Our Father in Heaven
September 29, 2019 Pastor: John Medendorp Series: Lord, Teach Us To Pray: A Series on the Lord's Prayer (Ordinary Time / Fall 2019)
The Lord's Prayer begins by calling God "our Father in heaven". Most Christians today are accustomed to referring to God in this manner. However, at the time when Jesus taught his disciples this prayer, this would have been unusual, even upsetting, for two reasons:
- In the Jewish tradition, God was rarely referred to as Father. Rather, it was the followers of the Greek/Roman gods who routinely referred to Zeus (the king of the gods) as Father.
- More ominously, referring to God as Father would have had connotations of the Roman law of paterfamilias--the ugly idea that the head of a household had absolute, dictatorial authority over the other members of that household. The emperors of Rome took this one step further; they called themselves pater patria (father of the nation), and thereby claimed the same tyrannical power for themselves over all the people in the Roman Empire.
But Jesus had good reason to teach his disciples to refer to God as Father. He was inviting them, and us, into relationship with God, the same relationship that he as God the Son is in with God the Father. God adopts us as his children, heirs to his kingdom. Jesus was also challenging the concept of paterfamilias, and other sinful and abusive notions of fatherhood. Only the true God--not false gods like Zeus, and not any human, not even Caesar--is worthy of being called Father.
To see this sermon in the context of the larger entire worship service, please open this bulletin.