(Note that the skit in its original form was written by Andy Lund and is available at www.dramatix.org. It has been adapted by Pastor Melissa.)
5 “And whenever you pray, do not be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, so that they may be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward.6 But whenever you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
7 “When you are praying, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do; for they think that they will be heard because of their many words.8 Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.
9 “Pray then in this way:
Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name.
10 Your kingdom come.
Your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
11 Give us this day our daily bread.
12 And forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
13 And do not bring us to the time of trial,
but rescue us from the evil one.
14 For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you; 15 but if you do not forgive others, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.
Lord’s prayer skit
'Our Father who art in heaven ...'
Don't interrupt me. I'm praying.
But you called me.
Called you? I didn't call you. I'm praying. "Our Father who art in heaven..."
There you did it again.
Called me. You said, "Our Father who art in heaven. " Here I am... What's on your mind?
But I didn't mean anything by it. I was, you know, just saying my prayers for the day. I always say the Lord's Prayer. It makes me feel good, kind of like getting a duty done. Kinda like the way we say it in church every Sunday. It’s something we’ve always done...so saying this prayer is something I’ve always done.
All right. Go on.
"Hallowed be thy name..."
Hold it for a sec. What do you mean by that?
By "hallowed be thy name"?
It means... it means... Good grief, I don't know what it means.How should I know? It's just a part of the prayer. By the way, what does it mean?
It means honored, holy, wonderful.
Hey, that makes sense. I never thought about what "hallowed" meant before. "Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven."
Do you really mean that?
Sure, why not?
What are you doing about it?
Doing? Nothing, I guess. I just think it would be kind of neat if you got control of everything down here like you have up there.
Do you know what my kingdom looks like?
Uhhhh...I mean, everything’s all quiet and peaceful up there, you know, with angels everywhere and sunlight and puffy clouds and everyone’s happy…
Peaceful is only part of it. My kingdom happens wherever there’s peace and justice and joy. It happens when people love their enemies and treat others like people of sacred worth. It happens when people decide to live a kingdom life. Are you living a kingdom life?
Well, I go to church.
That isn't what I asked you. What about your bad temper? You've really got a problem there, you know. And then there's the way you spend your money--all on yourself. And what about the kind of movies you watch-- or that coffee you buy that exploits workers in third world countries?
Stop picking on me! I'm just as good as some of the rest of those people at the church.
Excuse me. I thought you were praying for my will to be done. If that is to happen, it will have to start with the ones who are praying for it. Like you, for example.
Oh, all right. I guess I do have some hang-ups. Now that you mention it, I could probably name some others.
So could I.
I haven't thought about it very much until now, but I really would like to cut out some of those things. I would like to, you know, be really free.
Good. Now we're getting somewhere. We'll work together, you and I. Some victories can truly be won. I'm proud of you.
Look, Lord, I need to finish up here. This is taking a lot longer than it usually does. "Give us this day, our daily bread."
You need to cut out the bread. You're overweight as it is.
Hey, wait a minute! What is this, "Criticize me day"? Here I was doing my religious duty, and all of a sudden you break in and remind me of all my hang-ups.
Praying is a dangerous thing. You could wind up changed, you know. That's what I'm trying to get across to you. You called me, and here I am. Prayer isn’t just a one-way conversation, or a duty to check off your list. Prayer is everything - it’s a way of life. It’s the way the world is transformed - one heart at a time.
So it's too late to stop now. Keep praying, I'm interested in the next part of your prayer...(pause). Well, go on.
I'm scared to.
Scared? Of what?
I know what you'll say.
Try me and see.
"Forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us."
What about Ann?
See? I knew it! I knew you would bring her up! Why, Lord, she's told lies about me, spread stories about my family. She never paid back the debt she owes me. She betrayed my trust and I can’t even look at her. She’s hurt me too much.
But your prayer? What about your prayer?
I didn't mean it.
Well, at least you're admitting it. But it's not much fun carrying that load of bitterness around inside, is it?
No. But I'll feel better as soon as I see that self-righteous queen of the neighborhood get knocked down a peg or two. I can’t wait to see her downfall. Once everyone sees her true colors, she’ll wish she’d never moved here.
You won't feel any better. You'll feel worse. Revenge isn't sweet. Think of how unhappy you already are. But I can change all that.
You can? How?
Forgive Ann. Then I'll forgive you. Then the hate and sin will be Ann's problem and not yours. You will have settled your heart. Forgiveness isn’t a feeling. It’s a decision you make.
Oh, you're right. You always are. And more than I want to get revenge on Ann, I want to be right with you....(pause)...(sigh). All right. All right. I’ll start letting go of my bitterness toward her and start forgiving her. Help her to find the right road in life, Lord. She's bound to be awfully miserable now that I think about it. Anybody who goes around doing the things she does to others has to be out of it. Some way, some how, show her the right way.
There now! Wonderful! What do you think?
Hmmm...well, I can start to see how this forgiveness thing can work! It’ll take time...and it’s hard work and I can keep at it, but deciding to forgive Ann has really made me realize how sad she must be. I don’t have to stoop to her level. You know, I don't think I'll have to go to bed uptight tonight for the first time since I can remember. Maybe I won't be so tired from now on because I'm not getting enough rest.
