Our office building and sanctuary are closed until further notice in respect for both the mandated closures enacted by the Government and concerns for our brothers and sisters who may be particularly susceptible to the current viral outbreak. Pastoral reflections and resources for spiritual edification and guidance will continue to be made available during this time principally on this site and on the blog above. Our Facebook page and email will also be utilized but will try to direct attention here.. Those in need of urgent pastoral care are encouraged to call 353 4469.
Melanie's piano rendition of "Be Thou My Vision"
not only perfectly sets the mood for this Sunday's reflections
but is the song that closes this Sunday's worship.
Some announcements and a reflection from the Pastor…
1. This Sunday’s service and sermon will be available Sunday morning. We will continue to reflect on the Lord’s Prayer utilizing the petition “Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil.” The attachments will continue to be provided via email, facebook and the website. <>
2. Join us this week at 7pm on Thursday for a “Zoom” Bible Study. If you are interested, an email with an invitation to join us will be sent out to you on Wednesday. If you were not a part of previous Zoom emails and would like to join, just let me know via email at <>. We are studying Paul’s letter to Philippi. Join us as we catch up and encourage one another in God’s Word.
3. Our county has been upgraded to the green phase. While this designation certainly does not mean we can or should return to life as usual, it is initiating new conversations concerning plans around gathering for worship. Council will begin to discern potential options this coming week. Whatever direction we pursue, we will try to proceed within both CDC guidelines, synodic guidelines, and good sense in an effort to best protect each other against infection.
4. With both improved weather and the de-escalation of restrictions, Church Council agreed that pastoral visits are appropriate for those who request them. You can feel assured that my visits will be consistent with the current guidelines that recommend social distancing and masks. Furthermore, I will bring a chair so that we can meet outside when such meetings are possible. Call 548-6893 or email me at <> if interested.
The Lord’s Prayer: Reflections #7 “Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil.”
This petition naturally flows out of the petition surrounding forgiveness in their common desire to be free from both our sins and the cycle of bitterness that can arise from an unforgiving heart toward others. Martin Luther commented that the petition for forgiveness rightly comfort us at the end of each day just as the petition to be lead away from temptation rightly enables our waking to every new dawn. For the many ways these petitions connect themselves to each other, this week’s petition does allows for greater concentration upon our daily struggle against temptation and evil in our lives.
Notice that this is the only petition that is negatively stated, seeking to avoid rather than to embrace. Recognizing the “not” of this petition immediately draws us to remember the Ten Commandments, where all but two of the commandments similarly direct us away from certain behaviors and their corresponding patterns of thought. These commandment describe where we should not tread, not only in word and deed but also in heart, mind, and soul. The pattern of this petition reiterates the desire of the Ten Commandments that we avoid coming near to these destructive sins, not only so that we are not tempted to adopt them in our own living but also that we don’t become victims of the evil’s destructive ends.
This desire to refrain from even encountering temptation is a distinction that Christians would do well to embrace. To often our machinations center around discerning what line not to cross when we consider these commandments. In other words, we try to analyze the commandment “thou shall not kill” with questions surrounding just-war theories, apologetics defending capital punishment, and debates about when life begins. While perhaps a necessary part of our public discourse in this world, this dancing around the commandments is a dangerous spiritual exercise if we truly seek to be directed in God’s will and delivered into his love. The “shall nots” of God’s commands are warning signs that entreat us to stay far away, not invitations to see how close we can get before breaking them. When God warns us that killing is a shall not, we should do all we can to flee from all that deals death and instead seek all that prospers new life. Only when our attention and actions are directed toward protecting, nurturing, serving, embracing, sustaining, prospering and sharing life do we begin to adequately regard God’s warning about killing. Sin is a contagion that deserves more than a couple feet of social distancing, it requires a complete avoidance of its manifestations and a redirection of our hearts toward holiness. Our distancing from these instruments of sin and evil free us to pursue the goodness and love of God’s way. By sharing this petition, we yearn to be kept safely on a clear and narrow path of obedience without the distractions and deceptions of this world brokenness.
As is the case with every petition, when we pray to be lead away from temptations and delivered from evil, we orient our hearts to be willing participants in the fulfilment of our prayer. We are asking for help to flee from all that is counter to God’s good will. Such a separation is increasingly hard for a culture so consumed by modern media and entertainment. We have grown accustom to first tolerating, then accepting, often approving and even adopting positions and ideals counter to God’s character and will. We choose to consume the bad with the good while maintaining the ill conceived notion that we can sift out what is wrong and keep it from infecting us. We can even come to believe that some vices are OK to maintain if we at least balance them with enough good, after all, we are not as bad as that person! This is not what Jesus teaches us to pray, nor is consuming this contagion consistent with God’s will. We are called to be perfect as our Heavenly Father is perfect! God’s heart longs for us to be holy and wholly His. Jesus offers this petition with a heart that longs for that unity to be complete for all of us.
That unity is manifested as we become instruments of the Holy Spirit. In this petition, we pray that the Holy Spirit empower us to discern sin and say no to temptation lest we fall under its growing infection. Sin brings only destruction and evil. We pray for deliverance from such evils that we can be sanctified in the joy, peace, purity and love abundant in the life of the Spirit. God has made us to be his children, reflections of his love, grace, and purity. Jesus has paid the price for our sins, reclaiming and renewing us as redeemed citizen within His reign. Now in this petition, as we await the full coming of the Kingdom, we pray for the Spirit to keep us in the narrow way of discipleship and save us from the evils that abound in this world.
Together in the Holy Spirit,
Join us this Sunday as we continue our worship series on
"The Lord's Prayer".
Both a service of Worship and separate Sermon will be available Sunday morning
by clicking on Pictures below.
Resources will remain below until placed in the blog.
You will also find A PDF of the Liturgy that we will utilize for the worship service on Sunday and
a PDF of the text and closing Hymn for that service if you would like to read and sing along.
Copies of the weekly reflections which have been posted on The Lord's Prayer
will be updated on the blog page.
Past worship resources are posted on the blog Page.
This wonderful piano tune by Melanie is usually utilized to sing the well known hymn "Eternal Father, Strong to Save". Throughout our series on "The Lord's Prayer", the Hymn of the Day is also being sung to this favorite tune. The Hymn of the Day, "O Thou, Who Hast of Thy Pure Grace", is a paraphrase of "The Lord's Prayer" written by Martin Luther.
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Within a chaotic world and busy lives, Zion Lutheran Church shares the Good News of Jesus who provides perspective for a faithful, meaningful, and enriched life.
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