Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Praying "the Jesus Creed" (part three)

In praying "the Jesus Creed" (Mark 12:29-31) as the community of Jesus we first pray in terms of love for God (Matthew 6:9-10; Luke 11:2). Then we pray in terms of love for our neighbor (Matthew 6:11-13; Luke 11:3-4). Our neighbor in this prayer refers to our brothers and sisters, the community of Jesus.

Scot McKnight in his chapter, "Praying the Jesus Creed" from his book, The Jesus Creed: Loving God, Loving Others, gives us these helpful headings (with helpful explanation): "We learn to approach God as Abba", "We learn what God really wants", "We learn to think of others" and "We learn what everyone needs".

The prayer taken as a whole, seems to be inclusive, for all people. From Scripture we can say that where the Father's name is hallowed, where his kingdom comes, where his will is done on earth as it is in heaven, there shalom ("peace", wholeness, prosperity for all) is present. Relationship to God and to each other is restored in reconcilation. God's blessing brings good in the restoration of creation for humans to live in, enjoy and take care of.

So even though we await the consummation of all things in which God will bring in the completion of shalom, we ought to be praying and working towards this end for our world now. In so doing we are carrying out what we as the Jesus community already are- the salt and the light of the world (Matthew 5:13-16). This love we know again from Jesus, is to be extended by us even to our enemies, if we are to be like our Father (Matthew 5:43-48; Luke 6:27-36). If this love for God and for our neighbor isn't at the forefront of our thinking and activity, beginning in our circles of family, and the community of Jesus- then we're missing the point (1 Corinthians 13).

Praying "the Jesus Creed" is an important part of seeking to live that creed out. Both seeking to live it and pray it go hand in hand. This prayer is given to us to know how to so pray and live as those who would follow Jesus.


Mark said...

Ted, ever since I read the portion of Jesus Creed regarding God as Abba I have begun the Lord's prayer saying, "Abba Father" rather than "our Father". It has helped me in praying the Lord's prayer to see God as a loving, intimate father; it has personalized the prayer. Additionally, the recognition of the use of plural pronouns has been very helpful to realize this prayer is not about me and God but about all of us in the family of God.

Thanks so much for your thoughtful comments. Your humble heart shines through in what and how you write.

Ted Gossard said...

Mark, thanks so much for your thoughts and encouragement.

I need to grow so much in my life of intimacy with God. Somehow, as your words would point I think, a very significant aspect of awareness and growth occurs in the context of the community of Jesus. And I sense that here in our back and forth exchange this morning, on this blog. Thanks again.

Cappa said...
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Cappa said...

It is absolutely absurd to see how a pray, said in any particular fashion would result in any difference to the outcome of the way the world works today.

This pray you so highly praise and examine, does exactly what for the starving kids across the world, and the disease-ridden children, the victims of ruthless crimes? To state the obvious, it has done absolutely nothing.

People, if you must pray, pray for mankind to look within its self and help each other out. We as a people, can change the world, not a false god, and certainly not a pray.

Ted Gossard said...

Cappa, thanks for your comment.

I agree with so much of what you say. And if we who pray this prayer don't put feet to our prayers, then this prayer is worthless in its intent, I believe. And if our god is existent as the God, then I'm sure he wants those who pray this prayer, to, like Jesus, do his revealed will.

The best I can say to you is one has to look to Jesus. Look to his life recorded in the gospels. Then find those who have followed in his train. Some exemplary ones that stand out like Mother Teresa. And others, who like Quakers fighting slavery, have, in the name of Jesus sought to follow him in his steps, and see this prayer begin to be answered.

Thanks again. And come back any time. I'll get on your site and read longer, when I have more time.


Andii said...

I've just come across this post [and blog] and found it really helpful to see the Shema and the Lord's prayer held together in thought. It does seem likely to me that the early Christians took their habit of praying the Lord's prayer three times daily from the Jewish habit of reciting the Shema' thrice daily.

I'm a keen proponant of using the Lord's prayer more fully in Christian devotion. I warm to the themes you touch on here of the prayer driving action. You might like to explore that further.
At least one commentor might like the pun that the site's name is based on.
The book may be useful too ...