Daniel 4:28–37 (Listen)
28 All this came upon King Nebuchadnezzar. 29 At the end of twelve months he was walking on the roof of the royal palace of Babylon, 30 and the king answered and said, “Is not this great Babylon, which I have built by my mighty power as a royal residence and for the glory of my majesty?” 31 While the words were still in the king’s mouth, there fell a voice from heaven, “O King Nebuchadnezzar, to you it is spoken: The kingdom has departed from you, 32 and you shall be driven from among men, and your dwelling shall be with the beasts of the field. And you shall be made to eat grass like an ox, and seven periods of time shall pass over you, until you know that the Most High rules the kingdom of men and gives it to whom he will.” 33 Immediately the word was fulfilled against Nebuchadnezzar. He was driven from among men and ate grass like an ox, and his body was wet with the dew of heaven till his hair grew as long as eagles’ feathers, and his nails were like birds’ claws.
34 At the end of the days I, Nebuchadnezzar, lifted my eyes to heaven, and my reason returned to me, and I blessed the Most High, and praised and honored him who lives forever,
for his dominion is an everlasting dominion,
and his kingdom endures from generation to generation;
35 all the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing,
and he does according to his will among the host of heaven
and among the inhabitants of the earth;
and none can stay his hand
or say to him, “What have you done?”
36 At the same time my reason returned to me, and for the glory of my kingdom, my majesty and splendor returned to me. My counselors and my lords sought me, and I was established in my kingdom, and still more greatness was added to me. 37 Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and extol and honor the King of heaven, for all his works are right and his ways are just; and those who walk in pride he is able to humble.
1 John 4:7–21 (Listen)
God Is Love
7 Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. 8 Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. 9 In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. 10 In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12 No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.
13 By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. 14 And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. 15 Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. 16 So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. 17 By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world. 18 There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. 19 We love because he first loved us. 20 If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. 21 And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother.
Luke 4:31–37 (Listen)
Jesus Heals a Man with an Unclean Demon
31 And he went down to Capernaum, a city of Galilee. And he was teaching them on the Sabbath, 32 and they were astonished at his teaching, for his word possessed authority. 33 And in the synagogue there was a man who had the spirit of an unclean demon, and he cried out with a loud voice, 34 “Ha! What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are—the Holy One of God.” 35 But Jesus rebuked him, saying, “Be silent and come out of him!” And when the demon had thrown him down in their midst, he came out of him, having done him no harm. 36 And they were all amazed and said to one another, “What is this word? For with authority and power he commands the unclean spirits, and they come out!” 37 And reports about him went out into every place in the surrounding region.
Psalm 98 (Listen)
Make a Joyful Noise to the Lord
98:1 Oh sing to the LORD a new song,
for he has done marvelous things!
His right hand and his holy arm
have worked salvation for him.
2 The LORD has made known his salvation;
he has revealed his righteousness in the sight of the nations.
3 He has remembered his steadfast love and faithfulness
to the house of Israel.
All the ends of the earth have seen
the salvation of our God.
4 Make a joyful noise to the LORD, all the earth;
break forth into joyous song and sing praises!
5 Sing praises to the LORD with the lyre,
with the lyre and the sound of melody!
6 With trumpets and the sound of the horn
make a joyful noise before the King, the LORD!
7 Let the sea roar, and all that fills it;
the world and those who dwell in it!
8 Let the rivers clap their hands;
let the hills sing for joy together
9 before the LORD, for he comes
to judge the earth.
He will judge the world with righteousness,
and the peoples with equity.
Psalm 146 (Listen)
Put Not Your Trust in Princes
146:1 Praise the LORD!
Praise the LORD, O my soul!
2 I will praise the LORD as long as I live;
I will sing praises to my God while I have my being.
3 Put not your trust in princes,
in a son of man, in whom there is no salvation.
4 When his breath departs, he returns to the earth;
on that very day his plans perish.
5 Blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob,
whose hope is in the LORD his God,
6 who made heaven and earth,
the sea, and all that is in them,
who keeps faith forever;
7 who executes justice for the oppressed,
who gives food to the hungry.
The LORD sets the prisoners free;
8 the LORD opens the eyes of the blind.
The LORD lifts up those who are bowed down;
the LORD loves the righteous.
