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17CGenesis 18: 20-32 / Colossians 2:12-14 / Luke 11: 1-13
At this time in Luke’s Gospel—
Jesus’ disciples had been with
him for about two years.

Can you imagine traveling around
with Jesus for two years. . .

Getting to know him in such a personal way!!!

Learning from the Master himself!!!

You know it’s interesting that
His disciples had seen him preach—
And had seen the crowd’s reaction to him
time and time again. . .

But they never asked Jesus,
“Lord teach us to preach!”

But they did ask Jesus to
teach them how to pray!!!

They knew the times He would slip away from them—
and slip away from the crowds—
and go off alone to pray.

And I’m sure they witnessed Jesus
deep in prayer at times—

So they knew how important prayer was to Jesus. . .

And they knew how important it was for his mission.

So, they ask Jesus,
“Teach us how to pray!!!”

And He taught them.

Jesus knew how crucial prayer would
be for them—and for us.

He taught them—and us—
what we call “The Lord’s Prayer”—
or the “Our Father.”

How to pray from the lips of the Master Himself.

And the most important thing—
the most important thing
that Jesus reveals to us in this prayer
is who this God is that we pray to.

And that makes all the difference!!!

The late English Benedictine Cardinal
Basil Hume tells a story about
something that happened to him as a young boy—
and it had a big effect on him.

His mother wanted to teach
the young boy some self-disciple.

So, she called him in the kitchen and said,
“Son, I have just finished baking
some delicious cookies,
and I’ve put them in this cookie jar.”

“Now, I’m going to leave this cookie jar
right here on the table.
But don’t you dare sneak in here
and eat any of them.”

“Remember, God is watching you!!!”

It wasn’t until after Hume
was ordained a priest
that he could shed the image of God as
the “policeman of the cookie jar.”

You know,
if we get God wrong—
then a lot of other things can go wrong.

Unhealthy images of God
can not only thwart a healthy
relationship with God. . . .

It can also lead to unhealthy behavior—
leaving us scared and scared—
cowered in a corner.

Jesus says—
Jesus says—
when we pray—
we are to say:
“Abba”—
“Father.”

“Abba”—
You know, that’s the same named that Jesus called Joseph.

“Abba” is the Jewish child’s
name for their father.

It’s used when a child is
calling to get his father’s attention:
“Daddy”—
“Papa.”

“Abba” expresses a child-like intimacy—
a familiarity—
an approachability—

with a God who even knows how
many hairs we have on our head.

“Abba” expresses trust and respect—

“Abba” expresses a God who is a sustainer—
a provider.

So much so that Jesus says
that our “Abba” clothes us with the
more splendor than Solomon—
more splendor than the wildflowers growing in the field—
and provides us with all that we need.

“Abba” expresses a God
abounding in love and mercy.

That’s why Jesus was so comfortable in
the company of sinners and the marginalized.

“Be merciful,
just as your heavenly Father is merciful.”

That’s why Jesus could tell
a parable like the Prodigal Son—
Or the lost sheep—
Or the lost coin.

And Scripture expands on Jesus’ revelation
of God as “Abba” by pointing out
that God has maternal qualities too.

The ancient Hebrews—
even in a very patriarchal culture—
did not hesitate to use
maternal imagery to speak of God.

God comforts us as a mother comforts her child.

You know, if we get God wrong—
then we’ll get a lot of other things wrong too.

I’ve had a lot of false images of God in my life.

Like the God who polices the cookie jar.

A God just waiting for me to
mess up so He can throw down
lightening bolts and punish me.

I’ve known that god—
But that’s not the god Jesus
teaches us to pray to.

Do you know how many people
come to me after some catastrophic event:
like a miscarriage—
or a cancer diagnosis—
or a failed relationship—
who come and ask me,
“What did I do to make God so mad at me.”

That’s not “Abba.”

That’s not the God of unconditional love
Who loves us so much that He’ll
use the bad stuff that happens
as a result of the human condition
as something for our eventual good.

We just can’t get Lord wrong!!!

I’ve known the Deist God—
Or the clockmaker God—
too.

As a science major in college—
I got so caught up in laws of nature—
so immersed in the mechanism of creation
that I lost the essence of
the God who put it all together.

God makes the clock, winds it up—
and then withdraw into His divine enclave in heaven.

That’s not “Abba.”

I don’t pray “Abba”
to some universal law—
or to a first principle.

I don’t pray “Abba”
to just the ground of being
or just to the ultimate source.

Can we ever get God wrong!!!

I’ve known the god who is
nothing but the divine affirmer.

This god approved of everything I did—
no matter how much it harmed me or those around me.

God of unconditional love—
Yes.

But not the God of unconditional affirmation.

What kind of “Abba” would that be.

I’ve also known the Santa Clause god—
Who would give me absolutely anything I ever asked for.

Well that image didn’t last too long
when I realized what a farce this god was.

I’m still waiting for that motorcycle
I prayed for when I was 13.

No, God loves me too much for that.

When I ask God for things—
Because He loves me so much—
God’s answer—
Abba’s answer can only be:
Yes—
not yet—
or I have something better for you.

“Abba”—
“Abba”!!!

When Jesus taught us how to pray
to the God we can call “Abba”
it was a game-changer.

Brothers and Sisters in Christ—
We now know that at
the very foundation of the universe—
there is not only ultimate power—
There is also ultimate love. (Haddon Robinson, Sermon on The Lord’s Prayer)

What a revelation!!!!

You know, I’m such a slow learner.

I’m 57 and a half—
been a Christian—kinda’—
my whole life.

Been a priest for 13 years.

And only know am I just beginning—
just beginning—
to get this Christianity thing.

When I am flippant about God—
and the ways of God. . .

When I am lukewarm about my faith—
I am not experiencing god as “Abba.”

I just don’t realize—
I just haven’t opened myself up to
God’s infinite and unconditional love.

Because the dynamics of Christianity—
The dynamics of our faith is love responding to love.

And when we respond back with
just a miniscule of the love that God has for us—
Christianity isn’t a duty—
It’s expression of love.

Why do we go to mass?
And spend time with God in prayer?
And feed the hungry and cloth the naked?
And forgive our enemies?

It’s all an expression of love—

Love we have for a God who
Jesus teaches us to call “Abba.”

Can we pray?

Our Father. . .

Holy Spirit 07/27-28/2019