In a storage room at Axelrad Beer Garden sits a plastic container. In the container sits a box of matzo crackers, disinfectant wipes, a first aid kit, extra masks, and a cracked wooden plate with matching chalice. Essentials for an in-person worship service.
These latter pieces are the communion dishes that sit on stage at City Church each Sunday. Made of black walnut. Scratched on the bottom, “‘His Body Broken For You.’ City Church Houston. 10/15.” And is this the plate and the cup, the cup I can’t help but clasp with care as though it is full despite it always being empty, is this the cup that holds a stairwell to something more than a workaday life? Well, not exactly.
In her new book, Tish Harrison Warren says, “Faith, I’ve come to believe, is more craft than feeling. And prayer is our chief practice in the craft.” This Lent, we are exploring the Lord’s Prayer through image, a practice, we pray, that is hospitable to your soul for the times at hand.
And so when I look at this image of bread and cup with stairs leading inward and onward, it makes me think of all the means we have used this year to remember that we are God’s and he is not far from each one of us. Maybe it has looked like Zoom calls or Instagram Live or making a whole new rhythm of life in such disruptive times. All gifts of connection in the waiting. Gifts we are sick and tired of.
But the craft of a prayer life, an internal and external life of communion with our Maker, need not be stifled by waiting—a practice we can clasp with care because it is full even when the world or the words feel empty. An invitation to the Lord’s Prayer through image is not a way to bankroll our hopes of getting what we want from God, but an invitation to the subtlety of the craft of faith. Grace, from first to last.
In grace we do not march on up those stairs only when it suits us, and we do not slouch down those stairs alone. But rather the first word of the world Jesus invites us into in the Lord’s Prayer is “Our.” “Our is plural possessive,” notes the author of May It Be So. That box at Axelrad is for “us” and “our,” and even while we wait to be all in a room safely together, never forget there is an “us” and an “our” in this journey toward something more.
“This, then, is how you should pray:
'Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from the evil one.’”
For Lent 2021, we will reflect on the Lord’s Prayer through images. Images come from Scott Erickson, originally found in May It Be So: Forty Days with the Lord’s Prayer by Justin McRoberts and Scott Erickson (Colorado Springs: WaterBrook, 2019). Images used with permission.