(upbeat music) ♪ Whoa ♪ ♪ Whoa ♪ ♪ Whoa ♪ -: The introduction to the lord’s prayer is a long trip. We address our father who is in heaven and we are still on Earth. But, despite that, we have a wonderful connection with him. Let’s think of that tie between us. We have a pull down window shade in our bedroom. You know, the kind where you pull it down, hook it there, and, when you’re done, you release it and let it go back up. Have you ever prayed like a window shade? I have so, so often. I think of God in heaven and me here on Earth. So, window shade prayer pulls on God, brings him down here so I can tell him a few things, and then, when I’m done, I let him go back up. The thing is, window shade prayer is not good model of prayer. God is not waiting to be pulled down. In our prayer diagram, we start the lord’s prayer where Jesus puts us, with the father in heaven. It’s true that we’re still here on Earth, but our father, who is in heaven, hears us there. What a wonderful picture as our prayers ascend to him and he hears us and knows us there. We’re not pulling God down. He is lifting up our words and hearing them where he is. What we need to remember is that our father has already fully known us from creation. He doesn’t need to be brought down here for us to fill him in on what he’s missed. No window shade prayer needed here. Our father has already seen and heard all we know and much more. It’s like the light that was on at your childhood home when you turned up the driveway. Someone was always waiting for you to come home. It’s still true today with our father. See the light of our father’s home. Don’t be discouraged that cold and darkness still remain all around you. Our father knows what we need and he sends the light of his listening. His light in heaven is always on, always welcoming. When we begin the prayer, we turn the corner on the road to the father’s light. But we still need someone to make the connection between us and the father. We can pray because we’re brought to the father by his son. Because of the perfect love of the father for his son, we can pray. We stand beside his son who brings our whispers into the heavenly court of the father. Then Jesus can say to us, “Go ahead, talk to the father.” At that moment, I think we’d all freeze up. What do we say? Thank goodness Jesus has already given us exactly the words to say. That’s why the lord’s prayer is so needed. These words are especially welcome because they take the focus off ourselves. Words that span heaven and Earth are Jesus’s own. That bridging of heaven and Earth seems impossible, but I think that the incarnation of Jesus helps us as a model. In the incarnation, Jesus connects the opposite of humanity and divinity, uniting the two into one person. In the one Christ, we have the completely familiar, human flesh and bone, while at the same moment, we have the eternal God. The disciples capture this wonder in the boat following Jesus’s calming of the storm. They say, “Who then is this, “that even wind and sea obey him?” They questioned a sleeping carpenter and woke the mighty God. It’s the combination of his nearness and his divine difference that overwhelms them. When we pray to our father in heaven, we encounter this same combination of heaven and Earth. Saying “our father in heaven” brings the images of the throne of God reigning over all creatures. But this heaven isn’t beyond our thought. In our prayer, we speak to our father who is here to listen to us. Even more, he brings us into his presence. Like the disciples in their familiar boat with Jesus, we stop and wonder when we recognize that we’re in the presence of our heavenly father. The light we see comes from heaven itself and still reaches us at the very start of the prayer. So, in this prayer, we’re speaking to the father in heaven, the greatest mountaintop experience ever. This is not a time to get out a mirror to look at ourselves. This is the time to focus on God, his name, and his kingdom and all that he’s doing. That’s what the opening words of the prayer do. So, no window shades and no mirrors focused on ourselves. Let’s start the prayer at the very top, with our father in heaven. (mellow music) (gentle music) (gentle music) (upbeat music) (gentle music) Oh, the wonder of prayer as we sing with the saints in glory, the angels in heaven, and all the saints on Earth. If we wonder what we’re going to say and sing, it’s all about his name. The praise of his name becomes our mutual song. This song stays with us as our father tunes our life to himself. Now, in the first petition, we begin to pray in earnest. This is like stepping forward into an already singing choir, taking our part, and joining in. For me, the thought of singing in the presence of God, the angels, and the saints in glory is a little frightening. If you’re like me and would never sing a solo on Earth, what would possibly make you sing out in heaven? To answer this, we have the first petition. The first petition is the choir’s opening line. Imagine that you are me. For some reason, you’ve auditioned for a choir, and surprisingly, have passed, by pure grace, the audition and you’re in the choir. Now the choir director gives you permission to sing. More than that, you’re expected to sing. The lord’s prayer opens for us with the permission and the expectation of singing in the presence of God. We’re commanded to sing with all the others whose voices reach him. We can think of three groups who make up the choir and these three are like a three-note chord. Let the angel voices be the highest note. Imagine their section hitting the highest notes and holding them for an impossible length in perfect pitch. They never stop singing God’s praise and our voices in prayer are heard by God along with theirs. Our father recognizes the voice of each of his children as a good parent strains to hear his or her child in a choir. While no parent could find just one voice in such a perfect