February 25 Devotional (2021)

And the Lord brought Abram outside and said, “Look toward heaven, and number the stars, if you are able to number them.” Then He said to him, “So shall your offspring be.”

February 25, 2021
Lent

Today’s Readings: Psalm 22:23-31; Genesis 15:1-20; Romans 3:21-31



Morning Invocation

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

Opening Prayer

O God,

you who dwell on high,

and yet consider the humble 

in heaven and in earth 

in the sea and in all its depths, 

from the depths of our heart, 

we pray that you would strengthen 

our hearts for battle, 

our fingers for war, 

that in the morning 

we may be able to face

all trouble in our world,

and that we may not fail 

to be worthy to be your holy temple, O Christ;

you reign forever and ever.

Amen. [1]

The Hymn

Jubilate! Amen! 

By Samuel Longfellow

Lyrics:

Now on land and sea descending, 

Brings the night its peace profound; 

Let our vesper hymn be blending 

With holy calm around. 

      Jubilate! Jubilate! 

      Jubilate! Amen! 

Let our vesper hymn be blending 

With holy calm around. 

Soon as dies the sunset glory, 

Stars of heaven shine out above, 

Telling still the ancient story, 

Their Creator’s changeless love. 

      Jubilate! Jubilate! 

      Jubilate! Amen! 

Telling still the ancient story, 

Their Creator’s changeless love. 

Now, our wants and burdens leaving 

To God’s care who cares for all, 

Cease we fearing, cease we grieving; 

Touched by God our burdens fall. 

      Jubilate! Jubilate! 

      Jubilate! Amen! 

Cease we fearing, cease we grieving; 

Touched by God our burdens fall. 

As the darkness deepens o’er us, 

Lo! Eternal stars arise; 

Hope and faith and love rise glorious, 

Shining in the Spirit’s skies. 

      Jubilate! Jubilate! 

      Jubilate! Amen! 

Hope and faith and love rise glorious, 

Shining in the Spirit’s skies. [2]

“Atlas”
By Paige Rogers

Morning Reading: Psalm 22:23-31

All the earth shall turn to God

You who fear the Lord, praise him!

All you offspring of Jacob, glorify him;

stand in awe of him, all you offspring of Israel!

For he did not despise or abhor

the affliction of the afflicted;

he did not hide his face from me,

but heard when I cried to him.

From you comes my praise in the great congregation;

my vows I will pay before those who fear him.

The poor shall eat and be satisfied;

those who seek him shall praise the Lord.

May your hearts live forever!

All the ends of the earth shall remember

and turn to the Lord;

and all the families of the nations

shall worship before him.

For dominion belongs to the Lord,

and he rules over the nations.

To him, indeed, shall all who sleep in the earth bow down;

before him shall bow all who go down to the dust,

and I shall live for him.

Posterity will serve him;

future generations will be told about the Lord,

and proclaim his deliverance to a people yet unborn,

saying that he has done it.

Short Verse

Early in the morning I cry out to you,* for in your word is my trust. 

Psalm 119:147

Morning Prayer

Almighty and most merciful Father,

we have erred and strayed from your ways like lost sheep. 

We have followed too much the devices and desires of our own hearts.

We have offended against your holy laws.

We have left undone those things which we ought to have done, 

and we have done those things which we ought not to have done;

and apart from your grace, there is no health in us.

O Lord, have mercy upon us.

Spare all those who confess their faults.

Restore all those who are penitent, according to your promises declared to all people in Christ Jesus our Lord.

And grant, O most merciful Father, for his sake,

that we may now live a godly, righteous, and sober life, 

to the glory of your holy Name. Amen.

The Plea of the Church

Grant, Almighty God, that your people may recognize their weakness and put their whole trust in your strength, so that they may rejoice for ever in the protection of your loving providence; through Christ our Lord. Amen. [3]


A prayer inspired by Saint Ethelbert of Kent, who we remember on February 25th

O God, who didst call thy servant Æthelbert of Kent to an Earthly throne that he might advance thy heavenly kingdom, and didst give him zeal for thy Church and love for thy people: Mercifully grant that we who commemorate him this day may be fruitful in good works, and attain to the glorious crown of thy saints; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.



“Descendants of Abraham”
(source)

Midday Reading: Genesis 15:1-20

God covenants with Abraham

1 After these things the word of the LORD came to Abram in a vision: “Fear not, Abram, I am your shield; your reward shall be very great.” 2 But Abram said, “O Lord GOD, what will you give me, for I continue childless, and the heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus?” 3 And Abram said, “Behold, you have given me no offspring, and a member of my household will be my heir.” 4 And behold, the word of the LORD came to him: “This man shall not be your heir; your very own son shall be your heir.” 5 And he brought him outside and said, “Look toward heaven, and number the stars, if you are able to number them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your offspring be.” 6 And he believed the LORD, and he counted it to him as righteousness.

