One day a Galilean peasant, on the rise in the popularity stakes, sat down with his mates and quietly kicked off a revolution. He started to talk about prayer, which doesn’t sound much like the beginning of an uprising, but in its own small way, it was. It was a globalising manoeuvre.
You see Judaism has a sacred language. Hebrew. The forms of communication about God and to God were laid down in this. And that’s why this young rabbi from Nazareth could shake the world with one word – ‘Abba’. When he told his friends to start their prayers with ‘Our father…’ he used this Aramaic word. Abba. A non sacred language. A bit like swapping the language of the King James Bible for the language of the Radio Times. Ordinary street talk. Life would never be the same again. This was in effect spiritual globalisation.
Praying in Aramaic was unheard of, but in doing this Jesus was taking all the geography and culture out of religion. There was no specific religious language. You could speak to God in any style, dialect or lingo. It wasn’t the phraseology that mattered, it was the genuine communication.
And of course that prayer, which we now call The Lord’s Prayer, is being prayed right now across the globe in any number of languages. Indeed, the very fact that you can read blogs like this, and all the other Biblical stuff on the internet, stems from that day of liberation. Sometimes the biggest doors swing on the smallest of hinges. Jesus knew what he was doing. He wasn’t interested in all the correct phraseology. In fact he warned his friends against needlessly long, waffling prayers. Say it like it is, he said. And so we can and we do to this day, and on into tomorrow…