Daily Devotion for February 26, 2017
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.
Our “Virtual Sunday Church” takes us, this week, to the great Westminster Abbey in London. You might see some familiar faces!
O my soul, praise Him, for He is thy health and salvation!
All ye who hear, now to His temple draw near;
Praise Him in glad adoration.
Praise to the Lord, who over all things so wondrously reigneth,
Shelters thee under His wings, yea, so gently sustaineth!
Hast thou not seen how all thy longings have been
Granted in what He ordaineth?
[Praise to the Lord, who hath fearfully, wondrously, made thee;
Health hath vouchsafed and, when heedlessly falling, hath stayed thee.
What need or grief ever hath failed of relief?
Wings of His mercy did shade thee.]
Praise to the Lord, who doth prosper thy work and defend thee;
Surely His goodness and mercy here daily attend thee.
Ponder anew what the Almighty can do,
If with His love He befriend thee.
Praise to the Lord, O let all that is in me adore Him!
All that hath life and breath, come now with praises before Him.
Let the Amen sound from His people again,
Gladly for aye we adore Him.
Music: Lobe den Herren (anon. 1665)
Lyrics by Joachim Neander (1680), English tr. Catherine Winworth (1863).
Sunday Morning Invocation
God of glory, by the raising of your Son you have broken the chains of death and hell: fill my spirit, and the spirit of all the people of your universal church, with faith and hope; for a new day has dawned, and the way to life stands open in our Saviour Jesus Christ.
Sunday Prayer of St. Denis
You are wisdom, uncreated and eternal,
the supreme first cause, above all being,
sovereign Godhead, sovereign goodness,
watching unseen the God-inspired wisdom of Christian people.
Raise us, we pray, that we may totally respond
to the supreme, unknown, ultimate, and splendid height
of your words, mysterious and inspired.
There all Your secret matters lie covered and hidden
under darkness both profound and brilliant, silent and wise.
You make what is ultimate and beyond brightness
secretly to shine in all that is most dark.
In your way, ever unseen and intangible,
You fill to the full with most beautiful splendor
those souls who close their eyes that they may see.
And I, please, with love that goes on beyond mind
to all that is beyond mind,
seek to gain such for myself through this prayer.
Prayer for Peace
I thank you, Master and Lover of mankind, King of the ages and giver of all good things, for destroying the dividing wall of enmity and granting peace to those who seek your mercy. I appeal to you to awaken the longing for a peaceful life in all those who are filled with hatred for their neighbors, thinking especially of those at war or preparing for war.
Grant peace to your servants. Implant in them the fear of you and confirm in them love one for another. Extinguish every dispute and banish all temptations to disagreement. For you are our peace and to you we ascribe glory: to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit, now and forever and unto ages of ages.
I pray, Lord our God, for all those who suffer from acts of war. I pray for your peace and your mercy in the midst of the great suffering that people are now inflicting on each other. Accept the prayers of your Church, so that by your goodness peace may return to all peoples. Hear us and have mercy on us.
Finally, let me go forth in thanks for the victory I have been given through our Lord Jesus Christ. May I be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, and always remembering that in the Lord our labor is not in vain.
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.
Proverbs 14:16 (KJV)
A wise man feareth, and departeth from evil:
but the fool rageth, and is confident.
Genesis 17:9-14 (ESV)
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
he 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 Galatians and Acts, there was a close debate over whether Christian men should, or must, be circumcised become Christians — quite a difference from later history, when Judaism was often seen as inimical to Christianity, rather than a prerequisite.