Shout it Out!
Lent 1A 2017, Rob Gieselmann
1. In Michael Punke’s novel, The Revenant, Pawnee Indians attack and capture the protagonist, Hugh Glass, first with arrows, shooting him in the leg, and then with a rock weapon,
bashing his skull.
Glass blacks out. When he wakes-up, he finds he is shackled, hands and feet, and the Pawnee tribe is watching him from a stone’s throw away. He knows he is going to die. So Glass turns onto his side in a way they cannot see his subtle movements -
He pulls a cinnabar rock he has saved in his shirt pocket. With the rock, he paints his face red. Next he rolls onto his stomach – it is a gesture the Pawnee take to be religious, like a prayer before death.
The chief sends two braves over to Glass –
And when they get within several feet of him –
Glass jumps up on his feet –ignoring the sharp pain from the arrow –
and faces the braves, and the entire tribe. The Pawnee are shocked – for there Glass stands, his face blood red as though his skin had been ripped away.
Nobody moves – they are in a silent face-off, the Pawnee and Glass –
when all of a sudden, Glass breaks the face-off. He screams the Lord’s Prayer at the top of his lungs:
Our Father, who art in heaven …
The tribe is mesmerized as though under a spell, and the Chief confused.
Glass continues his recitation until the prayer’s end … For thy kingdom come, thy will be done … Amen.
The Lord’s Prayer saves Glass’ life, and the Pawnee – who now respect him - keep him for an year while he heals.
2. Lord’s Prayer and Temptations. I’ve been toying with a little theory: I’m wondering whether
the three temptations Jesus experienced in the wilderness - can be understood fully only in terms of the Lord’s Prayer.
To explain, I need to walk you the basics of the Lord’s Prayer -
a. First, the Lord’s Prayer includes only one essential request:
Thy kingdom come – on earth as it is in heaven.
You can guess what God’s kingdom looks like – if you want to – but the succeeding three clauses are your clue:
A clue as to what Jesus would like earth to look like.
For what follows is three sub-requests – all relating back to what it means for God’s kingdom to come to earth:
*no hunger: give us this day our daily bread.
*Relational - harmony: forgiveness – which is not just relational, but religious, as well –
For doesn’t it mean? you have no right to approach God for forgiveness, or harmony with God unless you are willing to forgive others like you want God to forgive you?
So you see, this second component of Kingdom is religious.
*The third component of kingdom – deliver us from evil - is about power – has to be, right? Evil is most if not always distributed when one person or group – exercises power without due authority over another person or people.
Again – one prayer, three components. One kingdom, three aspects:
plentiful food, religious harmony, and relational goodness.
3. Jesus temptations – follow exactly those lines:
· rocks into bread – food.
· Jesus on the pinnacle of the Temple demanding protection from angels: religion – what was Jesus’ relationship to God to be like?
· Jesus on the mountain assuming the power of the world: politics.
4. Now – and this is important to understanding both: the Lord’s Prayer is a cooperative prayer – a we prayer – the prayer of the church. Not an individualistic prayer.
This is why it begins with Our … You can’t say “our” without acknowledging community. And, you can’t say Our Father without admitting that you do not own God yourself. More to the point – certainly we Episcopalians and perhaps even Christians do not have the only license to God.
5. Well – so what?
Well – here is the upshot:
Jesus’ temptations are the church’s temptations. Maybe challenges is a better word. Not your individual temptations – although I suppose they might look like these sometimes. Rather – praying that God bring the kingdom to earth commits the church to action:
1. That we work towards justice – food for all, but also other aspects of justice, as well: shelter, and medical care, and so on.
2. That we not presume upon God’s grace – forgive us our trespasses – forgiveness is one of the hardest emotional/psychological responses to accomplish with love.
Hence – it seems to me that this is our call: that we not presume to engage God without first being willing to engage our world in the way of peace –
for you see, God’s free grace doesn’t come cheap -
3. And finally this: the church must resist evil – and you have seen the church do this over the years, opposing slavery, in the civil rights movement, Bonhoeffer returning to Germany, Jesus on the cross –
And believe me when I say –there is evil out there that requires resisting. Didn’t evil rear its ugly head this week at Jewish Community Centers and graveyards all around our country – with desecration of graves and repeated bomb threats, attended with racial epithets.
4. So here we are – the beginning of Lent –
what we call a penitential season –
and I’m wondering, rather than just engage private repentance – and private repentance is a necessary part of our devotion –
what might it look like if we were to engage the Lord’s Prayer – by helping others with basic needs, by a religious devotion that does not presume upon God, and by standing up against evil?
What if we stood up, and shouted the Lord’s Prayer for these five weeks of Lent?
At least this morning, let’s recite it a little louder.