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Author:Rev. Jeremy Segstro
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Congregation:Cloverdale Canadian Reformed Church
 Surrey, BC
 cloverdalecanrc.org
 
Title:We End Our Prayer With:
Text:LD 52 (View)
Occasion:Regular Sunday
Topic:Prayer
 
Added:2022-05-23
 

Order Of Worship (Liturgy)

Reading: 1 Chronicles 29: 1-13

Lesson: Lord’s Day 52 (Q/A 128-129)

 

WE END OUR PRAYER WITH:

  1. A Blessing

  2. A Beginning

 

  1. Psalm 115: 1, 5, 6

  2. Psalm 29: 1, 3

  3. Hymn 45: 1-3

  4. Hymn 2

  5. Psalm 52: 5, 6

  6. Hymn 63: 1, 8

 

Words to Listen For: manuscripts, thousand, creation, fire, anti-amen

 

Questions for Understanding:

  1. What’s unique about this part of the prayer?  Why is that still okay?

  2. Compare and contrast God blessing us with us blessing God.

  3. Define: kingdom, power, glory

  4. How do you define “amen?”  What does it mean? (two separate questions)

  5. How is “amen” a beginning?

* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. Jeremy Segstro, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.


Beloved congregation of Jesus Christ,

What do you think of endings?  The ending of a book, the ending of a show, the ending of a movie?  Are you excited to get there, barrelling down the road, wanting to reach the end?  Sprinting to see how it all turns out?

Maybe for you, the ending is the best part.  You turn that last page, you breathe a sigh of contentedness…it’s over now.  It’s done.  What a good book!

Or maybe you can’t wait that long.  There are some who eagerly flip right to the last page.  In a murder mystery for example…who is the guilty party?  I can’t wait to find out until the end…I want to know and then read the book knowing, and picking up on the subtle clues throughout!  Maybe this is you.

But then there are people who are the exact opposite.  They HATE endings.  I’ve even heard of someone who rips out the last page or the last chapter of the book so it doesn’t have to end.  In your mind, the characters continue on.  Living, loving, exploring.

Now, however you feel about endings…we have come to one of them this afternoon.  Or, perhaps more accurately, we have come to two of them.  The ending of the Lord’s Prayer is also the ending of the Heidelberg Catechism.  Lord’s Day 52.

And so, whether you enjoy endings or hate them, or anywhere in between, we are here nevertheless.  So this afternoon, let’s examine how we end our prayer.

WE END OUR PRAYER WITH: 

  1. A Blessing and, with

  2. A Beginning

 

We End our Prayer with a Blessing

Though we will not dwell too much on it, it’s worthwhile to point out that the Lord’s prayer, as we pray it, the Lord’s Prayer, as it exists here in our catechism, in our forms, in placards on our wall…this Lord’s Prayer as we know it…is not completely accurate to the original.

It’s not that something is missing or that something is changed, but rather that something is added.

This entire ending to the Lord’s Prayer that we will be examining this afternoon, was, very likely, never spoken by Jesus.  At least, in this context.

If you look at the Lord’s Prayer in both Matthew 6 and Luke 11, you will not find the words for yours is the kingdom, and the power and the glory, forever, amen.

These words are simply not there.

Now, there are ministers who use this confusion, this apparent contradiction as a jumping off platform to discuss manuscripts.  The majority text versus the text critical way of examining the Bible.  And if you were hoping to have that kind of sermon this afternoon, then I’m sorry to disappoint.  We can have that conversation another time, it’s an interesting one, but it is not the gospel, and so, it should never be central in the preaching.

Simply put, though the ending to this prayer is likely not original to Matthew 6 or Luke 11, it does not mean that it is SINFUL to pray this way, and it does not even mean that it is UNBIBLICAL to pray this way.

For what did we hear in our reading from 1 Chronicles?

Verse 10 and 11 - Therefore David blessed the Lord in the presence of all the assembly. And David said: “Blessed are you, O Lord, the God of Israel our father, forever and ever.  Yours, O Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory and the majesty, for all that is in the heavens and in the earth is yours. Yours is the kingdom, O Lord, and you are exalted as head above all.