7 And he said to him, “I am the LORD who brought you out from Ur of the Chaldeans to give you this land to possess.” 8 But he said, “O Lord GOD, how am I to know that I shall possess it?” 9 He said to him, “Bring me a heifer three years old, a female goat three years old, a ram three years old, a turtledove, and a young pigeon.” 10 And he brought him all these, cut them in half, and laid each half over against the other. But he did not cut the birds in half. 11 And when birds of prey came down on the carcasses, Abram drove them away.

12 As the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell on Abram. And behold, dreadful and great darkness fell upon him. 13 Then the LORD said to Abram, “Know for certain that your offspring will be sojourners in a land that is not theirs and will be servants there, and they will be afflicted for four hundred years. 14 But I will bring judgment on the nation that they serve, and afterward they shall come out with great possessions. 15 As for you, you shall go to your fathers in peace; you shall be buried in a good old age. 16 And they shall come back here in the fourth generation, for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet complete.”

17 When the sun had gone down and it was dark, behold, a smoking fire pot and a flaming torch passed between these pieces. 18 On that day the LORD made a covenant with Abram, saying, “To your offspring I give this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the river Euphrates, 19 the land of the Kenites, the Kenizzites, the Kadmonites, 20 the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Rephaim, 21 the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Girgashites and the Jebusites.

Midday Lesson

The Seed of Abraham

“The Word of the Lord is the Word of the Father [St. Athanasius]. He is also the Son of God. Abraham saw God in the Word in a vision. Thus, he saw Him before He became incarnate, as did the other Old Testament prophets. Abraham was fearful the promise God had given him in 12:1 would not be fulfilled, for he had no heir.” [4]

“The Voice of the Lord is also the Word of the Father. He reassures Abraham that his heir will come from your own body. This refers to the birth of Isaac, based on God’s promise. For man is saved by this promise through faith in Christ (Rom 4:17-25; 9:7, 8).” [5]

“The seed is first Christ, then His Church (Gal 3:16; Rom 4:16). The stars are a type of all members of His body (Phil 2:15). Their number is countless and consists of both Jews and Gentiles (Eph 2:11-16).” [6]

“Abraham believed the promise in 12:1 and he continued to believe in it (15:5).  For Abraham’s faith was living in growing – something dynamic. He was made righteous by this faith. So are both Jews and gentiles. So are both Jews and Gentiles. Righteousness is the gift of God through Jesus Christ (Rom 5:17).” [7]

“God the word said to Abraham, ‘I am the God who brought you out of Ur of the Chaldeans, to give you this land to inherit it.’ Thus, He identifies Himself as God. The [Nicene] Creed calls Him ‘True God of True God.’ For He is the Only-begotten of the Father through whom the Father speaks and reveals Himself. ” [8]

“Abraham calls the Word his own Master and Lord, and thus recognises His divinity. The church does the same.” [9]

“Genesis 15 begins with an exchange that depicts Abram both questioning God and trusting God’s promise. God begins by assuring Abram that he will have a great reward. Abram replies that he still has no offspring to be his heir. In language that parallels the beginning of the Decalogue (Ex 20:2), God explains that he brought Abram out of Ur to Canaan in order to give him that land as a possession. Abram asks how he can be sure this will happen. Between two parts of a covenant ceremony, God explains that Abram’s descendants will be oppressed in Egypt for centuries, but that they will return.” [10]

About the Book of Genesis

“Overall Structure of the Book Genesis may be divided into two major sections. It begins with the origins of the world and the nations in 1:1–11:26; 11:27–50:26 relates stories of Israel’s ancestors in four successive generations: Abraham and Sarah; Isaac and Rebekah; Jacob/Israel and his wives Leah and Rachel; and the sons of Jacob/Israel, who bear the names of the tribes of Israel. Since the culture in which ancient Israel emerged was patriarchal, the line of ancestry in Genesis follows the male ancestors, and many of the stories focus on them. While these stories are commonly referred to as “the patriarchal narratives,” it is important to recognize the significant roles that women play in them.” [11]

