Field of Dreams: if you build it, they will come!

Deliver us, we pray…
March 16, 2013, 12:11 pm
Filed under: Sermons

A sermon preached at All Saints, Clifton, Sunday March 10th, 2013

Through Lent, we have been thinking about the Lord’s Prayer. Last week, the topic was, “Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.” Next week it will be, “For thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory.” Oh, dear! What can we think about this week?

Well, in the Roman Rite (and other ancient rites) there is a short prayer to be said by the priest between these two clauses. It is called technically the “embolism”, which sounds like a medical condition but is simply the Greek for “interpolation”. The wording varies slightly in different rites, but the modern Roman form is:

“Deliver us, Lord, we pray, from every evil, graciously grant peace in our days, that, by the help of your mercy, we may be always free from sin and safe from all distress, as we await the blessed hope and the coming of our Saviour, Jesus Christ.” Or, in the slightly looser translation recently replaced: “Deliver us, Lord, from every evil, and grant us peace in our day. In your mercy keep us free from sin and protect us from all anxiety as we wait in joyful hope for the coming of our Saviour, Jesus Christ.”

It expands the thought of the previous clause, praying for deliverance from evil, and leads via the reminder of our hope for Christ’s return to the doxology with which we customarily end, “For thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen.”

Among the evils from which we pray to be delivered is the threat of war. The prayer was probably composed towards the end of the Roman Empire in the West, the time of the barbarian invasions. “Grant peace in our days” would have been the heart-felt desire of Christian people, and surely it is no less appropriate today. Christians face actual war in some parts of the world, the threat of terrorism almost anywhere, and social unrest everywhere. Grant us peace; the thought continues in the Agnus Dei: “O Lamb of God, that takest away the sins of the world, grant us thy peace.”

Peace, and sin: sin is the taker-away of true peace, inward or outward. “In your mercy keep us free from sin and protect us from all anxiety.”

The second half of the Lord’s Prayer itself begins with the clause, “Forgive us our trespasses.” We know that we can only ask forgiveness if we are ready to offer forgiveness to those who have hurt us. Such hurt can often be the test that we undergo, to show whether we have understood Christ’s message of forgiveness. I preached last Sunday on the clauses: “Lead us not into temptation; but deliver us from evil,” so I will say no more about them.

We have fallen short of the standard God asks of us, and we ask his forgiveness; in the embolism we ask that we may be free from further failing. The best guarantee of inward peace is a good conscience. It is only if we are kept free from sin that we shall also be protected from all anxiety. Anxiety is very much the mark of the modern world, with its pressures and its hectic pace.

If we look only at the world, with its injustice, its hatreds and its sorrows, we might despair. But instead we have a joyful hope, the coming of our Saviour. His coming is not only in some remote future age. He comes to us day by day, whenever we remember his presence. “I am with you always,” he said. He comes to us in those who care for us; he comes to us in his holy Sacrament; he comes to us when we care for other people.

The Presence of Christ in the hearts of his faithful is the Kingdom, the Reign, of God. The presence and the progress of those who seek to follow Jesus is the coming of the Kingdom of heaven in the world. It is in the manifestation of love that God shows his power, and his glory. “For thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen.”




2 Comments so far
Leave a comment

Dear Fr Paul,

Thanks for sharing. I look forward to reading a transcript of this morning’s sermon at All Saints.

Best wishes,

Comment by Kyle Mulholland

Your wish is granted…

Comment by Fr Paul Spilsbury SSC

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: