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May the peace of God reign in this place
and the love of God forever hold you tight,
May the Spirit of God flow through your life
and the joy of God uphold you day and night.

Daily Devotion for February 22, 2013

Jacobo Bassono, The Last Supper, ca. 1546 (Venetian)
The Last Supper by Jacobo Bassano (Venice), ca. 1546. Most of the people are standing, as they would have done at early Passover feasts. Note the lamb's head, although the yeast bread is inauthentic. Peter is to Christ's right, and Judas skulks in the corner.



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lessons and scripture

Lord's Prayer

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

Heavenly Father, let me live this day as the gift it is, for you have truly blessed me to live it. And if I may suffer, I will carry with me the certainty that one day I will see You face to face, a day when all things will become clear and my pain will be made whole through the grace of Christ, my God. Blessed be you, oh Lord my God, and blessed be the day you have given me.


A Lenten Prayer

Almighty God, you know that I have no power on my own to help myself: Keep me both outwardly in my body and inwardly in my soul, that I may be defended from all adversities which may happen to my body, and from all evil thoughts which may assault and hurt my soul; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.


Prayer for Goodness (based on Psalm 1)

Heavenly Father, who has given us the gift of your law, so that we might know our sin, and your Son, that we might be forgiven where we fall short: Give me the grace to remember your holy Word, when my surroundings tempt me to confusion and weakness, that I might more nearly approach true obedience to your will. Help me to resist the arguments of the ungodly; let me not be deceived by false beauty; and let me never replace the truth which you have put into my heart with the clever words of men. Through Christ I pray,


Irish Blessing

Wisdom of years be yours
Joy of friendships be yours
Wealth of memories be yours
Fruit of endevor be yours
Hope of heaven be yours
Peace of God be yours.

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.

Passover, Exodus, <i>Gathering Bitter Herbs</i> by Dante Gabriel Rosetti, pastel ca. 1856.
Gathering Bitter Herbs by Dante Gabriel Rosetti, pastel ca. 1856.

Proverbs 19:3 (NKJV)

The foolishness of a man twists his way,
And his heart frets against the Lord.

Blue Latin Cross

Exodus 12:14-20 (ESV)

The Passover [2]

"This day shall be for you a memorial day, and you shall keep it as a feast to the Lord; throughout your generations, as a statute forever, you shall keep it as a feast.

Seven days you shall eat unleavened bread. On the first day you shall remove leaven out of your houses, for if anyone eats what is leavened, from the first day until the seventh day, that person shall be cut off from Israel.

On the first day you shall hold a holy assembly, and on the seventh day a holy assembly. No work shall be done on those days. But what everyone needs to eat, that alone may be prepared by you. And you shall observe the Feast of Unleavened Bread, for on this very day I brought your hosts out of the land of Egypt. Therefore you shall observe this day, throughout your generations, as a statute forever.

In the first month, from the fourteenth day of the month at evening, you shall eat unleavened bread until the twenty-first day of the month at evening. For seven days no leaven is to be found in your houses. If anyone eats what is leavened, that person will be cut off from the congregation of Israel, whether he is a sojourner or a native of the land. You shall eat nothing leavened; in all your dwelling places you shall eat unleavened bread."

Notes on the Scripture

Did you notice something odd about this passage? It determines how an event shall be commemorated, before the event occurs. And if you have ever wondered how the date of Easter is calculated, and why it is calculated as it is in such a terribly complex manner, here's your answer. Christ was crucified on the Passover, and so we use the Jewish calculation of Passover — given to them in Exodus 11 — to determine the date of Good Friday.

(Note that many churches use wafers in their communion service; this is unleavened bread, and reflects that the Last Supper was, in fact, held during Passover week.)

Aside from the obvious importance of the events in Exodus, the commemoration of Passover is given direct, independent significance. The requirement to celebrate is worded more strongly than the Ten Commandments, in a way. By the direct terms of this Scripture, "if anyone eats what is leavened, from the first day until the seventh day, that person shall be cut off from [the congregation of] Israel." It was an offense punishable by expulsion and the duty to follow it is permanent, to be observed "as a statute forever".

Tel Aviv streetwalkers
Tel Aviv street scene

We often bemoan people who call themselves "Christians" and seem not to have read the Bible, or don't take it seriously. But the Jews have the same problem, because full-fledged members of the "congregation of Israel" are the exception rather than the rule. At least half of the Jews in Israel consider themselves "secular" Jews and do not even try to worship God as He commanded the Jews to do. And the count of "observant" Jews who worship Yahweh as He commanded is lower (and declining). Thus, a sizable majority of the people who claim ownership of the land of Canaan because it was given to them by God, have no right, no claim, for they are not really Jews.

And will God fulfill his promise to allow the Jews to inhabit Canaan when great numbers of them turn their backs on him? If you believe the Bible, not necessarily. Time and time again, the histories of the Old Testament tell us how God allowed Israel to be conquered and the Jews to be taken into captivity because they ignored His statutes.

So one must view Jewish claims of divine right to inhabit Israel with some skepticism. More Israelis need to read their deed! There is a kick-out clause. Nobody speaks for God, and whether or not He will preserve the current State of Israel from its enemies, we cannot know. But it is not a cut-and-dried question, at least in the minds of anyone who has bothered to read the Bible.

endless knot

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Today in Daily Prayer

Memory Verse

Matthew 5:38: You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if anyone would sue you and take your shirt, let him have your cloak as well.

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