October 8 Devotional (2021)

October 8, 2021
Ordinary Time

Today’s Readings: “The Sabbath Day, Sunday, and the Eighth Day”  /  Deuteronomy 5:22-33  /  Hebrews 4:1-11

Invitatory

The mercy of the Lord is everlasting: Come let us adore him.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, 

* and to the Holy Ghost. 

As it was in the beginning, is now, 

* and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.

Opening Prayer

O God:

Give me strength to live another day;

Let me not turn coward before its difficulties or prove recreant to its duties;

Let me not lose faith in other people;

Keep me sweet and sound of heart, in spite of ingratitude, treachery, or meanness;

Preserve me from minding little stings or giving them;

Help me to keep my heart clean, and to live so honestly and fearlessly that no outward failure can dishearten me or take away the joy of conscious integrity;

Open wide the eyes of my soul that I may see good in all things;

Grant me this day some new vision of thy truth;

Inspire me with the spirit of joy and gladness;

and make me the cup of strength to suffering souls;

in the name of the strong Deliverer, our only Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen. [1]

Hymn: “There’s a Wideness in God’s Mercy” 

by Fredrick Faber

Lyrics:

There’s a wideness in God’s mercy 

Like the wideness of the sea; 

There’s a kindness in God’s justice, 

Which is more than liberty. 

If our love were but more simple, 

We should rest upon God’s word; 

And our lives would be illumined 

By the presence of our Lord. 

For the love of God is broader 

Than the measure of our mind; 

And the heart of the Eternal 

Is most wonderfully kind. [2]


A Third Century Prayer for Illumination 

Shine into our hearts, O loving Master, by the pure light of the knowledge of Thyself, and open the eyes of our mind to the contemplation of Your teaching, and put into us the fear of Your blessed commandments; that trampling down all that is worldly, we may follow a spiritual life, thinking and doing all things according to Your good pleasure. For You art our sanctification, and our illumination, and to You we render glory, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, now and ever, and unto ages of ages. AMEN. 

—Eastern Church Liturgy [3]

Short Verse

For thus said the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel, “In returning and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and in trust shall be your strength.”

Isaiah 30:15

Morning Reading: The Sabbath Day, Sunday, and the Eighth Day

The Sabbath Day

“When the Lord commanded the Hebrews” to remember the Sabbath day and keep it holy, “He also gave them the reason: ‘For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and everything in them, and rested on the seventh day. Therefore, the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it’ (Ex 20:8, 11; cf. Gn 2:1-3). When Moses restated the Ten Commandments in Deuteronomy 5, he added another reason: ‘Remember, you were a servant in the land of Egypt, and the Lord your God brought you out from there by a mighty hand and by an outstretched arm; therefore, the Lord your God ordered you to guard the Sabbath day and to sanctify it’ (Dt 5:15).” [4]

In Exodus 20:8, the Hebrews were called to remember the Sabbath. [5] In Leviticus 19:3, 30, the Hebrews were called to keep the Sabbath. [5] In Jeremiah 17:19-27, Ezekiel 20:19, and Nehemiah 13:15-22, the Hebrews were called to sanctify the Sabbath and hallow it “by resting from almost every kind of work. God provided them this sacred time each week to help them contemplate His awesome work in creation and their miraculous deliverance from Egypt.” [5]

God, in His infinite wisdom, “stipulat[ed] the faithful observance [of] the Sabbath [as] one of the main ways [He] ordained to reinforce the people’s covenant with Him (Ex 31:12-17).” [6] 

Communal worship was not linked with the observance of the Sabbath, originally. [7] It was “with the development of the synagogue, probably during the Hebrews’ exile in Babylon (sixth century BC), [that] the Sabbath naturally became the day for synagogue worship, as it is for the Jews today.” [8]

