The Living Hour: The Lord’s Prayer for Daily Life takes a fresh and non-dogmatic look at the Lord’s Prayer to reveal new perspectives on the esoteric teachings of Jesus of Nazareth. It is an SBNR book for Progressive Christians, Unitarians, Agnostics, & all spiritual seekers interested in discovering a more joyful and fulfilling life…
Henry David Thoreau, tucked away in his Walden cabin, famously said that most of us lead lives of quiet desperation. That was in 1845. Today, things are not so quiet. Anxiety and depression are regular rites of passage from which millions never graduate. Civility meanwhile has long been dropped from our national discourse. It’s a sad indictment of a country where so many pride themselves in a Christian heritage. We have the highest levels of church attendance in the world. Almost eighty percent of us say that we believe in the gospel of Jesus Christ. Yet, where is our joy? Where is our vitality? Where is our peace of mind?
The Son comes to complete our happiness in this life,1 yet it’s clear not many are receiving “the good news”. Instead, we are sold a gospel that forsakes the living hour for a future heavenly reward: a spiritual reckoning that asks for little and receives even less in return. Simply accept Jesus Christ as your savior, we are told, and you’ll be hanging out with the good Lord for eternity. If it were only so easy.2
Jesus of Nazareth didn’t teach the idler’s path to God. He said that because much has been given us, much is expected.3 He described the kingdom of heaven as a place that doesn’t suffer fools.4 And he asked that his followers become as perfect as their Father in heaven5 ––a seemingly impossible task, if it were not for the fact that all things are possible with the help of God.6
The first step toward perfection, according to Jesus, is to love God with all our heart, soul, and mind.7 The mind gets short shrift from many Christians today. We forget that Jesus amazed people with both his miracles and his wits.8 All who listened to him marveled at his intelligence and his answers. He was a man, we are told, whose wisdom grew as he grew in years. Only after reaching maturity did his intellect surpass that of the legendary King Solomon.9
Clear thinking is essential for Christians because Jesus asks that we decide for ourselves what is right.10 Making those correct choices requires intelligence and learning, as well as faith and a loving heart. God did not bless us with extraordinary minds, whose complexity dwarfs that of any computer, only to have us park them in storage. Instead, we are called to develop our logic and reason—to transform our minds into Christ’s “winnowing fans.” So that the chaff might be removed from the wheat11 the dead teachings from the living Word.
Like Jesus, we are asked to sweep away the dictates of the billy-club faithful, the literalists whose passion for scripture12 is but another form of idolatry. The Pharisees and Sadducees may be historical footnotes, but their modern day equivalents litter the airwaves and pulpits of America—preachers of wealth and brimstone who chop up Biblical passages to feed prosperity theologies and end–time prophecy. And who bludgeon the confused with decrees on personal behavior, sexual orientation, and the evils of science. Like the “hypocrite” teachers before them, they turn the kingdom of heaven in our faces—refusing to enter that realm themselves, while barring entrance to those who try to do so.13
Christ comes bringing both love and truth,14 but discerning the truth has never been easy. Jesus’s first followers failed rather dramatically. Instead of pouring his “new wine” into fresh bottles,15 they refused to give up their Old Testament belief system that the Father plays favorites: that the people of Israel were God’s chosen, and that they would soon be rewarded with an earthly kingdom ruled by Christ, the Son of David.16
Jesus didn’t buy into their narrative. He was all about breaking Israel’s religious traditions, not preserving them.17 Rather than toe the Mosaic line, he replaced the law of an “an eye for an eye” with turn the other cheek, and “honor thy father and mother” with honor only thy Father in heaven.18 He revealed the hypocrisy of sin-based laws and punishments.19 And most importantly, Jesus taught that God’s kingdom was no longer a future reward for the race of Abraham; but the divine birthright of all mankind, since the beginning of the world.20 If we had the eyes to see and the faith to believe, Christ would reveal the kingdom of heaven that exists within us21 and around us, right now, at this very moment.22
Jesus’s disciples found this hard to accept. Nothing could persuade them from…
The Lord’s Prayer. To continue reading, click on page 2 at the bottom.
