August 26 Devotional (2021)

Idols again! This infamous story of the golden calf begins on a very human level…

August 26, 2021
Ordinary Time

Today’s Readings:   Psalm 15 / Exodus 32:1-14 / James 1:1-8


Come, O child of God. Come and drink from the well of God’s Word. Refresh your soul, revive your mind, renew your hope. 

The Lord’s Prayer

Our Father, who art in heaven,

    hallowed be thy Name,

    thy kingdom come,

    thy will be done,

        on earth as it is in heaven.

Give us this day our daily bread.

And forgive us our trespasses,

    as we forgive those

        who trespass against us.

And lead us not into temptation,

    but deliver us from evil.

For thine is the kingdom,

    and the power, and the glory,

    for ever and ever. Amen.


“Dear Lord and Father of Mankind” 

by John G. Whittier


Dear Lord and Father of mankind, 

Forgive our foolish ways; 

Reclothe us in our rightful mind, 

In purer lives thy service find, 

In deeper reverence, praise. 

Drop thy still dews of quietness, 

Till all our strivings cease; 

Take from our souls the strain and stress, 

And let our ordered lives confess 

The beauty of thy peace. 

Breathe through the heats of our desire 

Thy coolness and thy balm; 

Let sense be dumb, let flesh retire; 

Speak through the earthquake, wind, and fire, 

O still, small voice of calm! [1]

Morning Lorica

From the Lorica of Gildas (Lorica of Loding) 

“Lorica” was originally the word for a breastplate that a Roman soldier would wear. Loricas were prayers for protection—sometimes praying for protection from every angle, or protection for every part of the body.” [2]

Trinity in unity, preserve me.

Unity in Trinity, have mercy on me.

I pray,

preserve me from all dangers

which overwhelm me

like the waves of the sea,

so that neither mortality

nor the vanity of the world

may sweep me away this year.

And I also ask,

send the high, mighty hosts of heaven,

that they not abandon me

to be destroyed by enemies,

but defend me now

with their strong shields

and that the heavenly army

advance before me:

cherubim and seraphim by the thousands,

and archangels Michael and Gabriel, likewise, 

I ask, send these living thrones,

principalities and powers and angels

so that I may be strong,

defended against the flood of strong enemies

in the next battle.

May Christ, whose terror scares away the foul throngs,

make with me a strong covenant.

God the unconquerable guardian,

defend me on every side by your power.

Free all my limbs,

with your safe shield protecting each,

so that the fallen demons cannot attack

against my sides or pierce me with their darts.

I pray, Lord Jesus Christ, be my sure armor.

Cover me, therefore, O God, with your strong breastplate.

Cover me all in all with my five senses,

so that, from the soles of my feet to the top of the head,

in no member, without or within, may I be sick;

that, from my body, life be not cast out

by plague, fever, weakness, suffering,

Until, with the gift of old age from God,

departing from the flesh, be free from stain,

and be able to fly to the heights,

and, by the mercy of God, be borne in joy

to the heavenly cool retreats of his kingdom.

– Lorica of Gildas, condensed in the Book of Cerne, 9th Century [3]

Short Verse

Clap your hands all you peoples;* shout to God with a cry of joy.

Psalm 47:1
“Tabernacle of my heart”
By Lou Anne Sterbick-Nelson

Morning Reading: Psalm 15

Dwelling in God’s tabernacle

1 O Lord, who may abide in your tent?

Who may dwell on your holy hill?

2 Those who walk blamelessly, and do what is right,

and speak the truth from their heart;

3 who do not slander with their tongue,

and do no evil to their friends,

nor take up a reproach against their neighbors;

4 in whose eyes the wicked are despised,

but who honor those who fear the Lord;

who stand by their oath even to their hurt;

5 who do not lend money at interest,

and do not take a bribe against the innocent.

Those who do these things shall never be moved.

Listen to Psalm 15

Morning Lesson

Inward and outward holiness

Psalm 15 “teaches the Church the transfigured life the faithful are to live (v. 1), as they ‘look for the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come’ [Nicene Creed]. They are to (1) be holy inwardly and outwardly (v. 2); and (2) to love their neighbor (vv. 3-5). And those who live this way shall never be shaken (v. 6), either in this world or the world to come.” [4]

Psalm 15 Commentary from the Early Church

Verse 1

“Although the word tent is used sometimes to denote an everlasting habitation, strictly speaking a tent is something associated with war. Hence soldiers are referred to as tent companions, because their tents are grouped together. This interpretation receives further backing from the words “who will sojourn?” For we do battle with the devil for a time, and we need a tent in which to regain our strength. This points in particular to faith under this temporal dispensation established for us within time by our Lord’s incarnation.”

