February 23 Devotional (2021)

“It is human nature to blame people for their own troubles, but Job’s story makes it clear that blame cannot always be attached to those whom trouble strikes…”

February 23, 2021
Epiphanytide

Today’s Readings: Penitence and the Sacrament of Reconciliation; Job 5:1-27; 1 Peter 3:8-22



Morning Invocation

The Lord is full of compassion and mercy: Come let us adore him.

Opening Prayer

You are our hope and salvation.

You are our life and strength.

You are our helper in troubles.

You are our defender throughout life in all things, 

God of Israel; 

who lives and reigns,

one God, now and forever. 

Amen. [1]

The Hymn

“Now quit your care and anxious fear and worry”

By Percy Dearmer, 1867-1936


“The Confession”
By Sir Frank (1853-1928)
(source)

Morning Reading

Penitence and the Sacrament of Reconciliation 

from St. Augustine’s Prayer Book [2]

        We return to God in penitence constantly. Every day we say, “Forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us.” In the [service of the] Eucharist, we confess our sins, things done and left undone. An honest spiritual life will lead us to know how our actions, thoughts, and dispositions bring us closer to or carry us away from God. Regular self-examination and repentance is an essential part of any healthy spiritual life. We do not have to carry out this work in isolation. The sacrament of reconciliation provides a specific setting for self-examination, the help of another’s insight, and the sure and certain sign of inward and spiritual grace—the words of absolution spoken by a priest. 

        The point to self-examination and confession is always an awareness of God’s desire that we turn from sin and live—a conviction that sin acknowledged and confessed is done away. The end of this spiritual work is renewed joy in God’s mercy and a clearer sense of the life and work that is ours as disciples of Jesus. 

        The Sacrament of Reconciliation asks us to take the results of our self-examination to another human being—a priest. There we find absolution—the sure and certain word of forgiveness that restores our relationship with God. Some people find a regular pattern of confession to be helpful; others seek it out at turning points in the year or in their life. There are times when our conscience is so troubled or our awareness so confused that a sacramental confession is all but necessary for spiritual health and growth. While some parish priests post particular hours for confession, a priest will always be ready to respond if you request a time for a confession. The first time you make a confession it might be helpful to arrange a conversation with the priest to explore how one prepares and what sort of things one confesses. You might approach your own parish priest or seek out some other priest as seems most helpful to you. 

Short Verse

He has not dealt with us according to our sins,* nor rewarded us according to our wickedness. 

Psalm 103:10

Morning Prayer

O Lord, 

let everyone hear you,

let the rich and the poore bow down their hearts to you. 

May our souls seek you alone. 

May we praise you, with all your saints in eternal joy, 

and find you our exceedingly great reward.

Amen. [3]

The Plea of the Church

Look with compassion, O Lord, upon this your people; that, rightly observing this holy season, they may learn to know you more fully, and to serve you with a more perfect will; through Christ our Lord. Amen. [4]


A prayer inspired by St. Polycarp, Bishop of Smyrna and Martyr, who the Church remembers on February 23rd

O God, the maker of heaven and earth, you gave your venerable servant, the holy and gentle Polycarp, boldness to confess Jesus Christ as King and Savior, and steadfastness to die for his faith: Give us grace, following his example, to share the cup of Christ and rise to eternal life; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.



“Job and his friends”
By Eberhard Wächter, 1762–1852
(source)

Midday Reading: Job 5:1-27

Seek God

1 “Call now; is there anyone who will answer you?

To which of the holy ones will you turn?

2 Surely vexation kills the fool,

and jealousy slays the simple.

3 I have seen the fool taking root,

but suddenly I cursed his dwelling.

4 His children are far from safety;

they are crushed in the gate,

and there is no one to deliver them.

5 The hungry eat his harvest,

and he takes it even out of thorns,

and the thirsty pant after his wealth.

6 For affliction does not come from the dust,

nor does trouble sprout from the ground,

7 but man is born to trouble

as the sparks fly upward.

8 “As for me, I would seek God,

and to God would I commit my cause,

9 who does great things and unsearchable,

marvelous things without number:

10 he gives rain on the earth

and sends waters on the fields;

11 he sets on high those who are lowly,

and those who mourn are lifted to safety.

12 He frustrates the devices of the crafty,

so that their hands achieve no success.

13 He catches the wise in their own craftiness,

and the schemes of the wily are brought to a quick end.

14 They meet with darkness in the daytime

and grope at noonday as in the night.

15 But he saves the needy from the sword of their mouth

and from the hand of the mighty.

16 So the poor have hope,

and injustice shuts her mouth.

17 “Behold, blessed is the one whom God reproves;

therefore despise not the discipline of the Almighty.

18 For he wounds, but he binds up;

he shatters, but his hands heal.

19 He will deliver you from six troubles;

in seven no evil shall touch you.

20 In famine he will redeem you from death,

and in war from the power of the sword.

