O LORD, we beseech Thee mercifully hear our prayers, and, having set us free from the bonds of sin, defend us from all evil; through Jesus Christ, Thy Son, our Lord, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee and the Holy Ghost, ever One God, world without end. Amen.
-- Common Service Book of the Lutheran Church
This is the last Sunday in the short pre-Lenten / pre-Easter season with all the strange sounding names. This week's prayer completes the series of three prayers during this season where we have asked God to:
- Deliver us from our deserved punishment
- Defend us against all adversity
- Defend us from all evil
The progression is beautiful and deliberate, it matures through the weeks and crescendos today. The first Sunday, we approached God in humility, as sinners, calling upon God in his great mercy to forgive us--not because we deserve it but because he mercifully sent Christ Jesus as our substitute. The following week, we pleaded with God to protect us against all harm--the prayer of everyone in times of trouble, whether faithful or faithless. Today, we recognize that God has indeed set us free from our sinfulness and pray for God to defend us against evil--the prayer of one who is mature and secure in Christ.
I confess that I haven't noticed this progression before today. It wasn't until I deliberately meditated on these prayers and thought about them sequentially and in their relationships to each another that this jumped out to me. I'm constantly humbled by the treasure we've been handed by our mother, the church.
There is great wisdom in the tradition of the church. She has not put together her worship, her prayers, or her readings lightly or flippantly. We, who are quick today to jettison anything smacking of tradition and who are enamored with the novel and the flashy, would do well to carefully consider the treasure we have inherited from the saints who have gone before us. Thanks be to God for his gift of the church.
Photo by Illia Cherednychenko on Unsplash