Written by Rev. Charlane Lines
Conference 4 Dean and Pastor of Faith Lutheran Church, Meadow Vista, CA
“One day at a time, sweet Jesus. That’s all I’m asking from you.” I remember hearing Cristy Lane sing this on the radio when I was a kid. In the past few months, these words keep rolling through my mind and heart. I wonder if the lyric writers of this song were familiar with The Lord’s Prayer.
This week’s gospel text focuses on Jesus’ instructions regarding prayer. While the power of Jesus’ words are not lost on me, I struggle with them a bit these days, especially verse 4: “And forgive us our sins, for we ourselves forgive everyone indebted to us. And do not bring us to the time of trial.’”
As I ponder these oft-said words, I am overwhelmed by their instruction. I am not sure I am ready to forgive everyone who is indebted to me. I WANT to, but… Sometimes I like to hold onto that feeling that someone owes me something. Then I can justify my anger and have an excuse to behave badly or separate myself from the community. Loving and forgiving is hard and makes me reflect on the ways I am complicit in the pain around me. Not my favorite thing.
And then how about those times of trial? It does not seem like I have avoided times of trial. Is anyone able to avoid times of trial these days? Life is pretty darn complicated these days. Stress levels are high. Worry abounds. People are carrying a lot of anger around with them. Evil seems to thrive in our world and can hardly be avoided unless we head to a cave in the desert somewhere.
Our times of trial and our excuses for not forgiving may differ but what is clear is that we are all dealing with a lot. It is affecting us physically and it is affecting us emotionally and spiritually. So what are we to do? Shall we stop praying as Jesus taught us? Shall we disregard the power of Jesus to change things for the better?
Or shall we persevere?
This world needs us to persevere. How? Well, if we recall last week’s reading about Mary and Martha, I would say it means keeping the main thing the main thing. As Pastor Cristina wrote in last Monday’s devotion, it means choosing to be present with the Holy One. When our eyes are set on Jesus and our hearts and minds filled with God’s promises, we will get through to the other side of whatever trials are threatening to overwhelm. We will be able to give and receive that forgiveness that we so desperately need. So let us keep praying as Jesus has taught us, and feel free to join me in singing along with Cristy Lane: “One day at a time, Sweet Jesus.”