I am 100 per cent with The Greens in wanting the Lord’s Prayer abolished from Federal Parliament at the start of each sitting day.
For 100 per cent different reasons of course. The Lord’s Prayer is too precious and too provocative for Parliament. It’s our prayer, not theirs and we must insist that we take it back.
We should be protesting its tarnished use by idolators, placarding on the steps for its abandonment among Dagon’s temple rather than simmering over this, pouting with some confected outrage.
The Greens, many of whom have no love for the Christian framework, want the prayer dumped to better reflect the diversity of Australia, and the fact that pretty much most of those who say it in Parliament neither believe it nor adhere to it.
But let’s use this to our own advantage. Let’s use this opportunity to call for Christians to start owning up emotionally to the increasingly hostile post-Christian public square, and to guard our treasures more carefully.
There’s an interesting article by a Christian pastor, James McPherson here on why the prayer should be dumped from Parliament. It’s a pointed commentary on the fact that most MPs don’t live or abide by what the Lord’s Prayer says, so why should they get to use it.
McPherson lists the negative reasons, let me take the positive flipside of those negatives.
The Lord’s Prayer is not for those outside the kingdom, but for those inside, and as such we should not throw it around willy nilly. We should cherish its framework, and recognise it as the framework upon which God is building an alternate polis that defies much of what Parliament stands for.
We should use it define the fact that we are citizens of another country, one in which late modern democracy does not rule with the self-interest it so obviously exhibits..
So, perhaps the Greens are doing the church a favour. Perhaps they’re giving us the chance to more clearly define our deep differences. If we hold back from gnashing teeth and outrage for a moment, that is.
And it’s our prayer, it’s not The Lord’s Prayer per se. It’s The Disciples’ Prayer. Jesus did not pray it for himself, he offered it as the template for his disciples. And as such, disciples should cherish the concepts it contains and hold up a hand and say “Nope, you can’t have this, it’s ours.”
The obvious reason some will want the prayer to stay is that it reflects our Christian heritage. Once again another losing battle by those who vainly feel that we still have a common public narrative. The sooner we present the sharp delineation between the souring temporal powers of our nation and the beautiful power of God’s everlasting kingdom and its alternate ethic, – its upside down values -, the better.
The Lord’s Prayer is a subversive document, more akin to a Guy Fawkes plot to blow up the presuppositions of the deeply secular, self focus of most of our politics. The Lord’s Prayer is a bomb under the passenger seat of self-determination, self-control, autonomy over one’s life. In other words the rampant individualism displayed by so many in politics.
It’s also deeply disturbing to those who, in an equal and opposite mistake, presume that Big Government can order our lives with impunity. There is a Lord over them who sees and judges all they do. They cannot usher in their own utopian kingdoms at will, because God will one day sweep that all away.
Parliament is a place lacking in humility and brimming with self-aggrandisement. Our prayer stabs both of those toxic creations in their hearts, exploding them like burst balloons.
I know the call to have the prayer removed comes from less than friendly voices, but I think it’s a good opportunity to create a clearer distinction between the people of God and the secular nation, and demonstrate that something the church has held as precious down the centuries is not a play-thing, a trinket, a historical oddity for the nation that has no real intention of calling on the name of the LORD.
I suspect a whole bunch of Christians in their forties through to sixties will disagree, but for the younger crowd, my gut is that they don’t wish for their pearls to be cast before the swinish cesspit of Parliament.