St. Francis Episcopal Church, Goldsboro, NC; 10th Sunday after Pentecost, 24 July 2016
Proper 12 Year C RCL: Hosea 1:2-10; Psalm 85; Colossians 2:6-15, (16-19); Luke 11:1-13
What difference do you notice in the focus of the amusing Gardener's Prayer & the prayer Jesus teaches us in our Gospel?
I want to ask the gardener:
What about praying for the garden we have here at St. Francis Church? What about Stan's garden?
What about The Salvation Army's community garden created to build community1?
In the prayer Jesus teaches, he tells us about community, about relationship & concern for others. Intimate family relationship2 is at the heart of our scriptures today. God makes us for holy relationship with God & with each other.
You are God's beloved child.
The tension we hear in our scriptures is people staying true to God & people drifting away from a faithful relationship with God. Our scriptures share the element of hope: the hope of restoring right relationship,3 of living as God’s faithful people, as children of the living God.
- Jesus emphasizes this close, holy, family relationship in the words he teaches us to pray. In Luke’s shorter version (& in Matthew’s version we pray each Sunday), Jesus tells us to talk to God like a beloved child, to call God “Daddy” / “Papa”.
- The Aramaic word we translate as “Father” is less formal. Jesus tells the disciples to pray: “Abba,” the tender, endearing variation of the word “ab”4 that means “father.” Abba is “Papa”5. We are to talk to God on this level of relationship.
- This imagery is hard for some of us who have emotional & physical hurts from parents, from people who do give us a snake instead of a fish, a scorpion instead of an egg. You who have this hurt know the brokenness of human relationships. You know the kind of brokenness Hosea talks about.
- Whether his story is literal or figurative,6 Hosea tells us about human failings between individuals & our failings in our relationship to God.
- God makes Holy Relationship possible.
- Paul tells the Colossians & us that God initiates this loving relationship; we respond. God makes you alive through Jesus. God forgives your sins, erases your record, nails it to the cross. Your job – our job – is to accept God’s forgiveness & let go of the past. Let go of our old perspective that trips us up & hinders our loving, holy relationship with God & with each other.
- All sin. Each of us has sinned & has been sinned against. We say in our Psalm today: “You have forgiven the iniquity of your people & blotted out all their sins...I will listen to what the LORD God is saying, for he is speaking peace to his faithful people…” God is speaking peace.
Know this: “Shalom”, the Hebrew word for “peace”, carries deeper meaning than simply absence of conflict. Shalom is a gift from God, as Harper's Bible Dictionary says7, & encompasses well-being & wholeness.
- Notice the broader perspective Jesus gives about how to forgive. The Aramaic words of Jesus go beyond our words “forgive debts / sins / trespasses”. Jesus' words suggest an archer missing the mark,8 & these ideas “for a deeper letting go”:9
- “Loose the cords of mistakes binding us,
- as we release the strands we hold of others' guilt.
- “Forgive our hidden past, the secret shames,
- as we consistently forgive what others hide.
- “Compost our inner, stolen fruit
- as we forgive others the spoils of their trespassing.”10
- Jesus expresses deep levels of forgiveness that evoke returning something “to its original state.”11 Our original state is not that we are sinners. Our original state is the image of God.
- God, the Holy Trinity, is Holy Community,
- Holy Relationship.
- God makes us for holy relationship with God
- & with each other.
- Jesus tells us of this in his words about forgiveness that can imply “reciprocally absorb,” “reestablish slender ties”.12
- This is what Hosea demonstrates as he takes into his own life a wayward wife & lives the brokenness of his people. [You know Bible names carry meaning. Hosea means Salvation or Deliverance13.]
- For us to forgive everyone indebted to us means sometimes we have to forgive again & again as we process the hurt so that we can let go the chords we hold tightly, binding that hurt to our hearts & our minds.
- And we have to forgive ourselves. This can be hard.
- If forgiveness is hard for you, what difference might it make at this part of the Lord’s Prayer to release the clinched grip we often use
- in prayer & open your hands up to God? “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us."
- It can be hard to remember what we ask God when we pray the Lord’s Prayer, saying the familiar words without thinking.
