Continuing the Conversation … 1.26.08

Continuing the conversation helps us keep talking about the content of our weekend worship time. open-hands-childs.jpg

Saturday we looked at vv. 11 & 12 in the Lord’s Prayer. There are two parts of the prayer that we focused on this week. Receiving our “daily bread” from God and receiving and giving forgiveness on a daily (or almost daily) basis.

Regarding “daily bread”, we acknowledged that as spiritual as the Lord’s Prayer is it is also a prayer about our physical earthly realm along with the heavenly one. We pray for God’s Kingdom to come on earth down here in the midst of all human mess. In addition, we pray for our “daily bread” which is the stuff that we need, every day, to get by. This includes food, water, shelter, friendship, clothing, work to do, and, dare I say, the money with which we obtain these.

When we pray for our “daily bread” we are acknowledging that we don’t have spiritual lives. Instead, we have lives that include physical and spiritual dimensions, each inseparable, with influence on the other.

There are two ideas (and two questions) we need to be reminded of when it comes to “forgive us our trespasses” and the passages (vv. 14-15) about how our forgiveness is based upon our forgiveness of others.

1) What do you think of the idea that we need forgiven (and we need to forgive) daily? This concept is important because it reminds us that we do in fact sin, even if God no longer counts that sin against us. The workaday results of that sin abound and seeking and receiving forgiveness deals with that sin both clearly and graciously.

2) Do you think it’s true that God takes forgiveness away if we don’t forgive? This is a troubling thought but I believe it is important to wrestle with. Rather than looking at this as a statement of God’s punishment upon those who refuse to forgive I wonder if it isn’t a description of how life works in God’s world. Refusing to forgive results in one closing oneself off from God who is the source of forgiveness.

We don’t forgive one another through our effort alone. Instead, we forgive by participating in God’s life (receiving forgiveness from Him, enjoying his love and grace) and receiving the empowerment to forgive. Knowing that we approach one another through God’s Spirit allows us to consciously draw upon the forgiving nature of God to change us and the relationships we are a part of.

One final question: Whom do you need to forgive?

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Continuing the Conversation…1.19.08

Continuing the conversation helps us continue the discussion from our last worship gathering. long_crucifix1.jpg

We have recently returned to our study of the Sermon on the Mount. This past Saturday we looked closely at the first half of the Lord’s Prayer. You might want to take a moment to review it, or recite quietly right where you are.

There are two important points to remember from Saturday night.

First, the opening phrase of the Lord’s Prayer, “Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name”, serves not only as an appropriate greeting to God but also a possible deterrent to our idolatry. What do you think of the idea that we have just enough information here to know something of God’s nature (he is Father-like and his name is to always be holy) to proceed with cautious confidence in our relationship to him?

One potential danger we all face is becoming more enamored with our understanding of God than with God himself. There are repeated warnings against idolatry in both the Old and New Testaments. The fact that we live in a scientific and technologically advanced world is not a sure-fire remedy against this basic human impulse.

Second, “thy Kingdom come, they will be done, on earth as it is in heaven” is missional to the core. God’s mission means bringing heaven and earth together. When wondering what God’s Kingdom is like we can remind ourselves that, the Kingdom looks like Jesus.