Today I was praying and after my praises and petitions and rambling theological wanderings and preachings to myself, I felt moved to conclude, as I often do, by uttering the Lord’s Prayer. As the familiar words stirred up into my mouth and tumbled easily off my tongue and my lips, I was struck by a strong sense of continuity. In that moment my whole life and existence was bent by the Holy Spirit, it was as though my ‘time-stream’, to steal from Doctor Who, had been folded under that of a more ‘real’ time-stream. Although the languages were different, my lips moved in unity with Jesus’ lips, my spirit worshipped in unison with his spirit. As one we declared that the one whom is in the heavenly realms is ‘Our’ Father. Temporarily there was no theological precision or mental clarification that God is my Father only in and through his Son Jesus Christ by the Holy Spirit. Instead there was only truth, identity and unity.
‘Our Father’; Jesus’ Father is my Father and in that moment we prayed together. Separated by over 2000 years of history, of events and people and the constantly grinding entropy of reality, I stood in the Presence of Jesus and prayed with him to Our Father in Heaven. Our Father who loves us and whom we honour and serve with our lives.
And yet, as I prayed those words I knew that I wasn’t just standing next to Jesus. I wasn’t the only one ‘there’. Next to him and in unison with him was a group of 12 Palestinian Jews, clinging to every word he said and grasping at the truth those words contained. Yet it’s not that I was transported back to a historical event as a unique witness, as it was not just Jesus and his disciples and I praying at once to Our Father. Oh it was no small select, elite and prestigious group. If my ‘time-stream’ were a coloured ribbon of light that was bent by the Holy Spirit and threaded so that it intersected Jesus Christ’s time-stream at that very moment then my coloured ribbon, dim and splotchy as it is, was imperceivable among the multitudes of ribbons being drawn in and spun from all the crevasses of history and every corner of creation into a single, bright, pure and holy moment of worship of God the Father.
In that moment it were as though every believer that has ever prayed, that is praying and that will ever pray… were truly praying together to ‘Our Father’. The sons and daughters of God stood with his only begotten Son and in his presence they prayed through his words and his spirit of worship to the Father. Not in a forced or systematised structure that enabled worship but simply out of their – no, Our – shared faith.
As I stood there in prayer and worship I remembered and realised the union that we all share in Christ.
I realised and remembered that for all your faults and all the things you do and say that I disagree with, you’re my brothers and sisters. No matter how much you frustrate me with your hypocrisy and heresy, the one who loves me with a love so powerful that it fills me, consumes me, transforms me and teaches me to love freely in response, loves you too. As my love loves you, so I love you too. And hopefully as your love loves me, you’ll love me too; through my heresy and hypocrisy, through the things I say and do that wind you up and through my faults that frustrate you.
When we pray the prayer that Jesus taught us we are invisibly caught up in his Holy Spirit and we pray together with Jesus and with one another.
So, will you say it with me?
Our Father, who is 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 for ever,
(A Word of Explanation: This was written one day in February/March of 2014)