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Daily Devotion for March 19, 2017
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 Sunday Anthem is an old favorite, sung by the wonderful Fron Choir, from Wales.
The darkness deepens; Lord with me abide.
When other helpers fail and comforts flee,
Help of the helpless, O abide with me.
Swift to its close ebbs out life's little day;
Earth's joys grow dim; its glories pass away;
Change and decay in all around I see;
O Thou who changest not, abide with me.
Not a brief glance I beg, a passing word,
But as Thou dwell'st with Thy disciples, Lord,
Familiar, condescending, patient, free.
Come not to sojourn, but abide with me.
Come not in terrors, as the King of kings,
But kind and good, with healing in Thy wings;
Tears for all woes, a heart for every plea.
Come, Friend of sinners, thus abide with me.
Thou on my head in early youth didst smile,
And though rebellious and perverse meanwhile,
Thou hast not left me, oft as I left Thee.
On to the close, O Lord, abide with me.
I need Thy presence every passing hour.
What but Thy grace can foil the tempter's power?
Who, like Thyself, my guide and stay can be?
Through cloud and sunshine, Lord, abide with me.
I fear no foe, with Thee at hand to bless;
Ills have no weight, and tears no bitterness.
Where is death's sting? Where, grave, thy victory?
I triumph still, if Thou abide with me.
Hold Thou Thy cross before my closing eyes;
Shine through the gloom and point me to the skies.
Heaven's morning breaks, and earth's vain shadows flee;
In life, in death, O Lord, abide with me.
Music (Eventide) by Wm H. Monk, 1861
Lyrics by Henry Lyle, 1847
For the Spirit of Prayer
Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, oh Lord. Let your Holy Spirit guide me in my prayer and in thought, and grant me the grace to listen and hear your Word. Soften my heart, that I may be directed by your truth, and not the devices of my body and mind. In the name of Christ I ask this,
A Prayer for Lent
Father, through our observance of Lent, help us to understand the meaning of Your Son's death and resurrection, and teach us to reflect it in our lives. Grant this through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.
Old Episcopal Prayer: “For the Whole State of Christ’s Church”
ALMIGHTY and everliving God, who by thy holy Apostle hast taught us to make prayers, and supplications, and to give thanks for all men; Give me first a Spirit of fellowship with all those who pray with me, who I cannot see; and let each of us know that we pray in the unity of Spirit, although we are all separated from one another in body;
We all, and each of us, humbly beseech thee most mercifully to accept our alms and oblations, and to receive these our prayers, which we offer unto thy Divine Majesty; beseeching thee to inspire continually the Universal Church with the spirit of truth, unity, and concord: And grant that all those who do confess thy holy Name may agree in the truth of thy holy Word, and live in unity and godly love.
We beseech thee also, so to direct and dispose the hearts of all Christian Rulers, that they may truly and impartially administer justice, to the punishment of wickedness and vice, and to the maintenance of thy true religion, and virtue.
Give grace, O heavenly Father, to all Bishops and other Ministers, that they may, both by their life and doctrine, set forth thy true and lively Word, and rightly and duly administer thy holy Sacraments.
And to all thy People give thy heavenly grace; and especially to those who pray together in Spirit at this time; that, with meek heart and due reverence, they may hear, and receive thy holy Word; truly serving thee in holiness and righteousness all the days of their life.
And we most humbly beseech thee, of thy goodness, O Lord, to comfort and succour all those who, in this transitory life, are in trouble, sorrow, need, sickness, or any other adversity.
And we also bless thy holy Name for all thy servants departed this life in thy faith and fear; beseeching thee to grant them continual growth in thy love and service, and to give us grace so to follow their good examples, that with them we may be partakers of thy heavenly kingdom. Grant this, O Father, for Jesus Christ’s sake, our only Mediator and Advocate,
Most High, Glorious God, enlighten the darkness of my mind. Give me a right faith, a firm hope and a perfect charity, so that I may always and in all things act according to Your Holy Will.
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.
About the Painting
The large painting at the top of the page is "The Burning of Sodom" by Camille Corot, a French master, c. 1857. Lot and his two daughters are fleeing in the foreground. Lot's wife is dimly seen to the right, in the background. She has been left behind by the others who, following the order given by one of the angels, refrain from looking back.
The painting, like most on the subject, misrepresents the Biblical account for dramatic effect. It is very exciting to think of Lot fleeing a burning city at night, but Lot fled the city in mid-morning, and its destruction did not occur until after sunrise the next day, when Lot and his daughters had reached Zoar.
But the rich has many friends.
He who despises his neighbor sins;
But he who has mercy on the poor, happy is he.
Genesis 19:23-29 (ESV)
The Story of Abraham  - Sodom
he sun had risen on the earth when Lot came to Zoar. Then the Lord rained on Sodom and Gomorrah sulfur and fire from the Lord out of heaven. And he overthrew those cities, and all the valley, and all the inhabitants of the cities, and what grew on the ground.
But Lot's wife, behind him, looked back, and she became a pillar of salt.
And Abraham went early in the morning to the place where he had stood before the Lord. And he looked down toward Sodom and Gomorrah and toward all the land of the valley, and he looked and, behold, the smoke of the land went up like the smoke of a furnace.
So it was that, when God destroyed the cities of the valley, God remembered Abraham and sent Lot out of the midst of the overthrow when he overthrew the cities in which Lot had lived.
Notes on the Scripture
The walk to Zoar for the unprepared Lot and his daughters took a long time, almost a day; it was morning when the angels first started trying to make them leave Sodom, and by the time they reach Zoar, the sun has risen again.
As they leave Sodom, we get one of the iconic moments of the Bible. In verse 17, one of the angels had told them, “Do not look back or stop anywhere in the valley.” But Lot's wife, in her famous moment of disobedience, turns to look back at Sodom, and is transformed into a “pillar of salt”.
Was the angel giving Lot's wife a command, which she was punished for disobeying, or was he simply warning her about a hazard, which she disregarded with an unfortunate result? The tone of the story would indicate the latter; throughout the incident, the angels took the role of helpful and patient advisers, doing all in their power to get Lot and his family out of danger.
Also, we can never be sure how literally we should think she became a “pillar of salt”. Whoever observed and retold her death was hardly in a position to perform a chemical analysis. She certainly died, and her appearance changed to something pale and mineral-looking. But the story of Sodom and Gomorrah is filled with fascinating mystery. And there is a human-shaped pillar of salt overlooking the Dead Sea.
Whatever else we can say, Lot's wife gave us a wonderful metaphor for how we must approach our faith. Once we find God and receive the Holy Spirit, we must not look back; we must not fantasize or romanticize a life of indulging our appetites and letting our pride, rather than the Bible and our spirit, guide our lives. To do so is to freeze us, to make us as incapable of action as a pillar of salt. Many people with some Christian feelings live a life trapped between righteousness and sin, like Lot's wife; and like her, their inability to commit, to put their eyes forward and strive toward their destination, will doom them.