Bigger than we can Fathom - Musing for 3/10/2021
Recently I discovered a wonderful version of The Lord’s Prayer. This beautiful and poetic version is included within The New Zealand Book of Prayer and demonstrates the unique character of the New Zealand Anglican Church and the impact of the Polynesian culture.
Reverend Michael Hughes, General Secretary of the Anglican Church General Synod Office, says this was written to help Anglican worshippers and churches within the Pacific region connect with God.
These words show a remarkable insight into who God is, based on both the beauty and the struggles of the people who live in the South Pacific region of the world. Keep an eye out because some Sunday it might just show up in our Sunday liturgy.
One of the things this version reminded me is that the church of Jesus Christ is so much larger than we can ever imagine. It reminded me that God transcends our cultures and traditions and breaks through the barriers we create in order to meet us where we are. Because regardless of where we are, we all face both beauty and pain, bliss and sorrow, life and death.
It also struck me that the church looks far different in most of the world than it does here in America.
That the church in America is not how most of the world experiences Jesus and that we would be wise to consider how God has revealed God’s self in the midst of life’s joys and life’s anguishes in different parts of God’s creation.
Last week if you watched the world news at all I am sure you heard about and saw images of Pope Francis’s historic visit to Iraq. The trip was remarkable both in the locations the Pope visited and the meetings he took with leaders of a variety of religious beliefs. One image that stuck with me was the Pope standing outside the ruins of a church in Mosul. This church had been desecrated by Isis. Yet even in the midst of that destruction the Pope spoke of hope.
The Washington Post shared this about the visit:
“Our gathering here today shows that terrorism and death never have the last word,” Francis said, speaking amid the rubble of an old church that only a few years ago had been used as a prison and shooting range by the extremists of the Islamic State. “Even amid the ravages of terrorism and war, we can see, with the eyes of faith, the triumph of life over death.”
What also stuck me was the powerful witness of the Iraqi Christians—who are a persecuted minority—that chose to attend this event, putting their lives at risk in order to listen to him. Many of them stood with tears streaming down their faces believing in the power of the resurrection to overcome—even in this war-torn land where just coming to church puts their very lives at risk.
Our faith, like our world, is so rich with diversity. And this diversity can be a powerful blessing if we open our hearts to what it might say to us.
Sometimes we may learn that we should be grateful for our ability to worship without fear of physical harm, sometimes it is powerful reminders of how the hope of God can be found even among ruins, and sometimes it is powerful words (like the ones I am about to share) reminding us that God is so much more than one culture or language or tradition can ever encompass.
The New Zealand Anglican Lord's Prayer
Eternal Spirit, Earth-maker, Pain-bearer, Life-giver,
Source of all that is and that shall be,
Father and Mother of us all,
Loving God, in whom is heaven:
The hallowing of your name echo through the universe!
The way of your justice be followed by the peoples of the world!
Your heavenly will be done by all created beings!
Your commonwealth of peace and freedom sustain our hope and come on earth.
With the bread we need for today, feed us.
In the hurts we absorb from one another, forgive us.
In times of temptation and test, strengthen us.
From trials too great to endure, spare us.
From the grip of all that is evil, free us.
For you reign in the glory of the power that is love, now and forever.
- The New Zealand Book of Prayer | He Karakia Mihinare o Aotearoa