Our Father

Our Father

I often use the outline of prayer, or at least one of the prayers models of Jesus when I pray.  I no longer recite the outline found in Matthew 6 by rote memory over and over for a certain number of times as I grew up doing in the Roman Catholic Church.  Now, I concentrate on each of the statements in the prayer model and LISTEN to what meaning is given me as well as just asking about the various statements in the prayer.  One morning this week while listening to the “our Father” part some points came to me, some of which have come before, and some of which are new to me.

1.) “Our” Father is not just “my” Father… He is also “your” Father.

2.) What does “our” Father do?  “Our” Father offers us his unconditional love, but not only that, Our father means more to us.

3.) “Our” Father also supplies our needs, our food, our clothes, our need for love, our need for companionship, our need for peace, our need for trust, our needs, all of them, in many ways, in all places, at all times…

4.) But, “Our” Father does even more; our Father trains us, our Father draws us unto himself, into his arms. Our Father gives us direction in life, our Father designs into us, each of us, skills and personalities which are different from each other, but still a reflection of his being, his essence, his image.  This is our Father.

5.) “Our” Father not only loves us, but disciplines us, and our Father chastises us and corrects us when we step outside, If we can ever do that, of our Father’s will.  (I will have more to say about this point later…)

6.) “Our” Father….. You may by now have noticed a lot of “Our” Fathers being mentioned so far, but this is not vain repetition…. “Our” Father implies a communal meaning… Our Father is Your Father, Our Father is our Enemy’s father, although our enemy may not even know Our Father.  Yet…  We, as brothers and sisters, (yes, I believe our Father thinks we are human brothers and sisters), are fighting each other against our Father’s desire.

7.) “Our” Father… While listening, it came to me that just the other day I was in communal prayer with some others… We were praying from the Psalms, using Psalms 136 and 137 as our prayer model.  You may wish to look up these Psalms and read them.  If so, please notice the repetition in Psalms 136 of “for His steadfast love endures forever.”  This phrase is repeated 26 times, apparently a congregational response to the worship leader, like is done in the Roman Catholic Church, “for His steadfast love endures forever,” “for His steadfast love endures forever,” etc….  26 times.  We all know, then, by now, that our Father’s steadfast love endures forever.

Lastly, I want to mention, that our communal prayer leader also chose Psalm 137 to read in conjunction with Psalm 136.  Psalm 137 ends with:

Ps 137:8-9

8 O Daughter of Babylon, doomed to destruction,

happy is he who repays you

for what you have done to us —

9 he who seizes your infants

and dashes them against the rocks.

NIV

The leader, knowing me, and my beliefs in Peace and Nonviolence, poked a little fun at me, saying “This is for John’s benefit.”  I advised him I could help him understand this and indeed, just the day before, that I had shared a couple of CDs regarding things such as this with one of my Muslim friends with whom I have discussed such things about God.  Many of us wonder, and are perplexed with such things, that our Father’s love could endure forever, then see how our God seemingly approves of little babies heads being dashed against rocks, apparently taking joy in this vengeance.  Later, in the New Testament, we see Jesus dying on the cross for all mankind, both friend and enemy….

I said no more…. I did not even feel like praying, just thinking that some would believe that “our” father, MY Father, could imply God takes pleasure in dashing little babies against rocks…  This is not the God I know whose exact being, representation and substance was revealed to us in Jesus Christ.  I do not believe this is the God who lives in me, and in whom I live, and have my being.

This brings us back to the point I said I would speak more of, that “our” Father also disciplines us.  I believe this discipline is and Organismic discipline, that if we, or our enemy, refuse to LISTEN to God’s teaching as an individual, or as a nation, (which, it appears the United States is refusing to do, as well as every other nation), we are refusing that God, who lets us in our God given Free Will, do as we desire and our sins are disciplined in a natural, organic way.  God apparently turns us over to our own devices, and those of Satan, and demons, and natural circumstances and events as He withdraws His protection from us, (remember – deliver us from Evil phrase?) for our correction, just as he did with Job, and those demons bash little children against the rocks..  I believe that God also disciplines even our enemy.  When the enemy, the Babylonians, were too cruel in their punishment to the Israelites, God turned the Babylonians over to the Medes and Persians, (assuming I remember my history correctly) I believe this is what God is describing, (Descriptive), or Predicting, (Predictive), not prescribing, or actually causing it to happen. It will happen, as a natural, organic punishment, not a divine punishment.  God did not do it…  Medes and Persians did it in this case.  I believe our Father releases us to our own desires, our own wishes, and as He does so, he is weeping for us, and for our enemy…  It was not God who would be Happy about this travesty…  It was the crazed and madden perpetrators who would take warped pleasure in perpetuating this Myth of Redemptive Violence, in which 99% of the world believes, and 1% do not believe.  All the while, as our Father watches this travesty of blood spattered rocks and little babies heads crushed, bleeding, and dying.  God is crying, for both Babylon, and us, and for those who are doing such things to both of us.

I believe in these circumstances we can also listen to the words of Jesus, dying  on the cross, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”  I believe His steadfast loves endures forever.  I believe our Father loves us…  (For, His steadfast Love endures forever…)

Even more, it is not just our Father, whose loving kindness endures forever, it is that our Father IS love..  Love is who he is, not just what he does…  Love is the essence of His being… This is predominately the story of the Old Covenant, (that God is a loving and just God) and clearly the story of the New Covenant, of Jesus Christ, with whose clear lens of Grace, in Christ, we can look backward to some of the clouded and less clear Scriptures in the Old Covenant.  We still see through the glass darkly, but hopefully, not as darkly as we would without the Light of Christ…..

Grace & Peace,

John Cooper

http://tuscaloosacirclesofpeace.blogspot.com/

About jcooperforpeace
Peacemaker in Fellowship Engaged in Active Nonviolence and Social Justice

2 Responses to Our Father

  1. Michael says:

    I heard someone comment at one time on this passage with a perspective that had never before occurred to me. According to this person’s exegesis, it was not God who dashed the children against the rocks, but those who conquered the Babylonians. And from the Hebrew perspective this grim act was a “repayment” for what the Babylonians did to the Hebrews prior. This was not a Jew inventing some evil act out of thin air. In this explanation it is not God who is killing children, though God certainly claims to at times raise one nation to over take another. Yet, there seems to be a sense of either vengeful glee or at least earnest indignation in the heart of the Psalm writer. Earnest indignation seems consistent with God’s treatment of nations and individuals, especially his chosen people. But not vengeful glee. I think God’s promise that He would curse those who curse the children of Israel may apply to this passage.

    However, that cheap jab by the group leader aside, even those of us who acknowledge the REALITY of Redemptive Violence (the atonement sacrifices God required, the crucifixion of Christ, and all that was necessary for that to happen, etc.) and believe on the Lord Jesus Christ freely acknowledge all humanity are our brothers, as we are all God’s children. I don’t think that automatically means we are always in good standing with everyone. Does God’s love mean humanity is always in good standing with Him?

  2. Thanks for your comment… We are all learning from from each other… The only failing grade is if we bring nothing to others….

    John

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