May 17 Devotional (2021)

Not to us, O LORD, not to us, but to your name give glory…


A prayer inspired by Thurgood Marshall, who we remember on May 17th.

Eternal and ever-gracious God, you blessed your servant Thurgood with exceptional grace and courage to discern and speak the truth: Grant that, following his example, we may know you and recognize that we are all your children, brothers and sisters of Jesus Christ, who teaches us to love one another; and who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.


May 17, 2021
Eastertide

Today’s Readings:   Psalm 115 ; Exodus 28:29-38 ; Philippians 1:1-11


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!

Opening Prayer

Most merciful Father, You know our needs and the longings of our soul: Hear the prayers of those who have come here today to search Your Word. For those of us who come feeling broken, bring restoration. For those who come feeling weak, bring strength. For those who come weeping and filled with sorrow, bring joy and hope. For those who come with affliction, bring comfort and reprieve. For those who come with doubts, bring faith. For those who come feeling shame, bring liberation. For those who come feeling burdened, bring rest. For those who come feeling anxious, bring peace. This we ask through Your Son Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.

Collect of the Week

O God, the King of glory, who hast exalted thine only Son Jesus Christ with great triumph unto thy kingdom in heaven: We beseech thee, leave us not comfortless, but send to us thine Holy Ghost to comfort us, and exalt us unto the same place whither our Savior Christ is gone before; who liveth and reigneth with thee and the same Holy Ghost, one God, world without end. Amen. [1]

Hymn

“We walk by faith, and not by sight”


Morning Prayer

A Collect for the Renewal of Life

O God, the King eternal, whose light divides the day from the night and turns the shadow of death into the morning: Drive far from us all wrong desires, incline our hearts to keep your law, and guide our feet into the way of peace; that, having done your will with cheerfulness during the day, we may, when night comes, rejoice to give you thanks; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. [3]

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!

Short Verse

I restrain my feet from every evil way,* that I may keep your word. 

Psalm 119:101
“Hallelujah!
(source)

Morning Reading: Psalm 115

God’s blessings on the chosen ones

To Your Name Give Glory

1 Not to us, O LORD, not to us, but to your name give glory,

for the sake of your steadfast love and your faithfulness!

2 Why should the nations say,

“Where is their God?”

3 Our God is in the heavens;

he does all that he pleases.

4 Their idols are silver and gold,

the work of human hands.

5 They have mouths, but do not speak;

eyes, but do not see.

6 They have ears, but do not hear;

noses, but do not smell.

7 They have hands, but do not feel;

feet, but do not walk;

and they do not make a sound in their throat.

8 Those who make them become like them;

so do all who trust in them.

9 O Israel, trust in the LORD!

He is their help and their shield.

10 O house of Aaron, trust in the LORD!

He is their help and their shield.

11 You who fear the LORD, trust in the LORD!

He is their help and their shield.

12 The LORD has remembered us; he will bless us;

he will bless the house of Israel;

he will bless the house of Aaron;

13 he will bless those who fear the LORD,

both the small and the great.

14 May the LORD give you increase,

you and your children!

15 May you be blessed by the LORD,

who made heaven and earth!

16 The heavens are the LORD’s heavens,

but the earth he has given to the children of man.

17 The dead do not praise the LORD,

nor do any who go down into silence.

18 But we will bless the LORD

from this time forth and forevermore.

Praise the LORD!

Morning Lesson 

The One True God

“This psalm acclaims powerfully the God of Israel as the one true God, while the other alleged deities are mere inanimate objects of human origin. God who is Almighty knows no rival to his power. Furthermore, God, in his infinite love and might, provides for the needs of his people, both physical and spiritual. Those who make them are like them: Just as the graven images of idols are spiritually lifeless, so is the case among those who worship them.” [4]

“The term “heaven and earth” [v. 15] means all of creation. God alone made all that exists and, therefore, is the source of knowledge of every created thing in relation to himself. He reveals himself through creation since the effect of any work reflects its cause. This indirect revelation of God through his creation was greatly enhanced through his direct Revelation to the people of Israel.” [5]

“Whenever Israel was defeated in battle or exiled to foreign lands, the taunt from its pagan neighbors would be heard: ‘Where is your God now?’ Periodically, the Lord would allow foreign powers to have their way with his people, causing them great suffering. However, God permitted these hardships to provoke a repentance by which they would commit themselves again to fidelity to the covenant. Here, the psalmist spoke with the wisdom gleaned from Israel’s long history: God is our help and shield who saves and defends us. The pagans have no validity to their taunting; their gods are inanimate objects made by human hands, while the God of Israel is the eternal and living God, Ever-present and All-powerful.” [6]

Benediction for the Week

God the Holy Spirit, who pours out abundant gifts upon the Church, make us faithful followers of the risen Christ. Amen. [7]



Midday Prayer

For Guidance

O God, by whom the meek are guided in judgment, and light riseth up in darkness for the godly: Grant us, in all our doubts and uncertainties, the grace to ask what thou wouldest have us to do, that the Spirit of wisdom may save us from all false choices, and that in thy light we may see light, and in thy straight path may not stumble; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. [8]

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!

