The Rt. Rev. James Curry
24 July 2016
Grace Episcopal Church
We are Missionaries of the Good News of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. In baptism we have been buried with Christ and raised with him. United with Christ, we are called into fellowship and into active participation in God’s mission of reconciliation and restoration of all creation in Jesus Christ.
Like the earliest disciples we are in a living and dynamic relationship with God the Father through Jesus in the power of the Spirit. Like the earliest disciples we are being called into the cycle of faith: we are called, we are taught and fed through word and sacrament by Jesus himself, we are sent out to spread the Good News in the complex social nexus of our neighborhoods, and we are invited time and time again to return to the center of our faith, into deeper relationship with God in Christ.
The Gospel lessons of this last month have been wonderful in showing this pattern. The tenth and eleventh chapters of Luke focus on the life of discipleship in a complicated and often contentious and contrarian world. The disciples are sent out to be sheep among wolves often to cities that will not listen to them as they proclaim the good news. And yet there is success as they focus on their mission. They are taught that the one who asks “who is my neighbor?” is asking the wrong question. For the active disciples of Christ the question is “how can I be neighbor?” They have see the bustle of hospitality as Martha prepares her home for visitors and they have witnessed Mary’s better part of welcoming in her stilled centered receiving of relationship with Jesus.
And we who listen to Luke’s story receive it as it is laid over our own experience of a confusing, dangerous, and often violent world of competing value systems / struggles for power and authority / and less than obvious pathways for ‘right action.’
Like the earliest disciples who return to Jesus in today’s Gospel, we are filled with a wide variety of feelings and concerns: Some of us who return to Jesus today are filled with exhilaration looking with eagerness to his next command, some of us are confused or on edge, some are fearful, some are just plain tired. Just like they were. So for them and for us it is the right time to ask Jesus –– please, teach us to pray.
I don’t think this request comes because the disciples are ignorant about prayer or skill-less or foolish. I think it may be that just now – deep into the journey of discipleship and mission – they and we can hear afresh the teaching of Jesus on prayer which is embodied in his own intimacy with the Father. I think that they (and perhaps we) are at a moment in our lives when we can go deeper into our relationship with God and feast on the riches of God’s love.
Jesus’ sermon on prayer in Luke is just 42 words long in the English translation. It is lean, focused, and all encompassing.
"When you pray, say: Father,
(an invitation to deepest relationship that only God can offer) That address is followed by words of highest praise – how powerful that we are invited to speak so opening (so personally) with the God who is utterly other and transcendent.
hallowed be your name.
(As you children we Honor and recognize God for who God is)
Your kingdom come.
(And only yours – In the end time and now in us)
Give us each day our daily bread.
Here is my take on daily bread – we are emboldened to ask for all that is necessary to realize the reign of God and the mission of God every day knowing that we are ultimately dependent on God alone
And forgive us our sins,
for we ourselves forgive everyone indebted to us.
Mercy is necessary for each of us – and each of us needs to practice forgiveness – this is the only petition that demands we imitate God as a foundation to receive what God has to offer.
And do not bring us to the time of trial."
Keep us in your love that can overcome all things – even death itself.
And Jesus said: When you pray say this.
In these elegant and spare words are summed up the very nature of Prayer – and the depth of God’s love.
It is right for us, on the journey of discipleship, to ask Jesus over and over again to teach us to pray – and thus we can renew our relationship with God.
In the cycle of faith (called, taught and fed, sent, and invited to return) we can meet the days ahead and engage the work of reconciliation trusting our God and rejoicing.
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