Deliver us from evil

What does it mean to be delivered?  When we think of delivery, we often think of the mail.  The mail is delivered every day to our mailbox.  It is carried there.  Carried from one place to another place.  Special delivery means that we get the mail faster.

But there’s another way, a quite different way that we used the word.  We talk about babies being delivered.  As a child I might have pictured a stork arriving on the doorstep with a baby wrapped in a blue or pink blanket.  Special delivery!    It might sound simple, the baby is helped from one place, the womb, to another place, the wide world.

If you have given birth to a baby, you have a more visceral understanding of the word “deliver”.  When you are in labour you want to be delivered…you want to be rescued from it, you want the baby to be delivered out of your body into the world in quite a desperate way.  You feel you will die if this baby is not delivered out of you, and indeed, you will die.

The word for “deliver” in the Lord’s prayer is stronger than the word for “carry from one place to another”.  In other variations of the word, it is sometimes translated as “rescued” or “saved” . The people of Israel were delivered.  Not in the sense of being carried passively, but actually being snatched, rescued or saved from the hands of their enemies.

Do we feel that we need to be delivered from evil?  Often we like to think that we can pull ourselves up by our own bootstraps.  “Give us a little help, God, and we can manage this ourselves.”  The Lord’s prayer has stronger language, “deliver us from evil”.  What does that have to say about the actual situation we are in?

This week’s prayer:   Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.

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