Yours is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory.  It’s all there, even if it is there in a slightly different order.  Even though these words might not belong to Jesus’ original, they are Scriptural, they are beautiful, they are full of meaning, and we should pray them.

So let’s get into these particular words.

For yours is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever.

This phrase begins with a very important little word.  A connecting word.  “For.”  All of the petitions, each and every part of the prayer depend on this.  Even though it comes last, and could be seen as the CROWN of the prayer, it also serves as the FOUNDATION for our prayer.

But what is this foundation and crown?  Yours is the Kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever!

What are we to make of these words?  What ARE THEY?  Well our reading helps us out here.

1 Corinthians 29:10 - Therefore David blessed the Lord in the presence of all the assembly. And David said: “Blessed are you, O Lord, the God of Israel our father, forever and ever.  Yours, O Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory and the majesty, for all that is in the heavens and in the earth is yours. Yours is the kingdom, O Lord, and you are exalted as head above all. 

David BLESSED the Lord.

“Blessed are you O Lord.”

What does it mean to BLESS the LORD?

We understand rather well how it works the OTHER WAY.  God blesses us.  He is the source of all good.  The overflowing fountain of all good.  All good things flow from HIM to US.  The greater blesses the lesser.  That’s just HOW IT WORKS.

And what is more, God’s blessings aren’t just mere “hopes” for us, but they are, what is known as FIAT STATEMENTS.  When God speaks, THINGS HAPPEN.

When He said “let there be light” there was light.  Just by the act of speaking, God makes things happen.

And when He blesses, it is the same.  When God says “The LORD bless you and keep you, the LORD make His face to shine upon you.  The LORD lift up His countenance upon you and give you peace” … when He pronounces that blessing over you, even though me, His servant, even when it is my voice you are hearing, it is His voice that is speaking…this is a FIAT statement.  

By blessing you, you ARE BLESSED.

It is truly a wonderful thing when God blesses us.

But in this prayer, it is reversed.  WE are the ones blessing GOD.  How does this work?  How COULD this work?

God does not need us…He does not need our praises, the heavenly host are praising Him.  Constantly, without ceasing.

Revelation 4 tells us that the 4 living creatures never cease to say Holy holy holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come.

He did not need the Old Testament sacrifices, for the cattle on a thousand hills are His.

So…what is this about?  Us BLESSING the LORD?

And it’s not just here that WE bless the LORD, this is the message of Psalm 103: “Bless the LORD my soul, bless your preserver.”

This language is also in Psalm 16, 26, 28, 31, 34…and the list goes on.  This language of US blessing GOD is present in 24 different psalms, sometimes stated multiple times in the same psalm.

So what does it mean to BLESS THE LORD?

Well, it also means to PRAISE the Lord, but…there’s another word for that.  "Bless" is distinct from "praise" in both the Hebrew original, and in our English translations.  So what is it?

Well, if God’s blessings are about CREATING REALITY, we could say that our blessings are about RECOGNIZING REALITY.

He CREATES, we RECOGNIZE.

By saying yours is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, we are not GIVING any of these things to God, we are recognizing that they are ALREADY HIS.  He already HAS the Kingdom.  He already HAS the power, He already HAS the glory.

So when we pray this prayer, when we list off these perfections of our God, we are blessing Him.  We are recognizing the reality in front of us.

And it is important that we pray this, because, like all the petitions that came before this blessing, we need to remind ourselves of it.

This is the reality before our eyes, but it is spiritual.  We cannot see it with our physical eyes, but we see it with the eyes of our soul, so to speak.

So what is it then, that we are seeing?  What is it that our soul should be recognizing?

 

For yours is the Kingdom

O God, we bless you this day, for the kingdom belongs to you.  This is your kingdom, that extends from sea to shining sea in this realm, as well as the spiritual realm, where your kingdom extends from the heights of heaven to the depths of hell.

