Home > Reading > Daily Reading – April 4, 2021

20:19 On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being locked where the disciples were for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” 20 When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord. 21 Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.” 22 And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you withhold forgiveness from any, it is withheld.”

– John 20:19-23

The passage for this day of celebration took place on the evening of our Lord’s resurrection. It was Easter evening. It was only a few short hours after our Lord had been raised from the dead. He appeared to Mary. His tomb was empty when Peter and John went to look. And yet, even with all of that, the disciples were afraid. That is when it happened. In the midst of their fear, Jesus appeared to them. Behind locked doors, boarded up and afraid to come out, Jesus came in. He showed them His hands and His side. He gave to them the gift of peace. And it says, “They were glad when they saw the Lord.” As surprising as it must have been, the disciples should not have been surprised. Many times, Jesus had promised them His presence. “Where two or three are gathered,” Jesus said, “there I am in their midst.” He said, “Lo, I am with you always to the close of the age.” He also said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”

Did you know that those three little words, in their original language, “never,” “leave,” and “forsake” are not such little words? What they are is a combination of several thoughts and ideas combined into one. The word “never” is a combination of five negatives all brought together. It is a forever never which has no exceptions. The word “leave” actually means “to leave behind, to abandon, to give up on, or to send back.” And the word “forsake” means to leave a person “in a helpless state, to disregard, or to relax one’s watchfulness.”

Put those three little words together and what Jesus is telling us in His resurrection appearance on that first Easter night, in its most literal translation, is not so little. What He is saying is “I will never, no not ever, no never give up on you, abandon you, leave you behind, cause you not to survive, leave you helpless, nor shall I ever relax concerning My presence with you.” In other words, you and I, as followers of Jesus are never alone. Jesus died for our sins. He was raised so we could have life. And now He has called and chosen us to live for Him. “As the Father has sent Me, so I am sending you … Receive the Holy Spirit.” From that moment on, the Church was born. And until Jesus returns, the Church has a mission. We are a sent people. We are a people saved and redeemed and sent by the Risen Christ. And we are not alone. We will never be abandoned. And there is nothing, no not anything, that will never, no not ever, separate us from Him.

Prayer: Almighty God, we thank and praise You for raising Your Son, Jesus, from the dead, and for the promise of His presence and power until He returns. Amen.

Lenten Response: Take five minutes and read the Easter story in John 20, and then take an additional five minutes to sit quietly in the presence of the Risen Christ.

Devotion written by the Rev. Daniel Selbo

Exodus 12:1–14 (Listen)

The Passover

12:1 The LORD said to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt, “This month shall be for you the beginning of months. It shall be the first month of the year for you. Tell all the congregation of Israel that on the tenth day of this month every man shall take a lamb according to their fathers’ houses, a lamb for a household. And if the household is too small for a lamb, then he and his nearest neighbor shall take according to the number of persons; according to what each can eat you shall make your count for the lamb. Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male a year old. You may take it from the sheep or from the goats, and you shall keep it until the fourteenth day of this month, when the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill their lambs at twilight.

“Then they shall take some of the blood and put it on the two doorposts and the lintel of the houses in which they eat it. They shall eat the flesh that night, roasted on the fire; with unleavened bread and bitter herbs they shall eat it. Do not eat any of it raw or boiled in water, but roasted, its head with its legs and its inner parts. 10 And you shall let none of it remain until the morning; anything that remains until the morning you shall burn. 11 In this manner you shall eat it: with your belt fastened, your sandals on your feet, and your staff in your hand. And you shall eat it in haste. It is the LORD’s Passover. 12 For I will pass through the land of Egypt that night, and I will strike all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and on all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgments: I am the LORD. 13 The blood shall be a sign for you, on the houses where you are. And when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and no plague will befall you to destroy you, when I strike the land of Egypt.

14 “This day shall be for you a memorial day, and you shall keep it as a feast to the LORD; throughout your generations, as a statute forever, you shall keep it as a feast.

Isaiah 51:9–11 (Listen)

  Awake, awake, put on strength,
    O arm of the LORD;
  awake, as in days of old,
    the generations of long ago.
  Was it not you who cut Rahab in pieces,
    who pierced the dragon?
10   Was it not you who dried up the sea,
    the waters of the great deep,
  who made the depths of the sea a way
    for the redeemed to pass over?
11   And the ransomed of the LORD shall return
    and come to Zion with singing;
  everlasting joy shall be upon their heads;
    they shall obtain gladness and joy,
    and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.

