Sermon for 21 March 2021

Lead us not into Temptation but Deliver us from Evil.

Years ago I was in charge of a ministerial group. That is a collection of all the local clergy. Many people think that churches never get together but the ministers have periodic meetings to talk about issues that are common to the churches or town. We have one here in Innisfil.
It is sometimes difficult to get attendance due to differing schedules and opinions. In this particular town, where I was the coordinator, the average attendance was about 4.
At that time the United Church produced a documentary on the effects of pornography on society. I thought this might be a good topic for the local churches to discuss so I presented it to the ministerial. I sent out an invitation but warned them that there were some fairly graphic scenes in it. The response was – shall we say – overwhelming. If I remember correctly there were 27 ministers that showed up. Many of them were from the stricter denominations. Several of them asked if they could take a copy home for further study.
The area of the Lord’s Prayer today is about temptation.

“lead us not into temptation. but deliver us from evil.”
The Greek text of this part of the Lord’s Prayer conveys this meaning: “Bring us not into trials, but rescue us from our evil heart of unbelief.

A petition similar to this is said by David in Psalm 141:4: “Do not let my heart be drawn to what is evil so that I take part in wicked deeds along with those who are evildoers; do not let me eat their delicacies.”

Right off there is a theological discussion. Does God lead us into temptation? Does God give you challenges or are challenges something that happens when you follow God? Does God lead you into temptation?

The larger discussion around that is whether or not God leads us at all. There are many arguments on both sides.
An illustration of this is on the door of an old Presbyterian church. Over the door on the outside it says “All are welcome” but over the door on the inside it says “Only the chosen have entered” That is playing both sides of the question

Many minsters will tell you that they had the choice of their job but they felt they had to follow their calling. So did they have choice or not?

On one hand if God led us all the time then there would be no reason for forgiveness or regret because God made us do it. If we don’t have free will then why do we even have scripture or any other guidance. If you don’t have free choice then how do you fall in love?

I do think that God (or the Spirit of Life, or the Universe or whatever term you want to use) provides opportunities and gifts. I do not believe that God throws obstacles in our paths. In James 1:13 it says “that God does not tempt us to sin.”
However following God is not a guarantee that you will have no temptations. Even Jesus in the scripture today was tempted.

So why is this passage phrased this way?

It is an indication of our own flaws. If you know you have a weakness for buying a particular item; lets make it easy – say ice cream but you are trying to lose weight. You might say to your friend “Whatever you do don’t take me to the ice cream store”. It is not a statement of your friends’ evil ways, it is an admission of your weakness. You are in reality asking your friend to help you with your temptation in the same way asking God not to lead us into temptation is not an indication of an action but rather just a plea for help.

Remember, if god delivers you from evil don’t keep in touch with it

I saw a man one day at Princess Auto with a huge smile. I asked him why he was so happy. He said his wife was worried about the amount of money he spent at that store – so this time in order to overcome his spending, he brought her credit card. As he said he was no longer tempted to spend his own money.

The end of the sentence in the prayer is really the reason for the first half. “Deliver us from evil”

We should get into a great discussion of what is evil. What is the definition of evil?

For years sexuality has been the focus of evil and temptation. When someone says that they were “tempted” last night, the majority of people think of sexual promiscuity. At least until you get to a certain age. The church has certainly been pivotal in that. When someone says they are “living in sin” we don’t think they mean they bought their clothes from a sweat shop.

I am not trying to deny the pain of infidelity but I am saying it is not the only evil in our society.
The other night I saw a picture of some priests blessing some bombs and guns. I have been asked to do the same and I won’t because I think war is one of the greatest evils of our world.

Some of those churches won’t bless the union of two loving people because of sexual or even racial differences. There are churches that won’t perform weddings for a couple unless the woman is a virgin. Is pre-marital sex a greater evil than dropping a bomb on an apartment building? What it really is – is a great distraction.

We live in a very unequal world. A couple with two children in Ontario gets $1173 on Welfare. A two bedroom apartment in Churchill cost $1300. You do the math. This week I had two families looking for a place they could afford.

There are also pockets of evil all over the world. Violence, inequalities, fear, lack of food and services etc. And we are tempted to ignore it and that temptation to ignore it is facilitated by a sanitized media..

Edmond Burke “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good people to do nothing”

Albert Einstein “The world will not be destroyed by those who do evil but by those who watch them without doing anything”.

Sometimes when we see an opportunity to get rich we are tempted to get that money regardless of the effect it has on someone else

When we repeat that expression in the Lord’s Prayer “Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil” we need to hear the word US.

It is important to say don’t let ME fall into temptation but we should not stop there. The phrase is about US. The human race.

Again we see a phrase from the Lord’s Prayer that has a lot of power when we take it apart.

We do have choices. Let us use those choices to lead ourselves and this world out of evil.

PRAYER God, so easily we overlook the pain that evil ways cause in our world. So easily we ignore the discomfort of others when we are tempted to focus on our own comfort. Help us not to be tempted to ignore the evils around us. Help us to walk in the light of love and kindness. Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil.
We now pray in silence for those in special need

Now we pray in the way Jesus taught us.
Our Father who art in heaven, Hallowed by thy name. Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. lead us not into temptation. but deliver us from evil. for thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory. forever and ever Amen

SERVICE March 21, 2021
Announcements
-Bible study on Zoom
-Etransfer info at bottom of page
-Thanks to helpers: Cathy, Hugh, Marion
-Session: No in-person services until end of April
-Annual Meetings to be in-person in May or June outdoors
-communion next week /Palm Sunday
-Easter Sunrise Service at Sunrise

Opening Prayer
Hymn 289 It only Takes a Spark
Scripture Matthew 4: 1-11
Reflection
Lord’s Prayer – sung
Prayer
Hymn 120 Oh Jesus I have Promised vrs 1,2,4
Benediction

Go now in Peace
Go now in peace, Never be afraid
God will go with you, each hour of every day
Go now in faith, steadfast strong and true
Know God will guide you in all you do,
Go now in love and show you believe
Reach out to others so all the world can see
God will be there, watching from above
Go now in peace, in faith and in love
Amen, Amen, Amen
Info about contributing

The traditional way is to send a cheque via mail to one of the treasurers.
Make the cheque out to:
Churchill United Church
send to Agnes Cole at 226 Valleyview Dr. Churchill, Ont L0L1K0
or Gilford United Church
send to Doris Coborn at 1468 Gilford Rd, Gilford. L0L1R0

An Alternative (and better) way is Etransfer
(This method is faster, cheaper and cleaner. If you don’t know how to do it, the bank or some young kid has instructions)

Send the Etransfer to
churchillchurch2020@gmail.com
The security question is – What is the name of your church
Answer – Churchill

or panddcoborn@gmail.com
No security question
Another option is contact us and we will pick it up from your porch. Thanks