Fred Craddock, Jr.(+2015), originally from rural Tennessee, was a Professor of Preaching at Emory University in Atlanta and an ordained minister in the Disciples of Christ Church. I find his story-telling unique and intriguing. Here is one very short story that, for me, somehow links us to this Sunday’s second reading, in which the author of the Letter to the Hebrews (5:5-10) reveals the intimacy between the Son and the Father. “In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears…and he was heard because of his reverent submission.” By grace, we share in such intimacy. Indeed, although sometimes hard to believe, we are each called, right where we are, to intimacy with God; hence, the gift of the Lord’s Prayer (Matthew 6 and Luke 11). “Our Father” we say with Jesus….
Before, the Craddock story, however, if I may, a few thoughts from St. Thomas Aquinas (+1274, one of my favorites!), on this Lord’s Prayer, the “Our Father”:
We call God Father because He created us in a special way—namely, in His own image and likeness…because He governs us…because He has adopted us, He granted inheritance…children whereby we cry,Abba (‘Father’).
This prayer is worthy of the utmost confidence in that He who taught us how to pray, graciously hears our prayer together with the Father.
From Craddock Stories (2001, Chalice Press, St. Louis, MO):
I remember Mrs. Foster—you don’t know Mrs. Foster—when her mother was dying of cancer, and Mrs. Foster wanted me to come to the house and have prayer and scripture with her mother, which I did. When I got to the house, she handed me a Lutheran prayer book in German. I said, “I thought your mother was United Methodist?”
She said, “She was. She married my father, who was Methodist, and they were together in the church for over 40 years.”
I said, “What’s this?”
And she said, “My mother came from the old country when she was a teenager. She’s from Germany, and it would mean a lot to her if you would read the Lord’s prayer in German.”
I read her the Lord’s prayer in German, and that dying woman mouthed the words and smiled.
Sharing in this divine intimacy with you,
From the desk of the Rector