June 30, 2013

June 30, 2013

June 30, 2013 – First Baptist Church Edmonton – Rev. Dr. Ryan Sato

The Lord’s Prayer, Parts 4 & 5: “Of Debts and Deliverance”

Today we conclude our series on the Lord’s Prayer.

Let me ask again….Have you had any new revelation or discovery re: the Lord’s prayer in the past weeks? I have urged us to carry this prayer in our lives as a prayer we cannot live without.

Has the Lord’s Prayer changed the way you pray?
For you type A, organized personalities out there, perhaps even the 6 petitions, can be petitions that you carry with you each day of the week (give yourself a Sabbath break on Sundays!): Mon: “Your name be hallowed”; Tues: “Your kingdom come”; Wed: “Your will be done”; Thurs: “Give us this day our daily bread”; Friday: “Cancel our debts”; Sat: “Rescue us from the evil-one.”

Or, simply use the prayer to close your times of quiet prayer each day….slowly repeating each petition, slowly, thoughtfully.

One of my denominational colleagues shared how doing her own “personal paraphrase” of the Lord’s prayer helped shape her times of quiet meditation…here’s how she put it:

i) God of my Jesus, the very air that I breathe
ii) You are something else!
iii) Have your way with me
iv) Meet my needs
v) Let me hold onto nothing but you
vi) Protect me in my vulnerability

Now, onto the final 2 petitions:

“Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those you trespass against us.”

Now as I have noted earlier in this series, I’ve been taking cues/insights from Darrel Johnson’s book “57 Words that Change the World.”

When Johnson writes about this petition, he reminds us that that greek word for trespass is “opheile-mata” which is better translated as the plural word “debts” – – things that are owed.

Johnson goes on to comment on all the things that we owe to God…and he uses the early church father, Origen (185-254), to spell this out for us in what Origen calls the “3-fold nature of debt”…

  • We owe a debt to our fellow humans: to family, friends, the poor, the aged…to love our neighbour, to love as Jesus loves.
  • We owe a debt to ourselves: our body, our mind, our soul…to use them in such a way as to honor them, to grow them, to live in ways that are holy and life-giving.
  • We owe a debt to God. To love God with all our heart, minds, soul and strength…to trust God with ALL our needs and worries.

In light of all this debt, Origen goes on to say: “While we are alive, there is not a single hour, day or night, when we are not a debtor.”

And that is why we pray: Forgive us our trespasses (debts) as we forgive those who trespass against us.

Let’s not forget the 2nd phrase of this petition….as Jesus would “parabolize” later in the gospel of Matthew and tell the story of the Unforgiving Servant (Matt. 18:23-35), we are reminded that because of the great debt that we are forgiven (in this story, a debt of 10 million dollars), we are called to forgive all those lesser debts (100 dollar debts) that are owed to us.

Forgiven people live as forgivers. This is how people know that our lives our shaped by the spirit and heart of Jesus. Do you think we are known in our neighbourhoods and community as people who are forgivers?? Think of that old camp song: “They will know we are Christians by our love”…and substitute forgiveness for love!!

This kind of stopped me in my tracks this week: When was the last time you equated a Christian with being a great “forgiver”??
THIS is why we pray!!

This might be the hardest petition of this prayer…pause and think of the person or people who you have the biggest problem with…picture them…and even in the midst of all the reasons you have to hate them, to hold a grudge against them, to never talk to them again for the rest of eternity…. Think or quietly pray this petition with them in mind… “Forgive us our sins…as we forgive those who sin against us.”
It won’t be magic…but it may start a new pathway to freedom and release.

Do you want start your summer with a feeling of freedom? Perhaps some of our first steps should be on the path of forgiveness…

The power of forgiveness leads us to – –
“Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from the evil one.”
Martin Luther, the protestant reformer, is known to have said that “he went to bed with the 5th petition of the Lord’s Prayer and woke up with the 6th petition. What do you think?
Going to bed reflecting on the ways we are complicit with the sin and brokenness of the world, asking for grace and forgiveness…and then waking up asking that God would protect us, guide us and even deliver us from the challenges and pitfalls of living life in the real world.

Now some Christians over the past centuries have wrestled with the first part of this petition… “Lead us not into temptation.”

Why do we need to pray to God to lead us NOT into temptation? Is that the heart of God? To lead us IN TO temptation?

It’s one of those “why would a loving God…” questions that people ask.

When we hit snafu’s in God’s character like this, it’s important to step back and look at the WHOLE story of God…when we hear and read the GodStory, are we presented with a image of God who is gleefully setting us up day after day, leading us into temptation?

