(upbeat music) -: It’s finally time for us to go home again. We’re starting to move up towards heaven. Let’s go home. And it’s about time that we did go home. “It’s time to go home.” Those are the wonderful words you heard at the end of that first frightening day of preschool. As you looked up, there was your mom standing at the door with your coat in her hands. “It’s time to go home,” is your Father taking your hand and walking you out of school the day Christmas vacation starts. “It’s time to come home,” was what you needed when you came to the end of that experiment of your new job and new apartment, all a thousand miles from home. It wasn’t what you’d expected. You tried it for six months, maybe a year. Then one day, you were talking to Dad. You told him all the things that weren’t going right. He listened, and then the two of you said, at the very same moment, “It’s time to come home.” Dad was waiting in the driveway when you pulled in, and there was not one “I told you so.” All those months away from home, you didn’t fail. You just found out when it was time to come home. That’s the picture for this part of the Prayer. Finding when it’s time to come home and wanting to go home is our biggest step. We’ve been away from home, and now it’s time to go back. With all the words in the Prayer about sin, forgiveness, and temptation, it’s true that not everything has gone the way we planned. But, home has taken hold of us. Our Father has drawn us to Himself. He’s said the words for us and we’re glad to say them with Him together, “It’s time to come home.” We’re on the final steps of our journey home. Every time we pray the Lord’s Prayer, we sum up our life, our creation that echoes heaven, our years of wandering under the clouds, and, finally, our going home. By the seventh petition, we’ve grown tired of this trip. Perhaps at one point, we had just started out in our life, and there were jobs, and families, and homes to build. But, with a little time, we find ourselves saying with our Father, “It’s time to come home.” Remember the flood that surrounded our house and filled our basement? I told you that our neighbor’s daughters sailed around the neighborhood on a pink air mattress. Now imagine trouble. What if there had been a fully-functioning storm drain, four feet in diameter, under that flood water? Now, normally that drain has a grid over it to protect five-year-old sailors, but imagine that the drain cover is gone. Do five-year-olds know this? Do they know where their pink air mattress is going? Not a chance. What they need is a father who sees the danger, wades into the flood, and snatches them up just before they’re taken under. He says, “You come home.” That’s our Father, who sees the currents around us and takes us firmly home. In this chapter, we found our way home, especially through a courtroom drama in Romans 8:31-39. We’re guilty, but God declares us innocent by grace alone. We’re surrounded by those who would like to be our jailers, those who whisper that we should be condemned, but God listens instead to the words of Jesus, who speaks for us. Listen to His words, since He has come back from the dead to speak for us. When it is all done, here comes our Father, pushing the would-be jailers aside. He takes our hand and tells us, “Don’t listen to them, just hold onto me.” When we pray for deliverance, we’re rejoicing in the Father’s hand taking ours. It becomes a hand of comfort and a hand of adventure. This is the wonderful combination that a Father’s hand brings. It is calming assurance because we’re led by someone else. It’s excitement because He knows more than we do and He’s traveled farther. With His hand, both heaven and earth become our path that lead us home. It’s time we go home. We are almost home as we sing the songs of God’s kingdom, power, and glory. The Father has us firmly by hand, and we’re on our way home. But what shall we talk about when we arrive? Many homecomings have this awkward time, right after, “How are you? “How was your trip?” and, “You sure look good.” We’re carrying in the bags and walking up the driveway together with Dad. What do you say then? You haven’t been home as much as you should. Work’s kept you busy and you’ve been away for quite a while. You don’t know the little details of Dad’s life that make conversation easy, the questions about whether there’s any chicken left over from last night and, “Has the neighbor’s dog stopped coming over?” So we’re left walking up the driveway, searching for something to say. If that’s how coming home can be for adult children here, what could we possibly say to our heavenly Father as we walk up to Him? Here we come to our Father’s heavenly dwelling, but what do we know of life there? What can we say of our life that would be of any interest? As we come to the Father’s home, we’re glad for the journey, but are probably left in an awestruck silence. The ending of the Prayer is much like the Psalms which make the Songs of Ascent, Psalms 120-134. These are the songs for the pilgrims to Zion. God reigns on high, His city is in sight, His enemies are crushed, and His mercy brings His own people to His home. These same ideas work for our ending of the Lord’s Prayer. We sing of the kingdom, power, and glory of the Father. His kingdom is before us, and we’re being drawn to it by His grace. His power has assured us that we will be delivered from evil. We can hear again the chorus of saints and angels in glory, and just as in the first petition, we’re amazed that our tiny voice is brought into their song. These words of kingdom, power, and glory are the songs we sing as we ascend. This ending of the Prayer is also like the Psalms in that it stresses the whole company of believers and travelers singing