Do you know what a doxology is? It is a written or sung praise to God. It is formal, liturgical… meaning that it has been thought out in accordance with Scripture and theology.
Most of us know at least one doxology: “Praise God from Whom all blessings flow.” That one was from about 1671 and is part of a sung prayer for children to use when they awoke.
Actually, there are many doxologies. Do any of you know this one: “Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost. As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be…world without end. Amen. Amen”? The Gloria Patri. This one is used in many worship services and dates back to at least 529 A.D.
“For thine is the Kingdom, the power, and the glory forever and ever” is an old doxology and dates back to the Didache. The Didache was written in the 1st century by the second generation of Church leaders/apostles. It is not in the Bible but it came close to being included into the New Testament because it is rich in describing the worship service, organization, and theology of the Early Church.
Why the lesson? Because this last section of the Lord’s Prayer is not in the Bible. If I had not told you, you would have assumed that it could be there…the spirit of it is consistent with Scripture…but it is only found later (50 years, maybe) in The Didache.
So, what am I to do? Throw out the Lord’s Prayer? Stop reading the last line? No, not me. I like sermons to be tied to something in the Bible, though. Wait! Did you know that the Bible has doxologies, or hymns in it?
When I think of the Kingdom, power, and glory of God, I instantly go to the Christ Hymn of Philippians 2. In this doxology celebrating the work of The Father in The Son, Jesus, we see the same principles of the Lord’s Prayer at work.
6 Who, being in very nature God, (Our Father Who is in Heaven)
did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; (Hallow be Your Name)
7 rather, he made himself nothing
by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. (Your Kingdom has come)
8 And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself (Give us this day our daily bread)
by becoming obedient to death— (Lead us not into the temptation but deliver us from Evil)
even death on a cross! (Your will be done on Earth as it is in Heaven)
(Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us)
9 Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
and gave him the name that is above every name, (Hallowed be Christ’s Name!)
10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth, (Your will is done in him on Earth as it is in Heaven)
11 and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father. (Yours is the Kingdom, the Power, and Glory forever and ever)
The scholarly opinion is that even though this phrase wasn’t recorded by Matthew or Luke, Jesus would have ended his prayer with something like it. The Lord’s Prayer is a very Jewish prayer… and Jewish prayers don’t end with asking to be delivered from evil/Evil. Jewish prayers end in praising a glorious, victorious God…a doxology.
Quakers and others who will, at times, look down on liturgy must be careful. Contrary to the sort of thinking I grew up with, liturgy is not so manmade. It is, most often, verses and phrases taken right out of the Bible—Scripture! It is arranged in such a way to direct our hearts and direct our thinking and direct our actions. Liturgy is a valid way of growing/maturing into Christ…until we are made perfect/whole…until we are made somehow like him in death and life.
“For Yours is the Kingdom, the power, and the glory forever and ever” does three things for the Christian intent in pursuing Christ-likeness.
The first is that it is both commission and mission. Just as a wealthy patron commissions a great work of art or architecture, Our Father has commissioned a great project of salvation. He is both patron and artist/architect.
He has determined that kingdom, power, and glory are understood on His terms. A baby born in a barn; a homeless, non-credentialed carpenter turned preacher and healer; a naked king tortured and unjustly murdered on Rome’s execution cross; along with all the other teachings and examples that don’t make sense in this world—all these are works of the glorious kingdom and a powerful king.
And we have a mission. We are to live out that kingdom, power, and glory. Like an artisan hired by an artist, we are busy in our workshop, creating the kingdom at the behest of the Artist. Like a laborer hired by an architect, we are laying stone upon stone at the direction of Architect.
The second lesson learned is that in our mission we have been empowered and we are confident. For those who are a part of this Kingdom, we have been given the Holy Spirit. We are possessed by the Spirit of God (I love saying possessed because of just how disturbing it sounds to the uninformed ear. But it is true, I have given possession of my life to Christ Jesus!)
What God has commissioned and what He has tasked us with (mission), we are completely able to do because it is the Spirit who does it through us. God wants to partner with and through us to build His Kingdom in His power for His glory.
As artisans and laborers for His Kingdom, we are certified with God’s endorsement and empowerment. We are confident in the kingdom-building task we have been given, that we have been blessed with.
We are able to be boldly confident because: When we believed, we were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory (Eph 1:13). Here, there is no, “I can not,” only “I will not.”
Friends, these words ought to be inspiring words—truths—to us! This is good news! We pray the Lord’s Prayer in celebration of the victory already won. But, if these words trouble you, overwhelm you, I invite you to pray the Lord’s Prayer as well. For, in this situation, we (like Thomas) ask God, “Lord, help my unbelief!” The Lord’s Prayer is for all seasons and times in our life—it is a Kingdom prayer for real, Kingdom people.
And, so, let us pray as our Lord taught us to pray:
Our Father, Who is 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 trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.
Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from Evil.
For Yours is the Kingdom, the power, and glory forever and ever. Amen.