Category: Lenten Vespers
Speaker: Rev. Wes Smith
For one reason or another I have never been good at memorizing things. I dreaded confirmation and school projects because I hated memorization. But here's the thing - if you put something to music - I'll memorize it in a snap.
From a very young age, elementary school in fact, I remember going to choir. I remember learning the songs. I also remember irritating everyone around me. You see, memorizing verses and projects never came easily, but music - something clicks. I would find myself humming the music we had learned - I still do it.
For as simplistic and foundational as it is, I've always had a hard time remembering the Lord's Prayer. Just being honest. Don't get me wrong - it's very important. But given that there are two different versions, and even then, variations within the two - I often find myself needing to read the Lord's Prayer to get it right. In fact, if you watch me on Sundays, I often read the Lord's Prayer.
Here at Christ Lutheran, we use your.
I grew up using thy.
Here we say sins.
I grew up saying trespasses.
I'm living proof that old habits die hard.
Memorization has never come easy.
Thankfully, when I was in high school, I was exposed to a musical rendition of the Lord's Prayer. If you asked me to sing that - I'd ace the words every time. Everyone learns in the ways that suits them best - but without music memorization fails me.
I've never been bothered by this deficiency because it offers me a constant reminder.
We all know that familiarity breeds contempt.
The Lord's Prayer is no different. It is a prayer that's said once a week at church, possibly even more in your own prayer lives. But when something is done with regularity it can lose its importance. At times the words can be that - just words. I'm not so much worried about the words we speak, then I am with how those words are lived. The last petition of the Lord's prayer offers us some guidance. The petition: For thine is the kingdom, the power, and the glory. Those three descriptors are not allinclusive, but they sum up Christian living. It helps us understand the why of what we do.
The first of these words is kingdom.
We talk about the Kingdom of God all the time in church. The Kingdom of God is something that is already present and is still to come. The already and the not yet. The Kingdom of God breaks through much like a weed cracking through cement. It breaks through in conversations, interactions, and actions. It breaks through and love, giving, caring. But most importantly it comes through when God's word is proclaimed.
The Kingdom of God is something that as Christians we all work toward. We know that we will never bring it to fruition in the way that God can, but we get to be a part of it. We get to spread the good news, we get to be the Good Samaritan to the person lying on the side of the road, we get to serve others.
It's a privilege. It's a holy privilege. So why do we do this? Why build up the Kingdom of God?
The next word of interest in this petition is Power.
This can be interpreted in different ways, but I see this word through the lens of the cross. I see God's power breaking through on Good Friday. And that power is death's destruction. We build up the kingdom of God because of what God has done for us. We serve others because Christ served us. We love others because we are eternally loved. We love others because Sin no longer has the power to condemn - and all because of the cross. The constant theme through all three of these words is service and living toward others how God acts toward us.
And that brings us to Glory.
As Christians we are called to holy work. This work shows up in whatever job or vocation we've chosen. We give God glory when our vocations exhibit Godly living. How have you shown God's glory this week? Its no secret that we are imperfect creatures. Even at times where we have the best intentions we succumb to selfrighteousness or vanity. But God's love has a way of breaking through in those moments. Even in our mistakes God gives forgiveness. God gives love. God redirects us. and sometimes we're redirected to places that we never thought possible. And if God's glory can shine through our mistakes, how much more will it break through when we are focused on God.
Kingdom. Power. Glory.
These three words are so foundational.
We build up the kingdom of God. We kneel at the foot of the cross and our lives we lived for God's glory. Kingdom. Power. Glory.
So, whether you're good at memorization or not. we all need to be reminded that our actions are meant to glorify God and that we are building up God's kingdom. At times ministry can lead to questions like : Why bother? We don't have enough volunteers, we don't have enough people to do this, we don't have enough people to do that.
But if you can cut through the noise - and it usually is, we find that our God isn't one of scarcity. Our God is one of abundance.
As we continue to the season of Lent, I encourage you to read the Lord's Prayer with new eyes. And here's how I like you to do that.
Out of the narthex we have some of the pocket additions of Luther's small catechism. I'll ask that each family take one home. If you open to the section on the Lord's Prayer, you'll find that is broken down into sections. There is an introduction seven petitions and then a conclusion. Throughout your week read through these petitions. Take one at a time. Really focus.
When you pray: ask yourself what it means for God's will [to]be done on earth as in heaven. Ask - what daily bread has God provided for me. Whose sins do I need to forgive. What do I need to forgive myself for? What does it mean to be delivered for evil?
Ask yourself these questions and lift them to God in prayer.
Let us pray: Lord in this season of Lent we situate allow us to see your word in your world with new eyes. We pray that as we walk this journey you would give us your aid in your guidance. We ask that you would allow your words to speak to us in ways we've never thought possible. Be patient with us your people and grant us the grace that only you can give. Through Jesus Christ our Savior and Lord who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit one God now and forever