You're not through with your prayer. Go on.
Oh, all right. "And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil."
Good! Good! I'll do that. Just don't put yourself in a place where you can be tempted.
What do you mean by that?
Don't turn on the TV when you know the laundry needs to be done and the house needs to be picked up. Also, about the time you spend coffeeing with your friends, if you can't influence the conversation to positive things, perhaps you should rethink the value of those friendships. Another thing, your neighbors and friends shouldn't be your standard for "keeping up". And please don't use me for an escape hatch.
I don't understand the last part.
Sure you do. You've done it a lot of times. You get caught in a bad situation. You get into trouble and then you come running to me, "Lord, help me out of this mess and I promise you I'll never do it again." You remember some of those bargains you tried to make with me?
Yes, and I'm ashamed, Lord. I really am.
Which bargain are you remembering?
Well, there was the night that Bill was gone and the children and I were home alone. The wind was blowing so hard I thought the roof would go any minute and tornado warnings were out. I remember praying, "Oh, God, if you spare us, I'll never skip my devotions again."
I'm sorry, Lord, I really am. Up until now I thought that if I just prayed the Lord's Prayer every day, then I could do what I liked. I didn't expect anything to happen like it did.
Go ahead and finish your prayer.
"For Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory forever." Amen.
Do you know what would bring me glory? What would really make me happy?
No, but I'd like to know. I want now to please you. I can see what a mess I've made of my life. And I can see how great it would be to really be one of your followers.
You just answered the question.
Yes. The thing that would bring me glory is to have people like you truly love me. And I see that happening between us. Now that some of these old sins are exposed and out of the way, well, there is no telling what we can do together.
I think that saying the Lord’s Prayer can often become rote for us. We say it without really thinking about what we are asking God for -- and forgetting that we need to be open to the ways God will speak to us and change our hearts and minds as we pray. To be honest, I am guilty of this myself! When Ben and I pray each morning, part of our prayer is the Lord’s Prayer - and I’ve certainly gone on auto-pilot when sharing these words.
For the next few weeks we’ll be looking carefully at the richness of this prayer and what it means that Jesus told his disciples to pray in this way. This week, through our dialogue, we talked about how each line of the prayer can be prayed in a very specific way - especially in regards to our temptations, living as people who are part of God’s kingdom, and forgiving others.
Praying the Lord’s Prayer is more than just saying the words. It’s an invitation to live our lives as answers to this prayer - to be agents of God’s kingdom, to look for ways to be generous with our lives, to see with new eyes the vision of justice and peace that God paints for us, and to find new and creative ways to participate in the redemption of humankind. It’s an invitation to bless and be bless. To forgive, and be forgiven. To live as the body of Christ, poured out for all.
Perhaps think Sarah Dylan Breuer, an Episopal lay woman and theologian, put it best when she writes, "As Jesus teaches us to pray, with our lives as well as our lips, we are invited to see the world as Jesus sees -- the world's wounds as opportunity for healing and reconciliation, the world's needs as opportunity to experience God's generosity afresh by participating in its expression toward the poor, and an account of deserving as a measure of just how much God's love exceeds such reckoning."
It start with us -- and our own willingness to let God change our hearts, one bit at a time, so that we can change our part of the world - one bit at a time. So that we can truly be partners with God, co-creating this world of hope and peace, love and joy. My prayer this week is that we can all be open to the power of this prayer that can transform our lives, and that we may truly be able to pray with sincerity and authenticity this prayer that Jesus taught us to pray. Amen.
16 So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17 For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.
19 The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; 20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21 and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. 24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.
*Hymn - Spirit of the Living God, UMH #393
One of my favorite things to do with Michael in the evening - especially to release all that pent up energy in order to get ready for our bedtime routine - is to have a dance party. The music really doesn’t matter -- we’ve waltzed to Chopin, grooved to Uptown Funk, swayed to Billy Joel, bounced around to Phillip Phillips - you get the idea. We haven’t met a piece of music that Michael hasn’t liked to move to.The sheer look of joy and delight on his face makes any of my awkward dance moves totally worth it.
On the one hand, we’re hoping that these spontaneous groove sessions will wear him out so that he finds his bedtime routine more soothing and relaxing. Yet I also think about all the things that Michael is learning as we dance together in the kitchen -- he’s learning how to move - what it feels like to move back and forth. He’s learning about rhythm - the feeling of a steady beat and what it’s like to move along with it. He’s learning what makes him happy -- we were at a wedding last night and he had the biggest grin on his face when he was bouncing along with the music. He’s also learning about how to pay attention to another person - that what I do in the dance affects what he does in the dance and vice versa -- that we’re both hearing the same music and stepping to the same beat (well, perhaps not stepping yet….I’m not ready for him to be walking). We’re connected in this dance, he and I.
