The "Our Father" or "Lord's Prayer" is a tutorial from Jesus on how to pray, and it has in mind some specific misconceptions of prayer, which (maybe unexpectedly) we still fall victim to today.
Brown Line's resident spiritual director unpacks for us the rewards of secret generosity, according to Jesus.
You know that terror you feel about letting someone down when you receive an invitation, so you mark "maybe" even though you know your answer is actually "no"? That's the aspirational RSVP, and while it can feel like the better option in the short term, it can leave a communication mess in the end. People in Jesus' day faced their own communication messes, and Jesus' advice was humbling but incredibly helpful.
Jesus' "you have heard it said... but I say..." statements seem extreme and crazy at first read. But he's actually doing something quite brilliant in making these statements, which allows him to both knock the religious elite of his day (the Pharisees) off their high horses, and also inspiringly point people toward the spiritual, psychological, and emotional health that being humbled brings.
Hard-wired into humans is an incredible tool to enhance our daily experience of life, to help us turn our relational circuits on when stress has turned them off, and to connect with God and other people. That tool is our memory!
Providing an avenue to psychological health. Exposing our tendency to scapegoat others... Just a couple of the things at play in Jesus' meaning-packed statement that he came to fulfill (not abolish) "the Law" of the Ancient Israelites.
Jesus' famously evoked the images of "salt" and "light" in showing his followers how to be good news to the world around them. However, exhaustive polling of younger American's attitudes toward church & people of faith (conducted by the likes of the Barna Group) reveal quite the opposite of that... What if our church was good news to people?
Jesus' Beatitudes (blessed are the poor, mourning, insulted, persecuted, etc.) are remarkable because no one actually believes them. But what if a community made it feel safe for people to believe them, instead of "blessed are those who present well"?
The rhythm of marking Jesus' death and resurrection every year attaches us to the reality of God's continued alive-ness in our lives and world today, and how we can participate daily in resurrection.
As the story of St. Peter being freed from prison demonstrates, the invitation to trust in God is not an invitation to live in a fantasy world where life always works out. It's an invitation to experience hope, care, love, and justice in the midst of the hard reality we all know: that life is in fact pretty unfair.
Brown Line is lucky to have a number of inter-racial and inter-cultural couples making up our community. Their experiences can help us understand the story of Peter & Cornelius in the book of Acts and why Jesus loves setting up cross-cultural interactions.
The story of the conversion of Saul of Tarsus (later, St. Paul) gives us pause to reflect on the many conversions and turning points that a full life includes... and also on what must come after conversion experiences in order to truly experience lifelong change.
(banner image from Anthony Doubt)
BLV partners with Resurrection Covenant Church's Warming Center for Brown Line area neighbors experiencing homelessness. Any 5th Friday of a month, we send a team of volunteers.
(original photography by Laura Mitchell)