You are King, all is your kingdom.  You are the sole authority.

As a citizen of that kingdom, I bow before your grandeur, your might, your nobility.  You are my King.  In obedience to you, I will also be obedient to those you place over me, but my loyalty ultimately lies with you.

YOURS is the Kingdom.  It does not belong, ultimately, to the Premier, nor the Prime Minister, nor the Pastor.  It belongs to YOU, and it is my joy and pleasure to recognize that authority and to obey….for the kingdom does not belong to ME either.  Yours is the Kingdom.  Let me fall in line and change my heart until it perfectly matches yours.

 

Yours is the Kingdom, and the power

Not only do you have the authority over your kingdom, but you have the ultimate power to bring about your rule, perfectly, with no challenger.  Though Satan is MIGHTY, You are ALMIGHTY.  He is fearsome, but you are to be feared and worshipped and praised throughout eternity.  You were there at Satan’s creation, and you will be there when he dies his eternal death.  We need not fear, for all that your love and grace endeavor, your power will make into reality.

As our Saviour said in John 10 - I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand.  My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father's hand.

Heavenly Father, such is your might that:

No power of hell, no scheme of man

Can ever pluck me from your hand

Till you return or call me home

Here in the power of Christ I'll stand

 

Yours is the Kingdom and the Power and the Glory

God, the glory that you promise is going to descend on this world, and that is not glory for the church.  In your kindness and generosity, you allow us to SHARE IN IT, but the glory is YOURS.

For the glory that is going to be revealed, finally fully revealed, is YOUR GLORY.  The truly glory of Heaven is not found in the golden streets, the gates made out of single pearls, but rather, the true glory of Heaven is that YOU ARE THERE and that there is no hint of corruption or evil, but all is your glorious light.  And this is what WE DESIRE to be shown here as well.

Not just hints of your glory, not just some who recognize it, but for the whole world to bow, for everyone in heaven and on earth to confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to your glory.

Allow us to be so bold, O Lord, and say that the hidden glory we see now is not enough.  Allow us to be so bold and ask that we would not see from a distance like the prophet Ezekiel, saying that this was “the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the Lord,” removing himself several steps back, but let us see you and your glory face to face.  Yours IS the glory, hidden now, but revealed on your day, and then forever.

 

Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory FOREVER.

We know that this is the reality already, we recognize it, but we know that it is not full.  There are those who raise up their own kingdoms against you.  There are those who desperately seek more and more power.  Power based on race, power based on fear, power based on corruption.  And in our modern culture, there is nothing more pervasive than our self-glorification.  To be the smartest, the most beautiful, the most applauded.  And so we ask that you would sweep that all away and that the reality of your kingdom, your power, and your glory be ALL THAT EXIST.  FOREVER.

This is our blessing to you O God.  This is, in a sense, the end.  But in another way, our final word speaks of a beginning.  Our second point.

What does “amen” really mean?  I know that it’s defined right in the Lord’s Day for you, but if you didn’t have that in front of you, what would you think it meant?

Or, if you weren’t familiar with the church and joined us for a service, what would you think it meant?

Probably something like “It is over.”  After all, the word “amen” at the end of the sermon is the signal to the accompanist to come up and play the next song.  After all, the word “amen” at the end of prayers is a signal to open your eyes.  The word “amen” is sung by all of us at the end of the service.

The word “amen” seems to FUNCTION like a period at the end of a sentence.   There we go.  It’s done.  It’s over.  But that’s not what it MEANS at all.

Our catechism explains it well when it says

Amen means: it is true and certain.

In other church traditions, this is more obvious that it’s not just at endings, for when the preacher makes a particularly relevant point, when something is said that you’ve WISHED would have been said before, when you want to cheer on the minister as he tackles a particularly difficult subject, in other churches, the person would raise their voice and shout out “amen!”   PREACH IT BROTHER!  AMEN!  FIRE PREACHING!