Short Verse

Come, let us sing to the LORD;* let us shout for joy to the Rock of our salvation. 

Psalm 95:1
“Casting Lots”
(source)

Midday Reading: Exodus 28:29-38

Aaron prays for the people

29 So Aaron shall bear the names of the sons of Israel in the breastpiece of judgment on his heart, when he goes into the Holy Place, to bring them to regular remembrance before the LORD. 30 And in the breastpiece of judgment you shall put the Urim and the Thummim, and they shall be on Aaron’s heart, when he goes in before the LORD. Thus Aaron shall bear the judgment of the people of Israel on his heart before the LORD regularly.

31 “You shall make the robe of the ephod all of blue. 32 It shall have an opening for the head in the middle of it, with a woven binding around the opening, like the opening in a garment, so that it may not tear. 33 On its hem you shall make pomegranates of blue and purple and scarlet yarns, around its hem, with bells of gold between them, 34 a golden bell and a pomegranate, a golden bell and a pomegranate, around the hem of the robe. 35 And it shall be on Aaron when he ministers, and its sound shall be heard when he goes into the Holy Place before the LORD, and when he comes out, so that he does not die.

36 “You shall make a plate of pure gold and engrave on it, like the engraving of a signet, ‘Holy to the LORD.’ 37 And you shall fasten it on the turban by a cord of blue. It shall be on the front of the turban. 38 It shall be on Aaron’s forehead, and Aaron shall bear any guilt from the holy things that the people of Israel consecrate as their holy gifts. It shall regularly be on his forehead, that they may be accepted before the LORD.

Midday Lesson

Casting Lots

“The Urim and the Thummim [verse 30] were used by the priest to make decisions. These names mean ‘Curses’ and ‘Perfections’ and refer to the nature of God whose will they revealed. They were kept in a pocket and taken out or shaken out to get either a yes or no decision.” [9]

“The purpose for the breastplate was for judgment (cf. v. 15). The Urim and Thummim were deposited in the pouch and functioned as sacred lots used as the means of making judgments (v. 30). The word Urim begins with the first letter of the Hebrew alphabet and Thummim begins with the last letter. This may imply the lots were restricted to giving either positive or negative responses to questions asked of them. A good translation of the terms into English is ‘curses and perfections,’ meaning that if Urim dominated when the lots were cast, the answer would be ‘no’; but if Thummim dominated, the answer would be ‘yes.’ We do not know how many there were, what they looked like, or exactly how they were used. There were numerous instances in the Old Testament where they were employed, even though it was not always explicitly stated in such cases… Acts 1:23–26 is the last mention of a divine decision mediated through lots.” [10]

[11]


Eventide Prayer

Thanksgiving.

The Lord is my Strength and my Shield, my heart hath trusted in Him, and I am helped: therefore my heart danceth for joy, and in my song will I praise Him. Amen.

~ William Laud, Abp of Canterbury & Martyr [12]

Short Verse

The earth is the Lord’s and all the fullness thereof, the world and we who dwell within. Thanks be to God. 

Traditional
Saint Paul – St. Severin church, Paris
(source)

Evensong Reading: Philippians 1:1-11

Paul prays for the church at Philippi

Greeting

1 Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus,

To all the saints in Christ Jesus who are at Philippi, with the overseers and deacons:

2 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

3 I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, 4 always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, 5 because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now. 6 And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. 7 It is right for me to feel this way about you all, because I hold you in my heart, for you are all partakers with me of grace, both in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel. 8 For God is my witness, how I yearn for you all with the affection of Christ Jesus. 9 And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, 10 so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, 11 filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.

