March 13 Devotional (2021)

“Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God…”

March 13, 2021
Lent

Today’s Readings: Self-reflection: Sin of Envy; Numbers 20:22-29; John 3:1-13



Morning Invocation

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

Opening Prayer

We walk in the light of this bountiful day 

in the great strength of the most high God of gods,

in the favour of Christ, 

in the light of the Holy Spirit,

in the faith of the patriarchs,

in the service of the prophets,

in the peace of the apostles,

in the joy of angels,

in the splendor of the saints,

in the work of the faithful,

in the strength of the righteous,

in the witness of the martyrs,

in the chastity of the virgins,

in the wisdom of God,

in the patience of many,

in the denial of the flesh,

in the control of the tongue,

in the abundance of peace,

in the praise of the Trinity, 

in the sharpness of senses,

in continuing good works,

in step with the Spirit,

in the words of God,

in many blessings. 

In this is the way of all who labor for Christ,

who led the saints into joy forever after their deaths,

that they might listen to the voices of the angels, 

praising God and saying: 

“Holy, holy, holy.”

Book of Cerne, 9th Century [1]

The Hymn

“Thou, whose almighty word”

By John Marriott

Lyrics:

God, whose almighty word 

Chaos and darkness heard 

      And took their flight: 

Hear us we humbly pray, 

And where the gospel day 

Sheds not its glorious ray

      Let there be light. 

Savior who came to bring 

On your redeeming wing 

      Healing and sight— 

Health to the sick in mind, 

Sight to the inly blind— 

O now to all mankind 

      Let there be light. 

Spirit of truth and love, 

Life-giving holy dove, 

      Speed on your flight; 

Move on the waters’ face, 

Bearing the lamp of grace, 

And in earth’s darkest place 

      Let there be light. 

Holy and blessed Three, 

Glorious Trinity, 

      Wisdom, Love, Might, 

Boundless as ocean-tide 

Rolling in fullest pride, 

Through the world, far and wide 

      Let there be light. [2]


“Envy”
By Giotto, 1306,
Scrovegni (Arena) Chapel, Padua, Italy
(source)

Morning Reading

Self-reflection: Sin of Envy

From St. Augustine’s Prayer Book [3]

ENVY is dissatisfaction with our place in God’s order of creation, manifested in begrudging the gifts and vocations of others. 

Jealousy: Offense at others’ talents or success. Desire to control others so they are dependent on us. Belittling others. Inability or refusal to enjoy one’s own good fortune because someone else’s seems greater. Attacking another’s work or personality to foster one’s own position. Refusal to offer help and advice in order to see the other fail. 

Malice: False accusations, slander, backbiting, or gossip. Arousing, fostering, or organizing hostility toward others. Unnecessary or unhelpful criticism, even when true. Organizing and fostering division and resentment within the parish or other communities rather than honest, patient conversation. Deliberate annoyance of others. Teasing. Any acts of bullying. 


Contempt: Scorn of another’s virtue or ability, or of their shortcomings or failings. Prejudice against those we consider inferior, or who seem to consider us inferior. Ridicule of persons, institutions, or ideals.

Pieter van der Heyden “Envy (Invidia)”
(source)

Short Verse

Remember me, O LORD, with the favor you have for your people,* and visit me with your saving help. 

Psalm 106:4

Morning Prayer

Do not remember against us our former iniquities; 

let your compassion come speedily to meet us, for we are brought very low. (Psalm 79:8)

Help us, O God of our salvation, for the glory of your name. O Lord, deliver us, and forgive us our sins, for your name’s sake. Protect the souls who confess to you, and finally, do not forget the souls of the poor. Remember your covenant; O Lord, you live and reign, one God, now and forever.

Amen. [4]

Blessing

Grant to your faithful people, merciful Lord, pardon and peace; that we may be cleansed from all our sins, and serve you with a quiet mind; through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.



