7-24-16, Proper 12C

Readings for Proper 12C

Prayer is about relationship.  When Jesus teaches us to pray, “Abba, Father” (this means “Daddy!”)—we are invited into the relationship that Jesus has with God.  Not a message in a bottle cast into the sea or a carrier pigeon tossed into space, but a real regular, daily conversation, the stuff of relationship, with someone we love.  We are meant to have persistence in prayer—audacity, shamelessness, like we’re bugging God!  This shows the closeness of that relationship and the constant nature of it.  St. Paul said to pray without ceasing—not sitting around all day with our eyes closed and heads bowed, but that all of our lives, our thinking, our acting, our being, should be offered to God, in relationship with God.

 

We have this misconceived notion that prayer is about getting stuff, or getting stuff done.  Don’t misunderstand me—I’m not saying that prayer doesn’t “work,” or that it has no affect on other people or the world.  But to me the primary purpose of prayer isn’t to get stuff, or to get a particular outcome.   The primary purpose of prayer is to get ourselves to a different place—from a place where God wasn’t a part of the equation, to a place where God is a part of the equation.   Prayer puts us in line with God’s will for us, for others, and for the world, which is always love, always healing, always forgiveness, always that freedom which we call salvation.  Prayer makes the impossible possible.  It makes the crazy sane. 

 

What does all this have to do with 10-year old Hank, who is being baptized today?  Hank enters today by choice into that relationship.  Already God’s child, now he sets his life on a path that walks with God and the family of Jesus, which is the church.  Prayer will be a part of that.  We worship using the Book of Common Prayer.  When I was growing up I thought that meant ordinary, every day prayer, but it is actually the prayer we have in common—our community prayer.  Jesus doesn’t teach us to pray, “My Father,” but “OUR Father.”  Not “Give me, forgive me, lead me” but “Give US, Forgive US, Lead US.”  There’s a WE there.  I’ve said before that it’s countercultural for us to get up on Sunday am and do to church.  There’s something even more profoundly counter-cultural going on here, and that’s community.  The idea that we are our brother’s keeper, that it’s not just about looking out for my interests, but that what other people do and say and think and feel, even if they are very different from me, matters. We get to practice that here at church, with people we love who love us, so we can go out into the world and do this very hard, very counter-cultural thing-- love our neighbors as ourselves. 

 

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Jesus says a very important thing at the end of today’s gospel lesson.  He doesn’t promise that God will give us anything and everything we ask for.  He doesn’t promise that red Ferrari.  But he does promise that when we ask for the Holy Spirit—God will give us the Holy Spirit.  What more could we ask for?  Strength, wisdom, peace, grace, and the knowledge that we are not alone.   The Holy Friend, the Holy Comforter, to be with us every step of the way.  God doesn’t give us stuff.  God gives us God’s self.  As we go out into the world to live into our mission, showing the world what love looks like in the face of so much that causes fear, and as I give you, dear church, back to the God who entrusted us to one another seven and a half years ago, I couldn’t ask for anything more.   Amen.  Come Holy Spirit.

 

C. 2016 The Rev. Amy Denney Zuniga

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