Evensong Lesson

Grace and peace 

“This is a personal letter to the Philippians, not intended for general circulation to all the churches, as was the letter to the Ephesians. Paul wanted to thank the believers for helping him when he had a need. He also wanted to tell them why he could be full of joy despite his imprisonment and upcoming trial. In this uplifting letter, Paul counseled the Philippians about humility and unity and warned them about potential problems.” [13]

“On Paul’s first missionary journey, he visited towns close to his headquarters in Antioch of Syria. On his second and third journeys, he traveled farther away. Because of the great distances between the congregations that Paul had founded, he could no longer personally oversee them all. Thus, he was compelled to write letters to teach and encourage the believers. Fortunately, Paul had a staff of volunteers (including Timothy, Mark, and Epaphroditus) who personally delivered these letters and often remained with the congregations for a while to teach and encourage them.” [14]

“The Roman colony of Philippi was located in northern Greece (called Macedonia in Paul’s day). Philip II of Macedon (the father of Alexander the Great) took the town from ancient Thrace in about 357 B.C., enlarged and strengthened it, and gave it his name. This thriving commercial center sat at the crossroads between Europe and Asia. In about A.D. 50, Paul, Silas, Timothy, and Luke crossed the Aegean Sea from Asia Minor and landed at Philippi (Acts 16:11-40). The church in Philippi consisted mostly of Gentile (non-Jewish) believers. Because they were not familiar with the Old Testament, Paul did not specifically quote any Old Testament passages in this letter.” [15]

Paul addressed his letter to all the saints… at Philippi. “Throughout the New Testament, the faithful of the Church are often referred to as saints. The faithful on earth, along with… the blessed in Heaven, comprise the Communion of Saints. Bishops and deacons: In the Apostolic era of the Church, the ministerial offices of bishop, priest, and deacon were not as defined as they would be by the end of the first century. Their use here does indicate, however, that a certain hierarchical structure was present in the Church from the very beginning. The titles ‘bishop’ and ‘deacon’ come from the Greek episkopos (‘overseer’) and diakonos (‘servant’), respectively. The titles ‘bishop’ and ‘presbyter’ (priest) were sometimes used interchangeably.” [16]

In his greeting, Paul wished grace and peace for the Philippians. “We get upset at children who fail to appreciate small gifts, yet we undervalue God’s immeasurable gifts of grace and peace. Instead, we seek the possessions and shallow experiences the world offers. Compared to the big and bright ‘packages’ of our culture, grace and peace appear insignificant. But when we unwrap them, we discover God’s wonderful personal dealings with us. Inside the tiny package marked ‘grace and peace,’ we find an inexhaustible treasure of God’s daily presence in our lives. Using these two words in his greetings to all the churches to whom he wrote, Paul wasn’t offering something new. He was reminding his readers of what they already possessed in Christ. Thank God for his grace, and live in his peace.” [17]

“In contrast to most of Paul’s earlier letters, his letter to the Philippians expresses joy exclusively. Paul wrote from prison, but imprisonment did not dampen his spirits.” [18] “This is the first of many times Paul used the word joy in this letter. The Philippians were remembered with joy and thanksgiving whenever Paul prayed. By helping Paul, they were helping Christ’s cause. The Philippians were willing to be used by God for whatever he wanted them to do. When others think about you, what comes to their minds? Are you remembered with joy by them? Do your acts of kindness lift up others?” [19]

“When Paul said that the Philippians were partners in spreading the gospel, he was remembering how they contributed through their practical help when Paul was in Philippi and through their financial support when he was in prison. As we help our ministers, missionaries, and evangelists through prayer, hospitality, and financial gifts, we become partners with them in spreading the gospel message.” [20]

In verse 6, Paul wrote, I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.When Jesus had completed His work of redemption, He said on the cross, ‘It is finished.’ Here Paul uses a related word to assure Christians that God will also complete the work of redemption in our lives,” and that “Christ will return to judge the living and the dead.” [21]

“Do you sometimes feel as though you aren’t making progress in your spiritual life? When God starts a project, he completes it! As with the Philippians, God will help you grow in grace until he has completed his work in your life. When you are discouraged, remember that God won’t give up on you. He promises to finish the work he has begun. When you feel incomplete, unfinished, or distressed by your shortcomings, remember God’s promise and provision. Don’t let your present condition rob you of the joy of knowing Christ or keep you from growing closer to him.” [22]

In verse 7, Paul told the Philippians that he held them in his heart. “Have you ever longed to see a friend with whom you share fond memories? Paul had such a longing to see the Christians at Philippi. His love and affection for them was based not merely on past experiences but also on the unity that comes when believers draw upon Christ’s love. All Christians are part of God’s family and thus share equally in the transforming power of his love. Do you feel a deep love for fellow Christians, friends and strangers alike? Let Christ’s love motivate you to love other Christians and to express that love in your actions toward them.” [23] “Our growth in love, which expands with prayer and the practice of charity, increases both our knowledge of God and our desire to know him more intimately.” [24]

