Daily Devotion for May 15, 2016
Feast of Pentecost
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.
The words of our Sunday anthem are Psalm 67, reproduced to the right. (The translation is different in places; sorry, we could not find the one used by the Westminster Abbey Choir.)
Call to Sunday Worship
O Lord, I beseech you mercifully to hear my prayers, and the prayers of all your people who call upon you; and grant that we may both perceive and know what things we ought to do, and also may have grace and power faithfully to fulfill them; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.
The Great Prayer for Sunday (by Archimandrite Sophronios)
O Lord Eternal and Creator of all things,
Who of Thy inscrutable goodness called me to this life;
Who bestowed on me the grace of Baptism and the Seal of the Holy Spirit;
Who imbued me with the desire to seek Thee, the one true God: hear my prayer.
I have no life, no light, no joy or wisdom; no strength except in Thee, O God.
Because of my unrighteousness I dare not raise my eyes to Thee.
But Thou said to Thy disciples, 'Whatsoever you shall ask in prayer believing, you shall receive.'
and 'Whatsoever you shall ask in my name, that will I do.'
Wherefore I dare to invoke Thee.
Purify me from all taint of flesh and spirit.
Teach me to pray aright.
Bless this day which Thee give unto me, Thy unworthy servant.
By the power of Thy blessing enable me at all times to speak and act to Thy glory with a pure spirit, with humility, patience, love, gentleness, peace, courage and wisdom: aware always of Thy presence.
Of Thy immense goodness, O Lord God, show me the path of Thy will,
and grant me to walk in Thy sight without sin.
O Lord, unto Whom all hearts be open,
Thee know what things I have need of.
Thee are acquainted with my blindness and my ignorance,
Thee know my infirmity and my soul's corruption;
but neither are my pain and anguish hid from Thee.
Wherefore I beseech Thee, hear my prayer and by Thy Holy Spirit
teach me the way wherein I should walk;
and when my perverted will would lead me down other paths
spare me not O Lord, but force me back to Thee.
By the power of Thy love, grant me to hold fast to that which is good.
Preserve me from every word or deed that corrupts the soul;
from every impulse unpleasing in Thy sight and hurtful to my brother-man.
Teach me what I should say and how I should speak.
If it be Thy will that I make no answer,
inspire me to keep silent in a spirit of peace
that causes neither sorrow nor hurt to my fellow man.
Establish me in the path of Thy commandments
and to my last breath let me not stray from the light of Thy ordinances,
that Thy commandments may become the sole law
of my being on this earth and all eternity.
Yea, Lord, I pray to Thee, have pity on me.
Spare me in my affliction and my misery
and hide not the way of salvation from me.
In my foolishness, O God, I plead with Thee for many and great things.
Yet am I ever mindful of my wickedness, my baseness, my vileness.
Have mercy upon me.
Cast me not away from your presence because of my presumption.
Do Thee rather increase in me this presumption,
and grant unto me, the worst of men,
to love Thee as Thee have commanded, with all my heart, and with all my soul,
and with all my mind, and with all my strength:
with my whole being.
Yea, O Lord, by Thy Holy Spirit, teach me good judgment and knowledge.
Grant me to know Thy truth before I go down into the grave.
Maintain my life in this world until I may offer unto Thee worthy repentance.
Take me not away in the midst of my days, nor while my mind is still blind.
When Thee shall be pleased to bring my life to an end,
forewarn me that I may prepare my soul to come before Thee.
Be with me, O Lord, at that dread hour and grant me the joy of salvation.
Cleanse me from secret faults, from all iniquity that is hidden in me;
and give me a right answer before Thy judgment-seat.
Yea, Lord, of Thy great mercy and immeasurable love for mankind.
Now unto him that is able to keep me from falling, and to present me faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy, to the only wise God our Savior, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever.
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.
Psalm 67 (KJV)
God be merciful unto us, and bless us;
and cause his face to shine upon us.
That thy way may be known upon earth,
thy saving health among all nations.
Let the people praise thee, O God;
let all the people praise thee.
O let the nations be glad and sing for joy:
for thou shalt judge the people righteously,
and govern the nations upon earth.
Let the people praise thee, O God;
let all the people praise thee.
Then shall the earth yield her increase;
and God, even our own God, shall bless us.
God shall bless us;
and all the ends of the earth shall fear him.
1 Corinthians 8:4-13 (ESV)
Food Sacrificed to Idols
So then, about eating food sacrificed to idols: We know that an idol is nothing at all in the world and that there is no God but one. For even if there are so-called gods, whether in heaven or on earth (as indeed there are many "gods" and many "lords"), yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom all things came and for whom we live; and there is but one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things came and through whom we live.
But not everyone knows this. Some people are still so accustomed to idols that when they eat such food they think of it as having been sacrificed to an idol, and since their conscience is weak, it is defiled. But food does not bring us near to God; we are no worse if we do not eat, and no better if we do.
Be careful, however, that the exercise of your freedom does not become a stumbling block to the weak. For if anyone with a weak conscience sees you who have this knowledge eating in an idol's temple, won't he be emboldened to eat what has been sacrificed to idols? So this weak brother, for whom Christ died, is destroyed by your knowledge. When you sin against your brothers in this way and wound their weak conscience, you sin against Christ. Therefore, if what I eat causes my brother to fall into sin, I will never eat meat again, so that I will not cause him to fall.
Notes on the Scripture
he early Christians had a problem: they could not worship any god but God, and specifically not an idol, according to the Ten Commandments. But they were often put in the position of wanting to eat meat that had been sacrificed to an idol. For example, such meat was often less expensive, or they might eat at the house of a friend or in a restaurant where it was served. (Food sacrificed to idols was generally divided up three ways: part was burned up, part was returned to the person who offered it, and part given to the priest. Either of the latter two might then resell it for cash.)
Paul's solution was simple. Sacrifice of meat to an idol was simply meaningless. The meat was not cursed and it was not blessed, and eating such meat was just like eating any other meat. (This is very different from participating in a feast to an idol. 1 Corinthians 10:14.)
He gave one very important warning, however; they should be very careful that nobody got the wrong impression. He was concerned that a person might see them eating such meat, and think that they were endorsing the sacrifice or in some way connected to worship of the idol.
There are many similar situations in modern-day life. We might find ourselves watching a movie or television show, or reading a book, full of blasphemy, lewdness, materialism, or other unchristian behavior. In fact, if you turn on the television set, you are pretty much guaranteed to see both subtle and outright anti-Christian messages. You might be at a meeting or social gathering where language is used, or jokes are told, that you believe sacrilegious.
Can we be in such places without endorsing them? Paul seems to say yes; and, in fact, unless you move to a convent you would have a hard time navigating life without being an audience to such things.
But Paul also teaches that we should not tolerate such things if there is a chance that our tolerance will be a stumbling block to another person. We are to adopt the other person's more restrictive viewpoint. So, if we are at a movie with a friend and he finds it objectionable, we should not argue with him; we must tear ourselves away, no matter how much we are enjoying it.