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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.

  


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