It began with “Let us pray,” and a one person recitation of the Lord’s Prayer. The First Lady was flawless. The crowd went wild.
It wasn’t a worship service. It was something else – a post-election presidential campaign rally not far from the home of Mickey and Minnie Mouse, and Goofy.
When was the last time you saw a political campaign rally begin with “Let us pray”? And, if you’re a church-goer, when was the last time the Lord’s Prayer was “recited” by a single voice rather than prayed in unison by the entire congregation?
It was a political stunt. Chills ran up and down my spine as I watched the prayer of Jesus being used to rally fellow Christians for purposes other than political purposes antithetical to the purpose of prayer.
Yet, as I watched the First Lady in front of the crowd, it was hard not to feel sympathy for her as well as apoplexy over the abuse of Jesus’s prayer. “Give us this day our daily bread,” she prayed – a line that presumes a humble dependence upon divine providence. “Give us today the bread we need just for today” is another way to say it. It assumes a kind of poverty. An ultimate dependence.
The New Testament Gospel stories of the wilderness temptation of Jesus begin with the need for bread and the control of it. After forty days of fasting, Jesus is hungry. “If you are the Son of God,” says the Devil in the story, “turn these stones into bread.” Jesus responds that human beings do not live by bread alone but by every word (bread) that proceeds from the mouth of God.
The Devil takes him to a high mountain where the hungry Jesus can see all the kingdoms (empires and nations) of the earth. “These can all be yours!” says the Tempter. Jesus replies that the kingdoms of the world do not belong to mortals. “Get behind me, Satan!” Then the Devil leaves him.
Watching the First Lady praying the Lord’s Prayer with the crowd cheering left me, for a moment, wondering what the wilderness must be like for Melania Trump. Despite the smile, it’s hard to imagine a hell farther removed from “Our Father in heaven” than performing the Lord’s prayer all by yourself in an Orlando airport hangar on the way back to living among the gilded stones of a New York penthouse.
“…lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For Thine is the kingdom, and the power and the glory forever.”
- Gordon C. Stewart, Chaska, MN, Feb. 19, 2017