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Rattling Heaven's Doors: Six Service Plans Based on the Lord's Prayer, page 1 of 2

The Lord’s Prayer bristles with a hopeful, contrary agitation. A finely embroidered version of it may hang in the family kitchen under a picture of the praying hands, exuding an air of simple piety, but this prayer is hardly an invitation to tranquillity. On the contrary, the Lord’s Prayer urges us to examine our loves and loyalties and engages us in personal and social transformation. Who will you serve? Who will you trust? What do you hope for? What loyalties set your agenda? The Lord’s Prayer invites followers of Jesus to struggle with these existential questions. Time and again it summons the church to pray for the radical renewal of all things, disturbing the status quo and provoking a hopeful, contrary agitation—a longing for the coming of shalom.

The liturgies in this series grew out of our desire to plumb each petition within the Lord’s Prayer—to rattle heaven’s doors using Christ’s own words—in search of justice that neither starts nor stops far from home. Each week one petition is added. To invite concentrated contemplation, we coupled Taizé and similar music with poetic imagery and periods of silence.

Many of the prayers were inspired by or adapted from Gifts of Many Cultures (Cleveland: United Church Press, 1995), which includes several prayers expanding the Lord’s Prayer. Those uses are indicated with the abbreviation GMC and the
page number.

Although Fellowship originally developed the series for Lent, it can be used at any time you wish to focus on justice issues. As originally used, the series contemplated “for yours is the kingdom” on Palm Sunday and celebrated the “Amen” on Easter Sunday, for only in the power of Jesus raised from the dead can we pray and live the Lord’s Prayer.

—Roy Berkenbosch and Cheryl Mahaffy


Note: Each service includes an opening litany, prayer of confession, Scripture text and sermon notes, and “We Go Forth” litany. The general service outline is included in the sidebar on page 14; a complete service outline is given for week 2.





Week One: The first petition

Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name.



Opening Litany
On this day, we step boldly, humbly into the presence of our God, praying with our suffering Savior as he taught us to pray:

Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name.

With voices around the world, we call:

Creator God of many names, the beginning and the end of all there is, who created sacred ground out of chaos and birthed the earth: blessed be your name.

Great Spirit whose home is anywhere and everywhere, beyond stars and moon, who lives in Afghanistan, Cuba, and Eritrea, with the hungry and dying children in Somalia, Bosnia, and Iraq: hallowed be your name.

—GMC, p. 48ff.



Our Parent God in heaven, who works in schools, farms, and faraway places, who doctors the sick and ministers to the poor and unwanted: holy is your name.

Our God in heaven, holy is your name.



Silence: A time of reflection



Song: “The Lord’s Prayer” (st. 1) (West Indian setting in five stanzas found in Worshiping Ecumenically [Geneva: WCC Publications, 1995], p. 101; an eight-stanza setting is also found in PsH 562)



Passing of God’s peace



Prayer of Confession
We confess that we are a brokenhearted people, unable to change.

We do not hallow your name in your children, made in your image, who go to school hungry or not at all, in the emotionally and mentally fragile who walk the streets alone.

We confess that we are a brokenhearted people.

We do not hallow your name in children sent to war, in the elderly left homeless, in our inability to forgive.

We do not hallow your name or each other—the ones who sit or walk beside us without hope.

We are a broken people.



Song: “How I Have Longed” (Songlines [New York: The Cross Road Publishing Co., 1996], p. 43)



We bring our broken lives to you, the One who hallows life. Encircle us with your healing, won through sacrifice, with your many-colored cord of grace.

Extend to us this cord of life, assure us of your forgiveness, and give us the courage to honor the holiness of your hallowed name.

Holy is your Name!

We are threads bound together in that name: friends, brothers, sisters of Christ. A hundred hands, held together and washed by the blood of the lamb.



Silence



Assurance of Pardon: Psalm 103:13-14, 17-18



Song: “Nothing Can Trouble” (Taizé; available from GIA Publications)



Proclamation of the Word
Scripture: Matthew 9:1; Ezekiel 36:22-28; John 12:23ff.



