April 20 Devotional (2021)

And now I ask you… that we love one another.

April 20, 2021
Eastertide

Today’s Readings:  Hosea 5:15—6:6 ; 2 John 1-6


Invitatory

Alleluia! Christ is risen.

The Lord is risen indeed. Alleluia!

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit: as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be for ever. Amen. 

Alleluia!

Hymn

“Through the Red Sea brought at last”

(1982 Hymnal # 187)

By Ronald A. Knox, 1888-1957

Lyrics [2]:

1. Through the Red Sea brought at last, Alleluia!

Egypt’s chains behind we cast, Alleluia!

deep and wide flows the tide

severing us from bondage past, Alleluia!

2. Like the cloud that overhead, Alleluia!

through the billows Israel led, Alleluia!

by his tomb Christ makes room,

souls restoring from the dead. Alleluia!

3. In that cloud and in that sea, Alleluia!

buried and baptized were we, Alleluia!

Earthly night brought us light

which is ours eternally, Alleluia!



Morning Prayer

A Collect for Peace

O God, the author of peace and lover of concord, to know you is eternal life and to serve you is perfect freedom: Defend us, your humble servants, in all assaults of our enemies; that we, surely trusting in your defense, may not fear the power of any adversaries; through the might of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. [15]

For one day in your courts is better than a thousand in my own room,* and to stand at the threshold of the house of my God than to dwell in the tents of the wicked. 

Psalm 84:9
“Empty Tomb”
By George Richardson
(source)

Morning Reading: Hosea 5:15—6:6

Salvation on the third day

15 I will return again to my place,

until they acknowledge their guilt and seek my face,

and in their distress earnestly seek me.

1 “Come, let us return to the LORD;

for he has torn us, that he may heal us;

he has struck us down, and he will bind us up.

2 After two days he will revive us;

on the third day he will raise us up,

that we may live before him.

3 Let us know; let us press on to know the LORD;

his going out is sure as the dawn;

he will come to us as the showers,

as the spring rains that water the earth.”

4 What shall I do with you, O Ephraim?

What shall I do with you, O Judah?

Your love is like a morning cloud,

like the dew that goes early away.

5 Therefore I have hewn them by the prophets;

I have slain them by the words of my mouth,

and my judgment goes forth as the light.

6 For I desire steadfast love and not sacrifice,

the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings.

Morning Lesson

Christ’s Resurrection Prophesied

Background: 

In Hosea chapter 5, verses 1-15, “amid references to the tensions between Judah and the Northern Kingdom, the Lord condemned the mixing of paganism with the divinely revealed religion of Israel. This condemnation included the tendency toward a subjective attitude toward religious worship and rituals that denied the existence of one true religion. Such denial of the existence of objective truth tends to lead to the erroneous belief that all religions are equally valid.” [3]

On today’s reading:

“The Church understands this text as a messianic prophecy regarding Christ’s Resurrection: two days refers to the time the body of Jesus lay in the tomb; the third day points to His glorious Resurrection, promising we shall rise with Him. St. Paul [wrote] that Jesus ‘rose again the third day according to the Scriptures’ (1Co 15:4), most likely alluding to this passage from Hosea.” [4]

Today’s reading concludes with God saying, For I desire steadfast love and not sacrifice, the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings. What does this mean? “God does not reject worship as a whole, but He criticiz[ed] the way Israel perceive[ed] it. Instead of a means to enter into a relationship with God and to foster community ties, the [Israelite’s] worship gradually [became] a goal in itself (Am 5:21ff.; Mic 6:6ff.).” [5] This applies to us today as well, especially “people who see the liturgy and ‘boring.’” [6] As we worship and pray, we must be thinking deeply about the meaning of our words.

Saint Cyril of Alexandria (376 – 444 A.D.) explained, “Most of all, worship of God displays love. . . . For truly the compassion from beside the Father is Christ, as he takes away the sins, dismisses the charges and justifies by faith, and recovers the lost and makes [them] stronger than death. For what is good and he does not give? Therefore the knowledge of God is better than sacrifice and holocausts, as it is brought to perfection in Christ. For by him and in him we have known the Father, and we have become rich in the justification by faith” (Commentary on Hosea). [7]


OPTIONAL FURTHER READING:
About the Book of Hosea

Circumstances of Writing 

“According to the first verse, Hosea’s prophetic career spanned at least forty years. It began some time during the reign of Jeroboam II, who ruled Israel, the northern kingdom, as co-regent with his father Jehoash from 793 to 782 BC, then independently until 753 BC. Hosea’s ministry ended sometime during the reign of Hezekiah, who ruled Judah from 716 to 686 BC.” [8]

