VIII Pentecost, Year C
Hos 1:2-10 or * Gn 18:20-32
Ps 85 * Ps 138
When the LORD first spoke through Hosea, the LORD said to Hosea, "Go, take for yourself a wife of whoredom and have children of whoredom, for the land commits great whoredom by forsaking the LORD." So he went and took Gomer daughter of Diblaim, and she conceived and bore him a son. And the LORD said to him, "Name him Jezreel; for in a little while I will punish the house of Jehu for the blood of Jezreel, and I will put an end to the kingdom of the house of Israel. On that day I will break the bow of Israel in the valley of Jezreel." She conceived again and bore a daughter. Then the LORD said to him, "Name her Lo-ruhamah, for I will no longer have pity on the house of Israel or forgive them. But I will have pity on the house of Judah, and I will save them by the LORD their God; I will not save them by bow, or by sword, or by war, or by horses, or by horsemen." When she had weaned Lo-ruhamah, she conceived and bore a son. Then the LORD said, "Name him Lo-ammi, for you are not my people and I am not your God." Yet the number of the people of Israel shall be like the sand of the sea, which can be neither measured nor numbered; and in the place where it was said to them, "You are not my people,"
it shall be said to them, "Children of the living God."
* (Genesis 18:20-32)
Then the LORD said, "How great is the outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah and how very grave their sin! I must go down and see whether they have done altogether according to the outcry that has come to me; and if not, I will know." So the men turned from there, and went toward Sodom, while Abraham remained standing before the LORD. Then Abraham came near and said, "Will you indeed sweep away the righteous with the wicked? Suppose there are fifty righteous within the city; will you then sweep away the place and not forgive it for the fifty righteous who are in it? Far be it from you to do such a thing, to slay the righteous with the wicked, so that the righteous fare as the wicked! Far be that from you! Shall not the Judge of all the earth do what is just?" And the LORD said, "If I find at Sodom fifty righteous in the city, I will forgive the whole place for their sake." Abraham answered, "Let me take it upon myself to speak to the Lord, I who am but dust and ashes. Suppose five of the fifty righteous are lacking? Will you destroy the whole city for lack of five?" And he said, "I will not destroy it if I find forty-five there." Again he spoke to him, "Suppose forty are found there." He answered, "For the sake of forty I will not do it." Then he said, "Oh do not let the Lord be angry if I speak. Suppose thirty are found there." He answered, "I will not do it, if I find thirty there." He said, "Let me take it upon myself to speak to the Lord. Suppose twenty are found there." He answered, "For the sake of twenty I will not destroy it." Then he said, "Oh do not let the Lord be angry if I speak just once more. Suppose ten are found there." He answered, "For the sake of ten I will not destroy it."
As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving. See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the universe, and not according to Christ. For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily, and you have come to fullness in him, who is the head of every ruler and authority. In him also you were circumcised with a spiritual circumcision, by putting off the body of the flesh in the circumcision of Christ; when you were buried with him in baptism, you were also raised with him through faith in the power of God, who raised him from the dead. And when you were dead in trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you alive together with him, when he forgave us all our trespasses, erasing the record that stood against us with its legal demands. He set this aside, nailing it to the cross. He disarmed the rulers and authorities and made a public example of them, triumphing over them in it.
Therefore do not let anyone condemn you in matters of food and drink or of observing festivals, new moons, or sabbaths. These are only a shadow of what is to come, but the substance belongs to Christ. Do not let anyone disqualify you, insisting on self-abasement and worship of angels, dwelling on visions, puffed up without cause by a human way of thinking, and not holding fast to the head, from whom the whole body, nourished and held together by its ligaments and sinews, grows with a growth that is from God.
He was praying in a certain place, and after he had finished, one of his disciples said to him, "Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples." He said to them, "When you pray, say: Father, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come. Give us each day our daily bread. And forgive us our sins, for we ourselves forgive everyone indebted to us. And do not bring us to the time of trial." And he said to them, "Suppose one of you has a friend, and you go to him at midnight and say to him, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves of bread; for a friend of mine has arrived, and I have nothing to set before him.’ And he answers from within, ‘Do not bother me; the door has already been locked, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot get up and give you anything.’ I tell you, even though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, at least because of his persistence he will get up and give him whatever he needs. "So I say to you, Ask, and it will be given you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you. For everyone who asks receives, and everyone who searches finds, and for everyone who knocks, the door will be opened. Is there anyone among you who, if your child asks for a fish, will give a snake instead of a fish? Or if the child asks for an egg, will give a scorpion? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!"
Today’s text for Preaching Peace is both one on which I have extensively lectured and my personal favorite meditation. I am filled with things to share but am certain that it could easily get too long to read. I would like then to offer a more personal reading of today’s text, of things that are important to me as I pray this prayer today in the context of preaching peace.
