July 25, 2004

Luke 11:1-13

[1] One day he was praying in a certain place. When he finished, one of his disciples said, "Master, teach us to pray just as John taught his disciples."

[2] So he said, "When you pray, say,

Reveal who you are.
Set the world right.
[3] Keep us alive with three square meals.
[4] Keep us forgiven with you and forgiving others.
Keep us safe from ourselves and the Devil."

[5] Then he said, "Imagine what would happen if you went to a friend in the middle of the night and said, 'Friend, lend me three loaves of bread. [6] An old friend traveling through just showed up, and I don't have a thing on hand.'

[7] "The friend answers from his bed, 'Don't bother me. The door's locked; my children are all down for the night; I can't get up to give you anything.'

[8] "But let me tell you, even if he won't get up because he's a friend, if you stand your ground, knocking and waking all the neighbors, he'll finally get up and get you whatever you need.

[9] "Here's what I'm saying:

Ask and you'll get;
Seek and you'll find;
Knock and the door will open.

[10] "Don't bargain with God. Be direct. Ask for what you need. This is not a cat-and-mouse, hide-and-seek game we're in. [11] If your little boy asks for a serving of fish, do you scare him with a live snake on his plate? [12] If your little girl asks for an egg, do you trick her with a spider? [13] As bad as you are, you wouldn't think of such a thing--you're at least decent to your own children. And don't you think the Father who conceived you in love will give the Holy Spirit when you ask him?"

[The Message]

- - - - - - -

1. And how decent are we to our own children? The culture of violence consuming we provide our children keeps them from knowing any more than we do about what makes for peace. And so the world continues to weep and Jesus continues to weep and we continue to dream without acting.

How would being direct about life's issues move us beyond simply being decent to our children?

2. A part of our task of being Saviors of GOD (Kazantzakis' seminal writing) is being active in asking, seeking, knocking to awaken, find, and direct the relationship between GOD and humanity/self. This same cry is present in Bernstein's Kadish. If we are going to take the Eastern Orthodox understanding of theosis (divinization or deification of humans) or the Western Christian (particularly Methodist) understanding of sanctification, we need to pay particular attention to the asking, seeking, and knocking aspects of life.

3. All of this is wrapped up in the imagery of "setting the world right" or "GOD's presence come" (or in other ancient texts, "Your Holy Spirit come upon us and cleanse us" or "Your will be done, on earth as in heaven."

We struggle, yearn, live for this sense of wholeness beyond our present limits. We are finally to be direct rather than hidden about this. I want to experience GOD, here, now, and live out of that, even if it means my destruction. This can be very romantic, full of storm and stress, but it can also be very real - as real as Jesus - as real as growing the Jesus experience beyond simply Jesus' to include our own.

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