Our Father who art in Zion
Hallowed be Thy name
Thy Kingdom come on earth
Thine will be done on earth
Hallowed be Thy name
From “Our Father in Zion”
Performed by Buju Banton
Songwriters: Donovan Germain / Mark Anthony Myrie (1997)
Brian Phelps stood on his back patio and looked out over the fence at the elementary school. It was a Friday and the kids were all tearing around the playground during recess. Being self-employed meant he didn’t have to punch a clock or commute to work beyond taking a fresh cup of coffee from the kitchen into his office and then sitting down at his computer and working on the next chapter of his novel.
Today, he didn’t feel like writing. Well, that was a lie. He always felt like writing, but he didn’t know how to write this one. A few days ago, yet another shooting happened at a public school. Seventeen people died, most of them students. Brian looked at the children happily playing on the school grounds. “It could just as easily have been you.”
The sixty-three year old man sat heavily in one of the chairs by the patio table. How had things gotten so ugly? He could remember his own childhood growing up in rural Iowa. He had been just as cheerful and carefree as the students just a few hundred years from his backyard seemed to be. He remembered High School. Just about all the guys had gun racks mounted on the back windows of their pickups. After school, sometimes he and his friends would drive out to a vacant field and target practice with their handguns and rifles.
Dad started taking him out duck hunting when he was nine. The first time he fired his new shotgun, the kickback left a big, purple bruise on his shoulder. It took a few times after that to learn how to hit a bird and the first time he brought one down, he felt so proud. The part he hated most was Dad making him pull all the feathers off and then gut it, but you never shot what you weren’t going to eat.
All those years, Brian didn’t even think about how guns hurt and killed people. That happened in big cities where they had gangs and crime or overseas in war. When he was a kid, even in High School, even after he went to College, shootings like the one in Florida were all but unheard of, and guns were even more accessible back then.
“What changed? What the Hell happened, God?” He took a sip of his still hot coffee and then put his hand on his Bible. “I know it’s a fallen world, but it was never this bad before, at least as far as I remember it. What happened, God? Is taking away everyone’s guns really the only answer? A lot of folks think so.”
He pulled the Bible onto his lap and turned the pages until he arrived at Matthew 9. Then he ran his finger down to the ninth verse:
Our Father who is in heaven, hallowed be Your name.
Your kingdom come. Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
Brian closed the Bible again and bowed his head. “How long, Lord? How long until your Kingdom does come and your will finally is done here on Earth as it is done in Heaven? How long?”
He remembered how his wife who had passed last year lamented the same way as he did when one of these tragedies struck. She was Jewish which made being a Christian man married to her for over thirty years interesting. He could still hear her singing along with the recording of the niggun, We Want Moshiach Now!
Moshiach hadn’t come before she died and he hadn’t come last week or even yesterday, and until he does, Brian in his heart believed violence and lawlessness would continue to cause the Earth to spiral out of control. The only thing men and women like he and his wife can do is whatever good they could to repair a broken world until Messiah, Son of David restores the Earth.
“Thy Kingdom come on earth. Thine will be done on earth.”
I wrote this for the Song Lyric Sunday Theme for 2/18/18 hosted by Helen Vahdati. The idea is to find a set of song lyrics that map to the theme word for this week which, for Sunday the 18th, is Earth.
Buju Banton (born Mark Anthony Myrie; 15 July 1973) is a Jamaican dancehall, ragga, and reggae musician who has recorded pop and dance songs, as well as songs dealing with sociopolitical topics.
There’s no specific mention of him being a Christian in spite of the lyrics of this song and in fact:
In 2011 he was convicted of drug smuggling charges in the United States and has since been incarcerated with a scheduled released date in late 2018.
However, it is a very soulful and inspiring song and I decided to see what I could do with the lyrics.
As I’m sure everyone knows, 17 people were killed in the latest school shooting in Florida and the news and social media has one again lit up with very passionate comments on both sides of the Gun Control issue.
I didn’t grow up in rural Iowa (although I lived in Council Bluffs for a few years as a child) but Brian is still sort of my alter ego. My house here in Idaho does back up to an elementary school and if I take a day off during the week, I do sometimes watch the children playing during recess.
I’ve been trying to turn this epidemic of death over and over in my mind and I don’t understand what changed. Back in the 1950s, High Schools had gun clubs, kids took firearms onto school grounds, and some schools even had on campus firing ranges. Such things are unheard of today and the protests against them would be powerful if anyone suggested bringing those activities back.
I don’t pretend to know all the answers and am astounded that any human being believes they are the sole voice of reason and resolution in this debate. I’m not going to play “armchair Quarterback” when parents, family members, and friends are in anguished grief. This is my way of expressing some of how I feel as a parent and Grandparent when children are cut down far too early in life.
My wife is alive (thankfully) and she is Jewish and I don’t doubt that within her she does want “Moshiach Now!”