And I love this use of the word.  I’m not officially proposing this as a change in our churches, but, let’s put it this way, if you feel the need to do it, go right ahead.  It’s ok.  It’s using “amen” in a very legitimate way.

But how do we use it in prayer?  This Lord’s Day is, after all, about prayer, not about personal amens shouted out, or the three-fold amen that we sing.  What does this actually MEAN?

Well, exactly as our catechism says: Amen means it is true and certain.

This is the DEFINITION of “amen” and it’s a good one,  but this DEFINITION, though it helps us get to the meaning, is not the meaning itself.

What do we mean, deep down in our soul when we say amen?

“Amen” is what our lips say, “true and certain” is what the dictionary says…but what is our SOUL SAYING at this moment?

What is our SOUL saying when we pray the word “amen” ?

God has much more certainly heard my prayer than I feel in my heart that I desire this of Him.

AMEN.  It is not that MY WORDS are true and certain.  I do not say “amen” to seal my prayer as a true and certain prayer, but I say “amen” to remind myself that God is a true and certain God.  I say “amen” because I know that my prayer, however weak, however sinful it was, will get where it needs to go.  I say “amen” because I know that God has heard my prayer, and He will answer it.

You see, the “amen” is a blessing too.  Just as much as “yours is the kingdom, and the power and the glory forever.”  When we say “amen” we are revealing something, not about ourselves, but about our God.

He is the True One, He is the Certain One, and our prayers, just like our lives, rest on the foundation of His character.

Let’s examine this a little further.  Our God  is the foundation.  The only foundation.  And we are the builders.

Now, of course it is God who enables us and strengthens us by His Spirit to build, but we are still the ones building.  We are the ones responsible for not wasting the time and gifts that God has given us.  To “let go and let God,” when we simply sit back, because God after all, is sovereign, and we think “it’ll get done with out without me…” this is, in essence, a denial of who God is and how He made us.  To “let go and let God” is, in essence, the anti-Amen.

And so, we can see that the amen at the end of the prayer IS an ending, but in a far stronger way, it is just a beginning.

Heavenly Father, you have heard my prayer.

Hallowed be your Name -  AMEN.  It is true, it is certain.  Your name WILL be hallowed, not just by the angels in heaven but by me.  Let this start in me right now.

Your Kingdom Come - AMEN.  It is true, it is certain.  Your kingdom has come and it will continue to come.  Let it begin in me.  Let me be among those who spread the good news of your kingdom far and wide.

Your Will Be Done - AMEN.  It is true, it is certain.  Your will is just and right and perfect.  Let all people obey, just as willingly and faithfully as the angels in heaven, starting with me.  Today.  Right now.

Give us this day our daily bread - AMEN.  It is true, it is certain.  You love to provide for your people.  Through hard work, through the deaconry.  Give me neither riches nor poverty, but only my daily bread.  Keep greed out of my heart and make me depend only on you.

Forgive us our debts - AMEN.  It is true, it is certain.  Jesus Christ died on the cross for me.  My sins have been paid for, please draw on His payment and forgive me.  Let me live in the freedom found in forgiveness right now.

Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one - AMEN.  It is true, it is certain.  The cross defeated the devil, definitively.  Once and for all.  I can live in confidence and in thankfulness to you O God, instead of in fear of him.

For yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory, forever - AMEN.  It is true, it is certain.  This is the reality.  Let me recognize it.  Let me live in it, starting right now.

Beloved, this is the end, in some ways.  This is the end of the catechism.  Lord’s Day 52.  This is the end of our prayer.  But in a much deeper and richer way, this is only the beginning.  When we pray properly, when we truly recognize who we are, who God is, and what our duty is in His Kingdom, then each day, each moment, is a new beginning.

And so, when it comes to the story of the universe, we do not have to fear the end, and we do not have to rush to the end.

Instead, when confronted with the end, whether our end, or the return of our Saviour, all we must do is look up and simply say: AMEN.  It is true, it is certain.

AMEN. 




* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. Jeremy Segstro, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.
(c) Copyright, Rev. Jeremy Segstro

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