- I have told you all this so that my own joy may be yours, and that your joy may be complete. – John 15:11 [↩]
- Not everyone who says to me ‘Lord! Lord!’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only those who do the will of my Father who is in heaven. – Matthew 7:21 [↩]
- From everyone to whom much has been given much will be expected, and to those whom much has been entrusted the more will be demanded. – Luke 12:48 [↩]
- Then the kingdom of heaven will be like ten bridesmaids who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. 2 Five of them were foolish, and five were prudent. 3 The foolish ones took their lamps, but took no oil with them; 4 While the prudent ones, besides taking their lamps, took oil in their jars. 5 As the bridegroom was late in coming, they all became drowsy, and slept. 6 But at midnight a shout was raised: ‘The Bridegroom is coming! Come out to meet him!’ 7 Then all the bridesmaids awoke and trimmed their lamps. 8 And the foolish said to the prudent: ‘Give us some of your oil; our lamps are going out.’ 9 But the prudent ones answered: ‘No, for fear that there will not be enough for you and for us. Go instead to those who sell it, and buy for yourselves.’10 But while they were on their way to buy it, the bridegroom came; and the bridesmaids who were ready went in with him to the banquet, and the door was shut. 11 Afterwards the other bridesmaids came. ‘Sir, Sir,’ they said, ‘open the door to us!’12 But the bridegroom answered ‘I tell you, I do not know you. – Matthew 25:1-12 [↩]
- You, then, must become perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect. – Matthew 5:48 [↩]
- With men it is impossible, but not with God; for everything is possible with God. – Mark 10:27 [↩]
- And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength. – Mark 12:29 [↩]
- And Jesus grew in wisdom as he grew in years, and ‘gained the blessing of God and men. – Luke 2:52 [↩]
- She came from the very ends of the earth to listen to the wisdom of Solomon; and here is more than a Solomon! – Luke 11:31 [↩]
- Why do not you decide for yourselves what is right? – Luke 12:57 [↩]
- His winnowing-fan is in his hand, that he may clear his threshing-floor, and store the grain in his barn, but the chaff he will burn with inextinguishable fire. – Luke 3:17 [↩]
- So the Pharisees and the teachers of the law asked Jesus this question: “How is it that your disciples do not follow the traditions of our ancestors, but eat their food with defiled hands?” 6 His answer was: “It was well said by Isaiah when he prophesied about you hypocrites in the words: ‘This is a people that honor me with their lips, While their hearts are far removed from me; 7 But vainly do they worship me, For they teach but the precepts of men.’ – Mark 7:5-7 [↩]
- But woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, hypocrites that you are! You turn the key of the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces. For you do not go in yourselves, nor yet allow those who try to go in to do so. – Matthew 23:13 [↩]
- And the Word became Man, and dwelt among us. We saw his glory—the glory of the only Son sent from the Father, full of love and truth. – John 1:14 [↩]
- And no one puts new wine into old wine-skins; for, if you do, the new wine will burst the skins, and the wine itself will run out, and the skins be lost. 38 But new wine must be put into fresh skins they insisted on dumping it into the old casks of scripture. – Luke 5:37-39 [↩]
- The crowds that led the way, as well as those that followed behind, kept shouting: “God save the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! God save him from on high! – Matthew 21:9 [↩]
- Then some Pharisees and teachers of the law came to Jesus, and said: 2 “How is it that your disciples break the traditions of our ancestors? For they do not wash their hands when they eat food.” – Matthew 15:1-2 [↩]
- If anyone comes to me and does not hate their father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brothers, and sisters, yes and his very life, they can be no disciple of mine. – Luke 14:26 [↩]
- He that among you is without sin, let him cast the first stone at her. – John 8:4-9 [↩]
- Come, you who are blessed by my Father, enter upon possession of the kingdom prepared for you ever since the beginning of the world. – Matthew 25:34 [↩]
- Nor will people say ‘Look, here it is!’ or ‘There it is!’ for the kingdom of God is within you! – Luke 17:21 [↩]
- Now is my kingdom, not from hence. – John 18:36 [↩]
The state of Christian sermons (be they Evangelical sermons or Progressive Christian sermons) has remained pretty constant for centuries now. What state is this? Well, in the words of singer and songwriter Joe Jones (circa 1960):
You talk too much, you worry me to death,
You talk too much, you even worry my pet,
You just talk, talk too much.
You talk about people that you don’t know,
You talk about people wherever you go,
You just talk, talk too much.
