By the standards of this world, this blog has a pretty meager following. On any given day, not counting those who read posts in their email box or through an RSS feed, only about 80 or 90 sets of eyes lay upon my words. As I’ve said, however, this blog is such a part of my own spiritual practice that I would write it even if nobody read it. Still, it is nice to receive feedback from time to time. Overnight, one of my parishioners read my blog and offered some thoughts on the opening line of the Lord’s Prayer from her reading of CS Lewis.
“Its very first words are Our Father. Do you now see what those words mean? They mean quite frankly, that you are putting yourself in the place of a son of God. To put it bluntly, you are dressing up as Christ. If you like, you are pretending. Because, of course, the moment you realise what the words mean, you realise that you are not a son of God. You are not being like The Son of God, whose will and interests are at one with those of the Father: you are a bundle of self-centred fears, hopes, greeds, jealousies, and self-conceit, all doomed to death. So that, in a way, this dressing up as Christ is a piece of outrageous cheek. But the odd thing is that He has ordered us to do it.” (From Mere Christianity Compiled in Words to Live By)
I find these words from Lewis to be quite interesting in light of the Apostle Paul who, in his letter to the Romans, suggests an alternative way of looking at our calling God “Father.” In a lesson that will be very familiar to Episcopalians who attend funerals, Paul suggests that we do not approach God as “Father” or “Abba” of our own volition, but through the power of the Spirit.
“For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God. For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received a spirit of adoption. When we cry, “Abba! Father!” it is that very Spirit bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ—if, in fact, we suffer with him so that we may also be glorified with him.”
When Jesus suggests to his disciples that they begin their prayers by addressing God in the same manner he does, it isn’t, I don’t think, about taking on the veil of Christ and thereby being convicted of our own inadequacies. Rather, to approach God as Father is to come before him with the boldness of faith in the power of the Spirit. It is to stake our claim as adopted children and co-heirs with Christ. To begin the prayer of the kingdom by simply calling God “Father” is to embrace our position in the kingdom which should convict us not of our own sinfulness but of our high calling as brother and sister disciples of Jesus and sons and daughters, first-order heirs of God, who are committed to the spread of the kingdom of God throughout the world.