The Lord’s Prayer & St. Luke 21:25-36
December 10, 2017 A+D
In the Name of the Father and of the +Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
On the night in which He was betrayed, in the very midst of the institution of the Sacrament of the Altar, Our Lord said to His disciples “I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. For I tell you I will not eat it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.” And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he said, “Take this, and divide it among yourselves. For I tell you that from now on I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.” (Luke 22:15–18, ESV)
His Kingdom comes now. He eats the Passover with us. He drinks the wine. He is not waiting or delaying in any way for His Kingdom to come for His Kingdom comes when He gives us His Holy Spirit so that by His grace we believe His holy Word and lead godly lives. This is not a future, apocalyptic event, but is a present reality. Our Lord instituted the Sacrament in the context of His suffering, His self-giving Sacrifice for the life of the world. There He fulfilled the old Passover and began a new one. This is His glory. And in the midst of all that He also instituted a Kingdom.
That Kingdom comes in Holy Baptism. There God gives His Holy Spirit so that by His grace the baptized believe His holy Word and lead godly lives. What else is Baptism but the making of citizens and brides? We aren’t merely placed into the family of God; we are also placed into His Kingdom. That is why we call Him “Lord.”
His Kingdom is not static. It is on the move, invading this mortal plane, driving back the darkness. It comes not only in Baptism, it comes also when we hear His Word and believe it, when we receive His absolution in penitent hearts, and when we are given the forgiveness of sins, life, and salvation in the Holy Communion. The Passover is fulfilled and the Lord eats it with us in the Holy Communion. He is both priest and victim, fellow sojourner and Christian who loves and trusts His Father, and also, at the very same time, He is the Host and the Meal. The Kingdom is here, is coming now, for as the Lord instituted the Sacrament He also instituted a Kingdom.
This is the reason we pray the Lord’s prayer immediately before the Words of Institution. It is an eschatological plea. It isn’t exclusive to the Sacrament of the Altar, but everything we were taught to ask for there is given in the Sacrament.
God’s Name is kept holy when the Words of Institution are taught and used rightly and we Christians eat and drink His Body and Blood.
His Kingdom comes when He gives us His Holy Spirit in the Sacrament and as He participates with us, making us a part of Him.
His will is done as He breaks and hinders the evil wills and plans of the devil, the world, and our old sinful nature by forgiving our sins and strengthening our faith.
Daily bread is provided in the Sacrament for nothing is more necessary to real life, that is to life that is more than the connection of body and soul, than the Lord’s risen Body and Blood. What He bestows here, in the Sacrament, goes on to aid and assist in the resurrection of the body to come. For the Lord does not come to us merely as a spirit in the Sacrament. Rather, He comes in His risen Body, His actual physical, living Body. And He comes not simply for our souls, but He comes for all of us, for our bodies and souls.
The forgiveness we ask for in the Lord’s Prayer is the explicit purpose of the Sacrament. It is given and shed for the forgiveness of sins.
The Sacrament is the best antidote against temptation for it strengthens faith.
And, finally, the Sacrament is deliverance from evil. Not only does it drive away the demons now but it also prepares us for a blessed end.
All this is done invisibly in the Sacrament, for the glory of this Kingdom, which was and is constituted in the Sacrament of the Altar, is like unto the King’s glory. For the time being it is hidden from the world, visible only to faith. In the end, the Lord will come with visible glory. What was done on the cross will be known to all. That is His glory. It isn’t so much His power to destroy or His wrath that will be evident but His mercy. His love will be indisputable, accompanied by unavoidable signs in sun, moon, and stars. There will also be power and wrath but that is not His glory. We will lift up our heads for His glory, for the good of His cross, for His obedience to His Father, and rejoice for He, our righteousness, is also our redemption.
This is why we look to and expect with joy the Lord’s return, to His visible descent in clouds with power and glory. It is not because He has been missing or His Kingdom has not yet begun, but because for the time being He is only visible to faith. Soon, however, He will visible to the eyes of all, both to those who believe and to those who don’t. Unlike His coming to Bethlehem which was announced by angels to only a few, the Lord Himself will announce His return to everyone at once. Every knee will bow and every tongue confess that He, Jesus, King Messiah, is Lord, Yahweh. Heaven and earth are filled with His glory. Those who have been practicing this very body language and confession in the Sacrament of the Altar will be well prepared.
The doxology that we are accustomed to at the end of Lord’s Prayer reflects this. In our liturgy it is what immediately precedes the Words of Institution. Saint Augustine notes that when “in heaven angels praise God,” they see “the very form of truth, without any darkness of vision, without any admixture of unreality: they see, love, (and) praise, (and yet) are not wearied.”  We cannot yet see so clearly. We grow weary. But we have faith and we join our praise to theirs in the Holy Liturgy and we come to the Sacrament for strength. When we pray: “Thine is the Kingdom, and the Power, and the Glory” we are confessing what we cannot yet see but which the angels can and which we shall soon behold with our eyes and not another.
Having thus been so bold as to ask God for so much in the Lord’s Prayer and having made such a sound confession as to God’s Kingdom, Power, and Glory we are well-prepared to receive that which we need the most: His goodness and mercy hidden in the Sacrament. There His Kingdom comes and we receive the Holy Spirit.\
Come, Lord Jesus. Come quickly.
In +Jesus’ Name. Amen.
The quote from Augustine of Hippo can be found here: “Expositions on the Book of Psalms,” in Saint Augustine: Expositions on the Book of Psalms, ed. Philip Schaff, trans. A. Cleveland Coxe, vol. 8, A Select Library of the Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers of the Christian Church, First Series (New York: Christian Literature Company, 1888), 229. The line of argument and alert to the quote was brought to my attention here: https://www.pravoslavie.ru/english/print80553.htm