created everything that was created. Names are much more important in the kingdom economy and the cultures of the Bible than we often think of them in our modern culture and God’s name is the name above all names. At the name of Jesus every knee shall bow, there is power in the name of Jesus to break every chain, the name of God was not even written in the Jewish Old Testament because of the sacred nature of it. Let us not take the name of the Lord in vain in our lives and instead revere and love the name of Jesus as it says even the demons are overcome by the power of His name.

Thy Kingdom come
-Jesus talked of nothing more than the coming of the Kingdom. Let us take this seriously as a reality for right now. Let us not run to the modern, mainly Protestant eschatology that focuses on getting your ticket to heaven punched and condemning the rest of this world to hell. Let us instead pray this with God-given authority and, starting with the way we live our own lives, let us bring the Kingdom to earth, participating in Jesus’ work of restoration and resurrection.

Thy will be done
-The echoes of this prayer are found in the Garden as Jesus prays for God to take the burden of the sins of the world from Him and yet gives His all in total surrender in the most beautiful phrase, “not my will but Thy will be done.” This is THE transformative principle in Christianity. “If you love me you will heed my commands.” If you would be set free, be a slave to Christ. If you would live, come and die! Enough doing it our way, Thy will be done.
-C.S. Lewis writes, “There are only two kinds of people in the end: those who say to God, “Thy will be done,” and those to whom God says in the end, “Thy will be done.”

On earth as it is in heaven
-The great mission is to redeem earth! Not to leave it! Let us be renewed in hope for this earth, the Creation God loves so much to save.
-C.S. Lewis again, “Aim at heaven and you will get earth thrown in. Aim at earth and you get neither.”

Give us this day our daily bread
-What is the Bread of Life? Jesus own body! We cannot live except by the sustenance which comes from Him within us, the hope of glory. The Scriptures, the Eucharist, prayer, spiritual encouragement from community, worship, etc. these things feed our soul and should be daily pursuits! Where do we get our daily bread? Only from the Father! Every provision, even the earthly food we eat is all from Him. We need to look to God to provide what we need daily.

And forgive us our trespasses
-If we say we have no sin we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us, but if we confess our sins, God is faithful and just to forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

As we forgive those who trespass against us
-Wow, I’ve heard it preached that in order to receive forgiveness we have to forgive. It seems that’s the equation here and Jesus told an intense parable about the man who was forgiven his debts and went out collecting all the debts owed him. Unforgiveness is poison. Love as you have been loved, forgive as you have been forgiven.

And lead us not into tempation
-Those things I want to do, I don’t do. Those things I don’t want to do, I do. Help us Lord to not even be tempted by sin, but to be transformed in the renewing of our minds that we may live out our identities as sinless sons and daughters of God.

But deliver us from evil
-God is the great Deliverer and there is not a thing in the world or anywhere else that can take you from Him. I lift my eyes unto the hills, where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth.

For Thine is the Kingdom, and the Power, and the Glory forever and ever. Amen.
-Words are powerful! We live in a world at war and by stating these things, praying this prayer, we are declaring the truth and establishing God’s kingdom in our own minds and hearts as well as on earth. Lest we forget, Thine is the kingdom and the power, and the glory. No matter what it looks like through the mirror dimly, God is in control. God is glorified. And eternally God will have the victory. Amen.