In the Beginning, God Created

January 29, 2023

In the Beginning, God Created

Passage: The Prayer of Jesus (Matthew 6)
Service Type:

Last Sunday, Marcy and I took a vow to be people of prayer as your pastors. We also pledged to encourage you to be people of prayer.

Some of us are structured and delight in a strict regime, using a specific time and place and pattern to pray: such as first thing in the morning or last thing at night, or around the table as we eat, or over coffee with a friend. Zoom prayer meetings have become very popular, and I have been a part of one for 26 months now.

Some of us are unstructured and we push back against schedules and expectations. We want spontaneity and freedom and an ongoing conversation that leaps from us when there is urgency. Paul wrote encouraging us to pray at all times, like arrows shot up to heaven throughout the day.

Regardless of where you are on the personality spectrum, when it comes to prayer there are no better words to speak or think than the 62 words of this prayer. It is never wrong and is always right. It is never out of place and always just in time.

The Prayer of Jesus is the one element of the spiritual life we can all share: the saint and the sinner, the finisher and the beginner, the teacher and the student, the devout and the skeptic. Wherever you are on the journey of life and faith, this Prayer is for you.

Let us pray this prayer together.


“Teach us to pray,” his disciples asked Jesus; and he gave them this prayer as a guide to praying.

But early on, it functioned also as a guide to believing and a guide to living. We believe these things:
God is real and loves us like a parent. God has a purpose for all things, and we surrender to it. God provides for us what we need day by day. God seeks to reconcile all things: people to people, and all of us to God. God empowers us to run from temptation and evil. God is worthy of all glory and honor, because the kingdom, the power, and glory belong to God.

This is a summary of what we believe as Christians, as people of faith, hope, and love. Jesus is the one who embodies this way of life, who empowers us to live this way, who ever lives to lead us in this walk. Walk in the light, we will sing shortly; and this is what we mean.

We take these 62 words, and we tweak them as needed.

This happened early on. Notice, first, the difference between the version of this prayer in Luke and the version in Matthew. The word “Our” is not present in the Luke version. The phrase “Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven” is not in Luke’s version. “Deliver us from evil” is not in the Luke version. And “Your’s is the kingdom, the power, and the glory” is in neither of them!!

Very early, those first followers of Jesus messed with this prayer (as we might say today!). The prayer needed expansion, even clarification. It needed a benediction, and this one soon became popular.

Our version of the Prayer today is mostly from the age of Elizabeth. Queen Elizabeth ruled Ireland and England from 1558 to 1603. This was the age of Shakespeare. And eight years after her death, the official English version of the Bible was published. We call it the King James Version, because he succeeded her as monarch; but it was Elizabethan English, full of thees and thous and thines.

That language lingers still in our minds and in our Prayer. I wish we would take it out. It is not our language. It is somebody else’s language. It is the language of yesteryear not today. The Prayer needs to speak to us, in our language, in our idiom. This old language is taken out in all the modern translations of the Bible.

We have already edited the Prayer a little, haven’t we? We added that word “creator” to the Prayer. Our father, creator, hallowed be thy name. “May Your name be kept holy” is the way the New Living Bible puts it. But I will get to that next week!

Today, our minds and hearts are focused on this word “creator” and how it speaks to us about the nature and purpose of God. Yes, I said last week I would welcome a longer list of nouns, like: “Our father, our mother, our creator, our redeemer, our strength in a time of trouble.” But I can’t tackle all that in one Sunday, or even one year!

But this one word, creator, is a good word for today. God is the artist that imagined all there is. God is the engineer that figured how to put it together. God is the cosmic manager that knows how to keep it going. Thanks be to God.


“In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.”

This is one of the most famous opening lines in world literature. Others might be: “All Gaul is divided in three parts.” Or “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” Or “A long, long time ago in a galaxy far away …” or my favorite, “In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit.”

Scientists are still peering back into the history of all things, back down the dark expanse of space, seeking to discern how it happened and when. The current theory is called the Big Bang, but in a dozen years or more, a new theory might emerge.

The ancients were also fascinated by how things came to be and when, and they took to poetry rather than science. Their description has not been ruled out of date by the latest scientific theory. Their description has stood the test of time. “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth”: meaning, all that is out there (the universe), and all that is in here (the human body and brain) is the work of our creative God.

