by Jodi Spargur
What if evil is not what makes me afraid, rather it’s what makes me feel secure? What if it is not what makes my spine tingle like in a B-rated exorcism movie, but is that dopamine hit as I scroll through a world not my own? What if it is not the violence and oppression that crushes and destroys, but the unwillingness to do the good before me?
Deliver me from building and protecting my own kingdoms, and populating them with those I like, and understand. Take me captive that I might find freedom. Lift up my eyes from the evil that is my self-absorption, that I may behold your beauty. Grow love in me so deep that the shadows testify to the light.
FOR REFLECTION IN PRAYER THIS WEEK
In asking God not to put us to the test and to deliver us, we are simultaneously naming three things: our dependence on God, the reality of evil in our lives and our world, and God’s ability to save us.
This week as we consider Jesus’ journey to the cross in anticipation of Palm Sunday and Easter, spend some time naming – first of all – what you need to be saved from in your own life. Then, name some of the ‘powers and principalities’ at work in the world that need to be demolished in the name of Jesus.
Finally, pray with faith and trust that God, through Christ, continues to work actively to defeat the powers of evil and imagine what it might look like for God to answer this prayer.
Mixed Media Collage by David Zimmerman
Artist’s Statement: To “collage” means to “glue,” and I started collecting ideas and images that in my mind were “glued” to the ideas of this portion of the Lord’s Prayer. In the image, you can find sheep, gardening advice, a reference to a bible verse, life-saving advice, a map, and more.
“In praying that God will not ‘put us to the test’, we pray that God will not make us vulnerable to those powers that rage against God’s kingdom. What you are up against, in being saved, is not simply your personal faults and foibles — you are up against what we call ‘principalities and powers.’ Evil is large, cosmic, organized, subtle, pervasive and real.
The powers never appear as evil or coercive. The powers always masquerade as freedoms that we have been graciously given, or as necessities, we cannot live without. In praying to God to deliver us, we acknowledge that God is greater than any foe of God. The power of evil must be admitted and taken seriously, yet not too seriously.” (Stanley Hauerwas and William Willimon; Lord, Teach Us)