10th Sunday after Pentecost 2016: The Lord’s Prayer and the Visitor at Midnight
At ten years old, I asked my dad for a bike for my birthday.
He happily got if for me.
It was fun and exciting, but pretty soon that wore off.
Caring for it become a chore, putting it away became a hassle.
And so, one day, I didn’t.
It rained and rust set in.
It was the first time my dad told me:
“I’m not mad. I’m disappointed.”
But I could tell he was mad too.
My punishment was to spend the day scraping the rust off with lemon juice and sandpaper.
Because covered in rust, it wouldn’t work properly.
And left alone, it would become worthless.
And the point in giving me a gift was that I would use it well.
Of course that episode seems silly now, and the instinct is to write it off as childish selfishness or something like that.
But it isn’t that simple.
And it is not something any of us have simply grown out of.
You’ve prayed: “Our Father, who art in heaven”
Not really expecting with any substantial confidence your True Father to treat you as His own true Child. At least, not every time.
And yet you’ve boldly asked Him for certain things:
“Hallowed be Thy Name”
How is God’s name kept holy?
Luther writes in the Small Catechism:
“God’s name is kept holy when the Word of God is taught in its truth and purity, and we, as the children of God, also lead holy lives according to it…But anyone who teaches or lives contrary to God’s Word profanes the name of God among us…”
And yet a completely holy life is not the life you have brought here this morning.
You’ve prayed for God’s kingdom to come, but resisted the Holy Spirit’s working in you to love and serve your neighbor.
You’ve prayed that God’s will be done,
With the caveat that His will match yours.
You’ve prayed for daily bread:
Like the man who goes to his friend at midnight, you went and asked the Lord for something you didn’t have:
Food for your family.
An acceptance letter.
These are normal things that people pray for.
And they even happen to all fit under the heading of “daily bread.”
But then what?
God has given you a spouse, and a sacred vocation in your marriage.
And both have been despised and tarnished, ignored, and taken for granted.
God has given you children for you to raise up in the faith that they may know their Heavenly Father, the Father whom Jesus so generously shares with you.
And yet, for many, visits to their Father’s house are all too infrequent.
Time spent with them in devotions and Scripture and prayer does not amount to a fraction of time spent in soccer practice and in front of the tv, which tends to stand in for earthly parents as well.
You thank God that He has given you skills and employment, and then grumble at the work-load.
You’re happy to have a living wage, but refuse to tithe a real 10%.
You celebrate good grades and are accepted to the school of your choice, yet accept the congratulations as if it were something done alone –
Until, of course, the prayer goes up for a snow day – 24 more hours to cram, because beer pong.
But I don’t know anything about that.
You pray God to forgive you your sins,
Even while holding the sins of others against them.
You’ve prayed to be delivered from temptation while running at full speed into temptation.
Repent of your misuse of God’s gifts;
Your disuse of prayer.
Repent and hear the Word and promise of Christ, who says:
What father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will instead of a fish give him a serpent; or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”
You do not have an evil father, but a Good and gracious heavenly Father.
A Father who has adopted you in the waters of Holy Baptism.
There, by Water and Word He made you His own true Children,
And no screw up or sin can undo what He has done.
He has made you members of a family which will never disown you.
He is a Father who loves you better than any father here on earth.
In Christ, you have a Brother who is your keeper.
Who instead of allowing your blood to be shed in justice, has shed His own blood for you in sacrifice.
In Baptism you have been given the Holy Spirit in His fullness.
Which means you have been given faith to ask and expect answers.
Faith to seek and find. Faith to knock and have the door opened wide.
And so, as God’s dear child you will not get serpents and scorpions.
But that doesn’t mean you’ll get fish and eggs either.
Fish and eggs are what regular, evil fathers provide.
God can do better than that.
And for all of you, in Christ, He does.
Anything you could ever ask of God can be found in the Lord’s Prayer.
It is the perfect prayer, given by Jesus Himself, who is, in fact, the answer to every single last petition.
You want God’s Name to be kept holy?
God’s Name is certainly holy in itself, and by giving you His Holy Spirit, He keeps it holy among you also.
You want God’s kingdom to come?
It has come in Christ, who established His reign from the cross where He died for every time you tried to reign in your own little kingdom.
You want God’s will to be done?
By the power of His life, death, and resurrection, Jesus has broken evil plan and purpose of the devil, the world, and our sinful nature, and now promises to keep you firm in His Word and faith unto death.
You want daily bread?
God certainly gives daily bread to everyone even without our prayers, even to all evil people, but to you, His dear children, this very hour, He will give to you the Body and Blood of His own Son, the Bread come down from heaven.
You want your sins forgiven?
For the sake of His anointed, Jesus the Crucified One, your sins are forgiven daily, hourly, moment to moment, ever and always.
For Christ’s sake and in your baptism you live in forgiveness, and so you are free to sincerely forgive and gladly do good to those who sin against you.
You want to be lead away from temptation and delivered from evil?
Done. You have been plundered from Satan, stolen away, and given refuge in the wounds of Jesus Himself,
And He has given you not the promise of evil men, but His own promise,
that when your last hour comes, you will have a blessed end, and that He will graciously take you from this valley of sorrow to Himself in heaven.
To all this you can say Amen, which means “Yes, Yes, it shall be so.”
And it shall be so.
For the Kingdom is His.
And the Power is His.
And the Glory is His.
Now and forever and to the ages of ages.