21 You shall be hidden from the lash of the tongue,

and shall not fear destruction when it comes.

22 At destruction and famine you shall laugh,

and shall not fear the beasts of the earth.

23 For you shall be in league with the stones of the field,

and the beasts of the field shall be at peace with you.

24 You shall know that your tent is at peace,

and you shall inspect your fold and miss nothing.

25 You shall know also that your offspring shall be many,

and your descendants as the grass of the earth.

26 You shall come to your grave in ripe old age,

like a sheaf gathered up in its season.

27 Behold, this we have searched out; it is true.

Hear, and know it for your good.”

Midday Lesson

Unhelpful advice

“All three of Job’s friends made the mistake of assuming that Job had committed some great sin that caused his suffering.  Neither they nor Job knew of Satan’s conversation with God (Job 1:6-2:6). It is human nature to blame people for their own troubles, but Job’s story makes it clear that blame cannot always be attached to those whom trouble strikes.” [5]

Paul later quoted part of verse 13 (1 Cor 3:19) – the only time Job is clearly quoted in the New Testament. Although God rebuked Eliphaz for being wrong in his advice to Job (Job 42:7), not all he said was in error. The part Paul quoted was correct – people are often caught in their own traps. This illustrates how Scripture must be used to explain and comment on itself. We must be familiar with the entire scope of God’s Word to properly understand the difficult portions of it.” [6]

“As we know from the beginning of the book, Job’s suffering was not a result of some great sin. We sometimes give people excellent advice only to learn that it does not apply to them and is therefore not very helpful. All who offer counsel from God’s Word should take care to thoroughly understand a person’s situation before giving advice.” [7]

Short Verse

 I put my trust in your mercy;* my heart is joyful because of your saving help. 

Psalm 13:5

Midday Prayer

God of mercy, this midday moment of rest is your welcome gift. Bless the work we have begun, make good its defects, and let us finish it in a way that pleases you. Grant this through Christ our Lord. Amen. 

LITURGY OF THE HOURS, VOL. III [8]



“Jesus Suffering”
watercolor on paper
By Laur Iduc
(website)

 Vespers Reading: 1 Peter 3:8-22

About suffering

8 Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind. 9 Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing. 10 For

“Whoever desires to love life

and see good days,

let him keep his tongue from evil

and his lips from speaking deceit;

11 let him turn away from evil and do good;

let him seek peace and pursue it.

12 For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous,

and his ears are open to their prayer.

But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.”

13 Now who is there to harm you if you are zealous for what is good? 14 But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled, 15 but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, 16 having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame. 17 For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that should be God’s will, than for doing evil.

18 For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit, 19 in which he went and proclaimed to the spirits in prison, 20 because they formerly did not obey, when God’s patience waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were brought safely through water. 21 Baptism, which corresponds to this, now saves you, not as a removal of dirt from the body but as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, 22 who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, with angels, authorities, and powers having been subjected to him.

Vespers Lesson

 A challenge to all 

“Our behaviour today has consequences for the future. The Church as a corporate priesthood is to express God’s graciousness to the entire world.  As we have been blessed, so we must bless (Mt 7:12).” [9] “As the royal priesthood follows Christ in His obedience and His mercifulness, so it follows him in his suffering.” [10]

Verse 15 is “a challenge to all – clergy and laity alike – to answer when asked about our hope in Christ with meekness and fear.” [11] It is also of great importance to remember that “not all our suffering comes about because we have been righteous.” [12]

“As Noah preached righteousness, suffered unjustly, and rescued those who were with him, so also does Christ.  Christ descended to those in darkness and death that light might shine on them and He might deliver them from death. As Christ fearlessly faced his tormentors, death, and hell, so we through Him can confidently face mockers and tormentors – and, yes, bring His light to them.” [13]

“The Flood is an OT mystery of salvation of the human race. Noah was saved from a godless society – not so much saved from the water, as through the water from evil. For through the water of baptism the resurrected Christ, having taken His place in heaven itself, gives us a clean conscience.” [14]

Short Verse

Then I lay prostrate before the Lord as before, forty days and forty nights. I neither ate bread nor drank water, because of all the sin that you had committed, in doing what was evil in the sight of the Lord to provoke him to anger. 

Deuteronomy 9:18

Vespers Prayer

Hear, O Lord, your servants, offering evening praises to your Name. Through the silent hours of the night deign to watch over us, whom You have protected in all dangers of the day. Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. 

Anglo-Saxon, Traditional [15]



12th century wall-painting of St. Cuthbert in Durham Cathedral
(source)

The Cuthbert Compline 

(from the Northumbria Community’s Daily Prayers [16])

Cuthbert, watching sheep one night on the Lammermuir hills, had an angelic vision coinciding with the death of Aidan which convinced him that he was meant to follow Christ as surely as the beloved founder of the monastic community on Lindisfarne. 

