I’m working this year as a chaplain’s assistant at San Francisco Theological Seminary. In that work this week, I’m spending some time pondering the language we use in liturgy and how that informs how we see God.
I like seeing God as a father, and the Lord’s Prayer, from Matthew 6:9-13 addressing God as father has always given me a comforting and grace-filled message. When I came to seminary, I was pushed by my colleagues and by school policy about inclusive language to expand my subconscious picture of God. If I speak of God as only a man, or only a parent, only a spirit, only a creator, I slowly concretize God in my mind. God becomes smaller, frozen. I have enjoyed examining the following interpretations of the Lord’s Prayer and trying to pull the prayer out of the concrete I have encased it in.
What images stand out for you in these? And do you have other readings of the Lord’s Prayer to add to my mix?
Eternal Spirit, Earth-maker, Pain-bearer, Life-giver,
Source of all that is and that shall be,
Father and Mother of us all,
Loving God, in whom is heaven:
The hallowing of your name echo through the universe!
The way of your justice be followed by the peoples of the world!
Your heavenly will be done by all created beings!
Your commonwealth of peace and freedom
sustain our hope and come on earth.
With the bread we need for today, feed us.
In the hurts we absorb from one another, forgive us.
In times of temptation and test, strengthen us.
From trials too great to endure, spare us.
From the grip of all that is evil, free us.
For you reign in the glory of the power that is love,
now and for ever. Amen.
Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia. “Night Prayer.” A New Zealand Prayer Book. http://anglicanprayerbook.org.nz/167.htm (accessed October 15, 2012).
Our Father above us and all around us, may your unspeakable name be revered. Here on earth, may your kingdom come. On earth as in heaven, may your will be done. Give us today our bread for today. Forgive us our debts as we forgive. Lead us away from the perilous trial. Liberate us from the evil. For the kingdom is yours and yours alone. For the power is yours and yours alone. For the glory is yours and yours alone. Now and forever, Amen.
McLaren, Brian D. “The Lord’s Prayer.” http://brianmclaren.net/archives/blog/the-lords-prayer.html (accessed October 15, 2012).
Our Mother, who art within us, many are your names. Your wisdom come, your will be done, unfolding from the depths of us. Each day you give us all that we need. You remind us of our limits, and we let go. You support us in our power, and we act with courage. For you are the dwelling place within us, the empowerment around us, and the celebration among us. As it was in the beginning, so shall it be now. Amen. (Miriam Therese Winter)
Warrener, John. “God Is Falling.” The Unofficial Confessing Movement Page. http://ucmpage.org/articles/jwarrener4.html (accessed October 15, 2012).
Father in heaven, Reveal who you are. Set the world right; do what’s best — as above, so below.
Keep us alive with three square meals. Keep us forgiven with you and forgiving others. Keep us safe from ourselves and from evil.
You’re in charge, God! You can do anything you want! You’re ablaze in beauty! Yes! Yes! Yes!
Peterson, Eugene H. The Message: The Bible in Contemporary Language. Printed in The Message-NKJV Parallel Bible. Nashville: Thomas Nelson Inc. 2007.