  • St. Augustine, Expositions of the Psalms 15 [5]
  • Verse 5

    “Money is clearly to be understood in two senses in the Holy Scriptures. The first is the metal money that we are completely forbidden to loan out for interest, because the vice of greed consists of the desire to demand back what you know that you have not lent. The Lord Christ certainly had this sort of money, which he entrusted to Judas to be distributed to the poor. He did not devote this type of money to making interest, but he gave it to those in need because of his merciful generosity in order to teach us. The other kind of money is the sort that we are persuaded by the gospel’s teaching to give over to gain interest, namely, the most holy proclamations and divine instructions [see Mt 25:14-27].”

  • Cassiodorus, Explanation of the Psalms 15 [6]

  • Midday Prayer

    Of the Holy Eucharist

    God our Father, whose Son our Lord Jesus Christ in a wonderful Sacrament has left us a memorial of his passion: Grant us so to venerate the sacred mysteries of his Body and Blood, that we may ever perceive within ourselves the fruit of his redemption; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen. [7]

    Short Verse

    The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light; on those who live in a land of deep shadow a light has shone. 

    Isaiah 9:1
    “The Adoration of the Golden Calf”
    (before 1634 oil on canvas detail)
    By Nicolas Poussin

    Midday Reading: Exodus 32:1-14

    The Israelites make themselves a god

    1 When the people saw that Moses delayed to come down from the mountain, the people gathered themselves together to Aaron and said to him, “Up, make us gods who shall go before us. As for this Moses, the man who brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him.” 2 So Aaron said to them, “Take off the rings of gold that are in the ears of your wives, your sons, and your daughters, and bring them to me.” 3 So all the people took off the rings of gold that were in their ears and brought them to Aaron. 4 And he received the gold from their hand and fashioned it with a graving tool and made a golden calf. And they said, “These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt!” 5 When Aaron saw this, he built an altar before it. And Aaron made a proclamation and said, “Tomorrow shall be a feast to the LORD.” 6 And they rose up early the next day and offered burnt offerings and brought peace offerings. And the people sat down to eat and drink and rose up to play.

    7 And the LORD said to Moses, “Go down, for your people, whom you brought up out of the land of Egypt, have corrupted themselves. 8 They have turned aside quickly out of the way that I commanded them. They have made for themselves a golden calf and have worshiped it and sacrificed to it and said, ‘These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt!’” 9 And the LORD said to Moses, “I have seen this people, and behold, it is a stiff-necked people. 10 Now therefore let me alone, that my wrath may burn hot against them and I may consume them, in order that I may make a great nation of you.”

    11 But Moses implored the LORD his God and said, “O LORD, why does your wrath burn hot against your people, whom you have brought out of the land of Egypt with great power and with a mighty hand? 12 Why should the Egyptians say, ‘With evil intent did he bring them out, to kill them in the mountains and to consume them from the face of the earth’? Turn from your burning anger and relent from this disaster against your people. 13 Remember Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, your servants, to whom you swore by your own self, and said to them, ‘I will multiply your offspring as the stars of heaven, and all this land that I have promised I will give to your offspring, and they shall inherit it forever.’” 14 And the LORD relented from the disaster that he had spoken of bringing on his people.

    Midday Lesson

    Idols again!

    Idols again! This infamous story begins on a very human level. The people saw that Moses delayed coming down from the mountain: The extended absence of Moses (24:18) and the terrifying setting into which he had disappeared (24:9–17) led the people to think that he might never return. The people were the redeemed of Israel (ch. 12; 14:31), but in their discouragement they wandered to other gods. It is most shocking to discover the role that Aaron played in this debacle. It appears as though he also had given up hope for his brother’s return. Moses was gone for 40 days, yet we may conclude that the people ran out of patience before then. The preparation of the idol would have taken some time. make us gods that shall go before us: The people were asking not for the true God, but for other gods. This Moses is spoken of in scathing and demeaning tones. Is it possible that the entire community turned against Moses? We may consider the possibility of spiritual warfare—that unseen and unrecognized forces worked to encourage evil among God’s people. Stephen alluded to this event when he said that the fathers “turned back to Egypt” (Acts 7:39, 40).” [8]

    “A molded calf [v. 4] was an ominous worship symbol. Not only were the cow and the bull worshiped in Egypt, but the bull was a familiar embodiment of Baal seen in Canaan. This is your god can be rendered ‘these are your gods,’ suggesting that the worship of the Lord had been blended with the symbols of Baal and other fertility gods. Aaron thus had led the people in breaking the first three commandments: they had bowed to another god besides the Lord; they had made a graven image; and they used the Lord’s name in false worship (see v. 5). God had said repeatedly that it was He and only He who had brought the Israelites out of Egypt (20:1, 2; 29:45, 46), an event they had all witnessed.” [9]

