First Congregational Church UCC
220 West Lyon Avenue
Lake City, Minnesota 55041
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 SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 18, 2022
 
Good Morning!  

Jesus taught a prayer.  
  
It was nearly 2000 years ago.

And we still recite it...

every Sunday!

It continues to have surprising power.

I have a personal story about that.


-Pastor David
 

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First Congregational Church UCC
114 North Oak Street
Lake City, MN  55041
Here Is Today's Message

"Your Kingdom Come By A Slip Of The Tongue"
A message from
Rev. David S. Badgley

 September 18, 2022

     Back on Sunday, July 24, our morning worship was a bit unusual.  
     We sang Christmas carols and set up the nativity set. 
     There were two vintage ceramic Christmas trees decorating the altar.  
     It was our Christmas in July service.  It was fun to change up the usual way of doing things.  Little did I know another change was coming by surprise. 
     I was leading worship in my usual way, following our usual order of worship.  We begin with a responsive Call to Worship, followed by a hymn, followed by a Moment of Prayer.
     The Moment of Prayer is when I offer an unscripted prayer to God to be with us in this time of worship and to open our minds and hearts to be encouraged, inspired and comforted.  
     I say whatever I am inspired to say at the time, and I close with my customary words, “in the Spirit of Jesus we pray.  Amen.”  
     The Moment of Prayer is one of two prayers in worship that I pray on behalf of the congregation. The other prayer comes after my sermon and after the musical interlude. 
     That is when I pray for those on our prayer list, whose names and conditions have been shared by the congregation.  
     After praying for other people, I offer a time for silent prayer when we pray for ourselves. Then I conclude with the words, “We pray all these things together as Jesus taught us, saying…” which lets everyone know that we are going to say the Lord’s Prayer in unison, “Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name…”  
     So, back on July 24, I was leading worship in my usual way.  But then something happened in the Moment of Prayer.  Maybe it was from the thrill of Christmas, or maybe it was the disorientation of singing “O Come, All Ye Faithful” in the middle of summer.  
     Whatever it was, my brain fritzed, and at the end of the prayer I didn’t say my usual, “in the Spirit of Jesus we pray.  Amen.” 
      I said “We pray these things together as Jesus…” 
     Oh no! My mind was racing.  That’s what I say before the Lord’s Prayer!  That comes later, not now.  “We pray these things together as Jesus…”  As Jesus what? As Jesus what?  How could I fix this?  I couldn’t.
     It’s amazing how many thoughts you can think of in 5 seconds, but having left off with, “as Jesus…” I said, “taught us, saying,…” and right on cue everyone joined in, “Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name…”
     At the end of the prayer we said, “Amen.”
     Everyone opened their eyes.  I said, “Full disclosure.  You probably know what just happened.  I said the Lord’s Prayer now instead of later, when we usually say it. But when I said,'we pray these things together as Jesus' I didn’t have anywhere else to go.  That’s okay. I just have to remember not to say it again.”
     Then I explained to everyone that the Sunday before, our Sunday school teacher, Tracy Brunkow, and I were talking after worship.  
     We were talking about Sunday school curriculum and the kids returning in September after summer vacation.  Tracy told me that she really wanted the kids to learn the Lord’s Prayer, but we don’t recite it in worship until after the kids have gone downstairs to their class.
     I told Tracy, “I can move The Lord’s Prayer to an earlier spot in the order of service when the kids are still up here.”  She replied, “No, that’s okay.  You don’t have to be bothered with that.” I said, “It’s no bother.  I’ll consider another place to put it into worship.”  
    I mulled it over later that day and thought one option would be to put The Lord’s Prayer as the conclusion of the Moment Of Prayer while the kids are still in worship. That could work.  Then I forgot about the matter.
     The next Sunday was Christmas in July.    
     I got a surprise.  A slip of the tongue, a fritz in my brain, and I was forced to say the Lord’s Prayer exactly where I had considered moving it. 
      I guess it was God’s little gift to me on the day in July when we were celebrating the birth of Jesus, who taught the prayer to his disciples.
      So, the following week I changed the order of worship and ever since Christmas in July we’ve been saying The Lord’s Prayer at the end of the Moment of Prayer.  
     And last Sunday, the kids were back for Sunday school, and they were here in worship to hear and join us in saying the Lord’s Prayer.     
     It turns out that I really like the change, not only for the kids, but for the way that reciting the Lord’s Prayer brings everyone together.  Having it at the beginning of worship provides a sense of unity in the same way as reading the Call to Worship and singing the first hymn. 
     The Lord’s Prayer provides that sense of unity wherever we say it, and that is why it is so important for our kids and Confirmation youth to know it by memory.
     For example, nine days ago, I officiated at a graveside interment ceremony in Concord, Minnesota about 45 miles southwest. It was my first time there.  The family had come from Alaska, friends came from various places in Minnesota, and we all came with our various thoughts, feelings, and memories.  
     And when we said the Lord’s Prayer, it brought our focus together, spiritually in the words themselves, and physically in the act of voicing it out loud in unison. “Our Father, who art in heaven.” 
     Notice how the word “our” immediately unifies us with God as our Father, the Father of all of us, the Father we all turn to and who cares for all of us no matter what we think of each other.  
     We say it at weddings.  We say it in hospital rooms.  We say it at the end of our church board meetings.  
     We teach the Lord’s Prayer in order to equip people for all those future settings where they won’t want to feel excluded from that powerful feeling of unity.  
     According to our scriptures, Jesus taught the prayer in answer to a special request by his disciples.  The Gospel of Luke tells us, 
     Jesus was praying in a certain place, and after he had finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples.” 
Luke 11:1 (NRSV)
     John was Jesus’ cousin, whom we call John the Baptizer.  John had a profound influence in the life of Jesus and after John baptized him, Jesus began his ministry.  
     John taught his followers, including Jesus, to pray, and now Jesus teaches prayer to his followers.    
     What Jesus offers them is a sort of list.  Lists were an inherent part of the faith of the Jewish people.  There was a list of 10 Commandments, and a list of instructions for religious festivals, and lists regarding which foods could be eaten and when. 
     The Jewish faith knew lists, and yet it was not the lists that were the essence of the faith.  It was the spirit, the attitude and the condition of the heart that was more important than lists.  
     The Lord’s prayer is a list that encourages a spiritual posture before God.  The prayer appears in two gospels. The Gospel of Luke says, 
Jesus said to them, “When you pray, say:
Father, may your name be revered as holy.
    May your kingdom come.
    Give us each day our daily bread.
    And forgive us our sins,
        for we ourselves forgive everyone indebted to us.
    And do not bring us to the time of trial.”
Luke 11:2-4 (NRSV)
     In the Gospel of Matthew the prayer is expanded. Jesus says, 
Pray, then, in this way:
Our Father in heaven,
    may your name be revered as holy.
    May your kingdom come.
    May your will be done
        on earth as it is in heaven.