Sermon Notes: “Hallowed Be Your Name”

Addressing God as our Father reminds us that God clings to us with parental determination and love, particularly when we remember that the idea of God as Father stems from Israel’s experience of

liberation: “out of Egypt I have called my son.” By addressing our prayers to God in heaven, we are reminded that our help lies not in the transitory and arbitrary, but in the steadfastness of heaven.

This first petition, make your name holy, is really asking God to live up to God’s own reputation among the nations. As we see in Ezekiel, the

holiness of God’s name is completely wrapped up in God’s actions of justice, mercy and salvation. The way God’s name is made holy is by restoring what has been ruined—renovating the run-down, resettling the refugees, embracing the exile.

A second window of insight comes from John 12:23ff. Jesus announces that by his suffering and death he will glorify the Father’s name. From this we learn that the holiness of God is a cross, a crown of thorns, a wounded man. Jesus’ death is a consequence of his radical obedience to the demands of love and justice, his commitment to renewal. In the words of Martin Luther, we need to see God’s

holiness in the crucified son of man.

So the summons to “be holy as God is holy” is not an invitation out of the world but into the world in a life of service and self-denial. In a word, holiness looks for justice.



We Go Forth
Most High in heaven, hallowed be your name.


Song: “Sing a Song of Jubilation” (Songlines, p. 65)





Week Two: The second petition

Your kingdom come, your will be done
on earth as it is in heaven.



Opening Litany
On this day, we step boldly, humbly into the presence of our God, praying with our suffering Savior the prayer he taught us to pray:

Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.

With voices around the world we call:

May your kingdom come!

Voices: to those who are hungry,

those who are weeping,

those who are despairing,

those who suffer from wars,

those who have waited centuries for a truly human life.

Grant us hope that will strengthen our resolve to work for this world, despite so many conflicts, threats, and shortcomings.

We acknowledge that much is broken, and yet we believe in working for renewal, for justice and peace.



Voices: May the earth shine in its beauty, in its ability to heal.

May we see possibilities before us.

Grant us vision . . .

that we may boldly add our voices to a story unfolding through history: the coming of God’s kingdom.

Grant us courage to do your will—at all times, in all places, for all people.

May your kingdom come like a spring rain, like streams running to rivers.



Silence: A time of reflection



Song: “The Lord’s Prayer” (st. 1-2)
Passing of God’s peace



Song: “Isaiah the Prophet” PsH 616, PH 337





Prayer of Confession

We confess, God of heaven and earth, that our fears and our insecurities, our pride and our stubbornness lead us away from your kingdom.

We fail to see the beauty and the complexity of your world . . . the people, cultures, languages, geographies that you have woven together.

Give us open eyes to see the world as it is and to see ourselves as we are.

Give us hope to continue believing in what you intend us all to be.

We come to you, bowed by the evidence of earth torn and heaven scorned. Yet you will make both new. Encircle us and our world with your healing won through sacrifice.

Extend to us your cord of life, assure us of your forgiveness, and give us the courage to call your kingdom near.

On earth as it is in heaven!

We are your family, your image on earth, friends, brothers, sisters of Christ. One world community with Christ as our center.



Song: “Seek Ye First” PsH 209, PH 333, RL 263, SFL 155, TWC 447 (st. 1-2)



Prayer: People are invited to pray their petitions in silence



Song: “Nothing Can Trouble”



Proclamation of the Word



Scripture: Matthew 20:20-28



Sermon Notes: “The Kingdom for Which We Pray”

The petition “your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven” is a profound prayer with implications in many directions. It asks for God to exercise God’s rule and authority in every part of the creation. That implies a rejection of other rules and authorities that are out of sync with the reign of God.

