The Lord's Other Prayer
May 23, 2020 Pastor: Rev. Dean Kavouras
Verse: John 17:1
Christ Lutheran Church
May 24, 2020
by: Rev. Dean Kavouras
The Lord’s Other Prayer
Having said these things Jesus lifted up his eyes to heaven and said, "Father the hour is now come! Glorify your Son, in order that he might glorify you!” (John 17:1)
Every Christian loves the Lord’s Prayer!
May we pray it often.
If you follow the admonition of the Catechism you would pray it 5 times a day: once in the morning, once in the evening and before every meal.
Don’t worry about the criticism of Fundamentalists who consider it to be “babbling,” and “vain repetition”. That is untrue, but even if were, then in the words of poet Walt Whitman “Babble on,” because that prayer comes from the lips of the Lord, is the daily bread of the soul, and wells up into eternal life. Meditate on it, of course, but never stop praying it!
How far did our world slip into spiritual death; and become all the more cruel, cold, heartless and dead over the last 3 months; when churches around the world closed their doors and left the “Prayer of prayers” unsaid?
Should we ever allow THAT to happen again … then whatever happens to us will be well deserved.
That said, today’s gospel teaches us what we could call, “the other Lord’s Prayer”.
It is recorded for us by St. John in the 17th chapter of his gospel; and is the prayer that our Lord prayed in connection with his death; AND the remembrance of it that he instituted on Maundy Thursday; and that the church has celebrated every Sunday ever since.
We know from the gospels, and from St. Paul, that when the Lord took the bread into his holy hands that he “blessed it” and “gave thanks.” But the inspired writers never tell us the content of that “blessing,” or “thanksgiving”.
But is it possible that St. John does in today’s gospel?
The evidence seems strong.
First, we know that this prayer was prayed on the night in which our Lord instituted the Blessed Sacrament of his Body and Blood.
But the real give away is in verse 1 of today’s gospel where St. John reports that “Jesus lifted his eyes to heaven ...”
Can you picture him now in your mind’s eye? Just hours away from his passion? Lifting up the Bread and Sacred Cup along with his eyes to heaven?
While praying a prayer for the church, and the world, that will never stop protecting us from the devil, the world and the flesh.
One of the oldest Christian traditions is the Eucharistic Prayer. And it is the belief of the church of the ages that this prayer, what our Service Book calls “the Prayer of the Church” on p. 194, is the church’s most powerful and important prayer. (Also cf. St. Ignatius of Antioch Letter to the Ephesians Chapter 5)
Take note of the things the church prays for each week. Like the Lord does in his prayer, we too pray for the church, the clergy, the civil authorities, and the world at large with its endless needs, and hopes. Especially that is should believe his sacrificial death as the sure and certain vaccine that cures all sin and death.
We pray for the sick, the troubled, the wayward, the dispirited, for the fruits of the earth and in short: “for all sorts and conditions of men”.
We also glorify God who glorified our Lord by his suffering and death, “not as we ought, but as we are able.”
We should also remember that in St. John’s gospel the Lord’s death is referred to as his glory. Now that is something that the flesh could never understand.
But we can.
For, you see, the Lord’s death on the cross was not defeat, but victory. It was, as Bishop Reginald Heber taught the church to sing: the Son of God going forth to war!
The Son of God moving forward to attack sin, and the death that always results from it – and to attack the Evil One who is responsible for every trouble humanity has ever known.
Jesus attacked them all by the cross and gained victory by it.
The account is told about St. Constantine, the first Christian emperor of Rome, whose Feast Day we the church celebrated this past Thursday on May 21st, the story is told that he had a vision before his decisive battle at the Milvian Bridge.
It was the vision of “a cross of light” in the sky with the words, “Conquer By This”.
God granted him victory that day and that victory changed the course of history for 1700 years. It Christianized the world from the 313 A.D. till today when darkness seems to have descended upon us once again.
Yes, the cross is Christ’s glory and ours as well; and our sanctification; for it makes us holy. It makes us “like God,” and there is nothing better than that!
As you know, after the Lord’s resurrection, his bloodied and bruised body was completely restored so that even those closest to him did not recognize him.
But there was one thing that remained, the five wounds: a reminder for us, and a reason to glorify Christ throughout all eternity for the price that he gladly paid for our salvation.
Yes, Jesus lifted up this eyes to heaven and prayed an everlasting prayer that night – even as we do whenever we “remember” his death in Holy Communion. And by this God is glorified for prayer is an act of faith, which is an act of worship!
If you ask people why they go to church they will often answer, “because it makes me feel good.”
That is as it should be because in God’s House the Balm of Gilead is liberally applied to us. The perfume of our Lord’s blessed aroma envelopes us, and the dew of his mercies rest gently upon our heads.
But there is much more at stake here than feeling good. Whenever we gather as Christ’s Royal Priesthood we join with Jesus in praying for the world.
Everyone is quick to claim, today, that “social distancing” is what saved us from the plague. Speculation to be sure. As much politics as science.
But those who pray the Lord’s Prayer each Sunday, and the “other Lord’s Prayer,” the Eucharistic Prayer of the Church … they are the true heroes. For God has heard our prayer, and his will is being done on earth, as in heaven.
In the words of St. Paul, “He delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will deliver us again.” (2 Cor. 1:10). Amen.