Father: The Lord's Prayer

FATHER We do not just join Jesus as he speaks to God.  We address God on the same terms as Jesus himself.  The issue of God and gender provokes a great deal of debate.  The church has banked on a great deal of unbiblical sexism and misogyny, much of it propped up by the Christian practice of speaking to and of God as father.  Here, we want to notice the direct teaching of Jesus.  Together, we address God on the same basis as Jesus does: a Son speaking to his Father.  This carries all the weight of a child speaking to a parent.  Good parents pay more attention to their own children that to other children.  Parents have a special obligation, duty and joy in attending to their own children.  So by the grace of Jesus, we speak to God as a child to a parent.  But that is not quite precise.  Jesus teaches us to speak to God as a Son does to a Father.  First, we should observe the way this teaching breaks down the ancient (and still modern) concepts of gender, privledge and power.  Jesus teaches men and women to address God as if they are the beloved Son.  The great American theologian, Johnny Cash, uses a similar verbal move in "The Man Comes around."  He describes the end of the age as "When the father hen calls his chickens home."

This peculiar collison of words helps us understand the relationship into which Jesus calls us.  Very early in Luke's Gospel we see the infant Jesus identified as the Son of the Most High (Luke 1:32, 35).  As a twelve year old boy, Jesus clearly expresses an understanding of the LORD God as his Father (Luke 1:49).  In teaching us to pray, Jesus teaches us that we approach God on the same basis and standing as he does.  Here is how that matters as we pray: when we pray, we join Jesus in Speaking to God.  As he prays, "Father....," we pray, "Father..."  Our Father. We don't pray in a way that is similar to Jesus; we come to God in the same way Jesus comes to God.