Aaron depicted by Jacques Bergé
(source)

Midday Reading: Numbers 20:22-29

The death of Aaron

22 And they journeyed from Kadesh, and the people of Israel, the whole congregation, came to Mount Hor. 23 And the LORD said to Moses and Aaron at Mount Hor, on the border of the land of Edom, 24 “Let Aaron be gathered to his people, for he shall not enter the land that I have given to the people of Israel, because you rebelled against my command at the waters of Meribah. 25 Take Aaron and Eleazar his son and bring them up to Mount Hor. 26 And strip Aaron of his garments and put them on Eleazar his son. And Aaron shall be gathered to his people and shall die there.” 27 Moses did as the LORD commanded. And they went up Mount Hor in the sight of all the congregation. 28 And Moses stripped Aaron of his garments and put them on Eleazar his son. And Aaron died there on the top of the mountain. Then Moses and Eleazar came down from the mountain. 29 And when all the congregation saw that Aaron had perished, all the house of Israel wept for Aaron thirty days.

Midday Lesson

Aaron’s death on Mt. Hor

Mount Hor [v. 23] is possibly Jebel Madurah, a mountain about 15 miles northeast of Kadesh, on the northwest border of Edom. The mountain is on the direct route from Kadesh to Moab. It was here that the sad news came that Aaron was going to die. Eleazar received the duties of Aaron’s priesthood. Soon the body of Moses would be left on another mountain, and Joshua would join Eleazar as a spiritual leader of the new generation. The thirty days of mourning for Aaron indicates the high esteem in which he was held by his brother and the people.” [5]

“Aaron dies just before entering the Promised Land, as punishment for his sin of rebellion (Exod 32; Num 12:1-9). This was the first time that a new high priest was appointed. The priestly clothing was removed from Aaron and placed on his son Eleazar, following the commands recorded in the book of Leviticus.” [6]


OPTIONAL FURTHER READING:
Overview of Numbers 20:1–22:1

“This section signals a transition in the narrative from the generation that left Egypt, to the generation born during the journey. Both Miriam and Aaron die and are buried, and Moses transfers Aaron’s priestly garments to his son Eleazar (Nm 20:1, 22–29). Prior to Aaron’s death, the people complain because they have no water, but rather than seeking help from the Lord through Moses, they rebel against Moses and Aaron, and the place is called Meribah (20:2–13). This story echoes Exodus 17:1–7, and in both cases after Moses strikes a rock, water flows from it. The Priestly writers employ the present story as a rationale for the Lord’s refusal to allow Moses and Aaron to enter the promised land. Although the Lord instructs Moses to strike the rock (Ex 17:5), here the instruction is to command the rock (Nm 20:8). Moses’s failure to follow the Lord’s instruction is construed as a lack of confidence on the part of both Aaron and Moses.” [7]

“Before Aaron’s death, the Israelites fail to gain access through Edom and must go around it (20:18–21). After Aaron’s death, the Israelites have success in battle against the king of Arad (21:1–3). There, the people enact their vow to carry out the practice known as the ban (herem), and the story serves as an etiology for the name of the place, Hormah. The ban is attested in numerous biblical texts as well as in an ancient inscription from the ninth century bc attributed to the Moabite king Mesha (COS, 2.23). Just what the ban entailed varies, as does the rationale for carrying it out, and no specifics are given in the present case. In the divinely sanctioned battles against Jericho, Ai, and other cities narrated in Joshua 6–8; 10–11, accounts that may be foreshadowed here, the ban involves devoting to God entire enemy populations by killing them. In cases of attack against non-Israelite towns, two rationales for enacting the ban have been suggested. Rather than stylizing the enemy as subhuman, which is often the case in war, the ban preserves their human identity, depicting them as a most valuable of sacrifice to be given to the deity. Moreover, assuming that the ban should be carried out would have functioned as an incentive against going to war, since it precluded the people’s benefitting from taking an enemy people as slaves. (For further reading, see Niditch, War in the Hebrew Bible.) Nonetheless, the ban must be recognized as a brutal custom that is incompatible not only with modern values but with central values of the biblical tradition.” [8]