We’ve all heard, too, that relationships are a dance, right? It’s all about finding rhythm with another person -- finding ways to be in synch with each other, how to resolve conflict when we step on one another’s toes, learning that movement of give and take. We step - and then our partner or our friend or a family member takes a step in response -- and hopefully we get in a good groove where we’re responding in ways where we’re creating the dance together. We don’t know which way the other person will chose to step - whether they will stop the dance, turn around, jump left rather than twist to the right - but we trust that we’ll be able to move together - that we’re making something together -- and that we’re plugged in to the same rhythm.
In fact, some of the early Christians understood God through the metaphor of dance. There’s this wonderful Greek word called perichoresis to describe the way that the persons of the Trinity related to each other. Perichoresis comes from the prefix “peri” - referring to “around” - and choreuein, meaning “to dance” - and some of these early theologians believed that God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit “dance around” each other, and in this dance we all find our place.
Contemporary author and theologian Len Sweet puts it this way: “The choreia or dance of God is the choreography of the cosmos, the interrelationship of Creator, creation, and life itself, the holy creativity of the All in All.” he continues, “The dancing metaphor of the holy Trinity is envisioned and embodied as a circle dance...The dance of the triune divine is moving, active, eternally both transcendent and immanent, and flowing together in a joyful and harmonious, rhythmic and resonant celebration of life.”
God’s own being is dance -- and we, being made in God’s image -- well, we are just made for the dance, aren’t we? Dancing with God, with one another, and with all of creation. The dance is one that binds us together and knits us into a community where we’re inviting others to dance along with us.
Matt Harding is an American video game designer and world traveler. His passion is to dance badly with other people all around the world. His story is pretty remarkable and can be found on his website - www.wherethehellismatt.com -- in his early twenties he moved to Australia and decided to quit his job and wander around Southeast Asia until his money ran out. He made a website called “Where the Hell is Matt” to update his family and friends on his whereabouts.
Matt had this awkward dance. And one day he was in Hanoi a few months into his trip with his friend Brad, and Brad said, “Hey, go do your stupid dance over there, and I’ll record it.” Matt thought it looked pretty funny, so he started doing his little dance and filming it wherever he traveled to.
It got uploaded to YouTube and shared and he was “that guy who dances on the internet” - and a company wanted to sponsor his next dancing video - wherever he wanted. So he went and was mostly dancing in front of iconic landmarks...until he went to Rwanda. There aren’t really any iconic landmarks in Rwanda - so he went to a small village and started dancing there - and the kids in the village immediately went over to him and started dancing with him. And he realized in that moment that he had been doing this trip all wrong. He went back to the company and asked them if they could do the whole trip over. They agreed -- and this was the result:
[video - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zlfKdbWwruY]
I’ve seen this video several times over the past few years, and to be honest, every single time I watch it, I tear up. To me, it’s this beautiful representation of the magic and beauty that erupts when people come together around a cause -- even if that cause is dancing badly with one another.
Matt has his own move -- it’s pretty awkward, and kinda silly -- but one that broke open barriers between people and invited them to dance with their own moves. Everyone dancing together, connected to the same rhythm, the same beat -- it’s infectious! It makes me want to jump up and start dancing along!
The other thing I love about this is the song -- it was adapted from a poem called Stream of Life, written by Rabindranath Tagore who was a Nobel Prize winning Bengalese poet. This is the English translation of the words:
The same stream of life that runs through my veins night and day
runs through the world and dances in rhythmic measures.
It is the same life that shoots in joy through the dust of the earth
in numberless blades of grass
and breaks into tumultuous waves of leaves and flowers.
It is the same life that is rocked in the ocean-cradle of birth
and of death, in ebb and in flow.
I feel my limbs are made glorious by the touch of this world of life.
And my pride is from the life-throb of ages dancing in my blood this moment.
Are you in step with the Spirit? Are you in rhythm with that which keeps the whole world moving? Is that stream of life running through your veins?
When we’re in the dance with God we’re dancing alongside a whole host of brothers and sisters - and the fruits of the Spirit flow. Love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. These fruits bind us even more closely together with ties of trust, community, hope, healing, forgiveness -- for those inevitable times when we make a misstep.
But we aren’t called to keep the dance party to ourselves. It isn’t like Dancing with the Stars or America’s Got Talent where only the best are showcased. It is definitely not a spectator sport. No -- it’s a lot more like where the hell is Matt -- each of us with our own unique dance move -- dancing together -- and inviting others to join in the dance with us.
Each of us is called to keep in step with the Spirit - be a part of that holy, divine dance - and dance that dance with others -- bringing them along as part of the dance -- teaching them the rhythm….the beat...the sound of God’s love that echoes throughout creation, that echoes in the words of Scripture, that echoes in the wisdom of the saints and the prophets of our time. For the dance is God’s kingdom - a dance of love, joy, and peace -- a dance that never ends, a dance that is at the heart of the universe itself.
A dance that binds us all together as one.
And so this week, step with the spirit….groove with the Holy Ghost...jump for Joy with Jesus -- dance that divine dance -- and bring others along for the journey. Amen.
Pastor Melissa Yosua-Davis has been serving the community of Chebeague and its church since July 2015. She currently lives on the island with her husband and three year old son, along with their yellow lab. Read here recent sermon excerpts, thoughts on life and faith, and current announcements for the church community. She also blogs at Going on to Perfection.