NO! But we do know from the God story that humankind is “prone to wander”….
we saw it in the garden of Eden,
we saw it with the people of Israel as they struggled to stay obedient to God,
we saw it with the disciples as they tried to understand the radical way that Jesus was trying to model and teach to them.

Frederick Bruner’s translation of this tricky petition is helpful here, where he talks of temptation as being a place…

He re-phrases this petition as: “Let us not get into Temptation’s House…Don’t let us go there!….” Bruner is implying that entering into places of temptation is not God’s fault…it is the evil one who is constantly trying to seduce disciples into Temptation’s House, and thus the disciples are to pray: “Don’t let it happen!”

Which leads us to the final phrase…

“Deliver us from the evil one.”

In North American culture it becomes fairly easy to forget about the evil one. Is it a person? It is a legion of people? Is it this general force of lawlessness and lovelessness that lurks around the world?

It’s probably a swirling together of all of these…

Again, the commentator Fred Bruner has been helpful here… He writes: “The devil, the devilish person, and then (our own)devilish behavior should be kept in mind when we pray this final petition for deliverance.”

We live in a broken world…a world broken by the devil and all the devil’s forces…and the prayer of Jesus followers is a prayer that we might be delivered from the evil one’s influences upon our whole beings: body, heart, soul and mind.

Reflection: What might we need to be delivered from today?

How might pausing with this portion of the Lord’s prayer lead to places of release this week?

When we are wrestling with the evil one, sometimes it’s big and obvious…a matter of rebuking the darkness with the name and power of Jesus…[ie. in overwhelming darkness, utter the name of Jesus!]

other times (and this is probably more common in our north American experience) it’s more subtle and perhaps it’s a circumstance or conflict in your life has made you choose the way of the evil one VS the way of Jesus.
In that instance, we need to get into the habit of asking God to help us lay down our weapons and becoming peacemaker…following Jesus in the way of love and non-violence. That phrase “turning our swords into ploughshares” comes to mind…

I had a conversation this past week and the person made the comment: Isn’t it frustrating to follow this Jesus who always chooses the way of love and non-violence to get things done?

We take things into our own hands through power and control…when things aren’t going our way, we grab for the reigns…we use weapons of words, intimidation, force, shame, expertise…and yet the model of Jesus is always the way of non-violence and shalom… do not fear, Jesus says to us…he breathes on us the breath of the Holy Spirit and delivers us from ways of the evil one.

Again, Bruner’s extended translation of this petition is helpful:

Dear Father, please lead us in such a way that we will be able to resist the temptations that surround us; please swoop down and rescue us from all the wiles of the Evil One and from the power of all his evil people and works – – we need your help.

Or I draw your attention to our confession prayer of the day:
We have listened to voices
who distracted us from your call.
We have submitted to powers
competing for our loyalty to you.
We have not taken the hand you offer
to lead us out of godforsakenness,
and into your holy ways.

The heart of God is always invitation…God is not leading us into temptation…God is always inviting us into the way of wholeness, holiness and peace.
As we follow this invitation we find ourselves delivered from temptation’s house and delivered from the evil one.

Just before the closing thoughts…I need to speak to the reality that the final phrases of our traditional Lord’s prayer is not in the text of the Gospel of Mattthew. Reality is that this was an “add on” that’s stuck with this prayer of the early church.

So the prayer in it’s original form, starts with God and ends with mess and adventure!…with us trying to stay out of temptation’s house and needing to be delivered from the wiles and schemes of the evil one…it’s not neat and tidy…it’s prayer on the run VS prayer on a quaint, secluded island with you and your pal Jesus!


So let us continue to learn to use the Lord’s prayer as a prayer on the run…

Praying as we go…praying without ceasing….and praying in the Spirit.

[invite people to share what they have learned]
Q: What is 1 thing that you might take with you on your journey of faith in the wake of this series on the Lord’s Prayer??

Let us join in this modern translation of the Lord’s prayer:

Our Father
very close at hand,
on the throne of the universe:

Be hallowed(!) your name,
on earth as it is in heaven;

Come(!) your kingdom,
on earth as it is in heaven;
Be done(!) your will,
on earth as it is in heaven.

Give us this day all we need
to be your people.

Cancel our debts,
as we have cancelled the debts
of our debtors.

And don’t let us be led
into any temptation,
but rescue us from the twisting
wiles of the evil-one.
(He wants us to think that you are
not as good as Jesus says you are.)

All this, and more, you can do,
For yours is the kingdom,
and the power,
and the glory.
So be it.
(Darrell W. Johnson)