Daily Devotion for October 31, 2009
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 for the Morning
Oh Lord, most heavenly Father, Almighty and everlasting God, who has safely brought me to the beginning of this day; I give you thanks for my creation, preservation, and all the blessings of my life. Grant that this day I fall into no sin, neither run into any kind of danger; but that all my doings, being governed by your will, may be righteous in your sight. Through Christ our Lord, I pray.
Prayer for Grace and Strength
Lord God, I pray that you will fill my heart with the blessing of your Holy Spirit. Grant me this day the strength to be temperate in all things, diligent in my duties, and patient under my afflictions. Direct me in all my ways. Give me grace to be just and upright in all my dealings; quiet and peaceable; full of compassion; and ready to do good to all people, according to my abilities and opportunities. For the sake of my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ,
Community of Prayer
Heavenly Lord, I know I am not alone saying these prayers or reading your Word this morning, but many people unknown to me, from all stations of life, have joined together in this brief moment of devotion. May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, be among the community of all who pray in the name of Christ this morning, and remain among us always.
(Additional prayers may be found at Prayers for All Occasions.)
God be with you 'til we meet again.
Gospel of Matthew 16:5-12
The Leaven of the Pharisees and Sadduccees
The disciples crossed the water [to Christ's location], but forgot to take any bread with them. Jesus told them, "Take heed. Beware the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees." They discussed this, because they had no bread.
When Jesus overheard them, he said to them, "You of little faith, why does your lack of bread mislead you? Do you not yet understand? Don't you remember the five loaves of the five thousand, and how many baskets you gathered up? Or the seven loaves of the four thousand, and how many baskets you gathered then? Why don't you understand that my words don't concern bread? Just beware the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees."
Then they understood that he was not warning them about leaven for bread, but of the teachings of the Pharisees and Sadducees.
Comment on the Scripture
Leaven is a substance that makes bread rise, i.e. yeast. Middle Eastern peoples did not isolate yeast as we do today; rather, they would take a little piece of starter dough, or risen bread dough, and knead it into the new bread dough. Over the course of time, the yeast in the old dough would grow and spread throughout the new loaf.
(This technique is still used, even in industrialized societies. The organisms needed to flavor sourdough bread, for example, are usually transmitted from starter.)
Like a mustard seed, leaven is something small that spreads and grows. But leaven does not form a new plant or plants; its effect is subtle, and it spreads through something that already exists. Christ makes a clever analogy between leaven in bread dough, and doctrines and teaching in communities. A false doctrine, like a rumor, will spread quietly through a community, unseen and uncontrolled, without anyone seeming to do anything.
Christ chides his disciples a bit, because they should have known, from the miracles of the loaves, that he wasn't concerned about bread. Rather, he was concerned that the disciples understand, and look out for, the manner in which the religious authorities were spreading false doctrine: Not by openly challenging Christ's ministry, but by planting doubt and false doctrine which might then spread by word of mouth.
A Coptic Cross, drawn by Egyptian student Andrew Fanous