“Immediately following their success at Hormah, the people again rebel against God and Moses, but this is the last episode in which they complain about the journey. After the Lord sends poisonous snakes among the people, they admit their offense against the Lord. Moses again intercedes, and the Lord gives instructions for their healing. The people’s willingness to recognize their offense as the cause of their situation is symbolized in a ritual that involves looking at the source of their illness in order to gain healing. A bronze serpent was among the furnishings of the Jerusalem Temple prior to the reforms of Hezekiah (2 Kgs 18:4), and the Gospel of John alludes to this passage in explaining the saving capacity of Jesus’s death (Jn 3:14–15).” [9]

“As the people move forward in their journey, the relationship between the people and the Lord is portrayed in more harmonious terms. The Lord sustains the people with water, and they respond in jubilant song (20:16–18). Although they go around Moab (20:10–13), when Sihon, king of the Amorites, refuses to let them pass through his land and pursues them in war, they defeat him (20:21–25). According to the promise of the Lord, they also defeat the army of King Og of Bashan (20:33–35). The victories against Sihon and Og are celebrated in Psalms 135:10–12 and 136:17–20. Encouraged by a string of military successes against Arad, Sihon, and Og, the people arrive at the plains of Moab, on the edge of the promised land.” [10]

Short Verse

Who can overcome the world but the one who believes in the Son of God? 

I John 5:5

Midday Prayer

For Local Government
Almighty God our heavenly Father, send down upon those who hold office in this State (Commonwealth, City, County, Town, ____________) the spirit of wisdom, charity, and justice; that with steadfast purpose they may faithfully serve in their offices to promote the well-being of all people; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. [11]



Nicodemus (left) talking to Jesus, by Henry Ossawa Tanner
(source)

Vespers Reading: John 3:1-13

Jesus and Nicodemus

1 Now there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. 2 This man came to Jesus by night and said to him, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher come from God, for no one can do these signs that you do unless God is with him.” 3 Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” 4 Nicodemus said to him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?” 5 Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. 6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. 7 Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ 8 The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”9 Nicodemus said to him, “How can these things be?” 10 Jesus answered him, “Are you the teacher of Israel and yet you do not understand these things? 11 Truly, truly, I say to you, we speak of what we know, and bear witness to what we have seen, but you do not receive our testimony. 12 If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you heavenly things? 13 No one has ascended into heaven except he who descended from heaven, the Son of Man.

Christus und Nicodemus, by Fritz von Uhde (1848–1911)
(source)

Vespers Lesson

The birth of the water of the Spirit

Nicodemus believed Jesus was from God (v. 2), but his faith was still weak, as he was afraid of his peers and thus came to Jesus by night (v. 2). Following this conversation, Nicodemus’ faith [grew] to the point of defending Jesus before the Sandestin (7:50, 51) and finally making the bold public expression of faith of preparing and entombing our Lord’s body (19:39-42)… According to some early sources, Nicodemus was baptised by Peter and consequently was removed from the Sanhedrin and forced to flee Jerusalem.” [12]

In verse 3, Jesus stated, Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God. What does it mean to be born again? “The word again can also be translated ‘from above’ and clearly refers to the heavenly birth from God through faith in Christ (1:12, 13). This heavenly birth is baptism (v. 5) and our adoption by God as our Father (Gal 4:4-7). This new birth is but the beginning of our spiritual life, with its goal being entrance into the kingdom of God.” [13]

“Nicodemus misunder[stood], questioning the possibility of a second physical birth [v. 4]. Misunderstanding occurs frequently in John’s Gospel (see 2:19-21; 4:10-14, 30-34; 6:27; 7:37-39; 11:11-15). Christ uses these opportunities to elevate an idea from a superficial or earthly meaning to a heavenly and eternal meaning.” [14]

“This birth of water in the Spirit [v. 5] is a direct reference to Christian baptism and the gift of the Holy Spirit.” [15]

Verse 8 contains a play on words. It says, The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit. “The Greek word pneuma means both wind and Spirit. The working of the Holy Spirit in the new birth is as mysterious as the source and destination of the blowing wind. Likewise, the Spirit moves where He wills and cannot be contained by human ideas or agendas.” [16]

“According to St. John Chrysostom, earthly things refer to grace and baptism given to man [v. 12]. These are earthly, not in the sense of ‘unspiritual,’ but only in the sense that they occur on earth and are given to creatures [from God]. The heavenly things involve the ungraspable mysteries of the eternal generation of the Son from the Father; they relate to His eternal existence before all time and to God’s divine plan of salvation for the world. A person first must grasp the ways in which God works among mankind before he can even begin to understand things that pertain to God Himself.” [17]

Short Verse

May God give us his blessing,* and may all the ends of the earth stand in awe of him. 

