“Our Father who art in heaven….”. For Christians, these opening words of the Lord’s Prayer are so familiar that we don’t often give them much thought. But have you ever considered what an astonishing thing it is that we—insignificant, fleeting creatures that we are—would presume to call upon the Creator of the cosmos with the expectation of being heard at all, let alone that we should, as Martin Luther put it, “ask Him confidently with all assurance, as dear children ask their dear Father”?
The notion of God as Father is certainly present in the Hebrew Scriptures, but it remains a relatively minor theme. In the Gospels, Jesus of Nazareth takes this minor theme and moves it to the center of his teaching. In the Sermon on the Mount alone (Matthew 5-7), Jesus refers to God as “Father” seventeen times. And when he teaches his disciples to pray, he says, “Pray then like this: Our Father in heaven…” (Matthew 6:9). This new emphasis is an expression of Christianity’s audacious central claim: that Jesus is not merely another human teacher, but is in fact the eternal Son of God.
So I would argue that when Christians address God as Father, we’re not simply saying, “Creator,” with a familial or patriarchal accent. Rather, we call upon God as Father because Jesus has invited us, as his disciples, to share in his relationship to his Father. We can confidently pray, “Our Father who art in heaven,” trusting that we will be heard, because the Son of God came down from heaven to be our brother so that the God of heaven might be our Father.
Zion Lutheran Church invites you to join us as we reflect on the Lord’s Prayer during our mid-week services every Wednesday in Lent (through March 21) at 7:30pm, or to join us for our regular Sunday service at 10:30am. Children’s Sunday school and adult bible study are at 9:30am. Services will be held Thursday, Friday, and Saturday of Holy Week (March 29-31) at 7:30pm, culminating with our Easter Sunday festival worship on April 1 at 10:30am.