This Sunday we will continue my new series The Art of Non-Magical Prayer, which looks at the Prayer of Jesus, by considering the phrase, “Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” I am convinced that if we prayed that with any conviction at all every church in America would be packed on Sunday.
Surely it is God’s will that you gather with women and men of faith who want to change the world. Surely it is God’s will that you worship God with clean hands and a pure heart on Sunday. Surely it is God’s will that you and I create a sacred space, for at least one hour, in a world of chaos and evil.
I know that gathering regularly for worship isn’t in vogue these days, but I don’t think the world has ever needed our faithfulness more. I don’t think there has ever been a time when people needed to gather as a community more. Individual narcissism reigns, however, and infects Christianity with its toxicity, and we seem afraid to name it lest we offend people. What would happen in that case? They might not come to church as often? Oh, wait; that is what is happening now. Perhaps a little truth telling will help the church.
Maybe we need to be honest with people and tell them that, unless we figure out a way to build community and resist this radical individualism, we are going to destroy our world. Maybe the most important word in the Lord’s Prayer is the first one: “Our.” Not MY “Father” or “Parent” or “God” or “Creator.” We focus on the second word, but what about the first? We seem to act like it is MY when it actually is OUR.
We live as if we can do our own thing apart from a community of faith, even though Jesus seemed to be saying that prayer is a community enterprise/expression. I suggest that almost everything wrong in our world today is a choice of individualism over community.
Rev. Michael Piazza