The La Sierra University Church is a Seventh-Day Adventist Congregation, Serving Western Riverside in Southern California.

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Day 19, Romeo, Juliet and Jesus

"For yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever."

The pictures above depict perhaps the most iconic scene from William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet where Romeo and Juliet, at night, passionately declare their love for each other and resolve to marry in spite of the feud between their families. For the modern reader or viewer to imagine this famous play without the so-called “balcony scene” is almost impossible. To think of Romeo and Juliet is to think of this scene.

Thus it was a great surprise when I read an article a few years ago that claimed Romeo and Juliet Has No Balcony. According to historian Lois Leveen there is no stage direction at this point in the play, nor any mention of the word “balcony.”

She imagines that it is one word that we might have expected Shakespeare to invent, but no. The Oxford English Dictionary dates the first reference to 1618, about two decades after the play was written. So the question is, Why is the balcony scene so impressed upon the collective consciousness, when no character in the play, and nothing in the stage directions, refers to it as such?

Leveen argues that “the history of how the balcony scene evolved over the past four centuries reveals that even when it comes to Shakespeare, audiences may care less about the original text than about adaptations and revisions that appeal to the sensibilities of the current era,” and she concludes that “adaptation is not a violation of some unalterable essence of Shakespeare's oeuvre—it's integral to our experience of his work.”

As with all scholarship, there is debate regarding how to interpret this matter, but what is clear is that the word “balcony” does not appear in the play. What is also clear is that the balcony scene is an adaptation that has stood the test of time and enhanced the meaning and power of the scene.

Just like the absence of a balcony in Romeo and Juliet, the Lord’s Prayer that Jesus taught in Matthew 6 does not contain the doxology at the end: “For yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.” It is not there! At least in the earliest manuscripts. (It is not in Luke’s version of the prayer either, see Luke 11:2-4.) Your bible translation may include a note stating that other ancient authorities add, in some form, this last sentence. So the question is, why is this doxology included in the Lord’s Prayer?

The phrase is potentially the oldest piece of Christian writing after the New Testament itself. Doxologies were common practice in early Christian worship. From archeological and historical research, we learn that in copying the early Greek text, this doxology was often included in the margin, because it was a fitting response to the Lord’s Prayer. And over time, it moved from the margin to the text, because it was commonplace to say it in worship after saying the Lord’s Prayer. And eventually, it became an accepted part of the text and has so for hundreds of year.

So, if it isn’t “original,” should we include it in our worship? Absolutely, yes! “For yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever” is both biblical in content (the language is taken from 1 Chronicles 29:11-13) and appropriate to the spirit of the Lord’s Prayer.

Early Christian worshippers responded to the three “your” petitions (hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done) and the three “us” petitions (give us daily bread, forgive us our debts, leas us not into temptation) with this three-fold doxology.

The kingdom is not ours or the world’s—it’s God’s.
The power is not ours or the world’s—it’s God’s.
The glory is not ours or the world’s—it’s God’s.

The world’s kingdoms of military, economic, religious, political and idealogical power hold apparent sway, yes, but God’s kingdom of peace and love, God’s power, which is non-violent and self-sacrificial, and God’s glory, which is expressed in the form of humble service—these are what Christians affirm and work toward each time we say this prayer.


Day 20, Where your treasure is

Day 18, Right actions, wrong motives