Daily Devotion for August 19, 2012
Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come; Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
For Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever and ever.
Our "Virtual Sunday Church" this week is really like being in church, as it is an amateur video of the recessional at St. Paul's Episcopal Church, Gainesville, Texas.
If you have ever been to a service in a small Episcopal church, this may give you a bit of a chuckle.
Prayer for the Morning
Holy Father, who watches over your children by night and by day; blessed Jesus, my food and my strength; sweet Holy Spirit, the light and guide of my soul; I thank you for this new day and pray that you will watch over me. May my thoughts, my words and actions reflect the Spirit that dwells within me. And may every minute of my life celebrate the gift of grace, earned by the blood of Christ, in whose name I pray.
Prayer of Praise (from Psalm 86)
Give ear, O Lord, to my prayer; and attend to the voice of my supplications. In the day of my trouble I will call upon you: for you will answer me.
Among the gods there is none like you, O Lord; and no works like those you have done. All nations whom you have made will come and worship before you, O Lord; and will glorify your name.
For you are great, and do wondrous things: you are God alone.
Teach me your way, Lord, and I will walk in your truth: unite my heart to fear your name. I will praise you, O Lord my God, with all my heart: and I will glorify your name forever.
A Prayer of Repentance
O Lord our God, good and merciful, I acknowledge all my sins which I have committed every day of my life, in thought, word and deed; in body and soul alike. I am heartily sorry that I have ever offended you, and I sincerely repent; with tears I humbly pray you, O Lord: of your mercy forgive me for all my past transgressions and absolve me from them. I firmly resolve, with the help of Your Grace, to amend my way of life and to sin no more; that I may walk in the way of the righteous and offer praise and glory to the Name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
Now, oh Lord, I pray that you may lift up the light of your countenance upon me, and give me peace; in my going out and in my coming in; in my sitting down and my rising up; in my work and in my play; in my joy and in my sorrow, in my laughter and in my tears; until that day comes which is without dawn and without dark.
Think of the day ahead in terms of God with you, and visualize health, strength, guidance, purity, calm confidence, and victory as the gifts of His presence.
Sing to the Lord, all the earth.
Sing to the Lord, bless His name;
Proclaim the good news of His salvation from day to day.
Declare His glory among the nations,
His wonders among all peoples.
For the Lord is great and greatly to be praised;
He is to be feared above all gods.
For all the gods of the peoples are idols,
But the Lord made the heavens.
Honor and majesty are before Him;
Strength and beauty are in His sanctuary.
1 Corinthians 11:13-16 (ESV)
Judge for yourselves: is it proper for a wife to pray to God with her head uncovered? Does not nature itself teach you that if a man wears long hair it is a disgrace for him, but if a woman has long hair, it is her glory? For her hair is given to her for a covering.
If anyone is inclined to be contentious, we have no such practice, nor do the churches of God.
Notes on the Scripture
Paul says "judge for yourselves," but is that what he really means? That is, does he really intend to say, "It's up to your own judgment"?
Oddly, that is more or less what he does mean. He appeals to nature and social custom, not spiritual revelation, and he leaves the door cracked open for disagreement. His argument about hair, and the covering of heads during worship, should be taken seriously, but he does not mean to be writing an eleventh commandment, or even replacing the rigid laws of Moses with a new set.
The key to his purpose in writing Chapter 11 of 1 Corinthians can be gleaned from the puzzling last sentence. He wants Christian churches everywhere to adopt common practices, resembling those of Jerusalem, Antioch, Ephesus (where he was staying at the time), and other well-established Christian churches. It was the general contentiousness of the Corinthian church that led him to write this Epistle. The church was splintered into argumentative factions and was unable to focus on its mission and purpose.
In fact, in specific instances, men would stop cutting their hair as part of a religious discipline, such as taking Nazarite vows; and Paul supported the practice (Acts 21:17-26) and almost certainly took a Nazarite vow himself at one point. (Acts 18:18-19) John the Baptist likely did not cut his hair, although this is never made explicit, for he led his later life entirely as a Nazarite.
Think, too, of the practice of many nuns, who crop their hair close and always cover their heads. It would be hard to fault them. But in both cases, these are people who explicitly separate themselves from society in order to grow closer to God.
What Paul seeks is a standard to prevent contention, dictated in part by nature (which comes, after all, from God). Women, who generally want fairly long hair anyway, are allowed the natural adornment of long and beautiful hair, but should cover it at worship as a sign of modesty. Men are not allowed this feminine vanity; their hair might get a bit long and shaggy, but to pay the kind of attention to their hair that a woman does is an unnatural imitation of femininity.
There is some irony here, for the common depiction of Jesus, where he is coiffed like a cavalier fop in the court of Charles I, is a breathtaking impossibility.
At any rate, the lesson to be learned here is the importance of agreeing upon, and following, a norm for worship and appearance that shows one's dedication to God rather than seeking after individual self-fulfillment. In a word, acceptance. And who would not recognize that a woman, entering church with some sort of veil pinned to her head, was wearing it as a sign of piety and devotion rather than an attempt to beautify herself?