Psalm 67:7

Vespers Prayer

GLORY BE TO GOD ON HIGH, 

And in earth peace, good will towards men. 

We praise Thee, we bless Thee, we worship Thee, we glorify Thee, we give thanks to Thee for Thy great glory, O Lord God, Heavenly King, God the Father Almighty. O Lord, the only-begotten Son Jesu Christ: O Lord God, Lamb of God, Son of the Father, that takest away the sins of the world, have mercy upon us. Thou that takest away the sins of the world, have mercy upon us. Thou that takest away the sins of the world, receive our prayer. Thou that sittest at the right hand of God the Father, have mercy upon us. For Thou only art Holy; Thou only art the Lord; Thou only, O Christ, with the Holy Ghost art most high in the glory ✠ of God the Father. Amen. [18]



“Stars”
By Daniel S
(source)

The Patrick Compline 

(from the Northumbria Community’s Daily Prayers [19])

+ 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.) 

In the name of the King of life; 

in the name of the Christ of love; 

in the name of the Holy Spirit:

 the Triune of my strength. *  

I love you, O Lord my strength. 

The Lord is my rock, 

my fortress and my deliverer. 

My God is my rock in whom I take refuge. 

*  I will praise the Lord who counsels me; 

even at night my heart instructs me.

*  I have set the Lord always before me. 

Because He is at my right hand, 

I shall not be shaken. 

I am placing my soul and my body 

under Thy guarding this night, O Christ. 

May Thy cross this night be shielding me. 

*  Into Your hands I commit my spirit; 

redeem me, O Lord, the God of Truth. 

*  The God of life with guarding hold you; 

the loving Christ with guarding fold you; 

the Holy Spirit, guarding, mould you; 

each night of life to aid, enfold you; 

each day and night of life uphold you. 

May God shield me; may God fill me; 

may God keep me; 

may God watch me; 

may God bring me this night 

to the nearness of His love. 

*  The peace of the Father of joy, 

the peace of the Christ of hope, 

the peace of the Spirit of grace, 

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. 13). Rossway.

[2] Tickle, P. (2006). March. In The divine hours: Prayers for Springtime (Kindle ed., vol. 2, p. 184). New York, NY: Image Books

[3] Cobb, D., & Olsen, D. A. (2014). Saint Augustine’s prayer book: A book of devotions (Kindle ed., p. 96). Cincinnati, OH: Forward Movement.

[4] Stratman, P. (2001). Confession. In Prayers from the Ancient Celtic Church (Kindle ed., p. 22). Rossway.

[5] Radmacher, E. D., Allen, R. B., & House, H. W. (2007). Numbers. In NKJV study Bible: New King James Version (Second ed., p. 244). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson.

[6] Tyndale House Publishers. (2012). Numbers. In Chronological life application study Bible (p. 263). Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Pub.

[7] Senior, D., Collins, J. J., & Getty-Sullivan, M. A. (2016). Numbers. 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. 319). Oxford: Oxford University Press.

[8] Ibid. 7

[9] Ibid. 7, P. 320

[10] Ibid. 7, P. 320

[11] 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. 822). New York, NY: Church Publishing Incorporated.

[12] Academic Community of St. Athanasius Academy of Orthodox Theology (2008). John. In The Orthodox study Bible (p. 1456). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson.

[13] Ibid. 12

[14] Ibid. 12

[15] Ibid. 12

[16] Ibid. 12

[17] Ibid. 12

[18] WOOD, F. M. (2016). LITURGY OF SAINT JOHN THE DIVINE (Kindle ed.). Kellbridge Press.


[19] The Northumbria Community. (2015). Patrick Compline. In Celtic Daily Prayer (Kindle ed., p. 92339-92355). London: HarperCollins.

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