It is not so much that long-winded sermons cause us to worry (or nod off in the pews). Or that Christianity’s preachers talk too much about people they don’t know, even though they often do, even progressive clergy (who can forget Rev. Michael Pfleger’s comments about Hillary Clinton).
The problem is that excess sermonizing steals the revelation from us. Revelations born from the lips of preachers are will-o’-the-wisps that flicker in our minds briefly but rarely are internalized. For revelations to be transformative we must come to them on our own. That is why Socrates taught with questions, and Jesus taught with parables.
Questions and parables do not steal the “aha” experience from us. They encourage it. Now is the time for Progressive Christian ministers to begin rethinking their approaches to the Sunday sermon–those wordy monologues which all too often are but platforms to show off our erudition. The progressive pulpit should not be confused with the university lectern. Parishioners are not college students.
Let us dial back on the scholarship, the analysis, and the scripture, and increase the storytelling, the laughter, and the wonder. Let us be the river guide who lets the fishers make their own catch.
Gain fresh insight into the Lord’s Prayer. Read our free online book The Lord’s Prayer for Daily Life. The prayer’s hidden teachings will enrich and inspire you. Click the following link to begin reading the Living Hour book now: The Lord’s Prayer.
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.
Two days after this there was a wedding at Cana in Galilee, and Jesus’ mother was there. 2 Jesus himself, too, with his disciples, was invited to the wedding. 3 And, when the wine ran short, his mother said to him: “They have no wine left.” 4 “What do you want with me?” answered Jesus. “My time has not come yet.” 5 His mother said to the servants: “Do whatever he tells you.”
6 There were standing there six stone water-jars, in accordance with the Jewish rule of ‘purification,’ each holding twenty or thirty gallons. 7 Jesus said to the servants: “Fill the water-jars with water;” 8 And, when they had filled them to the brim, he added: “Now take some out, and carry it to the master of the feast.” The servants did so.
9 And, when the master of the feast had tasted the water which had now become wine, not knowing where it had come from—although the servants who had taken out the water knew—10 He called the bridegroom and said to him: “Everyone puts good wine on the table first, and inferior wine afterwards, when his guests have drunk freely; but you have kept back the good wine till now!”
11 This, the first sign of his mission, Jesus gave at Cana in Galilee, and by it revealed his glory; and his disciples believed in him. 12 After this, Jesus went down to Capernaum with his mother, his brothers, and his disciples; but they stayed there only a few days. 13 Then, as the Jewish Passover was near, Jesus went up to Jerusalem.
14 In the temple courts he found people who were selling bullocks, sheep, and pigeons, and the money-changers at their counters. 15 So he made a whip of cords, and drove them all out of the temple, and the sheep and bullocks as well; he scattered the money of the money-changers, and overturned their tables, 16 And said to the pigeon-dealers: “Take these things away. Do not turn my Father’s house into a market-house.”
17 His disciples remembered that scripture said: ‘The zeal of thy house hath consumed me.’ 18 Upon this the Jews asked Jesus: “What sign are you going to show us, since you act in this way?” 19 “Destroy this temple,” was his answer, “and I will raise it in three days.”
20 “This temple,” replied the Jews, “has been forty-six years in building, and are you going to ‘raise it in three days’?” 21 But Jesus was speaking of his body as a temple. 22 Afterwards, when he had risen from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this; and they believed the passage of scripture, and the words which Jesus had spoken.
23 While Jesus was in Jerusalem, during the Passover festival, many came to trust in him, when they saw the signs of his mission that he was giving. 24 But Jesus did not trust himself to them, since he could read every heart, 25 And because he did not need that others should tell him what people were; for he could of himself read what was in them.
To read the next chapter of the Book of John, please go to The Gospel of John – 3.
This Online New Testament Gospel of John 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.
Challenge your perceptions on the Gospel of Christ, Jesus’s parables, and the Kingdom of God by purchasing The Lord’s Prayer book today. Produced by LivingHour.org, a Thailand-based small press dedicated to publishing unique Learning Easy Thai Language Books, as well as works on progressive spirituality.
“In truth I tell you, whoever does not go into the sheepfold through the door, but climbs up at some other place, that person is a thief and a robber; 2 But the person who goes in through the door is shepherd to the sheep. 3 For him the watchman opens the door; and the sheep listen to his voice; and he calls his own sheep by name, and leads them out. 4 When he has brought them all out, he walks in front of them, and his sheep follow him, because they know his voice. 5 They will not follow a stranger, but will run away from him; because they do not know a stranger’s voice.”