9 The LORD watches over the sojourners;
he upholds the widow and the fatherless,
but the way of the wicked he brings to ruin.
10 The LORD will reign forever,
your God, O Zion, to all generations.
Praise the LORD!
Psalm 66 (Listen)
How Awesome Are Your Deeds
To the choirmaster. A Song. A Psalm.
66:1 Shout for joy to God, all the earth;
2 sing the glory of his name;
give to him glorious praise!
3 Say to God, “How awesome are your deeds!
So great is your power that your enemies come cringing to you.
4 All the earth worships you
and sings praises to you;
they sing praises to your name.” Selah
5 Come and see what God has done:
he is awesome in his deeds toward the children of man.
6 He turned the sea into dry land;
they passed through the river on foot.
There did we rejoice in him,
7 who rules by his might forever,
whose eyes keep watch on the nations—
let not the rebellious exalt themselves. Selah
8 Bless our God, O peoples;
let the sound of his praise be heard,
9 who has kept our soul among the living
and has not let our feet slip.
10 For you, O God, have tested us;
you have tried us as silver is tried.
11 You brought us into the net;
you laid a crushing burden on our backs;
12 you let men ride over our heads;
we went through fire and through water;
yet you have brought us out to a place of abundance.
13 I will come into your house with burnt offerings;
I will perform my vows to you,
14 that which my lips uttered
and my mouth promised when I was in trouble.
15 I will offer to you burnt offerings of fattened animals,
with the smoke of the sacrifice of rams;
I will make an offering of bulls and goats. Selah
16 Come and hear, all you who fear God,
and I will tell what he has done for my soul.
17 I cried to him with my mouth,
and high praise was on my tongue.
18 If I had cherished iniquity in my heart,
the Lord would not have listened.
19 But truly God has listened;
he has attended to the voice of my prayer.
20 Blessed be God,
because he has not rejected my prayer
or removed his steadfast love from me!
Psalm 116 (Listen)
I Love the Lord
116:1 I love the LORD, because he has heard
my voice and my pleas for mercy.
2 Because he inclined his ear to me,
therefore I will call on him as long as I live.
3 The snares of death encompassed me;
the pangs of Sheol laid hold on me;
I suffered distress and anguish.
4 Then I called on the name of the LORD:
“O LORD, I pray, deliver my soul!”
5 Gracious is the LORD, and righteous;
our God is merciful.
6 The LORD preserves the simple;
when I was brought low, he saved me.
7 Return, O my soul, to your rest;
for the LORD has dealt bountifully with you.
8 For you have delivered my soul from death,
my eyes from tears,
my feet from stumbling;
9 I will walk before the LORD
in the land of the living.
10 I believed, even when I spoke:
“I am greatly afflicted”;
11 I said in my alarm,
“All mankind are liars.”
12 What shall I render to the LORD
for all his benefits to me?
13 I will lift up the cup of salvation
and call on the name of the LORD,
14 I will pay my vows to the LORD
in the presence of all his people.
15 Precious in the sight of the LORD
is the death of his saints.
16 O LORD, I am your servant;
I am your servant, the son of your maidservant.
You have loosed my bonds.
17 I will offer to you the sacrifice of thanksgiving
and call on the name of the LORD.
18 I will pay my vows to the LORD
in the presence of all his people,
19 in the courts of the house of the LORD,
in your midst, O Jerusalem.
Praise the LORD!
Johannes Bugenhagen, Pastor, 1558 (April 20)
About the Commemoration
Johannes Bugenhagen was born on June 24, 1485 in the Hanseatic city of Wollin in Pomerania. Bugenhagen’s father was a member of the town council and made sure that Johannes was given an especially good education. In 1502 he began his studies at the university in Greifswald where he came in contact with the growing Humanist movement, but did not pursue theological studies. In 1504 Bugenhagen was called to serve as a teacher and rector of the municipal Latin school in Treptow on the Rega. In the following year he was called serve simultaneously as lector (lecturer) for the canons of the Premonstratensian Abbey of Belbuk outside of the city. The abbot not only headed the abbey, but was the patron of the congregation and the school in Treptow. He was to give the canons an introductory course in Holy Scripture with an emphasis on Paul’s Pastoral Epistles and the Psalms. His reputation as a scholar grew and spread. In 1509 Bugenhagen was ordained a priest and began preaching (it is worth noting that his sermons in Wittenberg sometimes lasted three hours).