This is the persistent witness of thoughtful, faithful people.

The priest Melchizedek first spoke these words, “Blessed be Abram, by God Most High, (el elyon) creator of heaven and earth.”

The psalmist wrote, “When I look at the night sky and see the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars you set in place.”

The prophet Isaiah penned these words, “Have you never heard? Have you never understood? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of all the earth.”

The conviction that God was creator of all started slow and low and, like a jet liner taking off, gathered speed and altitude; and finally it flies as a chief component of the faith of Jews, Christians, and Muslims.

Indeed, the very structure of our time is a testimony to the creation of God.

On the first day, God made light; on the second day, God made space; on the third day, God made land and all vegetation; on the fourth day, God made the sun and the moon; on the fifth day, God filled the seas with fish and filled the sky with birds; on the sixth day, God populated the land with animals, including the one God called man and woman.

On the seventh day, God rested from creation. God sanctified the one day for rest, for renewal, for prayer, for worship, for friendship, for food.

The structure of our weeks reminds us of the creative power and purpose of God. It is right and appropriate that, on this our sabbath, we add this word to our prayer, “Our father, creator, may your name be holy.”


But it is not the creation of the world that most interests us today. It is God’s creation of you and me, God’s creative work among us.

God created you. You are not just the happenstance of DNA and chromosomes. You are not just an accident of nature and passion. You are not just an accident of history and human activity. God the creator, artist, engineer, and manager was thinking about you, designing you, manipulating things to make something good happen.

Once upon a time, this assertion would have been laughed out of the room. How could God be thinking about billions of people? How could any deity pay attention to so much scattered over such great expanse? How could any of us be the object of God’s interest and attention?

Then came the computer!

Processors are now measured at billions of instructions per second, MIPS, it is called in their language. I stop at the service station, insert my credit card, and within a second or two, some processor somewhere permits this particular gas pump to sell me $40 worth of gas. How many such transactions are going on around the world while I am lifting the handle and inserting it into the gas tank of my car? And this is a machine!

It is no longer far-fetched to confess that God hears your prayers, knows your need, sends mercy and grace to you, and to me, and to millions of others around the world. It is no longer silly to assert that God provides food for all creatures great and small, for all the children of the world, red and yellow and black and white. It is no longer preposterous to think that God knit you together when you were still in your mother’s womb. If a human construction called a computer can track all of us wherever we go, so can God! Don’t you think?

But God is not tracking you; God is transforming you “from one degree of glory to another.” That is the way Paul the early apostle described the work of God in you. “You are a new creation,” he writes in another place. Old things are falling away; new things are coming into life!

Even while we feel much of our physical and mental capacities losing their luster and strength, God is renewing our minds, reviving our spirits, and refreshing our selves.

We sing sometimes that wonderful prayer, “Spirit of the Living God, fall fresh on me. Spirit of the Living God, fall fresh on me. Break me, melt me, mold me, fill me. Spirit of the Living God, fall fresh on me.”

It is not just you and me as individuals. Yes, God is doing a good work in you and around you and through you; but God is also doing a good work in us and around us and through us. God the creator is making something new with us, with Providence Church, with this community of people.

Look around you. Note these people. Bring to mind those around the Worship Meal table, and those who read our newsletter, and those who join us on line. We—all of us—are part of the great work of the creator God. “Behold, I do a new thing,” the Hebrew prophet declared many years ago. As your preacher, pastor, and prophet, I declare the same: God is doing a new thing among us. Old things are passing away, the new is coming.

We may not live to see what God has in mind. Some of us are nearer glory than we wish; like Martin Luther King, we confess we may not live to see what God has in store. But today, we gather with this confidence: Our Father Creator is alive and doing a great work among us. Our Father Creator is bringing hope out of despair, friends out of enemies, energies out of apathy, ideas out of emptiness, grace out of grumpiness, and love out of loneliness. It is the work of God, the Almighty.

If God can bring light into the darkness, God can lift us up, make us strong, bind us to one another, and empower us to walk in the light! Let us do it with faith, with enthusiasm, with the Lord Jesus Christ. Let’s do it together!


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