Youth Sunday slot


If Jesus was in person with us today would this be how he would teach us to pray:

R Pa in hvn, prz ur name, ur hood here, ur wil b done, provide 4 r needs, 4giv r sins as we 4giv peps who dis us.  Keep us frm haters & lead us on da rite path. U r da bomb, glory 2 u 4eva n eva. Amen

This was composed as part of a Sunday morning youth project to rewrite sections of scripture in the words and phrases used in our own culture and in particular to use the shorthand prose used in text messages and to endeavour to synthesize the passage into the length of a twitter (i.e. 140 characters).

Here is how the Lords prayer appears in our Bible:

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 yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.]  Matthew 6: 9-13 TNIV

A justification for our modernizing this prayer in our own lingo is actually part of what Jesus was teaching us.  In his day the language of prayer to Yahweh in Jewish communities was that of Hebrew.  However, the language of everyday life was Aramaic.  One of the many novel contributions that Jesus brought us in this prayer is that of praying in the common tongue as opposed to the more formal language of Hebrew, i.e. there is no scared language.

Of course rewriting this prayer isn’t anything new many attempts have been tried here are a few.

Eugene Peterson in The Message:

Our Father in heaven, Reveal who you are.  Set the world right; Do what’s best – as above, so below.  Keep us alive with three square meals.  Keep us forgiven with you and forgiving others.  Keep us safe from ourselves and the Devil.  You’re in charge!  You can do anything you want!  You’re ablaze in beauty!  Yes.  Yes.  Yes.

Rob Lacey in The Street Bible:

God in heaven, you’re our dad.  We respect everything you stand for.  We want others to.  Please bring heaven on earth: people living life your way, like the angels do.  Please bring us what we need to keep us going each day.  Please acquit us, as we cancel our grievances and throw them all away.  Please pull us back from the edge of evil, if you’re to take the credit.  You’re on your own.  It’s your throne.  Absolutely!

(I know it’s not very ‘street’, perhaps it was back in 2003 when it was published!)

The Ship of Fools (a Christian humor magazine) also ran a competition for a text message version back in 2001, here are the top three entries:

dad@hvn, ur spshl.we want wot u want&urth2b like hvn.giv us food&4giv r sins lyk we 4giv uvaz.don’t test us!save us!bcos we kno ur boss, ur tuf&ur cool 4 eva!ok?

r pa in evan, respect 2 u, may u rain ear as in evan. giv us r needs, 4giv rsin as we 4giv r nmes. resq us from the evil 1. 4 ur always the most xlent dude. yo

God@heaven.org, You rule, up and down. We need grub and a break. Will pass it on. Keep us focused. You totally rule long term. Amen

I think ours is the best.  What do you think?

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I often do a Sunday morning activity with the youth that attend our church service.  A recent project has been to rewrite sections of scripture in the words and phrases used in our own culture and in particular to use the shorthand prose used in text messages and to endeavour to synthesize the passage into the length of a twitter (i.e. 140 characters).

Here is the NIV version of Psalm 134 (by all accounts the second shortest of the bible):

“Praise the LORD, all you servants of the LORD who minister by night in the house of the LORD.  Lift up your hands in the sanctuary and praise the LORD.  May the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth, bless you from Zion.”

We reworked this as follows:

“Prz GOD aL u Gs of GOD hu rap aL nite on da graveyrd shift. Put ur h&z ^ in prz. mA da GOD hu mAkz hvn&erth bls u frm paradize.”

Psalm 134 (the final psalm in a series of “songs of ascent”) talks of blessing (both us blessing God – praising him in the NIV version and God blessing us).  It talks of a people serving all night in the temple, presumably keeping the lamps lit, or on guard duty or perhaps praying through the night.  In our version we took on this sense of being on the graveyard shift (cold, lonely, tired, …) but then suddenly it dawns on you where you are (in the sacred temple) and your filled with a tremendous urge to praise the LORD and lift your hands in prayer and are filled with an awe for him who made heaven and earth.

I often do a Sunday morning activity with the youth that attend our church service.  A recent project has been to rewrite sections of scripture in the words and phrases used in our own culture and in particular to use the shorthand prose used in text messages and to endeavour to synthesize the passage into the length of a twitter (i.e. 140 characters).

We started off with the shortest Psalm (in fact the shortest chapter in the whole bible), that of Psalm 117.  Here is the NIV we took as our basis:

“Praise the LORD, all you nations; extol him, all you peoples.  For great is his love toward us, and the faithfulness of the LORD endures forever.  Praise the LORD.”

And this is our reworked version:

“Prz GOD, all u Gs. Big em up, all u thgs. His luv is awsom 4 us omies cuz He’s got ur back 4 eva. Prz GOD.”

Although this is the shortest Psalm it has a gigantic scope urging “all nations” and “all peoples” to praise the LORD.  The justification for this praise are the divine attributes of his steadfast love and faithful towards “us”.  Now this presents an interesting puzzle for interpretation, should the “us” incorporate Israel and the “all nations/peoples” or is it that the “all nations/peoples” recognise the overwhelming love and enduring faithfulness that God has shown Israel and will therefore be compelled to praise God!?  Is the psalmist encouraging the reader/worshiper (in my case a non-Israelite) to take a look at Israel’s salvation history and join with them (Israel) in praise at God’s saving works.  Notice that it doesn’t give details … this is if you like the minimalist statement of thanksgiving possible … bare bones stuff.  It could even be possible that this psalm was composed in the return from exile or after the rebuilding of the temple and that there is a hint at goading the enemies (other nations) … ‘you can try and destroy our nation and burn down the temple in Jerusalem, but God’s love for us endured and he had our backs as he promised and now we return and even you must pay tribute to that!’  It can be read as a beckoning cry calling us to acknowledge the incredible kindness God has shown us and take heed of his steadfast truth.  Let us join and become full participants in God’s salvation plans for the world.