In anticipation of our outdoor service at the Wellfield Gardens on Oct. 4, I have been learning to sign the Lord’s prayer. Group speaking, like group singing is considered potentially dangerous for spreading coronavirus particles. So I thought it would be fun for us to “say” the Lord’s prayer with sign language instead of speaking it out loud. Keep watch to these daily devotionals as I will be sending you a video shortly to enable you to learn the Lord’s prayer in sign language.
In the meantime, I have found myself thinking carefully about the words of the Lord’s prayer as I am learning to “speak” it in a different language. I have been forced to slow down and consider each phrase as I learn. So I thought we might consider the Lord’s prayer, bit by bit, for the next several days in our daily devotionals.
The prayer begins, “Our Father in Heaven.” The sign language video I have been using doesn’t have the word “our” at the beginning but starts off, “Father in Heaven.” Sign language often simplifies the language and leaves out a lot of the little words like pronouns and prepositions. I will, however, include the word “our” when we learn to sign the Lord’s prayer, because I believe the word “our” is very important. That little word reminds us that the Father belongs to all of us. We don’t pray, “my” father. We pray to “our” father and that little word reminds us that our God is everyone’s God and that we are called to pray to God together.
The second word, “Father,” was one of Jesus’ favorite word for God if not the favorite. Sometimes Jesus used the intimate form of the word and actually referred to God as “Daddy.” Here he uses the more grown up “father” but it doesn’t loose the intimacy to me. Jesus understood God was his loving father and is our loving father, who seeks our best and provides for us just as any good father cares for and protects his children. This is the one to whom we are praying.
Lastly we come to the phrase “in heaven” or the longer phrase “who art in heaven.” Either way we acknowledge God is different from us. God is eternal and powerful and holy. In fact that’s the first thing we want to acknowledge in our prayer. We’ll talk more about that tomorrow. At the same time that we recognize that God is different from us, I think it is important to remember who taught us this prayer. Jesus, God incarnate, taught us. We recognize in this opening phrase that God is holy, apart from us and at the same time, as close as can be.
I invite you today to think about our father who loves us and invites us, (all together), to pray and make our requests known.
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