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The Lord’s Prayer in Galilee and Golgotha – Thoughts for Good Friday

7 April 2010

In the springtime of the Gospel, Jesus came into Galilee, and the people who sat in darkness saw a great light (Matt 4.16).
Jesus taught his disciples to pray:

Our Father in heaven,
Hallowed be your Name,
Your kingdom come
Your will be done on earth
as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our sins
as we forgive those who sin against us.
Lead us not into temptation
but deliver us from evil.
For the kingdom, the power and the glory are yours
Now and forever. Amen

In sunny Galilee, the prayer soared like a glider lifted by a thermal.
Turn, for the kingdom of God is coming near.
Joy glinted from its phrases like the sunbeams bouncing off the waves of the lake.
The free flying birds who neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns are fed by the Father in heaven
The lilies on the hills, outshone Solomon in all his splendid finery.
Your heavenly Father knows all you have need of – do not be anxious.
In sunny Galilee, the prayer soared, spirits danced.

In the deserts thousands listened to Jesus, staying with him till they were hungry. Give them something to eat, he said to his disciples. How shall we do that? they answered. There are no shops near here. He fed them with five loaves and two small fishes. Give us today the bread we need.
In the towns of Galilee, Jesus ate with tax-collectors and sinners, enjoying daily bread with them and more.
Forgive us our sins: they knew his forgiving in the bread shared, the talk, the jokes, the dreams together.
Some loved much because they had been forgiven much.
Some said such people should not be so cheaply forgiven.
Some said, Jesus had no authority to forgive sins. But he did, and healed them too.
Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us.
And sometimes this meant doing things in hard cash: Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors.
In sunny Galilee, the prayer soared, spirits danced.

Then Jesus set his face to go to Jerusalem, the necessary goal for a prophet, where death awaited.
Disciples said, grimly, Let us also go with him, that we may die with him.
Jesus came riding into the city on a donkey: Our Father, Your kingdom come!
Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem!
Lo, your king comes to you, triumphant and victorious is he,
Humble and riding on a donkey… (Zech 9.9)
The crowds were shouting: Hosanna to the Son of David!
Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord.
Just like in Galilee, the prayer soared, spirits danced: Our Father, your Name be hallowed. Your Kingdom come.

But in Jerusalem, was there space for the prayer to fly, was there a thermal to carry it?
Jesus went into the temple court, where the moneychangers were doing sacrificial business, and he turned over their tables, saying: My house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples, but you have made it a den of thieves.
For all people! Our Father who art in heaven. But can we pray that here?
In this Holy Week, as we call it, the prayer breaks into pieces, is voiced only in fragments, with strong sighing and tears, until it dies.
Jesus took the bread: This is my Body, broken for you. Is this what it comes to – Give us this day our daily bread – the bread we need a broken body?
If a son asks for bread, will you give him a stone? If you, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him?
And now the broken body is given as bread – good gift?
In Gethsemane, Jesus knelt to pray, sweated great drops of blood: Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me. Nevertheless not my will but Yours be done.
Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
Even in the time of trial, even when evil rises in all its power: Your will be done on earth as in heaven.

They brought him to a place Golgotha and there they crucified him with two thieves, one on the left the other on his right.
Father forgive them, they know not what they do. A prayer casting light in the darkness: Forgive us our sin as we forgive those who sin against us.
I say to you, Love your enemies. Do good to those who hate you. Forgive those who despitefully use you.
To his mother, Woman here is your son. To the disciple he loved, Here is your mother.
The family is breaking up. Earth’s friendships are dissolving but Our Father in heaven holds us still.
Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom: today you will be with me in paradise
Your kingdom come! Even for a thief with nothing to show for a sad wasted life.
I am thirsty: Give us daily bread – but that doesn’t happen here: I thirst.
There was darkness over the whole land for about three hours. Jesus cried with a loud voice:

My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?
The sunshine of Galilee all gone, the Lord’s prayer a broken echo, on the edge of despair, in loneliness, exile with no comfort. Yet the prayer hangs on: the forsaking God is named and called upon in the words of the remembered prayer of Psalm 22:

1 My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
Why are you so far from saving me,
so far from the words of my groaning?
2 O my God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer,
by night, and am not silent.
3 Yet you are enthroned as the Holy One;
you are the praise of Israel. [a]
4 In you our fathers put their trust;
they trusted and you delivered them.
5 They cried to you and were saved;
in you they trusted and were not disappointed.
6 But I am a worm and not a man,
scorned by men and despised by the people.
7 All who see me mock me;
they hurl insults, shaking their heads:
8 “He trusts in the LORD;
let the LORD rescue him.
Let him deliver him,
since he delights in him.”
9 Yet you brought me out of the womb;
you made me trust in you
even at my mother’s breast.
10 From birth I was cast upon you;
from my mother’s womb you have been my God.
11 Do not be far from me,
for trouble is near
and there is no one to help.
12 Many bulls surround me;
strong bulls of Bashan encircle me.
13 Roaring lions tearing their prey
open their mouths wide against me.
14 I am poured out like water,
and all my bones are out of joint.
My heart has turned to wax;
it has melted away within me.
15 My strength is dried up like a potsherd,
and my tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth;
you lay me [b] in the dust of death.
16 Dogs have surrounded me;
a band of evil men has encircled me,
they have pierced [c] my hands and my feet.
17 I can count all my bones;
people stare and gloat over me.
18 They divide my garments among them
and cast lots for my clothing.
19 But you, O LORD, be not far off;
O my Strength, come quickly to help me.
20 Deliver my life from the sword,
my precious life from the power of the dogs.
21 Rescue me from the mouth of the lions;
save [d] me from the horns of the wild oxen.
22 I will declare your name to my brothers;
in the congregation I will praise you.
23 You who fear the LORD, praise him!
All you descendants of Jacob, honor him!
Revere him, all you descendants of Israel!
24 For he has not despised or disdained
the suffering of the afflicted one;
he has not hidden his face from him
but has listened to his cry for help.
25 From you comes the theme of my praise in the great assembly;
before those who fear you [e] will I fulfill my vows.
26 The poor will eat and be satisfied;
they who seek the LORD will praise him—
may your hearts live forever!
27 All the ends of the earth
will remember and turn to the LORD,
and all the families of the nations
will bow down before him,
28 for dominion belongs to the LORD
and he rules over the nations.
29 All the rich of the earth will feast and worship;
all who go down to the dust will kneel before him—
those who cannot keep themselves alive.
30 Posterity will serve him;
future generations will be told about the Lord.
31 They will proclaim his righteousness
to a people yet unborn—
for he has done it.

Why have you forsaken me? Eighteen verses of lamentation. I am a worm and not human….there is no one to help….I am poured out like water….a company of evildoers surrounds me….they stare and gloat over me…
Broken and fading, yet the prayer never quite dies, the light never totally fades. The seed falls into the ground and dies, but in the dying darkness it springs into new life (John 12. 23-26). The Psalms turns –
God – did not hide His face from me but heard me when I cried to Him.
From you comes my praise in the great congregation: hallowed by your Name
The poor shall eat and be satisfied: give us this day our daily bread.
All the ends of the earth shall remember and turn to the Lord: Our Father….
For dominion belongs to the Lord: Your kingdom come…

Even in the darkness, the winged prayer gathers itself together, the fragments repair, the wholeness can be hoped for.
Father into your hand I commend my spirit – not forsaken.
I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to him for the day of his kingdom.

It is finished. – Not, It is lost. Not, It is a failure. But, the job is done: Your will on earth as in heaven, the love of the Father shown and shared by the Son: having loved his own, he loved them to the end.

Already in the darkness, when the prayer crashes and breaks, its begins to fly again. The rising of Jesus is rooted in the dying in the love of God.

So Jesus is raised and gives us again this prayer to pray. A prayer for the sunshine and the darkness.
A prayer in Galilee’s springtime and under Golgotha’s darkness. A prayer rich with the life of God in Jesus lived for us, with us.

This script, in an extended form, was the basis for an audio-visual presentation at Moortown Baptist Church on Good Friday, 2010.

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