Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Pronouns Matter

No, this is not a post about the decision of some newspaper to use "they" when the sex of a person in unknown.

Nor is it about the struggles that we have to use the right pronoun for transgender friends.

It's about the pronouns we encounter in the Lord's Prayer.

Although I share with many a sadness at the loss in common usage of the familiar pronouns - thou, thee, thy, and thine - as well as a sadness that so many people misunderstand their use in prayer, that's not my soapbox here.

Praying the Lord's Prayer is a radically anti-individualistic practice. I am not addressing my Father in separation from others. Only as one within the We can I pray. And, who gets to define that We? Certainly not me or any of the other children. That prayer does not countenance any dividing of children into Us and Them. It does not countenance the kind of superior moralism that I often exhibit and which has been a frequently prominent feature of American Christianity. To oppose evil in society without recognizing and confessing my complicity is betrayal of the Gospel.

The other important pronoun is Thy. It is not our will that is to be done, nor our kingdom that is to come, but God's. And if we think we understand God's will perfectly we are mistaken. We, as Paul wrote, see through a glass darkly. We catch glimpses, most often after the fact, of what God's will is, what God is up to. We making guesses about what God wants us to do, sometimes reasonably good guesses, at other times disastrous. We stumble off the path, yielding to all sorts of temptations, come to ourselves like the younger son in the parable, repent, are forgiven, and carry on. It's all not at all neat and tidy, this walking in the Way of the Cross, but is, as another prayers says, the way of life and peace.