David A. Davis
October 2, 2016
World Communion Sunday
Every family. Every family in heaven and on earth. This prayer from the Apostle Paul in Ephesians ought to be a prayer for every family, every day. As memorized, as deep within, as the Lord’s Prayer. As routine as the night-time prayers offered at a child’s bedside. As common as a table grace passed on from generation to generation. That according to the lavishness of God’s glory, God would once again give you, give me, give us, give all, a sense of strength and comfort and peace and purpose deep within, a kind of assurance deep inside that only comes by the power of the Holy Spirit. That Christ may continue to fill our hearts, to live in our hearts, to make a home within our hearts through the faith God gives us so that you and I, that all would be, would still be, would continue to be rooted and grounded in love, the very love of Jesus, the love of God.
It really should be a once-a-day kind of prayer. At least once a day. A prayer we offer for one another, for ourselves, for all of God’s people. That we might have the power, the means, the bandwidth to comprehend with all of the children of God what is the breath and length and height and depth, that we might have some inkling of what reaches from the east to the west and from the north to the south, that we might have some glimpse of that which is so invisible, that we might have some sense of the weight that is beyond measure… that somehow we might taste and see that the Lord is good. Every day.
And to know the love of Christ. To know the love of Christ. Not just to know it. You just can’t know love. You have to feel it. You have to live it. Love is so much more than something to understand, something to figure out, something to explain, something to rationalize. Love is so much more than a head game. And the love of Christ surpasses all knowledge. It surpasses all knowledge but for goodness sake, for God’s sake, the love of Christ better have everything to do with what we think, with what we know, what we conclude, what we decide, what we teach our children, how we live, how we act, how we vote. Love the Lord your God with all of your heart, and with all of your soul, and with all your mind. There is no either/or here. To know the love of Christ that surpasses all knowledge. To know something that surpasses all knowledge. To know… love. It’s not an oxymoron; it’s a prayer. It’s not a paradox. It’s a daily prayer. It’s not a contrast. It’s a longing. To know the love of Christ. So that you, you and I, so that all might be filled with all the fullness of God, which is to be filled with the love of Christ himself, which is to know the love of Christ which surpasses all knowledge. Every day.
It’s everyday prayer and everyday praise. To God be the glory. To God be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus. To God be the glory in all generations, in every family in heaven and on earth. To God be the glory. All day long. All day long. This oh so glorious God has a power at work within us to do, to accomplish, so much more, so abundantly more than all we can ask or imagine. God can do more in us than we can even dream about. God can do more than we even know to ask. The fullness of God so fills us. The love of Christ so overwhelms us. The piercing light of Christ so shines on us. The matchless grace of God so washes over us, that God can use us, work with us, transform us in ways we can’t even begin to imagine. It’s not just prayer. It’s not just praise. It’s promise. God’s promise. Not just promise but expectation. That according to the riches of God’s glory that God is at work within us to accomplish abundantly far more than all we can ask or imagine. Prayer. Praise. Promise.
As I led worship in the congregations I served in Scotland this summer, I kept stumbling over the Lord’s Prayer. It took me a few weeks to realize why and how my cadence of leading the prayer was out of sync with the congregation. It was the phrase “thy will be done… on earth as it is in heaven.” When I say the Lord’s Prayer (when we say it), the comma comes after “thy will be done”; thy will be done… on earth as it is in heaven.” Folks in the Church of Scotland place the comma, take the breath, say the prayer a bit differently at that point. They say “thy will be done on earth… as it is in heaven.” “Thy will be done on earth,” not “on earth as it is in heaven” but “thy will be done on earth… as it is in heaven.” Because I kept messing up the prayer, I decided one Sunday to just listen. That change in the cadence, the change in the comma, offers a kind of shift in perspective. “Thy will be done on earth.” “The will be done on earth.” It bears some urgency, some expectation, some immediacy. A sense of right now. A timeliness. That God has the power to work within us, beyond us, despite us, to accomplish abundantly far more than we can even ask of imagine. Now.
Paul’s prayer here in the middle of Ephesians. It has a timeliness for the day-to-day of life right now. That no family, no lineage, no people, no race, no one is beyond the reach of the love of God. That God’s immutable glory, so distant, so awesome, still manifests itself when hearts are full of love. That there is a breadth and a length and a height and a depth to the presence of God that stretches to the world’s farthest corner and illumines life’s darkest spot and breaks down death’s door. That the love Christ offers comes with such a fullness that hearts and souls and minds can be inspired and sparked and changed and guided and protected and calmed; all in service to bringing about the kingdom God intends even when the mind-numbing, heart-hardening, and soul-sucking powers and principalities of this world rage. That the children of God can dare to believe in and work for God’s will being done on earth… as it is in heaven because God is able to accomplish more abundantly than we can ask or imagine… that God can bring a peace in Syria that we can’t imagine, that God can bring a racial harmony to a divided nation greater than we even ask for, that God can see to a prosperity for all people that doesn’t even cross our minds, that God can infuse our public discourse with a dignity, respect, and love we long since gave up on… by the power at work within us, God is able to accomplish abundantly far more than all we can ask or imagine. It absolutely has to be an everyday prayer with the exclamation point of praise in response to God’s promise. To God be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen.
I was in New York City this week for a denominational meeting. Both our children live in the city now so I was able to take them out to dinner on Wednesday night. In planning for the evening I made a tactical error, a significant parental misstep. I texted Hannah and Ben and said, “Why don’t we go to a place you wouldn’t ordinarily go.” Turns out I maybe should have been more specific or offered a few more parameters. Actually I’m joking a bit. A night out with your grown children, that’s actually priceless. But I did text that. “Let’s go somewhere you wouldn’t ordinarily go.”
A dinner that’s not the norm. A table that’s not ordinary. A meal that is set apart. There is absolutely nothing ordinary about this table, this meal. A table of prayer, praise, and promise. Yes ordinary bread, ordinary juice. What’s extraordinary is the gift God offers us in Christ Jesus. What’s extraordinary is the invitation for us to bask in his self-emptying love. What’s extraordinary is how Christ promises to be present here. What’s extraordinary is our chance to praise and worship here at the table of doxology. What’s extraordinary is that in the mystery and mercy of God, here at this Table you and I are invited to eat and drink as an act of thanksgiving to the God who by the power at work within us is able to accomplish abundantly far more than all we can ask or imagine. To God be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus for all generations, forever and ever.
This meal, this feast, this dinner, your place at the Table, it is an “amen” for us who are being rooted and grounded in Christ’s love.
Come to the Table and this morning let your life say, “amen.”
© 2016 Nassau Presbyterian Church
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