“Often the best way to influence someone is to pray for him or her. Paul’s prayer for the Philippians was that they would be unified in love. Their love was to result in greater knowledge of Christ and deeper judgment (moral discernment). Their love was not based on feelings but on what Christ had done for them. As you grow in Christ’s love, your heart and mind must grow together. Are your love and insight growing?” [25] “Paul prayed that the Philippian believers would have the ability to differentiate between right and wrong, good and bad, vital and trivial. We ought to pray for moral discernment so we can maintain our Christian morals and values. Hebrews 5:14 emphasizes the need for discernment.” [26]

“’The day of Christ’ [v. 10) refers to the time when God will judge the world through Jesus Christ. We should live each day as though he might return at any moment.” [27]

The ‘fruits of righteousness’ [v. 11] includes all of the character traits flowing from a right relationship with God. There is no other way for us to gain this fruit of righteousness than through Christ. See Galatians 5:22-23 for the “fruit of the Spirit.” [28]

Compline Prayer 

Lord, keep us safe this night, Secure from all our fears; May angels guard us while we sleep, Till morning light appears.

 -John Leland (1754-1841) [29]

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] Episcopal Church. (1979). Collects. 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. 175). New York, NY: Church Publishing Incorporated.

[2] N/A

[3] 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.

[4] Cole, J. (Ed.). (2015). Psalms. In Didache Bible: With commentaries based on the Catechism of the Catholic Church (Kindle ed., p. 1628). Downers Grove,, IL: Midwest Theological Forum,, Ignatius Press.

[5] Ibid. 4

[6] Ibid. 4

[7] The Episcopal Church. (2018). Seasonal Blessings. In The Book of Occasional Services (PDF ed., p. 13). Then Episcopal Church. Retrieved November December 15, 2020, from https://episcopalchurch.org/files/lm_book_of_occasional_services_2018.pdf

[8] 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. 832). New York, NY: Church Publishing Incorporated.

[9] Tyndale House Publishers. (2012). Exodus. In Chronological life application study Bible (p. 178). Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Pub.

[10] Exodus. (2017). In The King James study Bible (Kindle ed., p. 517). Nashville, TN, USA: Thomas Nelson.

[11] Tyndale House Publishers. (2012). The High Priest’s Chestplate [Image]. In Chronological life application study Bible (p. 179). Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Pub.

[12] LAUD, W. (1855). Monday Compline: Thanksgiving. In The Private Devotions of Dr. William Laud, Archbishop of Canterbury and Martyr (Ebook ed., p. 9). London and Oxford: John Henry & Jas. Parker.

[13] Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. (2013). Study Notes: Philippians. In Life application study Bible: King James version (Kindle ed., p. 8839). Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House.

[14] Ibid. 13

[15] Ibid. 13

[16] Cole, J. (Ed.). (2015). Philippians. In Didache Bible: With commentaries based on the Catechism of the Catholic Church (Kindle ed., p. 3582). Downers Grove,, IL: Midwest Theological Forum,, Ignatius Press.

[17] Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. (2013). Study Notes: Philippians. In Life application study Bible: King James version (Kindle ed., p. 8839). Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House.

[18] Cole, J. (Ed.). (2015). Philippians. In Didache Bible: With commentaries based on the Catechism of the Catholic Church (Kindle ed., p. 3582). Downers Grove,, IL: Midwest Theological Forum,, Ignatius Press.

[19] Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. (2013). Study Notes: Philippians. In Life application study Bible: King James version (Kindle ed., p. 8839). Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House.

[20] Ibid. 19, P. 8840

[21] A., E. E. (2016). Philippians. In The Lutheran study Bible: English standard version (Kindle ed., pp. 8685). Saint Louis: Concordia Publishing House.

[22] Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. (2013). Study Notes: Philippians. In Life application study Bible: King James version (Kindle ed., p. 8840). Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House.

[23] Ibid. 22, P. 8841

[24] Cole, J. (Ed.). (2015). Philippians. In Didache Bible: With commentaries based on the Catechism of the Catholic Church (Kindle ed., p. 3582). Downers Grove,, IL: Midwest Theological Forum,, Ignatius Press.

[25] Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. (2013). Study Notes: Philippians. In Life application study Bible: King James version (Kindle ed., p. 8841). Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House.

[26] Ibid. 25

[27] Ibid. 25, P. 8842

[28] Ibid. 25, P. 8842

[29] Kitch, A. E. (2004). Bedtime Prayers. In The Anglican family prayer book (Kindle ed., pp.212). Harrisburg, PA: Morehouse Pub.

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