“Although the southern kingdom of Judah was not neglected in Hosea’s prophecy (e.g., 1:7,11; 6:11; 12:2), his messages were directed primarily to the northern kingdom of Israel, often referred to as ‘Ephraim’ (5:3,12-14; 6:4; 7:1), and represented by the royal city, Samaria (7:1; 8:5-6; 10:5,7; 13:16). Hosea apparently lived and worked in or around Samaria, probably moving to Jerusalem at least by the time Samaria fell to the Assyrians in 722 BC.” [9]

“The reign of Jeroboam II, the northern kingdom’s greatest ruler by worldly standards, was a time of general affluence, military might, and national stability. The economy was strong, the future looked bright, and the mood of the country was optimistic—at least for the upper class (Hs 12:8; Am 3:15; 6:4-6). Syria was a constant problem to Israel, but Adad-nirari III of Assyria had brought Israel relief with an expedition against Damascus, the Syrian capital, in 805 BC.” [10]

“After Adad-nirari’s death in 783 BC, Israel and Judah expanded during a time of Assyrian weakness (the time of Jonah). But after Jeroboam’s death in 753 BC, Israel sank into near anarchy, going through six kings in about thirty years, four of whom were assassinated (Zechariah, Shallum, Pekahiah, and Pekah). Since Assyria also regained power during this time, Israel was doomed. Of course the real reason Israel crumbled was God’s determination to judge the people for their sins, as Hosea and Amos made clear. Most of Hosea’s messages were probably delivered during these last thirty years of Israel’s nationhood.” [11]

Contribution to the Bible 

“Hosea compared the relationship between God and his people to that of a husband and his wife, drawing a parallel between spiritual and marital unfaithfulness. “The Bible is very clear in its moral code that the sexual act can only legitimately take place within the context of the marriage relationship. Thus the image of marriage and sex, a relationship that is purely exclusive and allows no rivals, is an ideal image of the relationship between God and his people” (Dictionary of Biblical Imagery, p. 778). Yet nothing can quench God’s love for his covenant people. Like a marriage partner, God is deeply involved in our lives and is pained when we go our own way. God demands love and loyalty from his own. Often God’s people have failed to demonstrate whole-hearted love for him, but he stands ready to forgive and restore those who turn to him in repentance. In buying Gomer’s freedom, Hosea pointed ahead to God’s love perfectly expressed in Christ, who bought the freedom of his bride, the church, with his own life.” [12]

Structure 

“The first three chapters of the book establish a parallel between the Lord and Hosea. Both were loving husbands of unfaithful wives. Hosea’s three children, whose names served as messages to Israel, represent an overture to the second main division of the book, which presents its accusations and the call to repent in groups of three. Just as chapter 1—a third-person account of Hosea’s family—is balanced by chapter 3—a first-person account—so the final main division of the book alternates between first-person announcements of God’s message and third-person reports from the prophet.” [13]

Theodoret of Cyrus on Hosea 

“The divinely inspired Hosea received the charisma of prophecy, and on contemplating these things in retrospect with the eyes of the spirit he was bidden to make predictions to the people so that they might be frightened by the prophecies, avoid the punishments and not experience the troubles. The reason that the God of all threatens punishment, you see, is not to inflict it on those he threatens but to strike them with fear and lead them to repentance, and by ridding them of their wicked behavior extend to them salvation. After all, if he wanted to punish, he would not threaten punishment; instead, by threatening he makes clear that he longs to save and not to punish. Accordingly he sends blessed Hosea to foretell what would happen to the ten tribes and likewise to the two and to predict the salvation that would be achieved in the time of Sennacherib and to signal in advance the destruction that would be inflicted on them under the Babylonians.” [14]


Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit: as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be for ever. Amen. 

Alleluia!



Midday Intercession

For Prisons and Correctional Institutions

Lord Jesus, for our sake you were condemned as a criminal: Visit our jails and prisons with your pity and judgment. Remember all prisoners, and bring the guilty to repentance and amendment of life according to your will, and give them hope for their future. When any are held unjustly, bring them release; forgive us, and teach us to improve our justice. Remember those who work in these institutions; keep them humane and compassionate; and save them from becoming brutal or callous. And since what we do for those in prison, O Lord, we do for you, constrain us to improve their lot. All this we ask for your mercy’s sake. Amen. [17]

I am small and of little account,* yet I do not forget your commandments. 

Psalm 119:141
“In the Land of Many Colors”
By G.C. Myers
(source)

Midday Reading

A Meditation from the Northumbria Community’s Daily Prayer [16]

All of nature is invested with the loving care of an infinitely creative God. Each act of creation reflects some aspect of His love and strength. God is BIG, but still cares about every detail of what He has created, and so He cares for us. We can look to Him for direction. Jesus was able to say that He spoke what He was given to speak [John 8:26] and if we too can be sensitised to what is from Him [John 10:4–5] we will find the fear of the Lord is indeed the beginning of wisdom [Proverbs 15:31–33].        

