Colossians 2:6-15 [16-19]
July 24, 2022
Give us today our daily scorpion???
In the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.
The other day Thomas asked if I would take him to the basement so that he could play downstairs. It was on Wednesday so it was pretty hot outside. The basement was a lot cooler than playing on the back deck so I said, "Sure!" So we go downstairs, I get comfy on the couch, pull my phone out and then Thomas yells, "Dad, there's a bug." And I said, "Okay. Play someplace else." He said, "No, I need to play right there. Come over and take the bug outside." So, I go over and take care of the bug. A minute later after i get comfy on the couch again, "Dad, there's another spider." Apparently the spiders decided to colonize this particular area of the basement. They were setting up a government, HOAs and were starting to build a Main Street. I sigh and get up to take care of that spider. And then a minute later again. "Dad..." This last one was dead but nonetheless, I had to take care of it. After I take care of all these bugs, I asked Thomas, "When you get older and have a little boy and they find a bug, are you going to do what I am doing and take care of the bugs for you son?” He just smiled at me and went back to playing.
It is amazing the jobs I have to do now as a dad. Truth be told, I don't really like bugs either. We have been dealing with ants out our house for the past two months and every time I see one, I always get that feeling like they are crawling on me. I cannot wash my hands enough to get that feeling of them crawling all over me to go away. But some how whenever Thomas asks for help, the bugs don't bother me. Or that one time that Thomas and I went fish. Our shoes got stuck in the mud so we took them off for the walk back to the car, which involved cross a bridge which had been baking in the sun. Halfway across the bridge, it got too hot for Thomas's feet and he stopped and started to cry. I was about five or 10 feet ahead of him. My feet were burning too, but as soon as I heard him cry, I dropped everything that i was carrying, ran back over the bridge and picked him up. I carried him off the bridge all while rubbing his feet and telling him that I love I’m; that he will be okay. How neat is it to think that our father in heaven would do even more for my boys than I, their earthly father would do for them. The great creator of the universe who formed out of nothing all that we see, hear, smell, touch, and taste, cares more about my son, loves my boys more than me. How is that even possible? It makes no sense, yet it is.
There is nothing in the world that I wouldn't do for my boys. They are my world. Don't get me wrong, they drive me crazy sometimes. Just ask the council how the beginning part of the meeting went on Monday night when I was trying to zoom into that meeting. But when they need something, anything, I usually try to find a way to make it happen. That is how Pastor Diane and I both act. Pastor Diane has endures so many train expeditions just because her boys love them. We want the very best for our boys. We want to give them the very best childhood experience. I get that the world is not a perfect place and that there are many dads out there who do not value their fatherly responsibilities. I know there are many times when I do not live up to my expectations of a good dad, and I am thankful that on those days when I fail, my boys can rely on their Father in heaven to provide when I cannot.
Rereading Luke 11 this week reminded me of just how captivating the language is that Jesus uses in response to his disciple’s request to teach them how they ought to pray. In Matthew's gospel, Jesus teaches his followers to pray during his sermon on the mount. Yet, Luke presents the Lord's prayer differently. Did you catch it? “Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples.” John is dead. He is no longer in the picture. Why do they want to pray like John’s disciples? There are some interesting parallels between John and Jesus.
John the Baptist had followers just like Jesus did.
People who traveled with John and learned from him just like Jesus disciples.
The state arrested John and murdered him because he was a leader of a moment that sounded a lot like tearing down status quo.
Now that John has been killed, the state needs make sure the movement doesn’t continue after John death. The state is now doing after his followers.
John's followers are meeting the same fate as their leader.
They are being thrown into jail to eventually be executed either by the sword, the cross, thrown to the lions, or simply left there to rot in jail.
John's followers knew the dangers when they agreed to follow John and I am sure John talked to them about those dangers. He most likely talked to them about the importance of staying strong even in the face of death and probably even gave them some resources and tools in order to keep their faith as the sword was being raised. I believe he gave them something very similar to Jesus’ prayer to say when they had no other words left to say. The longer Jesus's disciples stick with Jesus and learn from him, the more and more Jesus sounds a lot like John. And it is only a matter of time before the state picks up Jesus, kills him and then comes after them. There request is not simplest based in curiosity as to how Jesus’ prays, but is ask out of necessity. “Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples so that when we are so scared and facing death, we might have something to say.”
