Daily Devotion for August 13, 2013
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.
Prayer at Daybreak (by Archimandrite Sophronios)
O Lord Eternal and Creator of all things, who with your unknowable goodness called me to this life; I have no life, no light, no joy or wisdom, no strength except in you, O God. I entreat you, teach me to pray aright. Purify me from all taint of flesh and spirit. Bless this day which you give to me, your unworthy servant.
By the power of your blessing enable me, throughout this day, to speak and act to your glory with a pure spirit, with humility, patience, love, gentleness, peace, courage and wisdom. Let me be always aware of your presence. By the power of your love, grant me to hold fast to that which is good. Preserve me from every word or deed that corrupts the soul; from every impulse unpleasing in your sight and hurtful to my fellow man, my brothers and sisters.
This in Christ's name, I pray,
Prayer for All People
O God, the creator and preserver of all mankind, I humbly pray to you for all sorts and conditions of humanity; that it might please you to make your Word known to them and bring your saving health to all nations. In particular I pray for the entirety of your church, in all of its many forms; that it may be guided and governed by your Holy Spirit, and that all who profess your name and call themselves Christians may be led into the way of truth. May all of us live in the unity of spirit our faith in Christ provides to us, in the bond of peace, and in righteousness of life.
Finally, I commend to your fatherly goodness all those who are ill or in distress, in their mind, body, or circumstances. May it please you to comfort and relieve them in accordance with their needs, giving them patience during their suffering, and a fortunate outcome to all of their problems. And this I ask in the name of Jesus Christ, who was always pleased to relieve the suffering of those he encountered.
Lord, support me all the day long of this troublous life, until the shadows lengthen and the evening comes, and the busy world is hushed, and the fever of life is over and my work is done. Then of Thy mercy, grant me a safe lodging, and a holy rest and a peace at last through Jesus Christ, our Lord.
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.
“Many marriages would be better if the husband and the wife clearly understood that they are on the same side.”
~ Zig Ziglar
Matthew 5:31-32 (ESV)
The Sermon on the Mount - Divorce
“It was also said, ‘Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce.’ But I say to you that everyone who divorces his wife, except on the ground of sexual immorality, makes her commit adultery, and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.”
Notes on the Scripture
Unlike some of the previous teachings, Christ does not seek to create an impossible standard here; rather, this is an illustration of the shift from simple legalism into a theology of inner goodness.
Marriage was a very different institution in the ancient world; it is Christ who gave us our concept of modern marriage. Polygamy was common, if a man had enough property to support more than one wife, but usually there was a “first wife” who would be from the same class as the man; and as we saw in the case of Isaac and Rebekah, the woman would have to be cajoled and wooed.
But men could also marry slaves (who were more akin to indentured servants than what we conceive as slaves). Mosaic law gave protection to these women; for example, a slave-wife would have to be treated with some respect and, if the man wanted to divorce her, she would have to be given signed papers, releasing her from both servitude and marriage. Slave women could not simply be used for sex, as in other cultures of the day.
But Christ required not simply legal protection, but love; marriage was permanent and, unless a woman committed adultery, divorce was simply not allowed. Christ's teaching in Matthew 19 (and Mark 10) remains the Christian standard of marriage today: “So then they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate.” (Mark 10:8-9)
This is an area in which we can clearly see the marked pull of society away from Christianity. We have chosen, instead, to move towards the heritage of total sexual licentiousness that ancient Greece bequeathed to the Romans and, eventually, us.
It also give us a clear view of “social Christianity” as it operates in churches and society today. Most people, even if they call themselves “Christians”, simply ignore this passage if they find it inconvenient. We hear Christ's teaching about “one flesh” quoted when it is least needed: at weddings. But where it actually has teeth, for people whose marriages are troubled, it is stuffed under a pillow or in a drawer so that it does not embarrass the divorcing couple.
We say one thing and do another, and there is a word for it: hypocrisy. Let us remember always to be thankful and supportive of all the people and programs that seek to assist troubled couples, both in churches and the secular world.