In HOPE 6.30                                  back to home                        David Timms

Ministry Resource

Those of you who preach may find good value in Calvin Miller's latest book Preaching: The Art of Narrative Exposition (Baker, 2006; 280 pages). Miller is eloquent and insightful, not to mention experienced and effective, having pastored a church that grew from 10 members to 3,000. His writing is rich,vivid, and captivating.

A New Series

This week we begin a new series. Over the next 8 weeks, I'd like to reflect on the Lord's Prayer, particularly as it shapes our worldview and spiritual formation.

Hope Happenings

Tomorrow night (Friday) is the Celebrate Hope dinner at the Disneyland Resort -- our annual celebration and fund-raising event. It features Michael Reagan (son of former President Ronald Reagan) as the keynote speaker.

Hope International University
Fullerton  CA  92831

"Pray then in this way: '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 debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For Yours is the Kingdom, the power, and the glory, forever. Amen.'" (Matthew 6.9-13)

Our Father

Grab the reader's attention. Start strong. Startle, shock, or disorient. The opening two words of the Lord's Prayer does this and more. Two small words -- just nine letters in all -- gatecrash our prayerful indifference.

"Dear God" lacks intimacy, energy, and vitality. It's generic, impersonal, distant, and detached. But "Our Father" cuts through private piety and reserved religiosity. It unsettles the serenity of my selfishness. It propels me out of isolation, into intimacy.

"Our ..."

While private prayer has a place (see Matt 6.6), the little word "our" guarantees that prayer embraces others. It forces me to consider us. "Me and God" may be acceptable in a culture of Lone Rangers, but "us and the Father" means that prayer -- as taught by Christ -- is also a community event.

"Our" binds us together. "Our" becomes the glue between "me" and "them." It jolts us to recall that we stand together before God with all His children - equally, interdependently, without favoritism or exception. "Our" levels the playing field. It erases distinctions, labels, and status issues. It renders us the same. "My" expresses exclusivism. "Our" is the language of inclusivism.

"Father ..."

The parental term oozes unexpected intimacy. Something less familiar feels more appropriate (perhaps "God" or "Holy Divine One"), but the gospel calls us to a family reunion not a meeting with the CEO. Truly good news restores intimacy to lives dried out by detachment. Is there a more gospel word then "Father"?

The combination of the two terms binds us together as family, and refuses to validate private faith. "Our Father ..." acknowledges a new community to which we now belong, together.

When Jesus said "Pray in this way," He disturbed the comfortable solitude of spiritual elitism. Christ refuses to endorse any pursuit of holiness or godliness that does not include community. He anathematizes individualism.

"Our Father ..." snaps us out of complacency, privatism, and segregation. The words tumble forth with warmth, invitation, connection, closeness, and community.

Our faith finds its footing in our Father.

Two small words -- an inch of lettering -- that bridge our seclusion from each other and the Lord. May we meditate on them, respond to them, and be molded by them. It's gospel.  



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David Timms serves in the Graduate Ministry Department at Hope International University in Fullerton, California. "In HOPE", however, is not an official publication of the University and the views expressed are not necessarily those of the Administrators or Board of the institution. "In HOPE" has been a regular e-publication since January, 2001.