To begin, it is important to recall the place of the Lord’s Prayer in the early church. It is shared with new Christians only post baptism, during Easter week, along with the Eucharist. It is the prayer of small groups huddled everywhere in the name of Jesus. It is precious. It is an element of the ‘arcane discipline.’
Second, it is translatable into Aramaic. Bruce Chilton (Rabbi Jesus) translates the Lord’s Prayer :
Abba, Your Name will be sanctified, your kingdom will come, give me today the bread that is coming and release me my debts
Rather than emphasizing the command of the Greek imperative, this translation focuses on the future perfect, in a series of affirmations, of core beliefs. Each petition in the Lord’s Prayer can be demonstrated throughout Jesus life. His use of abba occurs all over the Four Gospels; the hallowing of God’s name is Jesus doing God’s will; God’s kingdom language is all over Jesus’ teaching; daily bread is evidenced in the feeding of the multitudes and the Last Supper; forgiveness of sin is shot through Jesus teaching, miracle stories and parables; deliverance from evil and the conquest of Satan in the Gospel tradition [You will not put us to the test: our Chiltonian addition].
Hence Chilton’s translation makes sense, these affirmations are core affirmations; they describe what our theology looks like and how we live. The lex orandi (rule of prayer) is the soil of the lex credendi (rule of faith). This is truly the Lord’s prayer, his affirmations, what he believed.
This prayer is for those who have chosen an intentional journey with Jesus. It is for those who have been through the ‘tomb and the womb’ of baptism, who understand that Satan has been renounced, who comprehend the boundless indiscriminate love of the abba, who believe that God feeds them. It is the life journey we call discipleship. For those who have chosen this journey, this is their prayer, their set of core beliefs, the important realities to reflect upon.
This is very similar to the ideas propounded by Dr.Wayne Dyer in his Power of Intention Lectures. We need not ask God, as though we are lacking anything, for all this to take place, but rather we give thanks that all these realities are a part of our life and our world. In this sense, the reality is here and we are the glad recipients of all the blessings the Father has bestowed on us.
The “petitions” of the Lord’s Prayer are not then petitions in the traditional sense. They are affirmations of a present reality which remains out of sight to those still ensnared in the miasma of mimetic crises. To the one who has died and risen with Christ, all that is needed is given each day, no matter how it may seem to those looking on from outside the wonderful celebration of God’s saving. (See Paul’s description of this in II Corinthians 6!)
Biblical theologians are fond of talking about the “already” and “not yet” qualities of the kingdom Jesus preaches (though Jesus insisted on describing it in the present tense…) Somehow or another, in their thoughts, Jesus “inaugurated” a kingdom that has a present reality, but still “is not” yet. The prayer of Jesus shows us that we who are members of his body live in daily thanksgiving for present blessings, not future ones.
This manner of life is the only way to escape the trap of mimesis and scapegoating. Only when we are able to live in a way that trusts implicitly in the Father for all things, that looks to the Father as the model for all our desires, will Satan lose his hold on us and our “civilization.”
Jeremias may be right and Luke’s version may be the original and Matthew’s version the ‘cadenced version’ but we do not have to resort to Q to explain the divergence. Luke’s version may well be original and where it is recited, it is recited without the Antiochene additions of Matthew. It may be pointed out that Luke has a preference for shortening up Matthew’s version of Jesus’ teaching.
Not one to take coincidences lightly, I share with you the reading for July 5th from “My Utmost for His Highest,” by Oswald Chambers, a favorite devotion of mine, and the reading that popped up as I opened my Bible program to work on this week’s readings… He seems to have summed up the confidence present in the “future perfect” of Chilton’s translation.
Don’t plan without God. God seems to have a delightful way of upsetting the plans we have made, when we have not taken Him into account. We get ourselves into circumstances that were not chosen by God, and suddenly we realize that we have been making our plans without Him—that we have not even considered Him to be a vital, living factor in the planning of our lives. And yet the only thing that will keep us from even the possibility of worrying is to bring God in as the greatest factor in all of our planning.
In spiritual issues it is customary for us to put God first, but we tend to think that it is inappropriate and unnecessary to put Him first in the practical, everyday issues of our lives. If we have the idea that we have to put on our “spiritual face” before we can come near to God, then we will never come near to Him. We must come as we are.
Don’t plan with a concern for evil in mind. Does God really mean for us to plan without taking the evil around us into account? “Love … thinks no evil” (1 Corinthians 13:4–5). Love is not ignorant of the existence of evil, but it does not take it into account as a factor in planning. When we were apart from God, we did take evil into account, doing all of our planning with it in mind, and we tried to reason out all of our work from its standpoint.
Don’t plan with a rainy day in mind. You cannot hoard things for a rainy day if you are truly trusting Christ. Jesus said, “Let not your heart be troubled …” (John 14:1). God will not keep your heart from being troubled. It is a command—“Let not … .” To do it, continually pick yourself up, even if you fall a hundred and one times a day, until you get into the habit of putting God first and planning with Him in mind.