    Give us today our daily bread.
    And forgive us our debts,
        as we also have forgiven our debtors.

    And do not bring us to the time of trial,
        but rescue us from the evil one.  
Matthew 6:9-13 (NRSV)
     Matthew’s version of the prayer is closer to what we say, but Luke’s version of the prayer is probably closer to the original, since it is more basic in form.
     Literary forms tend to start simple and grow over time, which explains the later addition, “For thine is the kingdom, the power, and the glory, forever.”
     Yet, both Gospel versions can be broken down into five basic parts.
     In part one we are to address God with an attitude of familiarity, while also recognizing God’s inherently greater holiness: Our Father, hallowed be your name.  
     In part two we are to desire God’s vision of life, a realm of justice, love, service and compassion, and we are to put that vision into action, reflecting heaven on earth: Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.  
    In part three we are to ask for ordinary needs on daily basis, trusting God to supply what we need one day at a time: Give us this day our daily bread.  
     In part four we are to recognize our separation from God and from other people and understand our role in experiencing and sharing God’s forgiveness: Forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us.
     In part five we are to ask for guidance as we navigate the entrapments of life: And lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil.
     It’s a beautifully basic prayer, structured into five parts, which we can remember with five fingers on one hand.  Yet, it’s not only the words, but also the spirit embodied in those words that open us to moments of holiness.  When we live with that posture before God, then God’s kingdom of love and justice and holiness takes shape among us.
     A few days before Sunday school started last Sunday, I talked with Tracy Brunkow about possible activities for the kids on their first day back to Sunday school.  
     My theme for the fall season was “Get Back In The Game” at church, inviting people to wear Minnesota Vikings gear to church for the first Vikings game on the first Sunday of the NFL season 2022.
     I suggested that maybe Tracy could build on that theme, and possibly have the kids start learning the Lord’s Prayer, as she had desired.  When I taught the Lord’s Prayer to my Confirmation groups, I told her, I broke the prayer up into phrases, printed them on pieces of paper, and had the youth put the phrases in order in a competitive game. 
     So last Sunday after worship I went downstairs for Hospitality Time and asked Tracy how the first day of Sunday school went. 
     She asked, “Did you see what I did over there?”  
     I looked at her creation and was thrilled!  
     Tracy put green felt on a bulletin board and made it look like a football field with yard lines made of yarn.  
     At the top is a sign that says, “Score the Lord’s Prayer!”  
     Tracy wrote sentences from the Lord’s Prayer on seven slips of paper, which are to put in order between the yard lines. 
      It goes with the theme “Get Back In The Game” at church.
     While I was working on this sermon last week a curious thought came to mind.  
     Many pastors, including me, use an official list of scripture readings prescribed for each Sunday as suggested topics for sermons.  Most of the time I use those readings, but I often diverge for special occasions, such as our Christmas in July.   
     Well last week I was curious about the prescribed reading for Sunday, July 24, which I did not use.  
     I hadn't even considered using it because I was using the birth narrative of Jesus found in the Gospel of Luke, chapter 2.
      So, last week I looked at the list.  
      Are you ready for this?  
     The prescribed reading on July 24 was the Gospel of Luke, chapter 11.
     It is where Jesus teaches his disciples to pray the Lord’s Prayer! 
     And that is the Sunday when my brain fritzed and I had to say the Lord’s Prayer in a new spot in our order of worship.  
     And ever since we have kept the Lord's Prayer in that spot so that our kids can say it with us.  
     I believe it was meant to be!  
     Your kingdom come, your will be done, even by a slip of my tongue.

     -Pastor David
Click here for previous Sunday Morning Reflections
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