6 This was the parable that Jesus told them, but they did not understand of what he was speaking. 7 So he continued: “In truth I tell you, I am the door for the sheep. 8 All who came before me were thieves and robbers; but the sheep did not listen to them. 9 I am the door; you who go in through me will be safe, and you will go in and out and find pasture. 10 The thief comes only to steal, to kill, and to destroy; I have come that they may have life, and may have it more abundantly.”
11 “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for his sheep. 12 The hired man who is not a shepherd, and who does not own the sheep, when he sees a wolf coming, leaves them and runs away; then the wolf seizes them, and scatters the flock. 3 He does this because he is only a hired man and does not care about the sheep. 14 I am the good shepherd; and I know my sheep, and my sheep know me; 15 Just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep.”
16 “I have other sheep besides, which do not belong to this fold; I must lead them also, and they will listen to my voice; and they shall become one flock under one shepherd.’ 17 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. This is the command which I received from my Father.”
19 In consequence of these words a difference of opinion again arose among the Jews. 20 Many of them said: “He is possessed by a demon and is mad; why do you listen to him?” 21 Others said: “This is not the teaching of one who is possessed by a demon. Can a demon give sight to the blind?”
22 Soon after this the festival of the dedication was held at Jerusalem. 23 It was winter; and Jesus was walking in the temple courts, in the Colonnade of Solomon, 24 When the Jews gathered round him, and said: “How long are you going to keep us in suspense? If you are the Christ, tell us so frankly.”
25 “I have told you so,” replied Jesus, “and you do not believe me. The work that I am doing in my Father’s name bears testimony to me. 26 But you do not believe me, because you are not of my flock. 27 My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me; 28 And I give them eternal life, and they shall not be lost; nor shall anyone snatch them out of my hands. 29 What my Father has entrusted to me is more than all else; and no one can snatch anything out of the Father’s hands. 30 The Father and I are one.”
31 The Jews again brought stones to throw at him; 32 And seeing this, Jesus said: “I have done before your eyes many good actions, inspired by the Father; for which of them would you stone me?” 33 “It is not for any good action that we would stone you,” answered the Jews, “but for blasphemy; and because you, who are only a man, make yourself out to be God.”
34 “Are there not,” replied Jesus, “these words in your law: ‘I said “Ye are gods”‘? 35 If those to whom God’s word were addressed were said to be ‘gods’—and scripture cannot be set aside—36 Do you say of one whom the Father has consecrated and sent as his messenger to the world: ‘You are blaspheming,’ because I said ‘I am the Son of God’?”
37 “If I am not doing the work that my Father is doing, do not believe me; 38 If I am doing it, even though you do not believe me, believe what that work shows; so that you may understand, and understand more and more clearly, that the Father is in union with me, and I with the Father.” 39 Upon this the Jews again sought to arrest him; but he escaped their hands.”
40 Then Jesus again crossed the Jordan to the place where John used to baptize at first, and stayed there some time, during which many people came to see him. 41 “John gave no sign of his mission,” they said; “but everything that he said about this man was true.” 42 And many learned to believe in Jesus there.
To read the next chapter of the Book of John, please go to The Gospel of John – 11.
After that, Pilate had Jesus scourged. 2 The soldiers made a crown with some thorns, and put it on his head, and threw a purple robe round him. 3 They kept coming up to him and saying: “Long live the King of the Jews!” and they gave him blow after blow with their hands.
4 Pilate again came outside, and said to the people: “Look! I am bringing him out to you, so that you may know that I find nothing with which he can be charged.” 5 Then Jesus came outside, wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe; and Pilate said to them: “Here is the man!”
6 When the chief priests and the officers saw him, they shouted: “Crucify him! Crucify him!” “Take him yourselves and crucify him,” said Pilate. “For my part, I find nothing with which he can be charged.”
7 “But we,” replied the Jews, “have a law under which he deserves death, for making himself out to be the Son of God.” 8 When Pilate heard what they said, he became still more alarmed; 9 And, going into the government house again, he said to Jesus: “Where do you come from?”
