Sermons on Lord's Prayer
Give us this day our daily bread. These are familiar words we pray together every Sunday, right before the bread is broken in the Eucharistic prayer. Have you ever wondered why we pray these words at that particular moment? Right before Jesus’ body is broken so each and every one of us can receive and take within us the holy presence of Christ? Why does it matter to us that this particular prayer is on our hearts when the sunlight from the altar window shines upon the bread, which seems to glow with holiness as I break it apart, so we can each be fed with this sacred meal? Give us this day our daily bread. We don’t say, “Give me this day MY daily bread” – this prayer sets us within a community. The prayer is spoken by all of us, for all of us. It draws us into a place of understanding that we are all equal – equal in God’s love, equal in our share of God’s abundance, equal in the blessing we take out into God’s world, God’s vineyard. One doesn’t get more if one has had an exceptionally faithful week of prayer, scripture study, and good deeds. Nor does one get less if one is kneeling at the rail for the first time in 20 years and had somehow forgotten about God all that time. It is this fact that makes the invitation to the Eucharist so appropriate and poignant, “So come, you who have much faith and you who have little, you who have been here often, and you who have not been for a long time or ever before, you who have tried to follow and all of us who have failed.”
It is almost unfathomable to me that God leads us into temptation, and yet we pray against that happening each week in the Lord’s prayer as we say, “Lead us not into temptation and deliver us from evil.” If we pray against it happening, it means we must imagine it as a possibility, and one that only the grace or mercy of God can prevent. And our gospel story today reinforces the concept that God leads us into temptation, as it is clearly stated that the Spirit leads Jesus into the wilderness, into the place of testing and temptation. Somehow the time of testing and temptation serves the Spirit’s purpose. Does that seem odd to you?
There is a magnetism that draws the disciples to Jesus, even, and perhaps especially, when he goes off by himself to a certain place to pray. Their eyes are riveted upon his folded hands and bent knees, impatient for a sign that something is happening that they could become a part of; their ears strain to catch a word or two of what their master may be imploring of their God, desiring a few words that may unlock this special relationship Jesus seems to have with his Father; they yearn to draw closer, to lay their hands upon his shoulders, in a desire to soak up just a bit of the holy power Jesus seems to be experiencing when he closes his eyes deep in prayer. They want what Jesus has. Perhaps they think that if they have what Jesus has when he prays, they too will find a sense of peace in the midst of troubled times, they too will find the courage to confront the evil or mistaken ways of the world before them, they too will find a place of compassion within their hearts as Jesus does for the endless stream of people needing to be healed; and perhaps they too will find the strength to bear the responsibility for the other peoples’ needs, as Jesus so intuitively does. That’s what Jesus seems to get each time he goes off to a certain place to pray. They want that too.