Daily Devotion for November 8, 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 of Metropolitan Philaret (Greek Orthodox)
Lord, give me the strength to greet the coming day in peace. Help me in all things to rely on Your holy will. Reveal Your will to me every hour of the day. Bless my dealings with all people. Teach me to treat all people who come to me throughout the day with peace of soul and with firm conviction that Your will governs all. In all my deeds and words guide my thoughts and feelings. In unexpected events, let me not forget that all are sent by you. Teach me to act firmly and wisely, without embittering and embarrassing others. Give me the physical strength to bear the labors of this day. Direct my will, teach me to pray, pray in me.
Community of Prayer
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, 18:1-6
Who is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?
The disciples asked Jesus, "Who is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?"
He called a little child and set him in their midst, and said, "Unless you change, and become like little children, there is no way for you to enter the kingdom of heaven.
Whoever humbles himself like this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever receives one such little child in my name, receives me. But whoever leads astray one of these little ones who believe on me, he would be better off if a huge stone were hung on his neck and he were sunk in the sea."
Comment on the Scripture
Christ takes the opportunity to make three statements, using a child as the center of his teaching. First, he states that we must become like little children to enter the kingdom of heaven in the first place. Our personal faith is to be simple and direct, with total trust and humility. He had previously said that "many who are last, will be first", meaning people who occupy a low status in society will be found high in righteousness. Here, he extends that lesson to our pride and self-importance. Our vanity and self-importance, faults we all have, must be discarded. To find God, we must find humility.
He then answers the question asked ("Who is greatest in the kingdom of heaven"): The person who humbles himself the most. This always gives me great pause. It isn't the person with the most clever interpretation of the Bible, or the person who prevails in an argument about church politics, or the person with the most angry or trenchant criticism of modern-day evils. It is the person with the most humility. God is not impressed by our worldly successes. What he wants is a simple, true faith.
Finally, Christ turns his attention away from using the child as a metaphor, and has something to say about actual children. He condemns people who lead children astray and blesses those who "receive" them. A person who leads a child away from his belief in God, and into sin, would be better off in the middle of the ocean with a millstone tied to his neck.
Language note: "Receive" is an old-fashioned word, not really used much in modern English except in very formal or special contexts. Mostly, it is now used in the noun form, "reception", like a wedding reception, a reception after a performance or ceremony, etc. It mean to welcome and interact personally with someone, to treat them like an important human being, especially when there is some reason we might not do so: We are the center of attention in a large group or in public, we have very high social status, we are at home or in some other personal space, etc.