For thine is the
kingdom, the power, and
the glory, forever, amen.
(Understanding God Time)
The Lord’s Prayer began by grounding us in our relationship with the Father, and it ends now by solidifying our faith in that kinship. We have already talked about how the kingdom, power, and the glory of God are played out within the living hour; but most of us are not satisfied with this daily bread. We want to know that there is a divine plan, with a definitive beginning and end, that’s been arranged by the Father.
Our desire to see the culmination of God’s plan is what led Jesus’s early Jewish followers to believe that he was an earthly messiah. And it is what fuels today such false beliefs as the rapture and Jesus’s second-coming out of the clouds. Without an end–game in place, we find our faith under assault,1 as we try to make sense of a world filled with horrors, suffering, and loss. Yet it is precisely this lack of knowledge in God’s final act (like our uncertainty in what happens to us after we die) that creates the condition which rewards those with the faith of but a mustard seed.
If we are to acquire that life giving faith, and get glimpses of the Father’s divine plan, we must take a “big picture” view of our lives and the history of the world. This means letting go of human time and entering God time. With human time we focus on beginnings and ends, and see time as a product that can be saved, lost, and spent. And we view morality within the limits of those human constraints. But with God time we are dealing with a cyclical ebb and flow that cannot be pinned down—and where moral reckoning occurs on a timeline that far exceeds an individual lifetime.
Our life in Christ is beyond beginnings and ends—which is why Jesus says that he existed before Abraham2 and his words will live on even after heaven and earth pass away.3 The Holy Spirit constantly is in the process of rising and receding. This means that the crucifixion of our ego is not a one time affair. We are called to repeatedly lay down our lives,4 as we rise ever closer toward our divinity.
Jesus imparts this teaching of recurring crucifixion when he tells us that we must pick up our crosses daily.5 And our repeated rise toward Christ is demonstrated in the gospel story by Jesus’s reappearance within the form of a person that his disciples do not recognize.6 When, during the course of our spiritual evolution, we shed our egos, even those closest to us often fail to recognize the new person we’ve become. The fact that Jesus chooses to crucify his ego yet again, having already risen in Christ and been able to teach the gospel, demonstrates that no matter how high we’ve risen the ego continually builds new obstacles that need to be overcome.
When we pray For thine is the kingdom, the power, and the glory, forever, amen, we are thus confirming our faith in today’s living Christ;7 as well as God’s divine plan that we, his children, can feel only intimations of but never fully know.8 As the 19th century Unitarian Minister Theodore Parker once said: “I do not pretend to understand the moral universe, the arc is a long one, my eye reaches but little ways. I can calculate the curve and complete the figure by the experience of sight; I can divine it by conscience. But from what I see, I am sure it bends toward justice.”
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- A violent squall came on, and the waves kept crashing into the boat, so that the boat was actually filling. 38 Jesus was in the stern asleep upon the cushion; and the disciples roused him and cried: “Teacher! Is it nothing to you that we are lost?” – Mark 4:37–38 [↩]
- “You are not fifty years old yet,” the Jews exclaimed, “and have you seen Abraham?” 58 “In truth I tell you,” replied Jesus, “before Abraham was, I am.” – John 8:57–58 [↩]
- I tell you that even the present generation will not pass away till all has taken place. 33 Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away. – Luke 21:33 [↩]
- This is why the Father loves me, because I lay down my life—to receive it again. 18 No one took it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to receive it again. John 10:17–18 [↩]
- “If anyone wishes to walk in my steps, let them renounce self, and take up their cross daily, and follow me. – Luke 9:23 [↩]
- After saying this, she turned round and looked at Jesus standing there, but she did not know that it was Jesus. 15 “Why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?” he asked. Supposing him to be the gardener, Mary answered: “If it was you, sir, who carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away myself.” – John 20:14–15 [↩]
- They could not find the body of the Lord Jesus. 4 While they were at a loss to account for this, all at once two men stood beside them, in dazzling clothing. 5 But, when in their fear the women bowed their faces to the ground, the men said to them: “Why are you looking among the dead for him who is living?” Luke 24:3-5 [↩]
- The heavens and the earth will pass away, but my words shall never pass away. But about that day and hour, no one knows: not even the angels of heaven, nor yet the Son, but only the Father himself. Matthew 24:36 [↩]
The Gulistan (Rose Garden) is the masterwork of 13th century Persian writer Sa’di (Saadi), a celebrated poet who recently was quoted by President Barack Obama in his 2009 address to the people of Iran. In the Gulistan, Saadi tells a story that goes like this:
A person with a harsh voice was reciting loudly the Koran. A good and holy man went up to him and asked, “How much are you getting paid for that?” The person answered, “Nothing.”
“If that is so,” asked the other, “why give yourself so much trouble?” He answered, “I am reading for the sake of God!” The good and holy man replied, “For God’s sake do not read, for if you chant the Koran in this manner, you are casting a shade over the glory of Islam.