choir, God does. In this choir of heaven, I’m never drowned beneath the perfection of others, even the perfect angels in heaven. Along with the angelic choir, our father is listening to the heaven-gathered saints. They’re the middle note in our chord. Your first words of the lord’s prayer are joined by those who perhaps heard your very first words here on Earth, parents or grandparents who have joined the heavenly chorus. They treasured your first words and repeated them for years. Now, their prayers join yours in heaven and your few small words of prayer are repeated by them in the presence of the heavenly father. Choir is nearly full with angels and saints joining our own individual, timid voices. But there is one more body of voices to hear, the lowest note in our chord. While we can imagine the angels and saints joining us, we might forget the uncounted thousands, hundreds of thousands, and even millions of believers praying with us at this same moment. Though we may pray in a closet, we hear the echoes of the family of believers just beyond our door, across the globe. Join the chorus that soars above us. Be drawn into this eternal stream. Be astonished that those whose praise of God is perfect welcome your voice. Be even more amazed that the one who is perfect catches your feeble voice among theirs. Let our song of thanks and wonder be for the son whose silent blood made us holy before the father. Let his work be never-ending in tuning our lives to his song. The choir of heaven and Earth opens to receive us. Together with all the choir of heaven and Earth, we sing “Hallowed be Thy Name.” (upbeat music) (gentle music) (gentle music) (upbeat music) It’s time to move on, it’s time to do our chores. In the poem, “The Pasture,” Robert Frost, the Vermont farmer, invites us to join him as he does chores on his farm. Listen to his invitation, especially in the poem’s last, repeated line. “I’m going out to clear the pasture spring; “I’ll only stop to rake the leaves away “and wait to watch the water clear, I may: “I shan’t be gone long. “You come too. “I’m going out to fetch the little calf “that’s standing by the mother. “It’s so young, it totters “when she licks it with her tongue. “I shan’t be gone long. “You come too.” Don’t you want to come along? Let’s clear the spring, and when the water flows again, who knows what we’ll see. The little calf stumbles, and we’ll laugh at its shaking legs taking those first steps. We won’t be gone long. Won’t you come too? In the poem, Frost has chores to do, and the grandchildren are lucky to go with him. But you might read these words in an opposite direction. Perhaps this is a child who is tugging at his father. The child has to clear the pasture spring and chase the calf. But he doesn’t want to do it alone. He’s already pulling on his father’s sleeve. He says, “I have to go to do my chores. “It won’t be long. “Come with me. “It’ll be better if you come too.” This is the turning point of our lord’s prayer, the second and third petition. The father’s invited us to speak to him even while he is in heaven, and we’ve been welcomed into the choir that surrounds him. Now, we turn towards Earth. In a way, we’re reluctant to remember Earth, its needs and failures. Heaven is perfect and glorious, and we could stay forever on “Hallowed be Thy Name.” But now our thoughts turn to Earth. As the poem suggests, we have work that has to be done. We take the father’s hand and ask that he would do on Earth as he does in heaven. We want to take a bit of the glory that we’ve glimpsed in heaven and see it brought here on Earth. We can’t do this ourselves. So we ask our father to come. We shan’t be gone long, Father. You come too. The transition from the heavenly choir of the first petition to the chores of the second and third petition is like a tour of homes. In the fall, you buy your tickets to the “Parade of Homes” and go through eight perfect houses. You’ve never seen so many flower arrangements on dining room tables and fountains bubbling in backyard parks. But you know you have to go home. Your brown carpet with its worn path meets you at the front door. Your dining room table has no flowers, but only the dishes from supper and three bills with their envelopes torn open. It’s enough to make you stop going on any more “Parade of Homes.” But imagine if you met someone at the last mansion you visit. He’s not the owner; he looks like the man who built the house himself. He asks how you like it. You assure him it’s fantastic, the best house you’ve ever seen. He asks what your house is like. “Nothing like this,” you tell him. “Oh,” he says, “would you like to make some changes?” Well, it could never be like his place. “No,” he says, “but we could get a start on it.” You ask, “Would you really want to work on our house?” “Of course,” he says. “Well then, we’re on our way home. “You come too.” We may feel the same way after beginning the lord’s prayer. Like visiting the perfect mansion, we envy the saints and angels for their flawless home. Our own world gives a worn, brown welcome at best. But there is one who built heaven and Earth, the carpenter who meets us at the door. He knows our house and where the remodeling should begin. Lord, we won’t ever be perfect children and we live in a world far from Eden. But could you work among us, make us more than we are now, and shape this world to reflect your kingdom all the more? In all, we wish the father would come with us to the world that’s waiting. We’d rather not leave heaven at all, but if we must, it won’t be long. Father, you come too. (upbeat music) (gentle music) (gentle music) (upbeat music) Now before you close with prayer and take off, pull out your planning guide and look at when you said you would read for session three. Next week, you’ll be looking at chapters four, five, and six. God bless your reading and your prayers as you journey with our father from heaven to Earth and heaven again.