Reflections on the Lord Prayer April 2020

These reflections were contributed by members of St Modoc's during the Covid-19 crisis and lockdown in March-April 2020

St Modoc’s Congregation’s

REFLECTIONS ON THE LORD’S PRAYER

It is so easy to take the Lord’s Prayer for granted, as it is a prayer we are taught from an early age and have said so often throughout life. We can forget that we are repeating the words of Jesus himself.  These reflections are offered to help us feel closer to Jesus when we say the prayer. 

Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name,

The words ‘Our Father’ draw us into a sense of security.  Those of us who were fortunate as children to have loving, caring parents know that at times of trouble you could go to your Dad for help and comfort. As children of God we are so blessed to know that at this time of crisis we can turn to our Father in heaven to help us not just as individuals but as a whole world.

Our God is also one of power and holiness.  in heaven’  gives us a sense of the over-arching heavens and also hope during challenging times.  As Isaiah wrote: 
                     "For now I will create new heavens and a new earth; 
 
                      The former things will not be remembered,
                       nor will they come to mind"                                     
(Isaiah 65:17)

hallowed be thy name makes us think of God’s holy presence giving us light in these dark times, so that we can pray  ‘and let your light shine upon us’  (Psalm 67:1)

Alone with none but thee, my God,
I travel on my way.
What need I fear when thou art near,
O king of night and day?
More safe am I within thy hand
Than if a host should round me stand. 

(Prayer of St Columba)


thy kingdom come,

Jesus said the greatest commandment is that we love one another. Let us hope that the love we are seeing at this time continues long after the virus has gone. 

This crisis is showing us the best in people: the selflessness of medical professionals who are risking their own lives to help others;  the volunteers who are helping the vulnerable;  the co-operation we are seeing between politicians. Let’s hope that something of the helpful neighbourliness that has sprung up all over the country will survive. The five women in Doune and Deanston who started a volunteer group about almost instantly found they had more than 120 volunteers on their books: people anxious to collect shopping or make friendly phone calls etc.

It’s taken as read that we are going to emerge from this crisis into a very different world. Let’s hope it’s one where we can take with us some of the good things that have resulted from coronavirus: fewer planes in the sky, less pollution over the world’s cities.
How quiet things are and how much louder the bird song sounds.  We sense that nature was thriving and benefiting from the decrease in human activity.

From the woods near some houses there would normally be the distant sound of HGV’s travelling constantly up and down the busy A84. These have virtually ceased, together with the majority of cars.  And thankfully another sound we realise that we haven’t been hearing recently is that of a siren attending a traffic accident.

A quiet walk with the sounds and sights of nature can disperse the negative thoughts, bad news, and minor problems that can otherwise take over.

We in Scotland live in a beautiful "kingdom" – with its mountains. These mountains give us hope at this time and remind us of Psalm 121 that we return to when we are troubled or worried:
“I lift up my eyes to the mountains; from where shall come my help?
My help comes from the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth.

He will not let your foot be moved, and he who watches over you will not sleep.
Behold, he who keeps watch over Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep.

The Lord himself watches over you;  the Lord is your shade at your right hand,
        so that the sun shall not strike you by day
   nor the moon by night.

The Lord shall preserve you from all evil, it is he who shall keep you safe.
The Lord shall watch over your going out and your coming in,
from this time forth for evermore.”


thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.

This can be a struggle for us, because we are used to planning and organizing our lives, and being ‘in charge’.  Our prayer might be ‘Help me to adjust to this new situation as quickly and simply as possible’.

We have to accept that 'my way' is not always the way forward.  In a programme about Oscar Romero (Archbishop of San Salvador assassinated in 1980 for protesting against poverty and injustice) a Methodist minister used the words of John 12:24 -

Very truly, I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies,
it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.

We are called to do all we can to make this a better world, but like Jesus in Gesthemane, sometimes we must accept the circumstances God places us in:

He placed me in a little cage,                                             Not beat my wings against the cage
away from gardens fair;                                                      if it's my Maker’s will,
but I must sing the sweetest songs                                  but raise my voice to heaven's gate 
because He placed me there.                                             and sing the louder still!
                                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                        (from Streams in the Desert)

Give us this day our daily bread.

It is human nature to panic at times like this – and we have seen panic buying. Let us hope that after the crisis is over we still remember and help those who live in constant poverty and hunger.

We all appreciate sharing food with one another, especially during this time. It is lovely to bake Irish soda bread and remember our mothers and grandmothers doing the same.
It all just makes us very grateful for the simple things in life. 

We are also learning how Christ nourishes us as spiritual food by his presence with us, though it is hard not to share the sacrament together physically.  ‘We believe that you are truly present in the sacrament' – whether in actual bread or as the Word of life.

Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.

The lockdown has put pressure on those who are now living in the same house or flat, day after day.  It is giving us all a good lesson in tolerance and forgiveness, even though it can be very hard to forgive people who have hurt us.  

On a wider front, when we are frightened, we tend to attack, maybe by blaming others.  Why didn’t the government act sooner?  Why did irresponsible people made the virus spread faster?

Tom Wright in 'The Lord and His Prayer' has a helpful insight that is especially apt for this time when we feel the air is fresher: 

"It is our birthright, as followers of Jesus, to breathe in true divine forgiveness day by day, as the cool clear air which our spiritual lungs need instead of the grimy, germ-laden air that is pumped into us from all sides.  And once we start inhaling God's fresh air, there is a good chance that we will start to breathe it our too. As we learn what it is like to be forgiven, we begin to discover that it is possible, and indeed joyful, to forgive others."

Jesus prayed at his crucifixion  (Luke 23:34)
                           ‘Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.’ 

And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.

One temptation that came to mind is of becoming more selfish. While staying at home, it is easy to feel we are doing our bit to help the NHS, as we keep getting reminded, and that nothing more is needed. And, in fact, it is harder to do anything to help others while shut away, quite apart from the inertia which is another temptation.
So, although there are many people who are finding ways of doing unselfish acts while at home, there is still a temptation to just look out for ourselves and maybe our own families. This selfishness can be true when we are struggling with our new circumstances, financially or mentally, and also when we are sitting tight and feeling thankful that we are OK.     Delivering us from evil could be finding ways to help others.
 
Look at ‘A Portrait of a Young Man’ by Alessandro Allori.

The picture shows so many of the young man's beautiful possessions, and yet he is unhappy. We are tempted into wanting so many 'things' which seem important at the time. One thing social distancing has taught us is that material possessions are becoming increasingly unimportant.
(see A Child's Book of Prayer in Art, Sister Wendy Beckett)

Is the potential for evil within us, or is it an external evil that threatens us like war? Ursula le Guin in the Earthsea books writes about the shadow within us all.



From Psalm 138 on deliverance from evil:

Fear not that the whirlwind shall carry you hence,
Nor wait for its onslaught in breathless suspense,
Nor shrink from the whips of the terrible hail,
But pass through the edge to the heart of the tale,
For there is a shelter, sunlighted and warm,
And 'Faith' sees her God through the eye of the storm.



For thine is kingdom, the power and the glory for ever and ever.

Amen