together. It seems natural that, during the Prayer, we focus on ourselves when asking for forgiveness and deliverance from evil. I’ll pray that you be delivered from evil too, but my own danger is probably first in my mind. But in the conclusion, we’re pilgrims freed from some of the day-to-day cares. These few words are a very short spiritual retreat. What is important is the Father, His kingdom, power, glory, and the sudden realization that we’re traveling with so many others far from our ordinary home. Our other focus is on the Father and His uplifting hand which leads us. Feel the strength of the Father’s hand as He takes you up step by step. Perhaps each of the three words, kingdom, power, and glory, might have for you the sensation of being lifted up one more step, as though you aren’t quite able to see the steps and someone lifts you up your hand. We’re walking with the Father and the saints. We’ve traveled a hard road through dry times waiting for bread, failed times needing forgiveness, and dangerous times needing deliverance. The end of the Prayer lets the saints declare now what will be fully revealed at the end of time. Philippians 2:9-11 remind us, “Therefore God has highly exalted Him “and bestowed on Him the name that is above every name, “so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, “in heaven and on earth and under the earth, “and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, “to the glory of God the Father.” When we pray the Prayer’s conclusion, we remember that not only the saints but every creature, redeemed and lost, will announce the kingdom, power, and glory of the Father and His Son. Our Prayer is the smallest beginning of an enormous chorus. Imagine this avalanche of praise. From those whose sins are cleansed, white as snow, and even from those whose hearts have been hard stones, everyone will acknowledge that He is the Lord. We will sing these words of His kingdom, power, and glory now, and in heaven, we’ll never stop. We’ve made it to the end. We’ve come home and now we’ll retrace our steps and think of how this journey of the Lord’s Prayer can vary each time we pray. We’ve been on a long trip through the Lord’s Prayer. I hope that there are some important moments that stand out for you. I especially hope that the overall idea of a journey animates your praying. The Prayer comes to mind with so many images and actions in our days. We’ll recognize the Prayer when we see a house lit late at night and parents waiting up for a teenager to come back, a drought-withered cornfield, a child floating on her pink raft, and a father catching his child just before she falls on the ice. We see and live the Lord’s Prayer as much as we say it. Let’s review some of these key images. We began with an image of your home with the lights on. When we pray the Lord’s Prayer, we should start at our Father’s home. The image that draws us is our Father’s home and the warmth and the light that pour from Him. The Father’s gracious invitation to address Him as Father and to find Him at home brings us to pray. The Lord’s Prayer calls us as it gives us a welcome we don’t deserve but can’t refuse. When we come home to the Father, we pray, “Hallowed be Thy name.” We’ve come to the choir room and are given a part to sing. Right at the beginning of the Prayer, we’re reminded that our words are actually heard and that they have a part in praising His perfect name. As He hears the perfect choir in heaven, He hears us. He blends our song about His perfect name with theirs. While we would love to stay with the choir, it’s time to move on. “Thy kingdom come, “thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven,” are the words of a child taking her father’s hand. She leads him to where her work is waiting. She can’t do it alone, and she doesn’t want to do it long. So she takes his hand and says, “You come too.” Better than sending just the help we need, He brings Himself. The Father comes with us, even to a dry house. He tells us to ask for daily bread, even when the sky looks empty. But before His gifts come into sight, perhaps all we see is the drought. Our world is dry. Long cracks are the only thing growing in our soil. Still, it’s all right, because our Father has come. He comes to claim even the parched earth as His and His good gifts will come. Then, just as we’re waiting for today’s shower, the flood comes. The peak of the journey is the flood of forgiveness that overwhelms us. It buries our sins while it waters the seeds He’s planted. There is such an abundance to this forgiving flood while it saturates us, our neighbor wonders if we have some water to spare. “Of course,” we say, “take all you want. “Don’t worry, it comes back as fast as you can take it.” When the flood comes, He tells us, “It’s time to come home.” This is the crucial point of the trip when we realize that it would be best if we went home. Here’s the best invitation to come home with our Father who’s walking ahead of us. He’s crushed our old enemy so that nothing can separate us from His love. We’ve heard the verdict of the Judge over us, we are not guilty. Now we can return home. With that, the door swings open and we see the Father’s kingdom, power, and glory. Here are the words that no longer ask for gifts but celebrate that this kingdom, power, and glory are already the Father’s. These words take up the melody of the angel choir we heard in the beginning. This song comes to a triumphant end with “Amen.” There’s no doubt and no hesitation in the Prayer. We end with the Father opening the door just as we began. The light and warmth that welcomed us in the beginning take us in again. Thank you for being a part of this journey. God bless all your prayers and especially this journey home.