The Lord’s Prayer in a Pandemic

Creator and creative God.

God, who has said to call him Father.

Our Father God who is everywhere at all times; our Parent who is with everyone at all times,

Father who is in our homes, the homes of our loved ones, the homes of strangers, and with those who are homeless,

Father who rides in ambulances and who moves about everywhere in emergency rooms and hospital corridors and ICU units. And morgues.

Our Father, who has many names

Each name is holy. Creator, Healer, Counselor, Comforter, the One Who Sees, the One Who Supplies, the Word in the Flesh, Love.

Our Father whose presence is everywhere, who cannot be kept out,

Whose kingdom permeates every corner of the world, including the homes and offices of our political leaders, and our spiritual leaders,

Whose kingdom is a witness to your mercy and justice, your compassion and wisdom.

Father, you opened wide your kingdom to include us,

Through your Spirit, through angels working on your behalf, through the people of your kingdom, may what You desire be lived today,

Through your Spirit, angels, and people, may your will be done here as it is in heaven,

Mercy, justice, compassion,

Tears wiped away,

Knowledge to guide decisions that must be made today,

Wisdom to make decisions that offer abundant life,

Abundant life for family, friend, stranger,

Abundant life for neighbors who are unable to work, for our side yard neighbors and our neighbors in far places of our world,

Abundant life for the weakest among us, for the most sick, the most lonely.

Abundant life according to your understanding, not ours.

On earth as it is in heaven.

Father, we ask for what we need today,

You created a world rich in resources,

May we use only what we need for today,

Bread, tortillas, naan, crust, pita, manna, matzoh,

Gloves, masks, protective gowns, sanitizer,

Today You give enough love, compassion, mercy, justice, bread, medical supplies.

We ask for bread and we ask for forgiveness,

Forgive us for not loving our neighbors as ourselves.

We ask for the ability to forgive those who offend us, those who hoard, those who defy the need for social distancing.

Father, we ask for hearts that recognize when we are being tempted to not love our neighbors as ourselves.

Today,

Your Kingdom, your ways, your words,

Your power, your authority, your guidance, your boldness,

Your glory, your presence,

Now and forever.

Amen

 

A New Rhythm

Life has rhythms and cadences. Rhythms are comforting and soothing. Predictable. It is their predictability that makes them meaningful. Music, rain drops, bicycle pedal strokes, a child’s laugh, heart beats, firing pistons, lapping waves, foot steps, chewing, breathing, chanting, dance steps, hoof beats, skipping rope, swim strokes, clock chimes, labor contractions, sunrise and sunset, and prayer.

The rhythm of prayer speaks to generations of hearts. The rhythm of the Lord’s Prayer, unchanged for millennia:

     Our Father/ who art in heaven/ hallowed be thy name/ thy kingdom come/ thy will be   done/ on earth/ as it is in heaven/ give us this day/ our daily bread/ and forgive us our sins/ as we forgive those/ who sin against us/ lead us not/ into temptation/ but deliver us from evil/ for thine is the kingdom/ and the power/ and the glory/ now/ and forever/ amen.

While in Guatemala, worshiping at an indigenous Mayan church, I recognized the beautiful rhythm of the Lord’s Prayer during the service. The cadence was slightly different, but the rhythm, the rise and fall of the voices and the accented words, were familiar in the unknown language that surrounded me. My mother taught me this prayer, using the rhythms of it to break it into memorizable chunks that my five year old mind could remember. A familiar, comforting rhythm of voices, of connection and cadence with generations of pray-ers.

That is why a change in the rhythm of the Lord’s Prayer startled me one day when worshiping with friends at their church. I was so startled that I stopped praying, opened my eyes and looked at my praying neighbors who prayed as if there was nothing unusual about the change of the rhythm of their words!  What prompted their departure from the familiar rhythm? Love.

Love and determination to include a man who offered them the opportunity to change their rhythm so that he was included in their communal prayer. Love and the willingness to make an accommodation to include a man whose words of prayer were echoes of the words they prayed. Love and the knowledge that the presence of this man and his prayers enriched their community. Love and a desire to be the whole Body of Christ.

Our Father/father/ who art in heaven/ in heaven/hallowed be thy name/ thy name/ thy kingdom come/ come/ thy will be done/ will be done/ on earth/earth/ as it is in heaven/ heaven/ give us this day/ this day/ our daily bread/ bread/ and forgive us our sins/ us our sins/ as we forgive those/ forgive those/ who sin against us/ against us/ lead us not/ not/ into temptation/ ‘tation/ but deliver us from evil/ from evil/ for thine is the kingdom/ kingdom/ and the power/ Power/ and the glory/ glory/ now/ now/ and forever/ forever/amen.