Friday, August 22, 2003

"Our father"

I didn't mean for that prayer post to sit up there all by itself. I was going to go right into my revision of the Lord's Prayer. But it's been a busy week and it's just going to get busier, so I'll do what I can.

The Lord's Prayer begins, "Our father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name." Or, if you prefer the "new" words, "Our father in heaven, holy is your name." Either way.

I once heard a great sermon on how if all you could say was "our father" you were already praying. If you didn't know what else to say, even that was a start, because 1) it was making our relationship with God/the creator communal--it's not "my" father, it's "our" father--and 2) it was asserting a familial relationship with the creator, a closeness that not all religions espouse. God to Christians and Jews and Muslims is not some abstract, distant figure of creation, but an intimate partner, a family member.

I read recently that the only really radical thing Jesus does in the gospels is call God "Abba," or "Daddy." Everything else, this source (probably John Shelby Spong, but I'm not positive right off-hand) claims, is well within the bounds of orthodox Judaism, or the Jewish tradition at the time, at any rate. But that intimate familial relationship with God is a biggie.

Well, fine. But what if "father" doesn't imply intimacy to us? What about "mother"? That doesn't quite work for me either, though in terms of a creator-relative it makes a little more sense to me, frankly, than "father." "Creator" seems too distant, for the reasons above. If I wanted to be a Deist I'd live in the 18th century (or something. You get the point.)

The big all-powerful creative parent, in my experience, is the mother. If we want to get all stereotypical about it, the father is the big all-powerful disciplinary parent, and that's not really how I want to think of God. So I'm thinking of starting this prayer with "Our mother." Or "our mother and father." How about "hey you," which seems to work for my kids?

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