And so Jesus teaches them the Lord's prayer. He says,
“When you pray, say: Father, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come. Give us each day our daily bread. And forgive us our sins, for we ourselves forgive everyone indebted to us. And do not bring us to the time of trial.”
It is so simple, yet complex. In just a few short words, we cover the entire gambit: Food, shelter, forgiveness all while recognizing the sacredness of our Father in heaven. I have said this prayer countless times in my life:
It is what we use as a family each night before we put our two boys to bed.
I have said it sitting on the floor while holding someone who is weeping because they lost their mom.
I have said it into the ears of those who were actively dying.
I have said it while hold newborn babies.
I have said it with Youth at youth groups.
I have said it when I have been so happy and also when I have been so angry at God.
I have said it at 2am as I rock a little boy back to sleep after he woke up from a bad dream.
It is a good prayer to say at all times but it is also a good form to follow as well. You know, as one develops and grows in their faith, so should one’s prayer life evolve and mature as well. Saying the Lord's prayer is good, but God wants to be a in relationship with you. Imagine calling your parents and telling them the same thing each time you talk to them. It works and gets the point across, but it doesn’t really deepen your relationship with them. The older you get, the more you realize that your mom and dad are not superhero’s. They are humans who have experienced and continue to experience the same kind of things as you. And all your mom and dad want to do is stay connected. Being in a relationship with God means the longer you do this, the closer you get to God and your conversations with God do not have to be so formal, memorized. Your conversations, your prayers, can truly come from the heart just like your conversations grow deeper with with your parents as you mature, but do realize that praying in this manner takes a lot of work to get to that point. So how do we get to that point In Our walk and journey with God?
Well, Jesus has a parable for that. It begins with first understanding the nature of God. "Ask, and it will be given you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you." But Pastor Matt, I pray all the time for stuff but they never come true. Did I not pray hard enough? Did I do something wrong? Joel Osteen and other prosperity gospel preachers say that this passage is proof that if you just pray really hard, God will give you all that you might want or need and if you don't have what you want, then you must not be praying hard enough. You didn't ask hard enough. While this theology has lead Osteen and other like hi, to make millions off of book deals and television spots, it creates this idea that God is this vengeful, grouch of a person who answer prayers by spinning all the requests in a jar and picking prayers to answer at random. But that is not at all what the parable says at all.
When I call my mom or dad and tell them about my day, I don't expect them to hop in their car and demand at a council meeting that the council should do everything I tell them do. My parents want to know about my day because they care about me and love me. They might not be able to fix what is broken in my life, but they do want to be a part of my life.
This parable speaks to that very reality. Rules around hospitality of the day required that if anyone were to knock on your door, you would get up to help. They didn’t have 24 hour grocery stores. Travel sometimes meant late night arrival. Even if you were in bed with and fast asleep, nobody would have ever turned away a guest. Jesus says that if this is the reality of the day—that someone could come at midnight and receive help from someone like you or I, who are evil, imagine then what God, who is not evil, can do? The reality here is that God is not some kind of sweet party magician who goes around and only helps those who ask—rather, God wants to be in a relationship with you. God wants you to ask; to knock at the door; to seek whatever you might need. God wants to know what is your mind even though God probably already knows what you are going through because God loves you like a parent loves a child.
So, are you silent in your prayer life because you have lost faith in God listen to your prayers? Do you come here to pray or to be entertained? Is this the only time of them week you say a prayer? Prayer is one of the most important things we do as Christians and it should not only be done in moments like this or in moment sheer terror or pain, but at the beginning and close of each day. If we believe that God is alive and attentive to our daily needs, why is it so difficult to make ample time to earnestly beseech God and wait for guidance from God? If we believe that God is listening and ready to respond to our prayer, then why do we NOT place a high priority on prayer? So, here is some pastoral advice—Above all else, my brothers and sisters, pray. Give thanks to God for all that you have received. Pray for those things that weigh heavy on your heart. And pray, as Christ says here at the end of our gospel reading today, for the Holy Spirit to live, move, and breath in your life, in our church, in our world. Pray so hard that you do as Luther said, tug on the ears of God. Demand God hear you and be steadfast and faithful to the promises God made with you at your baptism. Pray and trust that you will be heard by God, and God might not be able to fix what is broken, but just like our own parents, our Father in heaven will be there to hold your hand because God lives to give you, his most children, only good gifts.
In the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.