I bind unto myself today        

the virtues of the starlit heaven        

the glorious sun’s life-giving ray,        

the whiteness of the moon at even,        

the flashing of the lightning free,        

the whirling wind’s tempestuous shocks,        

the stable earth, the deep salt sea,        

around the old eternal rocks.        

I bind unto myself today        

the power of God to hold and lead,        

His eye to watch, His might to stay,        

His ear to hearken to my need,        

the wisdom of my God to teach,        

His hand to guide, His shield to ward;        

the word of God to give me speech,        

His heavenly host to be my guard.

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit: as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be for ever. Amen. 

Alleluia!



Eventide Prayer

For Assistance.

O God, Thou art my hope and strength, a very present help in trouble. Confirm me, that I may not fear, though the earth be moved, and the hills carried into the midst of the sea; though the waters thereof rage and swell, and the mountains shake at the tempest of the same. O be in the midsts of my soul, and I shall never be moved. Amen.

~ William Laud, Abp of Canterbury & Martyr [31]

Keep watch over my life, for I am faithful;* save your servant who puts his trust in you. 

Psalm 86:2
“Love One Another”
By Yulia Litvinova
(source)

Eventide Reading: 2 John 1-6

Love one another

1 The elder to the elect lady and her children, whom I love in truth, and not only I, but also all who know the truth, 2 because of the truth that abides in us and will be with us forever:

3 Grace, mercy, and peace will be with us, from God the Father and from Jesus Christ the Father’s Son, in truth and love.

4 I rejoiced greatly to find some of your children walking in the truth, just as we were commanded by the Father. 5 And now I ask you, dear lady—not as though I were writing you a new commandment, but the one we have had from the beginning—that we love one another. 6 And this is love, that we walk according to his commandments; this is the commandment, just as you have heard from the beginning, so that you should walk in it.

Eventide Lesson

Walking in Truth and Love

“John calls himself the elder, or presbyter, which confirms that in the NT there is not always a distinction between bishops and presbyters. He is confident those who stand against the apostolic Church are in the minority. He assumes the Church is one, a true, concrete unity, and that it follows one rule of faith, whereas the unorthodox agree mainly in their rejection of this common faith.” [19]

Verse 2 says, the truth that abides in us and will be with us forever. “Here John states that our faith is firm and sure, and he alludes to the divine gift of perseverance. He had to do this because the people to whom he was writing were not properly established and confirmed in their faith” (Oecuminius, Commentary on 2 John). [20]

“Calling Christ the Son of the Father [v. 3] strongly refutes the deceivers and gnostics. Jesus is the Son; the Son is by nature what His Father is, and He does what His Father does (see Jn 5:19).” [21]

“The heretics den[ied] either Jesus’ full humanity or His full divinity (or the full divinity of the Holy Spirit). The Jews were denying Jesus is the Christ, the Messiah. All these deny Jesus is our Archpriest in His human nature, and that He will come in His glorified human body to judge the dead and the living.” [22]

In verses 4-6, “John is attacking the heretics who had abandoned the teaching of the apostles and were trying to introduce new doctrines. By doing this they were breaking the bonds of brotherly love” (St. Bede, On 2 John). [23] When people introduce new, nontraditional practices which effect/alter doctrine, they are “breaking the covenant of unity based on God’s love – the heart of new covenant life.” [24] 

Therefore, “let us be zealous for that which is good, refraining from occasions of scandal and from [associating with] false brothers and those who hypocritically bear the name of our Lord, deceiving empty-headed people” (St. Polycarp, Letter to the Philippians). [25]


OPTIONAL FURTHER READING:
About 2 John

Circumstances of Writing 

“‘The elder’ (v. 1) is a title that the apostle John applied to himself late in life. (The apostle Peter referred to himself the same way; 1Pt 5:1.) No one other than the apostle John was ever suggested by the early church as the writer of 1 John. Since there are so many similarities between 1 and 2 John, it is generally accepted that John also wrote the second letter.” [26]

“Second John likely was written during the last two decades of the first century. During this era, John gave pastoral leadership to churches in the area of Ephesus. We have no way of precisely dating 2 John, but it is reasonable that it was written around the same time as 1 John or slightly afterwards. Its tone reveals it to be a highly personal letter that reflects John’s affection for these believers and his deep concern for their welfare.” [27]

Contribution to the Bible 

“It is easy for congregations to get off track. Second John reminds readers of the high priority of the most basic Christian outlook and activity—mutual love. Yet another priority is no less critical—true Christian teaching. This epistle strikes a short but strong blow for steadfastness, assuring that attentive readers would take the right steps to “receive a full reward” (v. 8).” [28]