Luke 24:13–35 (Listen)

On the Road to Emmaus

13 That very day two of them were going to a village named Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, 14 and they were talking with each other about all these things that had happened. 15 While they were talking and discussing together, Jesus himself drew near and went with them. 16 But their eyes were kept from recognizing him. 17 And he said to them, “What is this conversation that you are holding with each other as you walk?” And they stood still, looking sad. 18 Then one of them, named Cleopas, answered him, “Are you the only visitor to Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?” 19 And he said to them, “What things?” And they said to him, “Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, a man who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, 20 and how our chief priests and rulers delivered him up to be condemned to death, and crucified him. 21 But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel. Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since these things happened. 22 Moreover, some women of our company amazed us. They were at the tomb early in the morning, 23 and when they did not find his body, they came back saying that they had even seen a vision of angels, who said that he was alive. 24 Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but him they did not see.” 25 And he said to them, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! 26 Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?” 27 And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.

28 So they drew near to the village to which they were going. He acted as if he were going farther, 29 but they urged him strongly, saying, “Stay with us, for it is toward evening and the day is now far spent.” So he went in to stay with them. 30 When he was at table with them, he took the bread and blessed and broke it and gave it to them. 31 And their eyes were opened, and they recognized him. And he vanished from their sight. 32 They said to each other, “Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the Scriptures?” 33 And they rose that same hour and returned to Jerusalem. And they found the eleven and those who were with them gathered together, 34 saying, “The Lord has risen indeed, and has appeared to Simon!” 35 Then they told what had happened on the road, and how he was known to them in the breaking of the bread.

Morning Psalms

Psalm 93 (Listen)

The Lord Reigns

93:1   The LORD reigns; he is robed in majesty;
    the LORD is robed; he has put on strength as his belt.
  Yes, the world is established; it shall never be moved.
  Your throne is established from of old;
    you are from everlasting.
  The floods have lifted up, O LORD,
    the floods have lifted up their voice;
    the floods lift up their roaring.
  Mightier than the thunders of many waters,
    mightier than the waves of the sea,
    the LORD on high is mighty!
  Your decrees are very trustworthy;
    holiness befits your house,
    O LORD, forevermore.

Psalm 150 (Listen)

Let Everything Praise the Lord

150:1   Praise the LORD!
  Praise God in his sanctuary;
    praise him in his mighty heavens!
  Praise him for his mighty deeds;
    praise him according to his excellent greatness!
  Praise him with trumpet sound;
    praise him with lute and harp!
  Praise him with tambourine and dance;
    praise him with strings and pipe!
  Praise him with sounding cymbals;
    praise him with loud clashing cymbals!
  Let everything that has breath praise the LORD!
  Praise the LORD!

Evening Psalms

Psalm 136 (Listen)

His Steadfast Love Endures Forever

136:1   Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good,
    for his steadfast love endures forever.
  Give thanks to the God of gods,
    for his steadfast love endures forever.
  Give thanks to the Lord of lords,
    for his steadfast love endures forever;
  to him who alone does great wonders,
    for his steadfast love endures forever;
  to him who by understanding made the heavens,
    for his steadfast love endures forever;
  to him who spread out the earth above the waters,
    for his steadfast love endures forever;
  to him who made the great lights,
    for his steadfast love endures forever;
  the sun to rule over the day,
    for his steadfast love endures forever;
  the moon and stars to rule over the night,
    for his steadfast love endures forever;
10   to him who struck down the firstborn of Egypt,
    for his steadfast love endures forever;
11   and brought Israel out from among them,
    for his steadfast love endures forever;
12   with a strong hand and an outstretched arm,
    for his steadfast love endures forever;
13   to him who divided the Red Sea in two,
    for his steadfast love endures forever;
14   and made Israel pass through the midst of it,
    for his steadfast love endures forever;
15   but overthrew Pharaoh and his host in the Red Sea,
    for his steadfast love endures forever;
16   to him who led his people through the wilderness,
    for his steadfast love endures forever;
17   to him who struck down great kings,
    for his steadfast love endures forever;
18   and killed mighty kings,
    for his steadfast love endures forever;
19   Sihon, king of the Amorites,
    for his steadfast love endures forever;
20   and Og, king of Bashan,
    for his steadfast love endures forever;
21   and gave their land as a heritage,
    for his steadfast love endures forever;
22   a heritage to Israel his servant,
    for his steadfast love endures forever.
23   It is he who remembered us in our low estate,
    for his steadfast love endures forever;
24   and rescued us from our foes,
    for his steadfast love endures forever;
25   he who gives food to all flesh,
    for his steadfast love endures forever.
26   Give thanks to the God of heaven,
    for his steadfast love endures forever.

Psalm 117 (Listen)

The Lord’s Faithfulness Endures Forever

117:1   Praise the LORD, all nations!
    Extol him, all peoples!
  For great is his steadfast love toward us,
    and the faithfulness of the LORD endures forever.
  Praise the LORD!