“God’s first word to Abram is “Go.” God’s promises of land, blessing, and progeny presume that Abraham will trust God and go as directed. God’s initial encounter with Abraham and the cycle of stories that reaches a climax on Mount Moriah in Genesis 22 make clear that fundamentally what God is offering Abraham is a covenant relationship. Abraham and the Israelites who inherit it are promised the benefits of becoming an extraordinarily large nation on their own land. However, these stories anticipate that time and again God will invite unconditional trust and obedience, and that those benefits often may not materialize in the manner desired. Here, as in other Semitic cultures of the ancient Near East, divine blessing entails that God regards Abraham favorably and desires a reciprocal relationship with him in which both parties recognize the asymmetry and commit to fulfilling their different responsibilities faithfully. God, who is infinitely more powerful than Abraham, initiates the relationship and sets its terms, promising to provide for Abraham’s flourishing, and expecting his unswerving loyalty. In the context of the Pentateuch, and indeed the entire Bible, such trust in God is foundational. While these narratives demonstrate God’s solicitude for Abraham and his heir Israel, it is beginning in Exodus that the relationship is described explicitly as familial: Israel is God’s son (Ex 4:22–23). Moses’s speeches in Deuteronomy expand on God’s parental commitment to love Israel.” [12]

Short Verse

Let your ways be known upon earth,* your saving health among all nations. 

Psalm 67:2

Midday Prayer

For the Church
Gracious Father, we pray for thy holy Catholic Church. Fill it with all truth, in all truth with all peace. Where it is corrupt, purify it; where it is in error, direct it; where in any thing it is amiss, reform it. Where it is right, strengthen it; where it is in want, provide for it; where it is divided, reunite it; for the sake of Jesus Christ thy Son our Savior. Amen. [13]


A prayer inspired by John Roberts, who we remember on February 25th

Creator God, we humbly thank thee that of thy goodness thou didst bring thy missionary John Roberts from his native shore that he might live and teach thy Gospel among the Shoshone and Arapahoe peoples in a spirit of respect and amity, and in their own tongue. Grant, we entreat thee, that like him we might proclaim the Good News of thy Christ with all those whom we meet, greeting them in friendship in the bonds of thy Holy Spirit; for thou art one God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, living and true, unto the ages of ages. Amen.



Evensong Reading: Romans 3:21-31

Righteousness through faith

21 But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— 22 the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. 26 It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.

27 Then what becomes of our boasting? It is excluded. By what kind of law? By a law of works? No, but by the law of faith. 28 For we hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law. 29 Or is God the God of Jews only? Is he not the God of Gentiles also? Yes, of Gentiles also, 30 since God is one—who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through faith. 31 Do we then overthrow the law by this faith? By no means! On the contrary, we uphold the law.

Evensong Lesson

We are justified by faith

The law may be kept by obedience (Lv 18:5) and by faith (Dt 30:14). Obedience without faith cannot bring anyone to righteousness. Yet faith, even apart from the law, can bring a person to righteousness, because Jesus Christ supersedes the law.” [14]

“The ultimate purpose of man’s existence is to attain the glory of God. Even if a person were to keep the whole law, he would still fall short of that glory, because he would still be bound by death. The glory of God is both eternal righteousness and eternal life. Jesus Christ alone lived in completed righteousness, and He alone was resurrected from the dead. Therefore, He alone is the fullness of the glory of God, and we receive that glory in Him (see Jn 14:6).” [15]

“Being justified refers to an ongoing state of righteousness and not merely to a one-time event. This justification requires redemption: a sacrificial offering capable of (1) setting us free from sin and death, and (2) uniting us eternally with righteousness and life. In the OT, this sacrificial offering was prefigured by blood sacrifices of physically perfect animals for the temporal remission of sins (see Heb 9). Under the new covenant, Christ is the sacrificial offering that once for all eternally frees us from sin and death (Heb 10:14) and by His grace unites us with righteousness and life.” [16]

“To propitiate means ‘to cover’ or ‘to conciliate.’ Propitiation refers to the mercy seat in the tabernacle where God was enthroned among His people (Ex 25:17-22). Once a year, on the Day of Atonement, the blood of the sacrifice was liturgically sprinkled on the mercy seat in the holy of holies. This prefigured the covering of our sins and our reconciliation to God that was to come in Jesus Christ. Heaven holds the true mercy seat (Heb 9:23-26; 10:19-22), and Christ’s blood was taken to heaven through His Passion, Resurrection, and Ascension, thus reconciling us to God once and for all.” [17]

“Ongoing faith in Jesus is the way mankind receives God’s righteousness. Justification (being made righteous) by faith is not a one-time ‘not guilty’ verdict…  Rather, it is Christ living in us and we in Him (Gal 2:20).” [18]

“Thus, to be justified is to be in communion with Jesus Christ in an ongoing, dynamic, and growing life with him [through faith].  The relationship between God and His people is one of Shepherd to sheep, Master to servant, and Father to an adopted child.” [19]

The law teaches us that: (1) Attaining righteousness through works alone is impossible (v. 27). (2) Righteousness is attained by faith and is a gift from God (vv. 27, 38). (3)  God is impartial – Jews and Gentiles are justified on the same basis of ongoing faith in Jesus Christ (vv. 39, 30). There is ‘no difference’ [St. John Chrysostom] between the terms by faith and through faith (v. 30). (4) By teaching justification by faith in Christ, Christians establish (or uphold) the law (v. 31), because Christ Himself fulfils the law (Mt 5:17).” [20]

Short Verse

“Yet even now,” declares the Lord, “return to me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning.” 