Structure 

“Second John is an excellent example of hortatory or exhortation discourse, which has the intent of moving readers to action. It follows the normal NT pattern for a letter with an opening, main body, and closing. There are only two commands in this short letter: a call to ‘watch yourselves’ (v. 8) and the command, ‘do not receive” those who plant false teaching (v. 10). There is the reminder to “love one another’ in verse 5. This bears the force of an imperative, in part because of the close proximity of the word ‘command,’ which occurs four times in verses 4-6.” [29]

Oecumenius on 2 John 

“There are some people who think that this and the following letter are not by John the beloved disciple but by someone else of the same name. The reasons they give for this are that in both letters he describes himself as the elder and addresses a single correspondent (either the elect lady as here, or Gaius), which is not the case in the Catholic Epistle (1 John). Moreover, he starts with a personal introduction in both these letters, which is missing from 1 John. In answer to these points we would say that he did not put an introduction in his first letter because he was writing neither to a particular church nor to a specific individual. The fact that he calls himself an elder rather than an apostle may be due to the fact that he was not the first missionary to preach the gospel in Asia Minor. There he followed Paul, but unlike his predecessor, who merely passed through, John remained in the province and ministered directly to the local people.” [30]


Compline Prayer

Look down, O Lord, from your heavenly throne, and illumine this night with your celestial brightness; that by night as by day your people may glorify your holy Name; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. [32]

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit: as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be for ever. Amen. 

Alleluia!


Devotionals compiled/written by S.P. Rogers

Citations:

[1] N/A

[2] The hymnal 1982: According to the use of the Episcopal Church 187. through the Red Sea brought at last. (n.d.). Retrieved March 20, 2021, from https://hymnary.org/hymn/EH1982/187

[3] Cole, J. (Ed.). (2015). Hosea. In Didache Bible: With commentaries based on the Catechism of the Catholic Church (Kindle ed., p. 2550). Downers Grove,, IL: Midwest Theological Forum,, Ignatius Press.

[4] Academic Community of St. Athanasius Academy of Orthodox Theology (2008). Hosea. In The Orthodox study Bible (p. 1027). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson.

[5].Ibid. 4

[6] Ibid. 4

[7] Cyril of Jerusalem. (2019). Hosea. In Ancient faith study Bible (Kindle ed., p. 2494). Nashville: Holman Bible.

[8] Hosea. (2019). In Ancient faith study Bible (Kindle ed., p. 2481). Nashville: Holman Bible.

[9] Ibid. 8

[10] Ibid. 8

[11] Ibid. 8

[12] Ibid. 8

[13] Ibid. 8

[14] Ibid. 8, P. 2481-2482

[15] Episcopal Church. (1979). Daily Office. 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. 99). New York, NY: Church Publishing Incorporated.

[16] The Northumbria Community. (2015). Daily Prayer: March 3. In Celtic Daily Prayer (Kindle ed., p. 4532). London: HarperCollins.

[17] 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. 826). New York, NY: Church Publishing Incorporated.

[18] N/A

[19] Academic Community of St. Athanasius Academy of Orthodox Theology (2008). 2 John. In The Orthodox study Bible (p. 1736). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson.

[20] Oecuminius. (2019). 2 John. In Ancient faith study Bible (Kindle ed., p. 3543). Nashville: Holman Bible.

[21] Academic Community of St. Athanasius Academy of Orthodox Theology (2008). 2 John. In The Orthodox study Bible (p. 1736). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson.

[22] Ibid. 21

[23] St. Bede. (2019). 2 John. In Ancient faith study Bible (Kindle ed., p. 3543). Nashville: Holman Bible.

[24] Academic Community of St. Athanasius Academy of Orthodox Theology (2008). 2 John. In The Orthodox study Bible (p. 1736). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson.

[25] Polycarp. (2019). 2 John. In Ancient faith study Bible (Kindle ed., p. 3543). Nashville: Holman Bible.

[26] 2 John. (2019). In Ancient faith study Bible (Kindle ed., p. 3542). Nashville: Holman Bible.

[27] Ibid. 26

[28] Ibid. 26

[29] Ibid. 26

[30] Oecuminius. (2019). 2 John. In Ancient faith study Bible (Kindle ed., p. 3542). Nashville: Holman Bible.

[31] LAUD, W. (1855). Tuesday Compline: For Assistance. In The Private Devotions of Dr. William Laud, Archbishop of Canterbury and Martyr (Ebook ed., p. 18-19). London and Oxford: John Henry & Jas. Parker.


[32] Episcopal Church. (1979). Daily Office. 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. 133). New York, NY: Church Publishing Incorporated.

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