December 2, 2003

Wright’s Birthday

Category: Prayer :: Permalink

It’s a day late, but happy birthday, N. T. Wright!

I’ve been greatly enjoying Wright’s The New Testament and the People of God. I’m halfway through and finding it helpful and thought-provoking, even when I don’t agree with him. In connection with a series of sermons on the Lord’s Prayer, I’ve also started rereading Wright’s delightful The Lord and His Prayer, which I highly recommend.

In honour of Wright’s birthday, here are two quotations from the chapter on “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name.” Wright points out that calling God “our Father” has everything to do with the salvation of God’s people as well as with the vocation of God’s people. As God’s Son, Jesus had a particular vocation. And as the Father sent Him, He has sent us so that we share in His vocation. When we say, “Our Father,” we’re committing ourselves to that vocation:

When we call God “Father,” we are called to step out, as apprentice children, into a world of pain and darkness. We will find that darkness all around us; it will terrify us, precisely because it will remind us of the darkness inside our own selves. The temptation then is to switch off the news, to shut out the pain of the world, to create a painless world for ourselves. A good deal of our contemporary culture is designed to do exactly that. No wonder people find it hard to pray. But if, as the people of the living creator God, we respond to the call to be his sons and daughters; if we take the risk of calling him Father; then we are called to be the people through whom the pain of the world is held in the healing light of the love of God. And we then discover that we want to pray, and need to pray, this prayer. Father; Our Father; Our Father in heaven; Our Father in heaven, may your name be honoured. That is, may you be worshipped by your whole creation; may the whole cosmos resound with your praise; may the whole world be freed from injustice, disfigurement, sin, and death, and may your name be hallowed. And as we stand in the presence of the living God, with the darkness and pain of the world on our hearts, praying that he will fulfill his ancient promises, and implement the victory of Calvary and Easter for the whole cosmos — then we may discover that our own pain, our own darkness, is somehow being dealt with as well (pp. 21-22).


In John’s gospel, one of his [Jesus’] regular ways of talking about God was “the Father who sent me.” He wanted people to discover who the Father really was by seeing what he, Jesus, was doing. When we call God “Father,” we are making the same astonishing, crazy, utterly risky claim. The mission of the church is contained in that word; the failure of the church is highlighted by that word. But the failure, too, is taken care of in the prayer, and in the cross. Our task is to grow up into the Our Father, to dare to impersonate our older brother, seeking daily bread and daily forgiveness as we do so: to wear his clothes, to walk in his shoes, to feast at his table, to weep with him in the garden, to share his suffering, and to know his victory. As our Saviour Jesus Christ has commanded and taught us, by his life and death, even more than by his words, we are bold, very bold — even crazy, some might think — to say “Our Father” (pp. 22-23).

Posted by John Barach @ 4:31 pm | Discuss (0)

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