Monday, January 26, 2009

the Jesus Creed

Scot McKnight, in his simple, yet powerful and provocative book, The Jesus Creed: Loving God, Loving Others, points out how Jesus changed the Shema, which was the confession of Israel. To love God continued to be at the center, but Jesus included with that the directive, from the Pentateuch (from Leviticus) to love one's neighbor as oneself. Jesus also changed the Jewish prayer, the Kaddish, reflecting the change he had made from the Shema, in the "Our Father" or "Lord's Prayer".

The Shema we can take to be the new confession of Jesus' followers, the Jesus Creed. Yes, it's a command, but it's likewise a confession. As Scot tells us in the book, as we learn to repeat it daily, just as Jesus and all religious and faithful Jews of Jesus' day recited the Shema, God can help us more and more make it a reality in our lives. And as we pray the "Our Father" prayer, we end up praying God's will. Not our own. The prayer reflects the Jesus Creed, and is really a prayer from God in that we are asking what God wants. It is good for us to recite that prayer, as well as hang our own thoughts and prayers on it, praying from it. This is not to say that we shouldn't be praying many other prayers. But it is saying that this can help us pray more, according to God's will.

I am once more rereading the book in preparation for reading Scot's 40 Days Living the Jesus Creed, which I plan to do during Lent season, which begins February 25, Ash Wednesday (in Western Christendom, the Eastern Church's calendar is a little different) and ends this year April 11, 46 days later (Sundays are excluded in the count), Easter Sunday being April 12. So I plan to read prayerfully, with intentions for Christian formation in my life, Scot's book written for a 40 day period, and I think quite fitting for Lent.

Anything you would like to add? And has anyone read either of these books?


Anonymous said...

thank you for pointing in this uplifting direction.

Halfmom, AKA, Susan said...

just left you a nice long comment - and lost it when I clicked "publish" - so this is a test message to see if it works or if I loose it again.

Halfmom, AKA, Susan said...

OK - that having worked - the real comment was something to the effect of that I don't ususally use the Lord's Prayer as a "rote" prayer. I use it for form and expand on it as I go - especially when my prayer life needs a jump start! "Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name" becomes as above plus, "Father, you are in heaven, you are real, you rule and reign on high. you alone have the keys to heaven, you alone are the gateway to our entrance there. Your name is holy. Help us to realize that and to understand what holy means. Make us holy as you are holy." and so on - you get the idea.

But, it has been a while - so perhaps it would be a good idea to think through it another way as you're suggesting!

Good post.

Ted M. Gossard said...

Yes. I needed/need it myself. And it's a way for me to practice Lent, maybe, which would be a first for me. Never have been a part of a church that mentions it, though perhaps our church now goes that far. But I am benefiting from rereading again "The Jesus Creed," and I look forward to getting into the 40 Days book for Lent.

Ted M. Gossard said...

Also, Nancy, nice to see you're back.

Ted M. Gossard said...

Thanks for persevering.

Good words in hanging a prayer on it. I have done at times as well.

I think it's a good prayer to pray daily and perhaps a few times a day, as has been the practice in Christendom. It can become dead rote, but instead it's a prayer really bigger than ourselves, and kind of beyond us. But a prayer to help move us in that direction so that more and more those words become our own.

I saw your recent post and am praying.

Ted M. Gossard said...

And Susan, Hope that doesn't come across as teaching you anything. I'm just hopefully a learner, an apprentice myself. And thanks.