Skip to main content

Prayer Part 4 of 4


 

As we follow the Narrative Lectionary, this is our 4th and final week of the Lord's prayer as found in Luke 11:2-4.  We will cover the following portion of the prayer:

"And lead us not into temptation."

Note the absence of the common closing "For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen."  This closing is called the doxology and it is found in Matthew, but only in later manuscripts.  The oldest manuscripts do not contain it, so many scholars consider it to be an addition.  I see no problem with the addition, just an interesting tidbit to note as we explore the end of this prayer.

On the other hand, you may also notice the absence of "but deliver us from evil" which is also found in Matthew, but in this case, it is even found in the oldest manuscripts, but not here in Luke.  I often find myself taking a bit from each, including "but deliver us from evil" but staying silent during the doxology.  I probably overthink it.

I find all of this a bit ironic actually.  As we pray for God to lead us away from temptation, we may find ourselves lost in the weeds of dogmatic belief.  Which parts are really in there? What was added?  Which parts are really the words of Jesus?  Who would have the gall to add to the words of Jesus anyway?  Lord, lead me away from the temptation to take a stance on this.  They are all good words praising you, keep me from getting stuck in my head.

A few years ago the Pope took a controversial stance on this portion of the prayer.  He claimed the translation of "lead us not into temptation" implicated God in our temptation and so it was incorrect.  He suggested the translation "do not let us fall into temptation".  Theologians from all over the world took a stance.  They wrestled with the question of what role God has in evil.  As they did this they found deeper and darker chasims forming between groups and denominations.  Jesus' prayer in John 17:21 "may they be one as we are one" was pushed to the side over gramatical arguments.  All of this as we prayed "Lord, lead us not into temptation".  

It is funny how we can get lost in our own little world.  It is easy to draw lines that keep the people we think are wrong out.  It feels safer if we can control who is in and who is out.  I have seen a trend on social media lately.  As politics divide us, we have started to draw lines in the sand.  We say things like "if you don't think X you can just go ahead and unfriend me now" or "if you do X you are part of the problem".  This type of line drawing never brings people in, it only pushes them out.  Jesus was constantly drawing bigger circles, and challenging us to do the same.  "Lord, lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil".  

One of my favorite poems talks about the beauty of expanding circles

"He drew a circle that shut me out.  Heretic, rebel, a thing to flout.  But love and I had the wit to win: We drew a circle and took him IN!" - Edwin Markham

Lord, lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.  Teach us to draw bigger circles and help us to avoid shutting people out.  Amen.

  


Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Death Will Lose it's Sting

Our reading from the Narrative Lectionary this week is 1 Corinthians 15:51-57. In these verses, Paul reveals a mystery, that in the end some will be transformed, given a new body, instead of facing death.  In other words death is not one of life's two certain terms.  It seems taxes may be the only guarantee.   "...in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except  death and taxes ." - Benjamin Franklin. Ok, all jokes aside, these verses are difficult to read.  Paul looks forward to a time when death will have no victory, it will have lost its sting.  But today, we are in the middle of a pandemic, surrounded by death.  Many are scared for their lives, or their loved ones, and too many have already been lost.  Death does not seem to have lost its sting at all, it feels as if it is closing in. When I worked in wilderness therapy I remember holding a child who was desperately trying to kill himself.  We cried together as he struggled to end it, and I struggled

Fool for Christ

Our reading from the Narrative Lectionary this week is 2 Corinthians 5.  Verse 13 stood out to me. If it seems we are crazy, it is to bring glory to God. - 2 Corinthians 5:13a (NLT) John Wimber, the founder of the Vineyard churches did a famous sermon called "I am a fool for Christ, whose fool are you?".  Reading this week's text reminded me of this wonderful sermon.  Wimber's sermon reminds us that, as christians, we are called to something truly radical.  The christian walk is strange and counter cultural.  Jesus once explained this to his disciples in John 15 "If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. You don't belong to this world, I have chosen you out of it.  That is why the world hates you."   Peter, in a letter to the church, later referred to all of us as strangers just passing through this world.   Do you feel like a stranger?  Do you feel like the world hates you?  Are you a fool for Christ? Here is the thing, you are going t

Looking Back?

"Remember Lot’s wife!  "   -  Luke 17:32 This is one of the shortest verses in the Bible.  Jesus was talking about the terrible circumstances that will be present when he comes back.  He was warning people that they would not see it coming.  People will be going about their business and then suddenly, without warning, chaos will take over.  People will need to flee, and he warns them not to go back for their possessions, for anything.  This is where he says "Remember Lot's wife!".  In desperation he pleads with them to remember the fate of this woman.  To his listeners it would bring to mind the story of Lot and his family fleeing the destruction of Sodom.  They too were warned not to go back for anything, not to even look back, but Lot's wife did look back.  And when she did, she turned into a pillar of salt.   Metaphorically speaking this is often what happens when we look back.  We get frozen in place and we cease moving forward.  I have a childhood frie