Joel 2:12

Evensong Prayer

Lord Jesus, stay with me, for evening is at hand and the day is past; be my companion in the way, kindle my heart, and awaken hope, that I may know you as you are revealed in Scripture and in the breaking of bread. Grant this for the sake of your love toward me. Amen. † [21]



Æbbe of Coldingham
(Source)

The Ebba Compline 

(from the Northumbria Community’s Daily Prayers [22])

Ebba died in the year 683. She was the sister of Oswald and Oswy, who were both kings of Northumbria. She founded the ‘double’ (i.e. there were both men and women there) monastery at Coldingham, situated on St Abbs’s Head (which was subsequently named after her). 

Ebba was consecrated a nun by Aidan. Bede described her as ‘a pious woman and a handmaid of Christ.’ 

+ 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.) 

*  Find rest, O my soul, in God alone: my hope comes from Him. 

Come I this night to the Father, 

come I this night to the Son, 

come I to the Holy Spirit powerful: 

come I this night to God. 

Come I this night with Christ, 

come I with the Spirit of kindness. 

Come I to Thee, Jesus. 

Jesus, shelter me. 

*  I will lie down and sleep. 

I wake again, 

because the Lord sustains me. 

*  By day the Lord directs His love; 

at night His song is with me – 

a prayer to the God of my life. 

*  Be strong and take heart, 

all you who hope in the Lord. 

*  This dwelling, O God, by Thee be blest; 

and each one who here this night does rest. 

*  May God be in my sleep; 

may Christ be in my dreams. 

May the Spirit be in my repose, 

in my thoughts, in my heart. 

In my soul always may the Sacred Three dwell. 

May the Father of heaven 

have care of my soul, 

His loving arm about my body,

through each slumber 

and sleep of my life. 

The Son of God be shielding me from harm, 

the Son of God be shielding me from ill, 

the Son of God be shielding me with power. 

The Son of God be shielding me this night. 

*  Sleep, O sleep in the calm of each calm. 

Sleep, O sleep in the guidance of all guidance. 

Sleep, O sleep in the love of all loves. 

Sleep, O beloved, in the Lord of life. 

Sleep, O beloved, in the God of life.

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] Tickle, P. (2006). February. In The divine hours: Prayers for Springtime (Kindle ed., vol. 2, p. 117). New York, NY: Image Books.

[3] The Episcopal Church. (2018). Seasonal Blessings. In The Book of Occasional Services (PDF ed., p. 11). Then Episcopal Church. Retrieved November December 15, 2020, from https://episcopalchurch.org/files/lm_book_of_occasional_services_2018.pdf

[4] Academic Community of St. Athanasius Academy of Orthodox Theology (2008). Genesis. In The Orthodox study Bible (p. 95). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson.

[5] Ibid. 4

[6] Ibid. 4

[7] Ibid. 4

[8] Ibid. 4

[9] Ibid. 4

[10] Senior, D., Collins, J. J., & Getty-Sullivan, M. A. (2016). Genesis. In The Catholic study Bible: The New American Bible, revised edition, translated from the original languages with critical use of all the ancient sources (Third ed., p. 248). Oxford: Oxford University Press.

[11] Ibid. 10, P. 235

[12] Ibid. 10, P. 246

[13] Episcopal Church. (1979). Prayers and Thanksgivings. In The Book of common prayer: And administration of the sacraments, and other rites and ceremonies of the church, according to the use of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America: Together with the psalter, or, Psalms of David (pp. 816). New York, NY: Church Publishing Incorporated.

[14] Academic Community of St. Athanasius Academy of Orthodox Theology (2008). Romans. In The Orthodox study Bible (p. 1557). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson.

[15] Ibid. 14

[16] Ibid. 14

[17] Ibid. 14

[18] Ibid. 14

[19] Ibid. 14

[20] Ibid. 14

[21] Tickle, P. (2006). February. In The divine hours: Prayers for Springtime (Kindle ed., vol. 2, p. 78). New York, NY: Image Books


[22] The Northumbria Community. (2015). Ebba Compline. In Celtic Daily Prayer (Kindle ed., p. 92252 – 92290). London: HarperCollins.

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