The Disciple's PrayerCopyright © 2008, Charles Johnsen 6:9-13, Luke 11:2-4, Matthew 6:10cWhere is Earth

Our Lord bracketed the first three petitions of His Prayer with the word heaven. The rest of the Prayer will focus on our personal relationships with each other. But first, as He does in the Ten Commands, He focuses us on our relationship with our Abba and our covenant responsibilities to Him, personally.

The first act of creation was the separation of heaven and earth. In the ancient language of the creation poem, heaven is sky and earth is dirt and water. For our Lord these places are moral locations, a separation between a world where He decides and a world where we decide.

As we pray these words and promise to make His Name holy, make His Kingdom come, and do His will, He tells us where we are to execute these covenant commands: On earth. He will take care of heaven, our job is here, on the dirt.

These two worlds can and sometimes do occupy the same physical space and time. And that, then, is our task and calling, to create heaven out of earth, to bring the world of our God and the world of our own lives into sync, into phase.

In electronics the words in phase mean that two or more alternating currents arrive and depart at exactly the same time, synchronized. In phase currents add their power together, out of phase currents subtract and cancel each other. We bring heaven and earth into phase with each other when we act as if we were in heaven, in the moral heaven of His Name made holy, His Kingdom arrived, His Will of moral behavior done.

We human beings have the ability to synchronize to each other in far more complex ways than electrons. From family to nation, from corporation to baseball team, our common gift is binding our behavior to each other. When dancing we keep in step and timing, when singing we stay in harmony. And that is what we promise to do, dance in step with our Lord, live with Him; sing the same song in the same key as our Lord.

His dance and His song is faithful love between God and individual people, you and I, and grateful love between each of us. His sort of love is more than our native ability to bond into a society. We are born into our family and nation. Most of our cooperation in business and society is driven by self interest and instinctive drives to succeed and be safe. But His loyal love is a choice we make compelled by gratitude–not instinct, not self interest, not force. In baptism He chooses us and then for the rest of our lives, every day, the choice is ours to live synchronized to Him or synchronized only to our own heart beat.

This love is no mere emotion, but the actions and responsibilities that make life better for our family, our neighbor, our society, and the whole world. Ethics, not feelings. The choreography is simple enough for a child and complex enough to challenge a wise elder. The melody is easy to learn, even while it provides opportunities for improvisation and descants.

People always love, but not always as He loves. Sometimes we march to a different drummer, we dance with ourselves, we sing off key. Instead of love for Him, we love movie stars or big houses. While He is feeding the hungry with both sorts of bread, we feed our hungers, hungers that never end no matter how much we eat. Instead of making His Name holy, we too often make it a laughing stock by our hypocrisy and lies. Instead of furthering His personal connections to all of us as individuals, we give too much of our loyalty to the kings and enthusiasms of this world. Instead of His Will, sometimes we decide for ourselves what is right and what is wrong, turning excuses into self-righteousness.

When we are out of phase with Him, His Name, His Kingdom, His Will, our power to do good is canceled. Please notice that some atheists and pagans follow His ethical way on this dirt. And also notice that some who recite the creeds in a loud voice are out of phase with His ways. This is a warning to us, that our faithfulness may start with doctrine but must finally result in action. Or it is dead. This phrase, …on earth as it is in heaven is a warning that what we believe must be synchronized with what we do. Too often we say the Prayer without doing the Prayer.

Sometimes we are still stuck in the What's in it for me? phase. What do I get when I pray the Lord's Prayer? Do we want to feel better, be comforted, do our ritual duty? Sure, but is that all? Dare we say that we have prayed this Prayer if all that means is words and thoughts, opinions and ideals?

The Lord's Prayer is far more than a request for bread and safety. The Lord's Prayer is an invitation to a covenant, it is the offering of a contract, to put us into sync and harmony with His Name, His Kingdom, and His Will. Pure grace, we do not deserve this offer and invitation. The words of the Prayer themselves provide the grace, make the offer, and give us the ability to make it so. …on earth as it is in heaven is both a command and a promise. It tells us where we are obligated by this covenant to act, but first the words bring to us the Gospel that He synchronizes our lives with His. For when we pray this very Prayer we speak His Word to ourselves, we voice His promise to enable us to honor His Name, build His Kingdom, and accomplish His will.

When we turned out unable to bring symmetry to our relationship, which is always, He took it upon Himself to bring us back into phase. He came down from heaven and was incarnate by the Holy Ghost of the Virgin Mary and was made man. Not only did God become a man, He took all of our nature on Himself unto death on the cross. Before we were out of sync. But now His heart beats in time with our heart and now, in phase together, He has made us power and light.

He wants to turn earth into heaven, beginning today with we who hear His Voice and come to sing in harmony with Him.

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