    “Two popular Egyptian gods, Hapi (Apis) and Hathor, were thought of as a bull and a heifer. The Canaanites around them worshiped Baal, thought of as a bull. Baal was their sacred symbol of power and fertility and was closely connected to immoral sexual practices. No doubt the Israelites, fresh from Egypt, found it quite natural to make a gold calf to represent the God that had just delivered them from their oppressors. They were weary of a god without a face. But in doing so, they were ignoring the command he had just given them: ‘Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image’ (20:4). They may even have thought they were worshiping God. Their apparent sincerity was no substitute for obedience or excuse for disobedience.” [10]

    “Even if we do not make idols, we are often guilty of trying to make God in our image, molding him to fit our expectations, desires, and circumstances. When we do this, we end up worshiping ourselves rather than the God who created us—and self-worship, today as in the Israelites’ time, leads to all kinds of immorality. What is your favorite image of God? Is it biblical? Is it adequate? Do you need to destroy it in order to worship the immeasurably powerful God who delivered you from bondage to sin?” [11]

    In verse 10, “the words of God then turned very ominous. He threatened to destroy the nation entirely and begin anew with Moses (see Num. 14:11, 12). This declaration prompted Moses to intercede on behalf of the people for God’s mercy (see vv. 11–13).” [12]

    “Even though Israel had seen the invisible God in action, they still wanted the familiar gods they could see and shape into whatever image they desired. How much like them we are! Our great temptation is still to shape God to our liking, to make him convenient to obey or ignore. God responds in great anger when his mercy is trampled on. The gods we create blind us to the love our loving God wants to shower on us. God cannot work in us when we elevate anyone or anything above him. What false gods in your life are preventing the true God from living in you?” [13]

    In verses 11–13, “Moses used three principal arguments in this great prayer to assuage the anger of the Lord. (1) The deliverance of Israel from Egypt was the work of the Lord. How could He abandon them now? (2) The Egyptians would hear of this judgment and would believe that they had triumphed after all. How could He destroy them now? (3) The covenant had been established long before by divine oath. How could He revoke this promise now? We see clearly Moses’ own humility, his compassion for the Israelites, and his zeal for God’s glory and honor.” [14]

    “God was ready to destroy the whole nation because of their sin. But Moses pleaded for mercy, and God spared them. This is one of the countless examples in the Bible of God’s mercy. Although we deserve his anger, he is willing to forgive and restore us to himself. We can receive God’s forgiveness from sin by asking him. Like Moses, we can pray that he will forgive others and use us to bring them the message of his mercy.” [15]

    Verse 14 says, And the LORD relented… “Here is a wonderful example of the interaction of faithful intercessory prayer and the purpose of the Lord. God intended to spare Israel. But He drew Moses into the process by causing him to pray for the right outcome. He uses our prayer combined with His own determination to make His will come to pass.” [16]

    Eventide Prayer

    For Light 

    O God of Light, Father of Life, Giver of Wisdom, Benefactor of our souls, who gives to the fainthearted who put their trust in You those things into which the angels desire to look; O Sovereign Lord, who have brought us up from the depths of darkness to light, who have given us life from death, who have graciously bestowed upon us freedom from slavery, and who have scattered the darkness of sin within us, do You now also enlighten the eyes of our understanding, and sanctify us wholly in soul, body, and spirit. AMEN. 

    —Liturgy of St. Mark, Third Century [17]

    Short Verse

    The LORD will make good his purpose for me;* O LORD, your love endures for ever; do not abandon the works of your hands,

    Psalm 138:9
    By Franklin Kielar

    Eventide Reading: James 1:1-8

    One who doubts is like a wave of the sea

    1 James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ,

    To the twelve tribes in the Dispersion:


    2 Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, 3 for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. 4 And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

    5 If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. 6 But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. 7 For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; 8 he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.

    Eventide Lesson

    Testing of Your Faith

    In tonight’s reading, James begins by establishing “his authority – not as a brother of Christ or bishop of Jerusalem – but as a bondservant (self-indentured slave) of God. For the Jews, God is the only ruler, and true honor comes from Him. God [v. 1] refers to the Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ [v. 1] to the Son of God incarnate.” [18] The words To the twelve tribes in the Dispersion (Gr. diaspora) in verse 1, “refers to Jews in exile, but James applies it to the Church – Jewish and Gentile Christians alike – on pilgrimage.” [19]

