A New Commentary on the Lord's Prayer (Part Two)
Finally, I’m home. Creation has snapped back into place. The tension between what is and what should be has vanished. The world around me is what it was always meant to be. Even my anxiety is gone.
I knew this day would come. I got my first taste of it on a camping trip years ago. I woke up to the smell of brewing coffee and something stirred within me. The sound of bacon sizzling on an open fire transformed that something into hunger. I got out of my sleeping bag, opened the flap of my tent and the soliloquy of a nearby stream unleashed a wonder and awe that had been repressed since childhood. Joy streamed through me, refreshed my imagination, and drew me outside for more.
As I stepped from my tent the morning breeze frolicked down the mountains and ran across the hills. With fingers outstretched it ran through the plains of grass swaying and bowing in thanksgiving and praise. It came to greet me. I raised my head instinctively and received its morning caress. My joy overflowed.
Then I looked out as far as my eyes could see, over the snow-streaked mountains, above the billowing white clouds, beyond the blue, blue sky. In the distance, just over the horizon, I saw something reminiscent of the kings and knights of childhood. It was the outline of a castle, a kingdom was the home of the morning breeze. Though I could only see it from a distance, I was sure that its inhabitants consistently experienced all that I had tasted that morning. They were truly free.
Now, many years later, I have arrived at the gates of that kingdom. I open my eyes in expectation. The morning light, in celebration of its ninety-three million-mile run in eight minutes and 20 seconds, makes everything visible to me. But I’m disappointed by what I see. I’m in the same bed. I’m in the same house. I’m in the same world that I’ve always been in. The dream has vanished.
O how I long for more than just a taste of that other world. I want to make the journey there myself. But I don’t know the way. Someone has to help me.
As I read the beatitudes clouds part to reveal that castle I had seen against the blue, blue sky. Again I see the kingdom that is everything I hope for.
I climb out of bed and turn to a talk that stirs that certain something within me.
Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
These blessings and promises come from another world. But the speaker offers them with the confidence of someone who has actually been there. This is where the poor find a home. This is where the grief-stricken are finally healed. In this land the good get what they deserve, visionaries find what they long for, and caregivers are, themselves, deeply cared for. That which the power-hungry take from others here is given back to the downtrodden there. Fame and renown in this kingdom are reserved for those who truly promote peace.
As I read the beatitudes clouds part to reveal the castle I had seen against the blue, blue sky. Again I see the kingdom that is everything I hope for. Yet I’m still looking from a distance. I need to know how to get there.
In the heart of this speech, called the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus offers to be my guide. The first step, he tells me, is to dedicate my life to seeking and finding this world.
‘This, then, is how you should pray:
“Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Accepting this invitation has had a curious effect on me. By committing to this journey and trusting Jesus to get me to my destination my life simplifies dramatically. Now that my future is out of my hands all that really matters is completing the path before me today.
Give us today,
our daily bread.
I have asked for the provisions I need for this leg of the journey. Now I can participate fully in the peace and security at the heart of the other kingdom. Even as I continue to live in this world.
And forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from the evil one.
For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.
The rest of my life on this planet is about seeking this kingdom. When I forgive I’m forgiven. When I knock the door is opened. When I seek, I find. Moment by moment. Step by step. Day by day. Until that morning when I open my eyes and see that I have arrived at my destination. I will walk through the gates of the kingdom I have longed for, into the spacious courtyard with a flowing fountain at its center, where all who have gone before me gather in greeting. Together our hearts will cry out:
Yours is the kingdom,
And the glory
Now and forever.
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