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Thy Kingdom Come

The Archbishop of Canterbury has called for a global wave of prayer from 25th May to 4th June. I am all in favour of anything that encourages prayer – individually and communally.

The call has been titled, “Thy Kingdom Come”.

I am also interested in the use of language (“thy”) no one would consider using seriously in contemporary life. There is already good discussion around this on the fellow-Kiwi blogsite AnglicanDownUnder. Another point I made in that discussion is that we need to not give the impression that following Jesus is simply individuals escaping from everyday problems and issues.

Let me be clear: this is not a criticism of the campaign – far from it – individual commitment to Jesus and knowing he is with us in all our lives – joys and sorrows – is essential, and we need to and should promote it.

This, in the Southern Hemisphere, is also the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. That also needs reflection. The Northern Hemisphere has the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity at quite a different time. Christians, in seeking to pray for Christian Unity, cannot agree on when to do this.

Reflection on our prayer is important – how we do it, what we think it is, what we think it achieves,…

Praying is even more important. And so I encourage you to take up Archbishop Justin’s challenge. And to pray for Christian Unity.

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Kia tae mai tou rangatiratanga.

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22 Responses to Thy Kingdom Come

  1. Just as with the term “heaven” I am given pause by the word “kingdom.” Metaphorical language notwithstanding, it conjures up the idea of a foreign place and a failed political structure. Here in America, we rejected “kings” over 200 years ago and our culture has no affinity for the concept of a king-based aristocracy. Isn’t it possible to find elegant, meaningful, symbolic language that describes how the daily life of every person alive could be radically altered by an awareness of the divine permeating every facet of our existence and our relationships?

    • Thanks, Jonathan. Here is one attempt:

      The way of your Justice be followed by the peoples of the world!
      Your heavenly will be done by all created beings!
      Your Commonwealth of Peace and Freedom sustain our hope and come on earth!

      Easter Season Blessings.

      • I also use Commonwealth, when I am not using Realm.

        But the issue I have with Commonwealth is that it usually is used in conjunction with the concept of a democracy and God’s Realm is certainly not a democracy!

        • Thanks, David. I tend to use “reign” – I think that might be a context thing. I don’t think “realm” works so well in the Kiwi context. And Commonwealth sounds very “British”. Easter Season Blessings.

  2. Bosco, I just LOVE that rendition of the Lord’s Prayer! We used it at a huge service at our Cathedral here in San Francisco last week when Presiding Bishop Michael Curry was visiting. “Your Commonwealth of Peace of Freedom” is beautiful language! I’m do grateful to New Zealand for trailblazing great prayers and liturgies for the 21st century.

  3. You know I was English before I was american, and there are still communities there in the Midlands and Yorkshire etc where ‘thee’ and ‘thou’ type language are common to the dialect.

    Now I am in the Unitarian Universalist Church again and we often change up the language to be inclusive or ‘modern’, sometimes it works, sometimes not.

  4. The advantage of “Thy Kingdom Come” (sic) is, of course, that as soon as the words are uttered even those with only the faintest familiarity with Christianity know exactly where the words come from.

    I confess, I can see no problem with the retention of “kingdom,” so long as it is borne in mind that it is Christ himself who is the king. I cannot see how such a “political system” could ever fail. Historic monarchies only “failed” (and we could debate how far their successors have improved matters) to the extent that they have not lived up to the heavenly reality of which they were shadows.

    • Thanks, Jesse.

      In NZ, RCs had the ecumenical (contemporary) English Lord’s Prayer available, but under Pope Benedict, the request to retain that as an option was denied. So “Thy Kingdom Come” is probably the most-prayed version here now.

      The discussion around “Kingdom” is, of course, a much bigger one – the way that Jesus subverts so many of our images, metaphors, and reality, turning them upside down. A kingdom is different when the King’s throne is an instrument of execution – the cross. And then there is the apophatic lens we need to learn to look through more.

      Easter Season Blessings.

  5. I would wager that 99% of Christians in the United States say “thy kingdom come” rather than as more modern version of the Lord’s Prayer- though the Reformed debit while others trespass. Whenever a priest has tried to use the modern version of the Lord’s Prayer from the 1979 BCP in my parish the pushback was immediate and very strong. Evangelical Lutheran Worship tried to eliminate the tradtional Lord’s Prayer as an option, but Lutheran parishes have disregarded the new version and continued saying the words they know.

    • Thanks, Whit. Would the majority of Christians in USA even know the Lord’s Prayer by heart? Easter Season Blessings.

      • Oh yes, the Lord’s Prayer is recited in every Christian Church Service I have attended or worked at. Usually taken at a furious pace rather than being reflective. But usually from memory.

        This is the Unitarian Universalist version:

        Our Father in heaven,
        hallowed be your name.
        Your kingdom come,
        Your will be done
        on earth, as it is in heaven.
        Give us this day our daily bread.
        And forgive us our debts,
        as we also have forgiven our debtors.
        And do not bring us to the time of trial,
        but rescue us from evil.