    Trials (v. 2), referring to “the world’s oppression, take place by God’s permission. The issue is not trials but our response to them. Properly received, trials reveal where our hearts are. They are food for faith, which must grow or die. The godly reaction to trials is joy and perseverance (Mt 5:11, 12; Acts 5:41; Rom 5:2, 3; 8:18; Heb 12:11; 1Pt 2:19). Though unkind circumstances are from the evil one, to get angry at circumstances is to get angry at God, who permits them.” [20]

    Wisdom (v. 5), referring to “the practical and spiritual knowledge required for skilled living, comes to those who ask of God, who pray to Him. While James loves God’s law, for him faith is not found in rules, as with the Pharisees, but in a relationship with God.” [21]

    “Prayer as petition is effective when it is done in faith, with no doubting (v. 6). We need an unquestioning loyalty to God along with the confidence that comes from a life stable in all its ways (v. 8). While James teaches the necessity of works, for him works demonstrate a living faith. By contrast, doubting (v. 6) means questioning God. Double Mindedness (v. 8) speaks of one who has two loyalties, love of the world competing with love for God (see Mt 6:24). Such unstable life deadens our conscience and turns us aside from the truth.” [22]

    Compline Prayer


    Master, grant us rest of soul and body as we go now to sleep. Guard us from the gloomy somnolence of sin and from every dark seduction of the night. Calm the turmoil of our obsessions, extinguish the blazing arrows of the evil one so craftily aimed at us. Subdue the rebellions of our flesh, and calm all our earthly and material thoughts. Grant us, O God, a vigilant mind, chaste thought, a sober heart, and sleep that is light and free of all evil dreams. Raise us up again at the hour of prayer, secure in your commandments and holding fast within us the memory of your judgments. Grant that we may sing of your glory all the night long, that we may praise and bless and glorify your all-honorable and majestic name: + of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, now and ever and to the ages of ages. Amen.

  • by Antiochos, Monk of the Pandektes Monastery [23]

  • Devotionals compiled/written by S. P. Rogers


    [1] Tickle, P. (2000). August. In The divine hours: Prayers for Summertime (Kindle ed., vol. 2, p. 444). New York, NY: Image Books.

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

    [3] Ibid. 2, P. 3-4

    [4] Academic Community of St. Athanasius Academy of Orthodox Theology (2008). Psalms. In The Orthodox study Bible (p. 720). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson.

    [5] Augustine. (2019). Psalms. In Ancient faith study Bible (Kindle ed., p. 1545). Nashville: Holman Bible.

    [6] Cassiodorus. (2019). Psalms. In Ancient faith study Bible (Kindle ed., p. 1545). Nashville: Holman Bible.

    [7] 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. 252). New York, NY: Church Publishing Incorporated.

    [8] Radmacher, E. D., Allen, R. B., & House, H. W. (2018).Exodus. In Holy Bible Nkjv Study Bible, Personal Size: Full-color Edition (Kindle, Third, p. 638). essay, Thomas Nelson, Inc. 

    [9] Ibid. 8, P. 639

    [10] Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. (2013). Study Notes: Exodus. In Life application study Bible: King James version (Kindle ed., p. 6674). Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House.

    [11] Ibid. 10

    [12] Radmacher, E. D., Allen, R. B., & House, H. W. (2018).Exodus. In Holy Bible Nkjv Study Bible, Personal Size: Full-color Edition (Kindle, Third, p. 639). essay, Thomas Nelson, Inc. 

    [13] Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. (2013). Study Notes: Exodus. In Life application study Bible: King James version (Kindle ed., p. 6674). Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House.

    [14] Radmacher, E. D., Allen, R. B., & House, H. W. (2018).Exodus. In Holy Bible Nkjv Study Bible, Personal Size: Full-color Edition (Kindle, Third, p. 639). essay, Thomas Nelson, Inc. 

    [15] Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. (2013). Study Notes: Exodus. In Life application study Bible: King James version (Kindle ed., p. 6674). Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House.

    [16] Radmacher, E. D., Allen, R. B., & House, H. W. (2018).Exodus. In Holy Bible Nkjv Study Bible, Personal Size: Full-color Edition (Kindle, Third, p. 640). essay, Thomas Nelson, Inc. 

    [17] Potts, J. M. (2020). Third Century Prayers. In Prayers of the Early Church (Kindle, pp. 27). essay. 

    [18] Academic Community of St. Athanasius Academy of Orthodox Theology (2008). James. In The Orthodox study Bible (p. 1705). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson.

    [19] Ibid. 18

    [20] Ibid. 18

    [21] Ibid. 18

    [22] Ibid. 18

    [23] McGuckin, P. (Ed.). (2011). An Office Of Night Prayers Compline. In P. McGuckin (Trans.), Prayer Book of the Early Christians (Kindle, p. 409). essay, Paraclete Press.


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