Sunday, the Day of Worship

“At first, early Jewish Christians continued to observe Sabbath regulations and to worship on the Sabbath” (as we find in Acts 13:13-15, 42-44; and in Acts 18:1-4)). [9] However, these Christians still met on Sundays to partake in the Holy Eucharist (as we find in Acts 20:7; and in 1Co 16:1-2). [10] Sunday was called “The Lord’s Day,” because Jesus rose from the dead on a Sunday (Rev 1:10). [11] “St. Ignatius of Antioch, in about AD 107, confirm[ed] that Sunday was the main day of worship for the early Church: ‘They have given us keeping the Sabbath, and now order their lives by the Lord’s Day instead – the Day when life first dawned for us, thanks to Him and His death.’” [12]

Honoring “the Church’s practice of celebrating the Lord’s Resurrection every Sunday,” emperor St. Constantine the Great, in 321 AD, issued a decree that “every Sunday would be a holy day.” [13] 

Sunday, the Eighth Day

“As the day after the seventh day (when God rested from His six days of creation) and as the day of Christ’s Resurrection, Sunday early on came to be understood in a mystical way among Christians as the ‘Eighth Day.’” [14] As Saint Maximos the Confessor explained, Sunday was a day “beyond nature and time.” [15] The Epistle of Barnabas calls Sunday “the beginning of another world.” [16] St. Basil the Great wrote, “Whether you call it day, or whether you call it eternity, you express the same idea.” [17] “And from ancient times, Christian baptisteries and fonts have been built with eight sides, indicating the newly baptized are entering the realm of the Eight Day, the day of eternal rest (Heb 4:1-11) in Christ’s Heavenly Kingdom.” [18]

The baptismal font at St. Peter’s Anglican Church – Tallahassee, FL
(website)

A Fourth Century Prayer for Charity 

O God of love, Who have given a new commandment through Your only begotten Son, that we should love one another, even as You loved us, the unworthy and the wandering, and gave Your beloved Son for our life and salvation; we pray You, Lord, give to us, Your servants, in all time of our life on the earth, a mind forgetful of past ill-will, a pure conscience and sincere thoughts, and a heart to love our brethren; for the sake of Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord and only Saviour. AMEN. 

—Coptic Liturgy of St. Cyril [19] 

A Third Century Intercession for Ministers

O God, great in power, unsearchable in understanding, wondrous in counsels towards the children of men, do You fill with the gift of Your Holy Spirit those whom You dost will to undertake the degree of the priesthood that they may be worthy to stand before Your holy altar unblamably, to announce the Gospel of Your kingdom, to administer the Word of Your Truth, to offer gifts and spiritual sacrifices unto You, and to renew Your people in the laver of regeneration; that at the second coming of our great God and Saviour Jesus Christ, Your only begotten Son, they may go forth to meet Him, and by the multitude of Your mercies receive their reward; for Your venerable and majestic Name is blessed and glorified. AMEN. 

—Eastern Church Liturgy [20]

Short Verse

It is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.

Lamentations 3:26

Midday Reading: Deuteronomy 5:22-33

Moses meditates on God’s word

22 “These words the LORD spoke to all your assembly at the mountain out of the midst of the fire, the cloud, and the thick darkness, with a loud voice; and he added no more. And he wrote them on two tablets of stone and gave them to me. 23 And as soon as you heard the voice out of the midst of the darkness, while the mountain was burning with fire, you came near to me, all the heads of your tribes, and your elders. 24 And you said, ‘Behold, the LORD our God has shown us his glory and greatness, and we have heard his voice out of the midst of the fire. This day we have seen God speak with man, and man still live. 25 Now therefore why should we die? For this great fire will consume us. If we hear the voice of the LORD our God any more, we shall die. 26 For who is there of all flesh, that has heard the voice of the living God speaking out of the midst of fire as we have, and has still lived? 27 Go near and hear all that the LORD our God will say, and speak to us all that the LORD our God will speak to you, and we will hear and do it.’

