Monday, May 22, 2017

Our Father

The year was 1865. One Sunday a visitor entered this fashionable Richmond, Virginia church. When it came time for worshippers to receive Communion, the stranger joined congregants in walking down the aisle and kneeling, as was the custom.

Simultaneously, a restless autumn breeze swept slowly across the congregation.  The sudden coolness in the atmosphere loudly whispered “How dare he!” Momentarily, stony silence reigned supreme.

Almost before the stunned congregation could regain its composure, a distinguished gentleman in the congregation stood to his feet, moved out from his pew and stepped confidently toward the altar. The old “Gray Fox”, General Robert E. Lee, knelt beside the visiting black stranger.

After spending a few moments in private prayer; Lee, without doubt the most revered leader in the whole Southern Confederacy, spoke aloud to the stunned congregation. Directing his comments to the congregation where he was a valued member, General Lee spoke softly but tersely, with measured words: “All men are brothers in Christ. Have we not all one Father?”             

The congregation was humbled. Instructed by the powerful words and the model of their beloved leader, the congregation slowly followed his example. It is amazing how much inner peace we can generate when we treat everyone we meet with the same dignity and respect that Jesus gave the people he encountered as he went about doing good.

In responding to others with that same courtesy and esteem that we like to receive; we nurture our own self-respect and we build the strong interpersonal relationships that our culture finds in such desperate shortfall today. Only then will our global community experience that level of mobility and measured technical skill it has sought but failed to find.

The Lord’s Prayer promises a breath of fresh air by teaching us how to live together harmoniously rather than with discord and dissonance. We can pray to “Our Father …” only when our prayers create sufficient standing room to include others different from us and allow them to share their needs equally with us (Matthew 6:9-13, NIV).

In praying to “Our Father in Heaven…” we can address him directly and meaningfully. In doing so, we submit our personal interests and lift our primary pursuits above and beyond our mundane and earthly relationships. By demonstrating this kind of relationship throughout our daily going-about we mentor others more effectively and we acknowledge the supremacy of his will as our Heavenly Father.

I am,
Praying always “Our Father  …”

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