The Flight from the Sword of Herod, ca. 1880, John Rogers Herbert.
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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 Evening
Oh God, who has created all things, seen and unseen, this day is your creation and I give thanks to have lived in it. I pray that I will not shut you out of my life in the evening you have made, blinded by the petty concerns of life, but that I may be always open to your presence.
I open my body to you, for it is your breath that fills and warms the lifeless clay.
I open my eyes and ears to you, thankful for the light of your Word, which has brought me out of the shadow of ignorance.
I open my heart to you, aglow with thanks for your love, filling me with compassion, understanding, and peace.
I open my soul to you, grateful for your Spirit, who fills me with wisdom when I take a moment to listen.
All that I am, I open to you and I return to you, giving thanks every moment of my life for the blessings that have filled this day, and praying that your Spirit be with me as the day winds down, and while I sleep. Through Christ I pray.
Have mercy on me, Oh Lord, for I am a humble and miserable sinner. [At this point, pause to remember specific sins you have committed during the day and speak or think them.] I renounce all of these sins, heavenly Father, and repent of them, and I promise to make every effort not to repeat them.
Have mercy on me, pardon me for these offences and any I might have omitted from forgetfulness or ignorance; in the name of Jesus Christ, my Lord and Savior, I pray for forgiveness. And I pray that your Holy Spirit may dwell with me in the coming day, to comfort me, to give me strength against temptation, and to guide me into the path of righteousness.
To Be Powerless
Lord Christ, may all of my expectations be frustrated. May all of my plans be thwarted. May all of my desires be withered into nothingness, that I may experience the powerlessness and poverty of a child, and sing and dance and pray utterly in the love of God the Father, the Son, and the Spirit.
~ based on a blessing given to Henri Nouwen.
A Prayer After Reading Scripture
May the word I have read, Lord, be planted deeply in my mind and heart.
Help me not to walk away and forget it, but to meditate on it and obey it
and so built my life on the rock of your truth.
Put away from you crooked speech,
and put devious talk far from you.
John 10:22-32 (ESV)
Jesus at the Temple Festival
t that time the Feast of Dedication took place at Jerusalem. It was winter, and Jesus was walking in the temple, in the colonnade of Solomon. So the Jews gathered around him and said to him, “How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Christ, tell us plainly.”
Jesus answered them, “I told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in my Father's name bear witness about me, but you do not believe because you are not among my sheep. My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father's hand. I and the Father are one.”
The Jews picked up stones again to stone him. Jesus answered them, “I have shown you many good works from the Father; for which of them are you going to stone me?”
Notes on the Scripture
God intended that Christ be condemned by the free will of human beings, to show them that they could commit even the gravest sin possible against Him. He will neither help nor hinder them. Here the people of Jerusalem try to tempt Christ into saying He is the Jewish Messiah but he will not make the statement. He never gave a reason for his repeated refusal to do it directly, although he would always say it indirectly. In fact, he almost always refused to answer question about himself directly. He refused to let people put words in his mouth.
Why wouldn't he plainly say “Yes, I am the Messiah promised by Isaiah”? He never really explained this. One can speculate that he was different from the Messiah expected by the Jews, or that his mission was to the world rather than simply to the Jews, or that it was not his will to hasten his death. But in truth, we can only say that he knew what he was doing.
He could have said it and used his power to prevent his death, but that was not his will. He knew that the sinfulness of mankind would result in his execution. Only in this way could he fulfill the law; he would demonstrate the intransigence of human sin, by letting them, of their own volition, kill the God they claimed to worship.
In the last sentence, he makes this clear. He asks which of his good works warrant his death by stoning. He has done nothing but good; he has healed and taught godly behavior. His passion cannot include any justification for his execution; every person in the world must be brought to the realization that sin, the same sin that lives within themselves, brought about his death.