Who is king in our lives? Unless God is King, kingship brings no blessing but rather steals blessing from the very people it was meant to serve. Power and wealth, might and militia, apart from the staying, guiding hand of godly wisdom, turns to bitter ideology and wasted lives.

The gospel points us to Jesus as the true King. He redefines kingship. And his kingdom reverses the usual way of doing things.



Response to the Word



Song: “God Is Alive” (st. 1-4)



Offering



Song: “You, God, Are My Firmament” (st. 1) (Songlines, p. 87)



Prayer: People are invited to offer prayers of praise in silence



Song: “You, God, Are My Firmament” (st. 2-3)



Service of Communion



We Go Forth

Go into the world with faith, hope, and love, knowing that God hears our petitions.

Let us recommit ourselves to working diligently for God’s creation, for the people living next to us, for those who are suffering in this world.

Let us never tire of working and praying for God’s kingdom to unfold in all its glory.

Your will be done!



Song: “Sent by the Lord Am I” (see p. 33)





Week Three: The third petition

Give us today our daily bread.



Opening Litany

Leader: On this day, we step boldly, humbly into the presence of our God, praying with our suffering Savior the prayer he taught us to pray:

People: Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread.

Leader: With voices around the world, we call:

People: Give bread!

Leader: Give us today our daily bread:

Reader 1: This day, God, people are hungry—

Reader 2: Children lie down at night with empty stomachs.

Reader 1: People everywhere search with broken hearts.

People: We are hungry for justice and mercy, for peace and compassion.

Leader: We call out for daily bread, for daily needs:

Reader 1: for water that flows pure from a mountain,

Reader 2: for air that blows clean across the prairies,

Reader 1: for foods planted, tended, harvested, and shared,

Reader 2: for land and sky filled with life and renewal,

Reader 1: for governments that are just,

Reader 2: for homes that are places of rest and play,

Reader 1: for families, friends, partners, neighbors who walk with us, comfort us, love us . . .

People: Give people everywhere their living Bread.



Silence: A time of reflection



Song: “The Lord’s Prayer” (st. 1-3)



Passing of God’s Peace



Prayer of Confession
Leader: We confess, God, that we have hoarded and misused the bread you so generously send.

Reader 1: We have carelessly paved over places that are better suited for growing food and sustaining life;

Reader 2: we have poisoned waters better used for drinking;

Reader 1: we have polluted the air your creation breathes every day.

People: Forgive us, nurturing God.

Reader 2: Give us open eyes to see the way of renewal.

Reader 1: Give us open hands to share abundantly.



People: Give us faith to know that you hold every day in your hands.



Song: “I Am the Bread of Life” SNC 152 (st. 1-2, 4)

Surely, God is the eternal giver of bread, the One Source of everlasting life. Come, feast freely in that grace.



Men: Today we open ourselves to the power of bread freely given in our lives and our world.



Women: Today we extend our hands in caring toward humanity.



Silence



Song: “God Bless to Us Our Bread” (Love and Anger, from the Iona Community [Chicago: GIA Publications, 1997], 58)



Prayer: People are invited to pray in silence



Song: “Nothing Can Trouble”



The Word Proclaimed



Scripture: Matthew 6:11; Exodus 16; John 6



Sermon Notes: “Give Us Today Our Daily Bread”

This prayer has obvious and immediate application to the problems of hunger, poverty, and injustice around the world. What is sobering about this

petition is the awareness that hundreds of millions of people on our planet do not have their daily bread. Upwards of 25,000 children die of hunger-related causes each day.

In Exodus 16, God shows Israel that they have truly been delivered from Egypt’s economy of scarcity and are now free to live in the assurance of God’s daily provision. Hence the prohibition against hoarding manna and the warning that what is hoarded will rot. Between the storehouses of Egypt (symbol of the economy of death) and the tent of meeting, God graciously gives Israel an experience of daily provision in the wilderness.

