I wonder if you’ve had an experience like mine. The first time I worshipped in a Catholic church it was at a memorial service. When we prayed the Lord’s Prayer everybody stopped right after “lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil.” Everyone, except me. I wasn’t expecting the abrupt stop so I kept going. By the time I said, “For Thine is the Kingdom,” I realized I was the only one in the whole sanctuary still talking so I prayed the last part silently.
You always want to be respectful in other houses of worship. My cheeks must have flushed red. I was thinking, “What’s up with that? They, they are forgetting something. The Lord’s Prayer just isn’t the Lord’s Prayer without the ending, ‘For Thine is the Kingdom and the power and the glory forever.’” It’s even the best part of the song. When David sang it for us last week it sent chills down my spine.
Later I found out that sometimes that it wasn’t that the Catholics were forgetting something, it is we Protestants had added something. The Catholic version is closer to what Jesus is recorded as saying in the Bible than what we say. Matthew and Luke both have the Lord’s Prayer but neither of them includes the line about the kingdom, power and glory forever.
Although it’s not in the Bible, there is another ancient document from the late first century called the Didache or Teachings of the Apostles. Before the Bible got finalized, this short text had once been a candidate for inclusion in the Bible but it didn’t make the cut. The Didache shares some of the teachings of Jesus and it records the earliest practices of the church on issues such as paying prophets and how to do communion and baptism. About half way through, the Didache teaches that Christians should not pray like the hypocrites and instead pray as Jesus taught. It has the same Lord’s Prayer that we are familiar with including our familiar ending.
I reread the Didache this week-it’s only a few pages long. But one thing really popped out. It has some form of saying kingdom,power and gloryforever seven times. You get the sense that this phrase was always on their minds. And why not? The early Christians were persecuted by the Romans-gathered up and fed to lions for entertainment. When you’re facing the very real threat of getting rounded up for your faith so that you can stand in the Coliseum staring down a hungry lion while waiting for the emperor to give a thumbs up or down on your life, you need to remind yourself that the One who has the real kingdom and power and glory is not the capricious dude on the throne but your Abba in heaven.
The Didache says you should pray the Lord’s Prayer three times a day. And I get that. If you are anticipating the possibility of hearing the roars of the crowds who want you torn apart as you are trembling, close enough to smell the breath of a lion and you intend to stand your ground, it’s a good thing to ingrain in your mind, “For Thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever.” That way you can say, “Excuse me, Mr. Emperor, your kingdom is temporary. Your reign of terror has limits. Your power isn’t real power. Real power isn’t built on the backs of suffering people. Real power isn’t coercive with threats of violence. Real glory isn’t about how you prop yourself up and make people serve you. Real glory as described by Jesus is giving your life in service in such a way that you are helpful to other people, and not just the ones who benefit you, but the ones who have nothing to give you back. Real power is mercy and love and forgiveness. Mr. Emperor, you are just a pothole on God’s road to a better world. Our God is forever, you aren’t ‘all that.’”
The ending of the Lord’s Prayer gives hope for Christians of every age and facing every threat. From health concerns to enemies to personal struggles. Whenever you are feeling powerless and need the extended ending of Lord’s Prayer to remind you. The kingdoms or administrations of this world and their hate and deceit and corruption will not last. Thine is the Kingdom. This disease will not have the last word. Thine is the power. This problem I face as enduring as it may seem is temporary. For Thine is the glory forever.
This business of acknowledging God’s kingdom, power and glory forever while not included in the Bible as part of the Lord’s Prayer is certainly consistent with what we find going on elsewhere in the Bible. The Bible is full of little sayings like that. Our scripture passage from 1 Chronicles is very similar to our ending of the Lord’s Prayer.
They have a fancy name for those little sayings, they are called doxologies. In Greek the word for praise is Doxa. You may be familiar with the term doxology because it’s in our bulletin every week. Maybe it comes as a surprise to you that it means praise and not, “Filler time after the offering to give the ushers a chance to get the offering down to the altar.” No. Doxology is a real thing. It’s to offer our praise and recognition that we are not the center of the universe. Today we are singing the doxology called the Old One Hundredth, the oldest hymn in English still in use. “Praise God from whom all blessings flow. . .”
Our passage comes from King David near the end of his life. The greatest king of Israel’s history doesn’t brag about his accomplishments and whine about never getting all the credit he deserved or discounting his moments of failure. No. He praises God. He is grateful for God’s glory and power. He is humble to understand he is temporary, God is forever.