Cuthbert became a monk at Melrose Abbey, under the guidance of Boisil, who was then the prior. Cuthbert succeeded him. Later in his life he became a dearly loved bishop at Lindisfarne, but before his death in 687, he retreated again into solitude to pray and fast in the hermitage he loved on the island of Inner Farne. 

+ indicates that you may make the sign of the cross. 

* indicates a change of reader. 

All say together the sections in bold type. 

The words in bold italic type set between lines should be said by each in turn. 

+ (silently.) 

*  I will lie down and sleep in peace 

for You alone, Lord,

make me dwell in safety. 

O God, and Spirit, and Jesu, the Three, 

from the crown of my head, O Trinity, 

to the soles of my feet mine offering be. 

Come I unto Thee, O Jesu, my King – 

O Jesu, do Thou be my sheltering. 

My dear ones, O God, bless Thou and keep,

in every place where they are. 

*  Whoever has chosen to make 

the shelter of the Most High their dwelling place 

will stay in His over-shadowing. 

*  He alone is my refuge, my place of safety; 

He is my God, and I am trusting Him. 

*  He will rescue you from the traps laid for your feet, 

and save you from the destroying curse. 

*  His faithful promises are your armour. 

You need no longer be afraid of any terror by night, 

or the death-arrow that flies by day. 

*  The Lord Himself is your refuge; 

you have made the Most High your stronghold. 

*  Be my strong rock, a castle to keep me safe, 

for You are my crag and my stronghold. 

*  How precious to me are Your thoughts, O God! 

How vast is the sum of them! 

Were I to count them, 

they would outnumber the grains of sand. 

When I awake, I am still with You. 

I will not lie down tonight with sin, 

nor shall sin,

nor sin’s shadow, 

lie down with me. 

O God of life, this night, 

O darken not to me Thy light. 

O God of life, this night, 

close not Thy gladness to my sight. 

O God of life, this night, 

Thy door to me, O shut not tight, 

O God of life, this night. 

O darken not to me Thy light. 

*  Be it on Thine own beloved arm, 

O God of grace, 

that I in peace shall waken. 

(For optional use, sung as a hymn or spoken reflectively by individual readers.) 

As the bridegroom to his chosen, 

as the king unto his realm, 

as the keep unto the castle, 

as the pilot to the helm, 

so, Lord, art Thou to me. 

As the fountain in the garden, 

as the candle in the dark, 

as the treasure in the coffer, 

as the manna in the ark,

so, Lord, art Thou to me. 

As the music at the banquet, 

as the stamp unto the seal, 

as the medicine to the fainting, 

as the wine-cup at the meal,

so, Lord, art Thou to me. 

As the ruby in the setting, 

as the honey in the comb, 

as the light within the lantern,

as the father in the home, 

so, Lord, art Thou to me. 

As the sunshine in the heavens, 

as the image in the glass, 

as the fruit unto the fig-tree, 

as the dew unto the grass, 

so, Lord, art Thou to me. 

*  Jesu, Son of Mary! 

my helper, my encircler. 

Jesu, Son of David! 

my strength everlasting. 

Jesu, Son of Mary! 

my helper, my encircler. 

The peace of all peace be mine this night 

+  in the name of the Father, 

and of the Son, 

and of the Holy Spirit. 

Amen.


Devotionals compiled/written by S.P. Rogers

Citations:

[1] Stratman, P. (2001). Morning Prayers. In Prayers from the Ancient Celtic Church (Kindle ed., p. 15). Rossway.

[2] Cobb, D., & Olsen, D. A. (2014). Saint Augustine’s prayer book: A book of devotions (Kindle ed., p. 77). Cincinnati, OH: Forward Movement.

[3] Stratman, P. (2001). Lent. In Prayers from the Ancient Celtic Church (Kindle ed., p. 75). Rossway.

[4] The Episcopal Church. (2018). Seasonal Blessings. In The Book of Occasional Services (PDF ed., p. 12). Then Episcopal Church. Retrieved November December 15, 2020, from https://episcopalchurch.org/files/lm_book_of_occasional_services_2018.pdf

[5] Tyndale House Publishers. (2012). Job. In Chronological life application study Bible (p. 99). Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Pub.

[6] Ibid. 5

[7] Ibid. 5, P. 99-100

[8] Tickle, P. (2006). February. In The divine hours: Prayers for Springtime (Kindle ed., vol. 2, p. 15). New York, NY: Image Books

[9] Academic Community of St. Athanasius Academy of Orthodox Theology (2008). 1 Peter. In The Orthodox study Bible (p. 1717). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson.

[10] Ibid. 9

[11] Ibid. 9

[12] Ibid. 9

[13] Ibid. 9

[14] Ibid. 9, P. 1717-1718

[15] Tickle, P. (2006). February. In The divine hours: Prayers for Springtime (Kindle ed., vol. 2, p. 47). New York, NY: Image Books.


[16] The Northumbria Community. (2015). Cuthbert Compline. In Celtic Daily Prayer (Kindle ed., p. 92138-92194). London: HarperCollins.

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