Last week we continued our six-part series on the Lord’s Prayer by considering the idea of forgiveness. “Forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us,” Jesus teaches us to pray. In my sermon last week, I tried to deconstruct some of the reasons why forgiveness so often eludes us, and why it is so important that we not give up, because according to Jesus our forgiveness of others is deeply connected with our experience of God’s forgiveness of us.
This week Mother Erin will preach about the next line of Jesus’ prayer: “Save us from the time of trial, and deliver us from evil.” “Save us” and “deliver us” are big requests, and they stand in stark contrast to one of the bedrock tenants of modern society. The world today attempts to convince us that all suffering, confusion, and pain must be resolved through rugged individualism and personal effort – that it is up to us to set things right or else things will never be right. But if we’re honest, experience and history show us that although we continue to throw ourselves against the battle lines of evil and suffering, though we rally against all those aspects of our society that are wanting, our efforts are not enough. Poverty continues to strangle communities.S Famine still rears its ugly head. Racism continues to fester and poison us. War and violence remain leading options in resolving disputes.
And so, in humbled desperation, we turn to God and pray: “Save us from trial and tribulation, and deliver us from evil, because we aren’t able to overcome them on our own, God!” I sometimes wonder if all Christians, and especially all Episcopalians, should be in a 12-step group. Recovering addicts are more aware than the rest of us of the need to admit our powerlessness against some things that assail us. To pray the words of Jesus, to pray to our Father in heaven to “save us” and “deliver us,” is an acknowledgment that there really is evil in the world, it really is worth resisting, and that we are incapable of accomplishing the battle against it alone. It reinforces our need for humility, and our reliance on God’s strength and power to overcome a world run amok.
We’re only a little over a week away from the start of the holiest of weeks, which begins with the chorus of “Hosanna.” Hosanna means “save us!” and it is our desperate cry to Jesus as we seek his way and his kingdom. Hosanna, Lord. We cannot do this on our own. Sin and evil and death are too much to bear, to face, to defeat on our own. We needed you then, and we need you now. Save us and deliver us, this day and always.