In 1517 Bugenhagen traveled throughout Pomerania gathering documents in order to write the first history of the Duchy of Pomerania. This enterprise was commissioned by Duke Bogislav X. Bugenhagen was thus connected with the past and then the future of his Pomeranian homeland.
In 1520 Bugenhagen comes to agree with Luther (after initial rejection of the reformer’s writings), being impressed especially by the Babylonian Captivity of the Church. In 1521 Bugenhagen traveled to Wittenberg to study theology. While Luther was at the Diet at Worms, Melanchthon suggested that Bugenhagen fill in for the absent Reformer by lecturing on the Psalms. So began the career of Johannes Bugenhagen as a leader of the Lutheran Reformation. In 1522, Bugenhagen married his wife, Walpurga.
With the help of Luther, Bugenhagen was called as Pastor of the city church (St. Mary’s) in Wittenberg in 1523. He thus became Luther’s confessor. About the same time he became involved in publishing Luther’s New Testament in Low German. His scholarship led to a paid appointment as a lecturer in exegesis at the Wittenberg University. Bugenhagen began his work on his later very influential Passion History at this time.
Bugenhagen is the first Lutheran theologian to take issue with Zwingli’s teachings on the Sacrament of the Altar with his Sendbrief wider den neuen Irrtum in 1525. In the meantime Bugenhagen had received calls from various Hanseatic cities to be their pastor. Bugenhagen also begins what became one of his great accomplishments, the organization of the Lutheran churches in Northern Germany and Scandinavia. He writes theological arguments for the introduction of the Reformation and then works out church orders which will shape church structure and practice for centuries.
Bugenhagen always remained the pastor at heart. When the plague hit Wittenberg in 1527, the university and scholars fled the city. Luther and Bugenhagen remained to minister to the flock. After years of lecturing, Bugenhagen was given a doctorate in theology in 1533. The following year he works on publishing the entire Bible in Low German. In the meantime, a grassroots Reformation had been developing in Bugenhagen’s homeland, Pomerania. Just as he was made a professor at the university in Wittenberg in 1535, the request came from Pomerania for a church order for the duchy and a visitation or inspection tour. Although he was offered the office of bishop of Pomerania, he remained pastor and professor in Wittenberg.
From 1537 to 1539, Bugenhagen undertook the task of reforming the church in the realm of Christian III of Denmark which included Schleswig-Holstein and Norway at the time. During the Smalcald war, Bugenhagen remained in Wittenberg while others fled. He even continued to preach during the occupation of the city by imperial troops in 1547. After Martin Luther’s death, Bugenhagen took care of Luther’s widow and children. In 1558 Bugenhagen died and was buried in the City Church in Wittenberg.
There are several areas in which Bugenhagen still shapes the life of the Lutheran Church. Bugenhagen chose a harp as his seal because of his love of music. Our Lutheran liturgies still contain some of the music he wrote for the divine service.
The Lutheran understanding of the Lord’s Supper and the accompanying piety are due in a great part to the efforts and influence of Dr. Pomeranus. He recognized the danger in Zwingli’s teaching and sounded the warning trumpet. It has been shown that it was pastors who were taught and trained by Bugenhagen who took up the struggle against the Crypto-Calvinists. While it is disputed that Bugenhagen was himself a Premonstratensian (or Norbertine) canon. His close association with the order is, however, evident. This background would account for his liturgical interests. His preservation of traditional vestments and practices at Wittenberg scandalized Martin Bucer during the discussions which led to the Wittenberg Concord which was incorporated into the FC. His alertness to the dangers of Sacramentarianism might also be traced back to Premonstratensian sensibilities since Norbert of Xanten took on Tanchelm in Antwerp.
The organization and spread of the Reformation among the North German cities and principalities as well as in Scandinavia was aided by several gifts which Bugenhagen brought to the task. Being the son of a Hanseatic merchant gave him insight into the independent-mindedness of the Low German culture which prevailed around the Baltic Sea. It is that same culture which gave rise to what we know as Anglo-Saxon law. It took a skilled theologian to convince learned bourgeois leaders of the veracity of the Lutheran teaching on justification. It also took someone who spoke the lingua franca of the Baltic: Mittelniederdeutsch (Middle Low German). Mittelniederdeutsch was the language of contracts not only in Northern Germany, but throughout Scandinavia and even into Russia and within some quarters of London. The common Gothic syntax and grammar made it the koine of the region.