10 But Jesus made no reply. So Pilate said to him: “Do you refuse to speak to me? Do not you know that I have the power to release you, and the power to crucify you?” 11 “You would have no power over me at all,” answered Jesus, “if it had not been given you from above; and, therefore, the man who betrayed me to you is guilty of the greater sin.” 12 This made Pilate anxious to release him; but the Jews shouted: “If you release that man, you are no friend of Caesar! Anyone who makes himself out to be a king is setting himself against the Emperor!”
13 On hearing what they said, Pilate brought Jesus out, and took his seat upon the bench at a place called ‘The Stone Pavement’—in Hebrew ‘Gabbatha.’14 It was the Passover preparation day, and about noon. Then he said to the Jews: “Here is your King!” 15 At that the people shouted: “Kill him! Kill him! Crucify him!”
“What! Shall I crucify your king?” exclaimed Pilate. “We have no king but Caesar,” replied the chief priests; 16 Whereupon Pilate gave Jesus up to them to be crucified. So they took Jesus; 17 And he went out, carrying his cross himself to the place named for a skull, or, in Hebrew, Golgotha.
18 There they crucified him, and two others with him—one on each side, and Jesus between them. 19 Pilate also had these words written, and put up over the cross: ‘JESUS OF NAZARETH, THE KING OF THE JEWS.’ 20 These words were read by many of the Jews, because the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city; and they were written in Hebrew, Latin, and Greek. 21 The Jewish chief priests said to Pilate: “Do not write ‘The King of the Jews’, but write what the man said, ‘I am the King of the Jews.’” 22 But Pilate answered: “What I have written, I have written.”
23 When the soldiers had crucified Jesus, they took his clothes and divided them into four shares—a share for each soldier—and they took the coat also. The coat had no seam, being woven in one piece from top to bottom. 24 So they said to one another: “Do not let us tear it, but let us cast lots for it, to see who shall have it.” This was in fulfillment of the words of scripture: ‘They shared my clothes among them, and over my clothing they cast lots.’ That was what the soldiers did.
25 Meanwhile near the cross of Jesus were standing his mother and his mother’s sister, as well as Mary the wife of Clopas and Mary Magdalene. 26 When Jesus saw his mother, and the disciple whom he loved, standing near, he said to his mother: “There is your son.” 27 Then he said to that disciple: “There is your mother.” And from that very hour the disciple took her to live in his house.
28 Afterwards, knowing that everything was now finished, Jesus said, in fulfillment of the words of scripture: “I am thirsty.” 29 There was a bowl standing there full of common wine; so they put a sponge soaked in the wine on the end of a hyssop-stalk, and held it up to his mouth. 30 When Jesus had received the wine, he exclaimed: “All is finished!” Then, bowing his head, he gave up the ghost.
31 It was the preparation day, and so, to prevent the bodies from remaining on the crosses during the Sabbath (for that Sabbath was a great day), the Jews asked Pilate to have the legs broken and the bodies removed. 32 Accordingly the soldiers came and broke the legs of the first man, and then those of the other who had been crucified with Jesus; 33 But, on coming to him, when they saw that he was already dead, they did not break his legs. 34 One of the soldiers, however, pierced his side with a spear, and blood and water immediately flowed from it.
35 This is the statement of one who actually saw it—and his statement may be relied upon, and he knows that he is speaking the truth—and it is given in order that you also may be convinced. 36 For all this took place in fulfillment of the words of scripture: ‘Not one of its bones shall be broken.’ 37 And there is another passage which says: ‘They will look upon him whom they pierced.’
38 After this, Joseph of Arimathaea, a disciple of Jesus—but a secret one, owing to his fear of the Jews—begged Pilate’s permission to remove the body of Jesus. Pilate gave him leave; so Joseph went and removed the body. 39 Nicodemus, too—the man who had formerly visited Jesus by night—came with a roll of myrrh and aloes, weighing nearly a hundred pounds.
40 They took the body of Jesus, and wound it in linen with the spices, according to the Jewish mode of burial. 41 At the place where Jesus had been crucified there was a garden, and in the garden a newly-made tomb in which no one had ever been laid. 42 And so, because of its being the preparation day, and as the tomb was close at hand, they laid Jesus there.
To read the next chapter in the Book of John, please go to The Gospel of John – 20.
Excerpted from the book The Living Hour: The Lord’s Prayer for Daily Life (with New Testament Gospels). A faith book especially suited for workshops, Bible Study Groups, Unitarian Christians, and all who seek a richer life.