In John 6, Jesus announces that he is the bread of life. Our prayer for daily bread thus becomes a prayer for fellowship with him. Life with Jesus is life in the kingdom, and that implies justice for all, including daily bread. Note that this petition asks for our daily bread. And it opens out to expressions of gratitude for bread received, and for careful living so that all may eat.



We Go Forth

Go into the world with faith, hope and love, knowing that God hears our petitions.

Let us recommit ourselves daily: hallowing God’s name, doing God’s will, bringing God’s kingdom to earth.

Seek bread for the people living next to us, for those who are suffering, for those who are hungry.

Let us never tire of working and praying for the daily bread that all of humanity and all of creation need.



Song: “Taste and See” (Psalm 34) SNC 255





Week Four: The Fourth petition

Forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.



Opening Litany

On this day, we step boldly, humbly into the presence of our God, praying with our suffering Savior the prayer he taught us to pray:

Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.

With voices around the world, we call:

Forgive!

Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.

Put aside from us our wicked ways, as we put aside the deeds of all who do us wrong.

—GMC, p. 48



Silence: A time of reflection



Song: “The Lord’s Prayer” (st. 1-4)



Passing of God’s Peace



Prayer of Confession

Leader: Our God and Lord, we confess our trespasses with shame:

Reader 1: We have remained deaf to the cries of those who hurt. We have remained dumb in the face of evil. We have allowed the shadow of death to hover over the innocently condemned. We have failed to proclaim with conviction your liberation for the oppressed.

People: We repent.

Men: Forgive our selfishness and greed, our unfaithfulness and pride, and give us the grace to forgive.

Women: Help us, through forgiving others, to

experience your forgiveness.

People: For you will treat us as we treat others, and help us to fulfill our debts.

—GMC, p. 51



Leader: You change our lives, Lord, and shatter our complacency.

Reader 2: You take away the quietness of a clear conscience and guide us to forgiveness. You forgive every debt, every trespass and crossed boundary. Only then is that other peace made: Your peace.

—inspired by a prayer from Dom Helder Camara in



Bread of Tomorrow: Prayers for the Church Year



Leader: Give us the insight to know which boundaries to respect, and which to overcome.



People: Give us the strength to take down the barbs that keep us from each other, and from You.



Leader: Give us the understanding to know that we have all trespassed, that we have all been forgiven.



People: We cross the boundary into forgiveness! All thanks to Christ, who died for us—for each one of us.



Silence



Song: “Forgive Our Sins as We Forgive” PsH 266, PH 347, TH 494 (st. 1-4)



Prayer: People are invited to pray their petitions in silence



Song: “Nothing Can Trouble”



The Word Proclaimed



Scripture: Matthew 6:9-15; 18:21-35



Sermon Notes: “Forgive Us Our Trespasses”

The marvelous parable that Jesus tells in Matthew 18 is at once a story of abundant grace and profound warning, for the merciful master becomes, at the refusal of passed on forgiveness, the stern judge.

This petition is really a prayer for release from whatever prevents us from moving into the hopeful future made possible by Jesus Christ. Forgiveness among humans is not in the order of absolution, but freedom from the past. When we do not forgive others their debt to us, we are in fact not free

ourselves, for we remain attached to them. And as we hold them bound, so we remain bound. The good news is that the forgiveness we extend to others does not well up from our own strength, but comes from our own experience of having been forgiven in the first place by God.

Forgiveness is God’s answer to the banal cycles of hostility, violence, and revenge. This petition thus becomes a prayer for an end to wars, feuds, and grudges. It calls for restorative justice and mediation as ways of resolving conflict and dispute in peaceable ways that promote renewal and restoration of persons to their communities.



We Go Forth



We thank you, gracious God, for forgiving our trespasses against you and against each other; for restoring the boundaries we trample, heedless of respect, care, or consideration; for paying our debt.

We thank you for giving us the way to try again, the means to extend our hands and cross the boundaries to one another—and to you.

We are indebted to you, O God, for each gift in our lives.

Help us to forgive debts and mend what is

broken; give us all new hearts. Amen.