- Jesus’ words in Aramaic resonate on many levels, as we read in this book, Prayers of the Cosmos by Neil Douglas-Klotz. As I say more familiar words from Luke's Gospel, please respond with the words in italics in your bulletin insert: Father, hallowed be your name: Papa, “...In peace (your) Name resides...giving light to all.”14
- Your kingdom come: “Create your reign of unity now – through our fiery hearts & willing hands...”15
- Give us each day our daily bread: “Grant what we need each day in bread & insight...”16
And forgive us our sins, for we ourselves forgive everyone indebted to us: “Loose the cords of mistakes binding us, as we release the strands we hold of others' guilt.”17
And do not bring us to the time of trial: “Don't let surface things delude us, but free us from what holds us back...”18
“Don't let surface things delude us, but free us from what holds us back...”19
“...free us from what holds us back...”
Douglas-Klotz, Neil. Prayers of the Cosmos: Reflections on the Original Meaning of Jesus's Words. New York: HarperCollins Publishers. 1990.
Handy Dictionary of the Bible. General Ed.: Merrill C. Tenney. Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House. 1965.
Harper’s Bible Commentary. General Ed.: James. L. Mays. San Francisco: Harper & Row Publishers. 1988.
Harper’s Bible Dictionary. General Ed.: PaulJ. Achetemeier. San Francisco: Harper & Row Publishers. 1985.
Holy Bible with the Apocrypha. New Revised Standard Version. New York: Oxford University Press. 1989.
Jewish Study Bible: Jewish Publication Society TANAKH Translation. New York: Oxford University Press. 2004.
New Oxford Annotated Bible with the Apocrypha. Eds.: Herbert G. May, Bruce M. Metzger. New York: Oxford University Press, Incorporated, 1977.
Poitier-Young, Anathea. Old Testaments Prophets class notes. The School of Theology, The University of the South Advanced Degrees Program. Summer 2010.
PrayAsYouGo. “Meditation for Thursday the 25th of July”. London: Jesuit Media Initiatives. http://pray-as-you-go.org/. Accessed: 25 July 2013.
Wise, Hilary. Barron's Arabic At a Glance. New York: Barron's Educational services, Inc. 1987.
Wortabet, John. Garvey Porter. Hippocrene Standard Dictionary: Arabic-English/English-Arabic. NewYork: The Unger Publishing Co. 1954.
Tarazi, Paul. “The Name of God: Abba.” Accessed: 27 July 2013. http://www.orthodoxresearchinstitute.org/articles/bible/tarazi_name_of_god.htm
Vick, Thomas. Goldsboro Daily News “Salvation Army “Community Garden: Where Goodness Grows”. http://goldsborodailynews.com/blog/2016/06/08/salvation-army-community-garden-goodness-grows/ Accessed: 23 July 2016.
1 Note: For more about the community garden, see http://goldsborodailynews.com/blog/2016/06/08/salvation-army-community-garden-goodness-grows/
2 Class notes. Dr. Anathea Poitier-Young's Old Testaments Prophets course. School of Theology. The University of the South. Summer 2010.
3 Note: Inspired by notes re Hosea's implications re restoration. Jewish Study Bible: Jewish Publication Society TANAKH Translation. P. 1143.
4 Wise, Hilary. Barron's Arabic At a Glance. P. 233.
5 Wortabet, John. Garvey Porter. Hippocrene Standard Dictionary: Arabic-English/English-Arabic. P. 104.
6 Jewish Study Bible. Pp. 1144-1145.
7 Harper’s Bible Dictionary. General Ed.: Pau lJ. Achetemeier. P. 766.
8 Note: Concept in workshop notes at the Monastery of the Holy Spirit, Conyers, GA. July 2011.
9 Douglas-Klotz, Neil. Prayers of the Cosmos: Reflections on the Original Meaning of Jesus's Words. Pp. 30-31. Note: I became familiar with this at a retreat on the Lord's Prayer at the Trappist Monastery of the Holy Spirit, Conyers, GA.
10 Ibid. P. 30.
11 Ibid. P. 31.
13 New Oxford Annotated Bible. P. 1088.
14 Ibid. Prayers of the Cosmos. P. 16.
15 Ibid. P. 19.
16 Ibid. P. 26.
17 Ibid. P. 30.
18 Ibid. P. 34.