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Psalm 71:1-16


In you, O LORD, do I take refuge; let me never be put to shame! In your righteousness deliver me and rescue me; incline your ear to me, and save me! Be to me a rock of refuge, to which I may continually come; you have given the command to save me, for you are my rock and my fortress.


Rescue me, O my God, from the hand of the wicked, from the grasp of the unjust and cruel man. For you, O Lord, are my hope, my trust, O LORD, from my youth. Upon you I have leaned from before my birth; you are he who took me from my mother's womb. My praise is continually of you. I have been as a portent to many, but you are my strong refuge. My mouth is filled with your praise, and with your glory all the day. Do not cast me off in the time of old age; forsake me not when my strength is spent. For my enemies speak concerning me; those who watch for my life consult together and say, "God has forsaken him; pursue and seize him, for there is none to deliver him."


O God, be not far from me; O my God, make haste to help me! May my accusers be put to shame and consumed; with scorn and disgrace may they be covered who seek my hurt. But I will hope continually and will praise you yet more and more. My mouth will tell of your righteous acts, of your deeds of salvation all the day, for their number is past my knowledge. With the mighty deeds of the Lord GOD I will come; I will remind them of your righteousness, yours alone. (ESV)


Our Father...

Friday of Easter 5

8 May 2015

The Lord's Prayer is a very special form of speech delivered to the church with which to address our heavenly Father. The church prays these words given by our Lord Jesus when she gathers around the table of the Lord to receive that body and blood which conveys forgiveness of sins. It has become the "table prayer" of the church. The recitation of the Lord's Prayer in a corporate context includes its challenges. I am grateful for the liturgical invitation to the Lord's Prayer that has been inserted into some Eucharistic services: "Lord, remember us in your kingdom and teach us to pray...Our Father..." This versicle elicits the response of the people, so that they join the pastor to pray the words, "Our Father..." In the services where the prayer is not so introduced, many of the pray-ers never form on their lips this wonderful and intimate name for our God: "Our Father..." When the pastor begins the prayer, only after the introduction to the Lord's Prayer do the people begin to form the words, "who art in heaven..." And while the pastor is speaking for the people, the more recent liturgical tradition has been to place the words of the prayer on the lips of the people as a whole when gathered around the Eucharistic table. Unfortunately, this prayer remains woefully incomplete if the people do not form this intimate address, "Our Father..." with their own lips.


Very seldom is God called "Father" in the Old Testament. When the name does appear, such expressions are often looking forward to the New Testament, a shadow of the good things to come. Only those who have arisen to the new life from the water of the font find themselves with the name "Father" constantly on their lips. In the rite of baptism, which Chrysostom calls "those marvelous experiences, and that strange and unusual mode of labor," the ancient church must have arranged it that the newly initiated believer would intone the words of this prayer. So those who have experienced drowning and burial into the death of Christ and resurrection with Him, and in so doing have been adopted into God's family, immediately address their Father in the most intimate terms, "Our Father..." If baptism is rebirth in Christ to a new family, then the first words that should arise from the lips of the newly adopted are rightly, "Our Father..."


If God is our Father for Christ's sake, by burial with Christ and resurrection with Him, then we have the most intimate Father-child relationship with Him. Paul calls on us to call our Father "Abba," which is the intimate Aramaic term that means "daddy." How blessed it is that we, who have been united with Christ, God's Son, in baptism now have an open door to the lap of our "daddy." We may repose close to His very heart (Christ Himself), so that we will have His ear bend to our need and we will whisper our trouble and trial to Him. "Dear Father, hear me as a father listens to a child on his lap." He will hear when we pray: "Our Father..."


John Chrysostom


"'For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, "Abba! Father!"' (Rm 8:15). The initiated know how great this is, that with good reason they are invited to use this word first in the Prayer of the initiated. What then, it may be said, did Old Testament believers not also call God Father? Listen to Moses, when he says, 'You forsake the God who made you'? (Deut 32:15). Hear Malachi reproaching them, 'Have we not all one Father? Has not one God created us?' (Mal 2:10).  Still, if these words and others besides are used, we do not find them anywhere calling God by the name, or praying in this language.


"All of us, priests and laymen, rulers and ruled, are instructed to pray this way (Lk 11:2). And this is the first language we speak, after those marvelous experiences, and that strange and unusual mode of labor [in baptism]. If in any other instances they called Him Father, that was only their own idea. We who are in the state of grace do it through being moved by the working of the Spirit in us. For as there is a Spirit of Wisdom, after which they that were unwise became wise, and this discloses itself in their teaching. There is a Spirit of Power, by which the feeble raised up the dead, and drove out devils There is a Spirit of the gift of healing, a Spirit of prophecy, a Spirit of tongues, and so also a Spirit of adoption. And because we know the Spirit of prophecy, in that he who hath it foretells things to come, not speaking of his own mind, but moved by grace, so too is the Spirit of adoption, by which he that is gifted with it calls God Father, moved by the Spirit.


"Wishing to express this as a most true descent, Paul used the Hebrew [Aramaic] tongue, for he does not only say, 'Father,' but 'Abba, Father,' which name is a special sign of true born children to their fathers."
John Chrysostom, Homilies on Romans, 14

Dear Father in heaven, You have commanded us to pray the way Your Son, our Lord Jesus taught us to pray. Help us to call on You as a trusting child calls upon a loving father for all good things. Continue to set us near the font of life, that we might know that we have been adopted into Your family and can call You "Abba" from our hearts. Amen.


For Walter Friend, that the Lord of the church would grant him health and healing


For the gift of rain from our heavenly Father, that the drought in California would be broken and that the earth would be watered


For members of Congress, that they would be strengthened in every good deed

Art: GRÜNEWALD, Matthias Resurrection (1515)

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