The work on the Passion History became a part of Lutheran piety and Lenten liturgical practice.
It was the heart of a pastor who heard the confessions of Luther, of nobles, of peasants, and servant girls. It was the heart of a pastor which would not falter before pestilence or war. While we might not want to emulate three-hour sermons, Bugenhagen’s attention to Holy Writ, the liturgy, music, and especially to the Sacrament of the Altar should serve to inspire 21st century Lutheran pastors to faithfulness in preaching and careful administration of the Sacraments.
Excerpts from Northwood Lutherans.
See also: Johannes Bugenhagen
From Johannes Bugenhagen
We should rejoice with our dear father Luther that he left and departed from us to the Lord Christ in the highest apostolic and prophetic office in which he faithfully accomplished what he was commanded. For with Christ are the holy patriarchs, prophets, apostles, and many to whom he preached the Gospel, all the holy angels, and Lazarus in the bosom of Abraham, that is, in the eternal joy of all believers. We will experience what this interim period until the Day of Judgment is like, as Paul says in Philippians 1: “I desire to depart and to be with Christ”; and as Stephen also says in Acts: “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit”; and Jesus to the thief: “Today you will be with Me in paradise.” For there is no doubt, just as the spirit of Christ was in the hands of the Father until the resurrection on Easter, since He said: “Father, into Your hands I commend My spirit,” etc., so will our spirits be in the hands of Christ until our resurrection. For that is the meaning of the words of Lazarus: “But now he is comforted while you are tormented.” Our dear father Dr. Martin Luther has now attained what he often desired. And if he were to return to us again now, he would reprimand our mourning and faint-heartedness with the word of Christ from John 16: “If you loved Me you would rejoice because I go to the Father, and you would not begrudge Me this eternal rest and joy.” Christ has conquered death for us. Why, then, are we afraid? The death of the body is for us a beginning of life eternal through Jesus Christ, our Lord, who has become for us a noble, precious sacrifice. I still remember that when our honorable, dear father, Dr. Martin Luther, saw several depart sweetly in the confession of Christ, he said: “May God grant me that I may also depart so sweetly in the bosom of Christ and that the body may not be tormented with lengthy pains of death. But may God’s will be done.”
Devotional reading and prayer are from Treasury of Daily Prayer (2014 printing), page 1290 © 2008 Concordia Publishing House. All rights reserved.
Almighty and everlasting God, Your Son called the twelve to be His apostles and sent out the seventy-two to preach and to heal. You continue to send out faithful pastors to feed the people of God with the holy food of the Gospel and the Sacraments. We give You thanks for providing Martin Luther with a faithful pastor and confessor in Johannes Bugenhagen and for his care of Luther’s widow and children. May we all be blessed to have such pastors to take care of our needs in body and soul; through Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
Concordia Publishing House
This daily prayer and Bible reading guide, Devoted to Prayer (based on Acts 2:42), was conceived and prepared by the Rev. Andrew S. Ames Fuller, director of communications for the North American Lutheran Church (NALC). After a challenging year in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, we have been provided with a unique opportunity to revitalize the ancient practice of daily prayer and Scripture reading in our homes. While the Reading the Word of God three-year lectionary provided a much-needed and refreshing calendar for our congregations to engage in Scripture reading, this calendar includes a missing component of daily devotion: prayer. This guide is to provide the average layperson and pastor with the simple tools for sorting through the busyness of their lives and reclaiming an act of daily discipleship with their Lord. The daily readings follow the Lutheran Book of Worship two-year daily lectionary, which reflect the church calendar closely. The commemorations are adapted from Philip H. Pfatteicher’s New Book of Festivals and Commemorations, a proposed common calendar of the saints that builds from the Lutheran Book of Worship, but includes saints from many of those churches in ecumenical conversation with the NALC. The introductory portion is adapted from Christ Church (Plano)’s Pray Daily. Our hope is that this calendar and guide will provide new life for congregations learning and re-learning to pray in the midst of a difficult and changing world.