Saadi’s story is an instructive one for Muslims and Progressive Christians alike. All too often we attribute to God human characteristics like jealousy and neediness, which in turn makes us think that God demands that we glorify Him and do things for His sake. By doing so, we paint God in a rather poor light, as if he were akin to an insecure earthly father who demands allegiance and obedience from his adult children.
God (the good heavenly Father) wants us to read scripture and poetry not for His sake, but for our own sake, for the benefit of the Christ seed in us, so that we might grow in our love for one another and the living world around us. It is by realizing our potential as Sons and Daughters of God, and loving our neighbors as ourselves, that we honor Islam and Mohammed, Christianity and Jesus, and God the Father, not by appealing to Jehovah’s or Allah’s non-existent vanity.
Please subscribe to The Living Hour’s free Daily SBNR Motivationals by entering your email address into the “Opening the Small Gate” box in the right corner of this web page. Thisseries is written for Unitarians, Agnostics, and all who seek a richer life.
To read about Joseph Campbell, Carlos Castaneda, and the Power of Myth, please go to: Bliss Path & Heart Road.
Looking up, Jesus saw the rich people putting their gifts into the chests for the temple offerings. 2 He saw, too, a widow in poor circumstances putting two farthings into them. 3 On this he said: “I tell you that this poor widow has put in more than all the others; 4 For everyone else here put in something from what they had to spare, while she, in her need, has put in all she had to live upon.”
5 When some of them spoke about the temple being decorated with beautiful stones and offerings, Jesus said: 6 “As for these things that you are looking at, a time is coming when not one stone will be left upon another here, which will not be thrown down.”
7 So the disciples questioned Jesus: “But, Teacher, when will this be? And what sign will there be when this is near?” 8 And Jesus said: “See that you are not led astray; for many will take my name, and come saying ‘I am He,’ and ‘The time is close at hand.’ Do not follow them. 9 And, when you hear of wars and disturbances, do not be terrified, for these things must occur first; but the end will not be at once.”
10 Then he said to them: “‘Nation will rise against nation and kingdom against kingdom,’ 11 And there will be great earth-quakes, and plagues, and famines in various places, and there will be terrible appearances and signs in the heavens. 12 Before all this, they will lay hands on you and persecute you, and they will betray you to synagogues and put you in prison, bringing you before kings and governors for the sake of my name. 13 Then will be your opportunity of testifying for me.”
14 “Make up your minds, therefore, not to prepare your defense; 15 For I will myself give you words, and a wisdom which all your opponents together will be unable to resist or defy. 16 You will be betrayed even by your parents, and brothers, and relations, and friends, and they will cause some of you to be put to death, 17 And you will be hated by everyone on account of my name. 18 Yet not a single hair of your heads shall be lost! 19 By your endurance you shall win yourselves life.”
20 “As soon, however, as you see Jerusalem surrounded by armed camps, then you may know that the hour of her desecration is at hand. 21 Then those of you who are in Judea must take refuge in the mountains; those who are in Jerusalem must leave at once; and those who are in the country places must not go into it. 22 For these are to be the days of vengeance, when all that scripture says will be fulfilled.”
23 “Woe to the women that are with child, and for those that are nursing infants in those days! For there will be great suffering in the land, and anger against this people. 24 They will fall by the edge of the sword, and will be taken prisoners to every land, and ‘Jerusalem will be under the heel of the Gentiles,’ until their day is over—as it shall be.”
25 “There will be signs, too (in the sun, and moon, and stars), and on the earth despair among the nations, as they dismay at the roar of the sea and the surge. 26 People’s hearts will fail them through dread of what is coming upon the world; for ‘the forces of the heavens will be convulsed.’ 27 Then will be seen the ‘Son of Man coming in a cloud’ with power and great glory. 28 And, when these things begin to occur, look upwards and lift your heads, for your deliverance will be at hand.”
29 Then he taught them a lesson: “Look at the fig tree and all the other trees. 30 As soon as they shoot forth, you know, as you look at them, without being told, that summer is near. 31 And so may you, as soon as you see these things happening, know that the kingdom of God is near. 32 I tell you that even the present generation will not pass away till all has taken place. 33 Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.”
34 “Be on your guard else your minds should ever be dulled by debauches or drunkenness or the anxieties of life, and lest that day should come suddenly upon you, like a snare. 35 For come it will upon all who are living upon the face of the whole earth. 36 Be on the watch at all times, and pray that you may have strength to escape all that is destined to happen, and to stand in the presence of the Son of Man.”
37 During the days, Jesus continued to teach in the temple courts, but he went out and spent the nights on the hill called the ‘Mount of Olives.’ 38 And all the people would get up early in the morning, and come to listen to him in the temple courts.
To read the next chapter of the Book of Luke, please go toThe Gospel of Luke – 22.
This Online New Testament Gospel of Luke is excerpted from the book The Living Hour: The Lord’s Prayer for Daily Life (with New Century Gospels). Including over 200 bookmarked citations from the canonical Gospels, this Progressive Christian book appeals to the Unitarian spirit at the heart of all faiths.
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