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The Rev. Daniel McGrath: “The Lord’s Prayer–Heaven and Earth”

October 30, 2007

Continuing with his series on the Lord’s Prayer, the Rev. Daniel McGrath of St. Bartholomew’s Anglican in Washington State gives us the sermon Heaven and Earth which addresses the phrase “on earth as it is in heaven.”  As usual this is a fine sermon, and I found this portion particularly relevant to us today:

Thy will be done, On earth as it is in heaven is a very optimistic statement. Contemporary spirituality (the shelf full of books at the store, focused on The Self) is ultimately very pessimistic. It assumes that the world ‘is what it is’ and that there is no need of, or hope for, redemption. Contemporary spirituality consists of a myriad different coping strategies amidst the harsh realities of life. The Christian Faith on the other hand is optimistic – in our prayer we express our hope that God’s Kingdom and God’s Will would break through and redeem this fallen world. We not only believe and pray for this to happen, but we also believe that we can cooperate with God in its unfolding. Thy will be done, On earth as it is in heaven, is about bringing a little of heaven into earth, starting with us. We are not mere appreciators of God’s Kingdom, but we are active participants. We are not nature lovers so much as we are to be arborists, using our tools to do the difficult work of Husbandry in God’s Forest. You may wonder, “As I pray the Lord’s Prayer, How can I know what is God’s Will for me in my life?” The place we all begin is with conformity to those commands of God that we can know about through Holy Scripture. Then with practice, informed by a life of prayer and communion with God, we can begin to invest whatever talent God has given us for the work of God’s Kingdom. Our fervent prayer will not be in vain. God makes his will known to us (we actually don’t have to worry about that). The greater challenge is to accept God’s will, to cooperate in his will and with Angels and Archangels to rejoice in his will.

I find Fr. McGrath’s points here to be quite profound; while I’d never thought about the concept of secularists or some New Agers, that man does not need God, as being pessimistic, I do see what he is saying about our view, that God cared enough for us to intervene in human history by sending His Son, being optimistic.  And he is also entirely correct that we are to be laborers for the Gospel, not simply passive pew-sitters.   There’s a lot to think about in a relatively short sermon!

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