Sunday, March 21, 2010

"And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil." ("And do not bring us to the time of trial, but rescue us from the evil one." NRSV)

To some: pornography; alcohol; gossip; racism and other prejudices; the "short-cut"; off-color jokes; lies, both big and little; not speaking out when appropriate; speaking, when not appropriate; cursing; inaction when action is needed; action when inaction is what is called for; not listening because "too busy" or judging that it is "not important"; judging others; laziness; etc., ect. All of these, and innumerable more, are what Ellsworth Kalas in this week's Session on his Reflections on the Lord's Prayer, would call the "stuff of everyday living."

We are taught to pray, "Lead us not into temptation (tests or trials), but deliver us from evil", or as Kalas cites from the New Revised Standard Version, "And do not bring us to the time of trial, but rescue us from the evil one."

No one escapes or is immune from the pain, the sufferings, the afflictions to body or possessions, or the everyday "stuff" of life. No one. It is life and God does not shield us from them. The question, of course, is how do we respond, receive, and react to these life events.

Martin Luther recites a story where a student wanted to be rid of his thoughts. The teacher responded, "Dear brother, you cannot hinder the birds in the air from flying over your head; but you can prevent them from building a nest in your hair."

We will, everyday, go through the temptations, the "stuff" of life. So we pray that we respond, receive, and react to the evil as God would have us respond. And, as a result, over time we come to know ourselves and God--discovering that we cannot do anything but continue to sin and do evil unless our reliance and trust is on God alone, from Whom our strength comes.

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