Friday, August 9, 2013

Compassion and Matthew 6:9-13

I need to process something. So bear with me please. It takes special moments, often unexpected ones to draw me into the power of God's Grace. What strikes me tonight is a deeper awareness for what I assumed to be a welcoming, unifying prayer shared by all, that may not be so in all circumstances.

When I was about 30 years old, I took a respite from the Episcopal Church, at a local Roman Catholic Parish. The priest of the parish invited to receive Ashes at the evening service. What shocked me was his invitation to also receive communion. I made it clear I was not looking for a new denomination. He smiled. I was anxious as i arrived that night. At that service, when we all spoke the Lord's Prayer, I of course competed the Lord's Prayer - alone with the priest. I never understood why the priest finishes the prayer or why Episcopalians share the entire prayer with the priest.

Well, there was no where to hide as heads turned. And so began the most amazing three years of parish as an Episcopalian in a Roman Church. In time I learned that often the Hebrew Scripture was read by Jewish spouses of parishioners at each service. I learned that this priest was always the first to stand in town or outside a synagogue when ever a hate crime touched our lives.

The Lord's Prayer, I have always experienced in every Christian setting and interfaith service as the one prayer that unifies all Christians. And yet, when I listen to the heart of those who don't want attention drawn to them, especially for how their tradition teaches the HOW WE pray the Lord's Prayer ... I find myself saddened that such a simple prayer would make any christian person uncomfortable.

The "nay Sayers" will tell me to keep offering the Lord's Prayer without hesitation. Don't water down our traditions anymore. don't apologize for being Christian.

Last I checked, we are all called to love our neighbor ... and to offer unconditional love in God's name. We are not judge but to listen and offer the hand of Christ to all. Jesus' teaching are abundant. The Lord Prayer offered to the disciples, despite Jesus frustration with them, was an example.

It was Father Bullock that taught me so much about Jesus Christ. So much so, a few years later at his funeral, I approached his brother, also a Catholic Priest and told him "I experienced Jesus Christ in the most remarkable ways in those three years".

That night I went home to prepare my papers for my ordination, as a priest in the Episcopal Church.

I wonder tonight what wisdom he would share with me now ... Other than to be bold in welcoming, incorporating, grateful, a beacon for peace & justice and the first to witness - for others -God's Grace. Focus less on the what "we" do and more on how God is asking us to open doors into people's hearts to Jesus Christ - with or without the Lord's Prayer.

Time to say my prayers for the night. Matthew 6:9-13 is a good place start.



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