        • Thanks, Tracy. That’s pretty close to what is prayed here – we use “sins” not “debts”. Easter Season Blessings.

          • “Sins” is one of my quibbles about the “new” translation. Luke (11:4), who must be the source for the new translation, carefully distinguishes between the “debtors” whom we forgive and the “sins” that God forgives.

            I suspect that at the back of this is the tradition recorded in all three synoptics that it was objected against Jesus, “Who can forgive sins but God only?” (Mk 2:7; Lk 5:21; cf. Mt 9:6).

            The point is not that our offences against each other can’t be called “sins.” (Lk 17:4 says that my brother can “sin” against me.) But that “sins” against God and “debts” to one another are in different categories: Jesus is accused of blasphemy because he claims the power to forgive sins against *God*. This is not, I think, a power we claim as individuals in the Lord’s Prayer, though this is a power given to the Church corporately, and exercised by its ministers (Jn 20:23).

            For the record, my parish uses the modern translation, and I obediently recite it with everyone else. And I also realize that even some respectable scholarly versions (e.g. the NIV) have adopted the sins/sins translation. But it bugs me every time, the way I know the Filioque makes you cough, Bosco!

            Has anyone any advice or information to disabuse me of my irritation?

          • Having invoked the Filioque, Jesse, I almost daren’t respond! Certainly, I am not seeking to justify every choice made in the ELLC rendering as I might not have come up with this agreed text. But that it is an agreed text does carry weight for me. I guess one question is: what is this a “translation” of? Certainly not the Biblical texts. Is it, then, a translation of the Greek and Latin liturgical texts (καὶ ἄφες ἡμῖν τὰ ὀφειλήματα ἡμῶν, ὡς καὶ ἡμεῖς ἀφίεμεν τοῖς ὀφειλέταις ἡμῶν; et dimitte nobis debita nostra, sicut et nos dimittimus debitoribus nostris)? Or of the English BCP’s? In all of those, there is a parallel: “Forgive us our X as we forgive those who X against us”. [Only Luke does not have this parallel?] A question now becomes, do we abandon the parallel in contemporary English? Easter Season Blessings.

          • Yes to all, Bosco. 🙂

            I just scratch my head in puzzlement at why they chose X=”sins” when they were using a Matthaean text of the prayer (filtered through the liturgical tradition), where no equivalent of that word appears. I can only assume that Luke must have given the inspiration, and that’s where it seems most problematic!

            As in so much else, their mistake was not checking with you and me first.

            I came across a story once (I have failed just now to track down the source) of Lancelot Andrewes attending a sermon where the preacher gave five reasons why a certain translation in the “new” bible (1611) was wrong. Andrewes, one of the KJV translators, spoke to him afterwards and explained that all five reasons had been duly considered by the committee, but that ten contrary reasons that the preacher hadn’t considered had decided them in favour of the translation they chose.

            So I’ll keep choking it down until someone uncovers the reasons in favour for me.

          • The official commentary, Jesse, has it much as you describe:

            The traditional rendering has been substantially preserved, and the Lucan text allowed to affect the translation. ‘Sins’ and ‘sin’ have been used to convey the sense, and ‘trespasses’ and ‘trespass,’ and even ‘debts’ and ‘debtors,’ which many find puzzlingly concrete and narrow, have been avoided. Praying Together (English Language Liturgical Consultation, 1988, page 3).

            Easter Season Blessings.

          • Thanks very much for the reference, Bosco. So the change was a different sort of “inclusive language”! I guess our Lord shouldn’t have been so narrow.

      • Yes. They would. Those who minister to the dying and the demented will tell you that no matter what else they’ve forgotten everyone remembers the Lord’s Prayer.

        • Thanks, Whit. Agreed – with the sick, dying, and others, we must be pastorally appropriate and use the version that the person knows by heart. For many, that will be the contemporary version. For others, especially currently, that will be one of the ‘traditional’ ones. Blessings.

  6. Back in England years ago we always said ‘trespasses’. But now as I re-interpret Jesus for myself ‘debt’ makes sense, he was calling attention to usury in society, a Jewish ‘sin’ which had become commonplace?

    • Thanks, Tracy. Debt is certainly a serious issue in NZ – and in the world. Easter Season Blessings.

      • Here in America the largest usurers ie those who take monetary advantage of the unfortunate, are doctors, hospital and health insurance CEOs

        People overseas may not know but USA is the only modern country in the world where millions of citizens have no access to health care.

        In fact most people do not have automatic access to health care in America, they have health insurance, which may or may not allow medical treatment costs to be covered, but most people have to pay the first few thousand dollars themselves as a co-pay which makes it worthless in a country where 63 % of people do not own $500 for an emergency…

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