Friday, January 23, 2009

The Living Way...

The reciting of the Lord's Prayer by Pastor Warren at the inauguration caused a slight controversy among Unitarians who felt it was an exclusivist moment. Whether or not this is true, the prayer itself, taught by Jesus, is a powerful one. In a series of Sermons given at King's Chapel and published after his death, Henry Wilder Foote (1838-1889) spoke of the depths of the Lords Prayer. "Preached after a time of deep experience in his own life, they spoke to those who heard them of the spiritual realities in which he himself had been living; and it is hoped that any who, in quietness, seek to enter into near companionship with this little book, will find in it a like help and blessing."(from the Preface)

From Sermon 1 "Lord Teach Us To Pray"

"What else, indeed, is the life of Jesus Christ, if it be not, supremely, the visible expression of the duty which calls us to prayer, the renewal which is in prayer, the answer which is bestowed upon prayer ? Whether it be in the consecration of the deep moments in his ministry when, at each point of crisis, he withdrew into the mountain alone and passed the night alone in prayer to his Father, or when he girded his spirit anew for great works of healing or mercy by lifting it from the heaven in which it always was to the heaven above it, or when he met the supreme hour in his life-work by bending in Gethsemane to take the cup whose bitter portion his Father gave him to drink of, — in all, his divinest moments manifest themselves to us through this act of prayer, as it were a window. The moments when he seems to come closest to us, yet seems most above us, are those when his soul blends in light and love with his Father's spirit, and we say, " Behold ! he prayeth !"
So, then, that question asked by the disciples as by children coming to a wiser friend and helper, "Lord, teach us to pray," is brought home to us in the most affecting way by the persuasion of our Lord's example upon our loving obedience, and in the most convincing way by the clear shining in him of the truth of that spiritual law which lies at the heart of his religion, — that prayer is the living way open between our human spirits and the Divine Spirit."

More in the next few days from this series. Blessings


Transient and Permanent said...

It didn't occur to me that UUs might react that way, since I grew up saying the Lord's Prayer in my UU church. I actually felt included by it (something I don't often feel when evangelicals are speaking). But now that I've had my attention drawn to it, I can see why some other UUs might object to it in the inaugural prayer.

slt said...

I had much the same reaction and hope that Rev. Foote may foster some increased UU identity with the prayer. Thank you for writing. Blessings BU

David G. Markham said...

Hi Bu:

Great post from Rev. Foote:

Having been raised a Roman Catholic and an altar boy I learned many of the prayers in Latin. The Our Father was the Pater Noster.

Foote makes an excellent point about the place of prayer in our life.

Do UUs pray? What is the UU theology of prayer currently?

I love your posts reflecting on the contributions of the previous generations.

All the best,

David Markham