Daily Devotion for February 9, 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.
Prayer for the Morning
Dear Lord, I give you my hands to do your work; I give you my feet to go your way; I give you my eyes to see as you see; I give you my tongue to speak your words; I give you my mind that you may think in me; I give you my spirit that you may pray in me. Above all, I give you my heart that you may love in me. I give you my whole self, Lord, that you may grow in me, so that it is you who lives, works and prays in me.
Prayer for Help with Our Troubles
O God, my help and assistance, who is just and merciful, and who hears the supplications of your people; look down upon me, a miserable sinner. Have mercy upon me; deliver me from all the troubles and tribulations of life. Deal not with me after my sins, I pray, but according to your measureless mercy, for I am the work of your hands, and you know my weakness.
Grant me, I beseech you, your divine helping grace. Endow me with patience and strength to endure my tribulations with complete submission to your will. You know my misery and suffering. I flee to you, my only hope and refuge, for relief and comfort, trusting to your infinite love and compassion; that in due time, you will deliver me from all the trials of this life and turn my distress into comfort. I rejoice in your mercy. I exalt and praise your holy name, oh Father, Son, and Holy Spirit: now and forever.
The Lord bless us and keep us. The Lord make his face to shine upon us, and be gracious unto us. The Lord lift up his countenance upon us, and give us peace, this day and evermore.
(Additional prayers may be found at Prayers for All Occasions.)
God be with you 'til we meet again.
But the prudent considers well his steps.
A wise man fears and departs from evil,
But a fool rages and is self-confident.
The Story of Abraham  - Circumcision
And God said to Abraham, "As for you, you shall keep my covenant, you and your offspring after you throughout their generations. This is my covenant, which you shall keep, between me and you and your offspring after you: Every male among you shall be circumcised.
You shall be circumcised in the flesh of your foreskins, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and you. He who is eight days old among you shall be circumcised.
Every male throughout your generations, whether born in your house or bought with your money from any foreigner who is not of your offspring, both he who is born in your house and he who is bought with your money, shall surely be circumcised. So shall my covenant be in your flesh an everlasting covenant.
Any uncircumcised male who is not circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin shall be cut off from his people; he has broken my covenant."
Notes on the Scripture
The text today is the source of the oddest feature of the old covenant, a symbolic sacrifice of the body that has lasted until this very day and often stands as the symbol of Judaic religious observance. In fact, modern Jews who make almost no religious observance — even atheists! — will circumcise male children when they are eight days old, usually in a ceremony called a "bris", which is Hebrew for "covenant".
The language of the Scripture could not be clearer: circumcision is mandatory. If a Jewish man is not circumcised, he is not Jewish. He is cut off from his people; he is an outcast.
Judaism is by no means a proselytizing religion; you will never see young men in white shirts and black ties knocking on your door to talk about Judaism, or people who want to give you pamphlets. To the contrary, Judaism was traditionally somewhat exclusionary. Being descended from Abraham has some importance, for it was with Abraham and the progeny of his flesh with whom the covenant was established.
Which leaves us with another oddity, the command to circumcise male slaves. Judaic law is immense and convoluted; there is almost no aspect of Judaism that can be fully discussed in less than a full book! But to give the short version, slaves bought with money in early Hebrew society had to be circumcised, not only because of the specific commandment given to Abraham in today's text, but also because Jews could not live with or be served by an uncircumcised male, whether Jewish or not. Gentile slaves were thus always circumcised; however, they were usually given the option of whether to become "Jewish" or simply be circumcised Gentiles.
This passage became very important in early Christian churches. As we saw when we read Acts, there was a close debate over whether uncircumcised men would be accepted into Christian churches at all — quite a difference from later history, when Judaism was often seen as inimical to Christianity, rather than a prerequisite.