28 “And the LORD heard your words, when you spoke to me. And the LORD said to me, ‘I have heard the words of this people, which they have spoken to you. They are right in all that they have spoken. 29 Oh that they had such a heart as this always, to fear me and to keep all my commandments, that it might go well with them and with their descendants forever! 30 Go and say to them, “Return to your tents.” 31 But you, stand here by me, and I will tell you the whole commandment and the statutes and the rules that you shall teach them, that they may do them in the land that I am giving them to possess.’ 32 You shall be careful therefore to do as the LORD your God has commanded you. You shall not turn aside to the right hand or to the left. 33 You shall walk in all the way that the LORD your God has commanded you, that you may live, and that it may go well with you, and that you may live long in the land that you shall possess.

Midday Lesson

Moses taught God’s People

“The Decalogue provides a sound summary of the entire Law of God. The Commandments are sometimes referred to as ‘the testimony.’” [21]

“When the Israelites first heard God’s voice at Mount Sinai, they thought they would die (Ex 20: 19). However, no one died in this transaction.” [22] Saint Irenaeus of Lyons wrote, “God the Father is shown forth through all these [operations], the Spirit indeed working, and the Son ministering, while the Father was approving, and man’s salvation being accomplished.” [23]

“In this recounting of the events at Sinai [vv. 25-27], Moses recalls the fear expressed by the previous Israelite generation: that God had brought them to Mount Sinai to exterminate them. Moses served as the intermediary between God and His people (Ex 20:19).” [24]

Verse 29 says, Oh that they had such a heart as this always, to fear me and to keep all my commandments, that it might go well with them and with their descendants forever! “The Law was not the problem; Moses was not the problem. For he had a heart to fear the Lord and to guard His commandments. The problem among the children of Israel was a heart problem. Their heart was attached to this world, rather than to the Lord. This same problem persists in many today, but the door to the kingdom remains open to those who are willing to be detached from materialism and turn their hearts to Him (2Co 3:16).” [25]

“All of God’s statutes and commands were shared exclusively with Moses. Moses then taught these regulations to God’s people.” [26]

“Moses recount[ed] how all of the Israelites assembled at Mount Sinai to hear God present guidelines for a holy relationship with Him and with one another. Sinful men and women need an intermediary between themselves and God. Though Moses served in that capacity at Sinai, Jesus Christ fills that role in a much greater way for you and for me (1Tm 2:5–6; cf Rm 8:1–2). • Lord of mercy, in Your Law we become painfully aware that our sinful nature separates us from You. Through Christ, our Lord, draw us ever closer to You through Your Word and Sacraments. Amen.” [27]


A Second Century Prayer: Sanctify Us, O Lord

Sanctify, O Lord, our souls, and bodies, and spirits, and touch our understandings, and search our consciences, and cast out from us every evil imagination, every impure feeling, every base desire, every unbecoming thought, all envy, and vanity, and hypocrisy, all lying, all deceit, every worldly affection, all covetousness, all vainglory, all indifference, all vice, all passion, all anger, all malice, all blasphemy, every motion of the flesh and spirit that is not in accordance with Your holy will: and count us worthy, O loving Lord, with boldness, without condemnation, in a pure heart, with a contrite spirit, with unshamed face, with sanctified lips, to dare to call upon You, the holy God, Father in heaven. AMEN. 

—Liturgy of St. James [28]

Short Verse

“The greatness of a man consists of humility, for in proportion as a man descends to humility, he becomes exalted to greatness.”

Sayings of the Holy Fathers

[29]

Eventide Reading: Hebrews 4:1-11

The rest that God promised

1 Therefore, while the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us fear lest any of you should seem to have failed to reach it. 2 For good news came to us just as to them, but the message they heard did not benefit them, because they were not united by faith with those who listened. 3 For we who have believed enter that rest, as he has said,

“As I swore in my wrath,

‘They shall not enter my rest,’”

although his works were finished from the foundation of the world. 4 For he has somewhere spoken of the seventh day in this way: “And God rested on the seventh day from all his works.” 5 And again in this passage he said,

“They shall not enter my rest.”

6 Since therefore it remains for some to enter it, and those who formerly received the good news failed to enter because of disobedience, 7again he appoints a certain day, “Today,” saying through David so long afterward, in the words already quoted,

“Today, if you hear his voice,

do not harden your hearts.”