Doxology. It’s an important concept in life. There must be something hard wired into the human condition for us to practice doxology. All religions have something like it—a way of recognizing something universal, something bigger than your fragile ego. It’s a way of showing appreciation for life and for others. The Hawaiians have a concept of the Aloha Spirit which is very similar.
Building doxology into your life is not so much because God is an egomaniac who needs to hear your praise, it’s because we have a need to do it. Otherwise we are in terrible danger of becoming self-righteous jerks that nobody wants to be around.
If you want a better life, get better at doxology, praise. C.S. Lewis said that our lives are incomplete if we don’t have praise for something—whether it is the cool air on your cheeks or the enjoyment of a good book a healthy relationship with another human being. “Praise,” he said, “is inner health made audible.”
When you praise God you remember that you are not the center of the universe. The good thing about believing in God is that it saves you from having to be God and do everything yourself. You can trust in the goodness of the universe, the way things eventually work out, the relentless surge for truth and justice to eventually emerge. You trust that you’ll be okay when you believe in God. And that can be a huge relief all by itself.
My friend, Christine has a sign on her desk that says, “You are not totally responsible for everything. That is my job. God.”
When you get good at doxology to get better at gratitude. You look for things to give God praise for. You notice things that had escaped your attention, you let yourself get lost in wonder and awe. It feeds your spirit in an essential way.
I think the more used you are to giving God praise, the better you get at giving others praise. You notice their gifts, their efforts, the way they are doing the best with what they’ve got and you can uplift them with praise and showing appreciation.
Doxology pulls you out of yourself and focusing on the negative and gives a perspective. It’s a trust that there is something more out there. We build praise response because sometimes it’s hard to fathom. We see the chaos, the violence, the disappointments and setbacks in our own personal lives and lose our sense of doxology of praise. So we come to church and get reminded that no matter how big our problems are there is something—someone—bigger.
God is bigger than your mistakes. God is bigger than your hurts. God is bigger than your disappointments. God is bigger than your enemies. God is bigger than destruction and rage and ruin. God’s got this. God’s got you and whatever you are going through.
I had a seminary professor, Aidan Kavanagh, a monk who dedicated his life to showing how liturgy can help us feel “awestruck by the presence of God.” He was the one who taught me about the Didache and the admonition that we should pray the Lord’s Prayer 3 times per day. He said, “Try it for 30 days and keep a journal of how you see it lived out when you are so aware of the prayer.”
I did and it was astonishing. I was making connections to it every day in ways that I would have never thought about. It helped me forgive faster and relax more as I trusted God more. Those 30 days were some of the most significant spiritual experiences I’ve had. And I commend the practice to you. 30 days. Reflect on it. And apply what you’ve learned through this sermon series to your thinking and actions.
We pray the Lord’s Prayer because Jesus taught us to pray this way and it reminds us of what is important and how we should direct our lives. We give our praise to our Abba who, like the father in the story of the prodigal son, welcomes us back whenever we return to him. We remember to aim our lives at building up God’s kingdom on earth as it is in heaven. We remember to align our wills with God’s will, God’s intent for us to live with values and integrity. We remember to trust that God is with us and will give us what we really need. We remember to forgive others just as much as we want to be forgiven by God. We pray for God’s guidance and leading us away from temptation to that which is right.
We build it as a foundation of our lives and when our days here are at their end our lives are not filled with bitterness, but praise, just like King David. And our dear sweet friend Katie Collins, who died Monday morning. You might have known her as the spunky lady in the wheelchair who had a passion for educating our children so that they might know about God’s kingdom and power and glory.
On Monday she was supposed to fly to Colorado to begin her new life with her son and grandchildren. But her poor body gave out and she didn’t make it. It was incredibly sad to lose someone so full of light and love and joy.
What can you do? We gathered family and friends around her bed. Held hands in a circle. Pastor Susie began the prayer with prayers of thanksgiving for her life and comfort for those who loved her and I finished the prayer with petitions for strength and for her life to live on in us and then led all of us in the Lord’s Prayer.
And when we got to the doxology part–that praise part at the end. There was a sense of peace. She’s in a place of light. We all said the prayer together. It’s what we do, what Jesus left us with. When all else fails we have his teachings. His prayer. A sense of reaching out to God and trusting at all times and we’re reassured that we are invited to share in his glory, like Katie, forever. Amen.