This weekend we near the end of Lent, begin the holiest of weeks, and draw to a close our six-part series on the Lord’s Prayer. After processing with the palms around the church, singing “All Glory, Laud, and Honor,” and hearing Matthew’s Passion, I will preach upon the very last line in the prayer that Jesus taught us: “For the kingdom, the power and the glory are yours, now and forever.” It’s the perfect day to think about the end of the prayer, because the reality is that no day in our life as Christians crystallizes the meaning of these words quite as well as Palm Sunday – a day that is all about the nature of God’s kingdom, power, and glory.
When I tell the story of Christ’s Passion to children, I often begin by telling them a story about King Backward. I ask children to tell me where kings are born and where they live, and the answer is always the same: in a palace. I ask children to tell me what kings where, and the answer is obvious: fancy clothes and a crown. I ask children to tell me who kings hang out with, and the answer is always queens and princes and knights. I ask the children where kings sit and what they do all day: “On a big throne, and duh! – they do whatever they want!” And then I tell them about King Backward, who seems to not know what kings are supposed to do. Instead of living in palace, he was born in a stable and didn’t really have a home of his own. Instead of wearing fancy clothes, he said it doesn’t matter what we wear, and he didn’t collect any possessions. Instead of hanging out with fancy people, he picked the people who were forgotten or disliked to be his friends. And instead of spending his days in luxury, bossing people around from his throne, he traveled from place to place loving and serving others. Yes, King Backward is a very strange sort of king, indeed.
But it turns out that King Backward didn’t have it backward at all. Because his way, his truth, his life, shows us that it’s us who have things backward. We are the ones who have been confused about what God is really like, what life is really meant to be about, and we’ve gotten totally backward the nature of power and glory. Jesus, our King Backward, actually shows us the way to live right-side up.
They say be careful what you wish for, and the same is definitely true with prayer. Because when we pray the Lord’s Prayer, we pray for Jesus’ kingdom, power and glory, and not our own. We pray for a kingdom that is less about domination and more about service. We pray for a power that rejects might for the sake of love. And we pray for a glory that finds its deepest meaning in sacrifice. When we pray this prayer, we have to be ready to have our lives flipped upside down by our King Backward.
I invite you – no, I implore you – to walk the way of the cross with us this week. Come and join us for the fullness of Holy Week. Set aside the notion that Holy Week is a downer, or that coming for the Easter Vigil or on Easter Day is enough. Come and share with us as we tell these stories and remember these events and reconnect with the one whose passion for us has literally saved us. Walk the way of our King Backward, for his is the kingdom and the power and the glory, forever and ever.