8 For if Joshua had given them rest, God would not have spoken of another day later on. 9 So then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God, 10 for whoever has entered God’s rest has also rested from his works as God did from his.

11 Let us therefore strive to enter that rest, so that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience. 

Eventide Lesson:

A foreshadowing of God’s rest

“God established the Sabbath as a sign of his own “rest” on the seventh day and as a sign of eternal life whereby we enter into God’s eternal rest. Such a foreshadowing from the Old Testament to the New Testament is called a “type,” or “figure,” that points to or hints at a future reality in a veiled way. Explaining the verse from the Psalms used in the previous chapter (cf. Heb 3:14; Ps 95:8), the author expounded on God’s love and mercy: Each day brings a new opportunity for a fresh start. Christ’s Sacrifice on the Cross applies to the sins of all people— past, present, and future. As long as we are contrite and repentant, God’s superabundant grace and forgiveness continues to be available to us.” [41]

Compline Prayer

Preserve me from the dismal sleep of sin, and quiet every earthly and wicked thought within me. Give me sweet repose, free from every carnal and devilish imagination. Amen.

  • Lancelot Andrewes [40]

Citations:

[1] Prayers and Thanksgivings. Daily Prayer: a resource of Forward Movement. (2021). https://prayer.forwardmovement.org/prayers_and_thanksgivings.php

[2] Tickle, P. (2000). May. In The divine hours: Prayers for Summertime (Kindle ed., vol. 2, p. 599). New York, NY: Image Books.

[3] Potts, J. M. (2020). Third Century Prayers. In Prayers of the Early Church (Kindle, pp. 33). essay. 

[4] Academic Community of St. Athanasius Academy of Orthodox Theology (2008). The Sabbath Day, Sunday, and the Eighth Day [Article]. In The Orthodox study Bible (p. 286). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson.

[5] Ibid. 4

[6] Ibid. 4

[7] Ibid. 4

[8] Ibid. 4

[9] Ibid. 4

[10] Ibid. 4

[11] Ibid. 4

[12] Ibid. 4

[13] Ibid. 4

[14] Ibid. 4

[15] Ibid. 4

[16] Ibid. 4

[17] Ibid. 4

[18] Ibid. 4

[19] Potts, J. M. (2020). Fourth Century Prayers. In Prayers of the Early Church (Kindle, pp. 35). essay. 

[20] Potts, J. M. (2020). Third Century Prayers. In Prayers of the Early Church (Kindle, pp. 33). essay. 

[21] Cole, J. (Ed.). (2015). Deuteronomy. In Didache Bible: With commentaries based on the Catechism of the Catholic Church (Kindle ed., p. 560). Downers Grove, IL: Midwest Theological Forum,, Ignatius Press.

[22] A., E. E. (2016). Deuteronomy. In The Lutheran study Bible: English standard version (Kindle ed., pp. 1383). Saint Louis: Concordia Publishing House.

[23] Ibid. 22

[24] Ibid. 22

[25] Academic Community of St. Athanasius Academy of Orthodox Theology (2008). Deuteronomy. In The Orthodox study Bible (p. 286). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson.

[26] A., E. E. (2016). Deuteronomy. In The Lutheran study Bible: English standard version (Kindle ed., pp. 1383). Saint Louis: Concordia Publishing House.

[27] Ibid. 26

[28] Potts, J. M. (2020). Second Century Prayers. In Prayers of the Early Church (Kindle, pp. 23). essay. 

[29] Of humility and of how a Man should think lightly of himself, and should esteem himself the Inferior of every Man. (1907). In The Sayings of the Holy Fathers: Books I and II (Kindle ed., p. 147).  W. Budge (Ed.)

[40] Andrewes, Lancelot. The Private Devotions and Manual for the Sick of Launcelot Andrews (Kindle ed., p. 2672). Unknown. Kindle Edition. 

[41] Cole, J. (Ed.). (2015). Hebrews. In Didache Bible: With commentaries based on the Catechism of the Catholic Church (Kindle ed., p. 3702). Downers Grove, IL: Midwest Theological Forum,, Ignatius Press.

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