Martin Luther King Jr., Renewer of Society, Martyr, 1968 (April 4)

About the Commemoration

Martin Luther King Jr., who led the first mass civil rights movement in the United States, was born January 15, 1929, in Atlanta, Georgia. An exceptional student, he entered Morehouse college in Atlanta at the age of fifteen under a special program and earned his B.A. in 1948. His earlier interests in medicine and law gave way to a decision to enter the ministry. He entered Crozer Theological Seminary in Chester, Pennsylvania, where he studied Gandhi’s philosophy of nonviolence. King was elected president of the student body and graduated from the seminary in 1951. He then went to Boston University where he met Coretta Scott, who was a student at the New England Conservatory of Music. They married in 1953. King received the Ph.D. from Boston University in 1955. He became pastor of Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama, and while he was there, a group decided to challenge racial segregation of public busses. On December 1,1955, Mrs. Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on a bus to a white passenger and was arrested for violating the city’s segregation law. The Montgomery Improvement Association was formed, and King was named its leader. His home was dynamited and his family threatened, yet he held fast. In a year, desegregation was accomplished. To capitalize on the success in Montgomery, King in 1957 organized the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, which gave him a base of operation and a national platform.

In 1960 he moved to Atlanta to become co-pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Church with his father. In October 1960 he was arrested for protesting the segregation of the lunch counter in a department store in Atlanta. The years 1960 to 1965 marked the height of his influence. Although not always successful, the principle of nonviolence aroused the interest of many blacks and whites. In the spring of 1963, he was arrested in a campaign to end the segregation of lunch counters in Birmingham, Alabama. The police had turned fire hoses and dogs on the demonstrators and thus brought the incident to national attention. Some of the clergy of the city had issued a statement urging the citizens not to participate in the demonstrations, and King responded eloquently in his Letter from Birmingham Jail.

On August 28, 1963, two hundred thousand people marched on Washington in a peaceful assembly at the Lincoln Memorial and heard King’s emotional and prophetic speech known as “I have a dream.” The Civil Rights Act, passed later that year, authorized the federal government to enforce the desegregation of public accommodations and outlawed discrimination in publicly owned facilities and in employment. Also in 1964 Martin Luther King Jr. was awarded the Nobel Prize for Peace for his application of the principle of nonviolent resistance in the struggle for racial equality.

King broadened his concern to include not only justice between the races but justice between the nations as well. In January 1966 he condemned the war in Vietnam, and his attack was renewed on April 4, 1967, at Riverside Church in New York and on April 15 at a huge rally for peace.

King had planned a Poor People’s March on Washington but interrupted his plans in the spring of 1968 to travel to Memphis, Tennessee, in support of striking sanitation workers. On April 4, while standing on the balcony of a motel where he was staying, he was shot and killed by a sniper.

By his eloquent and often prophetic preaching, Martin Luther King Jr. called the United States to a new commitment to the ideal of justice, while at the same time consistently resisting the temptation to violence, even when provoked. Struggling against two sides at once—the status quo on the one hand and racial revolution on the other—he taught by word and example the value of what he liked to call “redemptive suffering,” bringing the crucifixion into relation to modern society. He spoke God’s word to a complacent nation, moving it toward the realization of the kingdom of God.

The birthday of Martin Luther King Jr. has been made a civil holiday in the United States, and for that reason the Lutheran Book of Worship set his commemoration on January 15. Because the observance of that federal holiday was in 1986 set on the third Monday in January, the observance of the religious commemoration on April 4, the date of his death, as is customary with commemorations and as observed in the Episcopal Lesser Feasts and Fasts 1997 and in the Methodist For All the Saints, seems perhaps preferable.
Excerpts from New Book of Festivals & Commemorations: A Proposed Common Calendar of Saints by Philip H. Pfatteicher, copyright, 2008 by Fortress Press, an imprint of Augsburg Fortress.

See also: Martin Luther King Jr.


From Letter from Birmingham Jail by Martin Luther King Jr., April 16, 1963

I, along with several members of my staff, am here because I was invited here. I am here because I have organizational ties here.

But more basically, I am in Birmingham because injustice is here. Just as the prophets of the eighth century B.C. left their villages and carried their “thus saith the Lord” far beyond the boundaries of their home towns, and just as the Apostle Paul left his village of Tarsus and carried the gospel of Jesus Christ to the far comers of the Graeco-Roman world, so am I compelled to carry the gospel of freedom beyond my home town. Like Paul, I must constantly respond to the Macedonian call for aid.

Moreover, I am cognizant of the interrelatedness of all communities and states. I cannot sit idly by in Atlanta and not be concerned about what happens in Birmingham. Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. Never again can we afford to live with the narrow, provincial “outside agitator” idea. Anyone who lives inside the United States can never be considered an outsider anywhere within its bounds….

My friends, I must say to you that we have not made a single gain in civil rights without determined legal and nonviolent pressure. Lamentably, it is an historic fact that privileged groups seldom give up their privileges voluntarily. Individuals may see the moral light and voluntarily give up their unjust posture; but, as Reinhold Niebuhr has reminded us, groups are more immoral than individuals.

We know through painful experience that freedom is never voluntarily given up by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed. Frankly, I have yet to engage in a direct-action campaign that was “well timed” in the view of those who have not suffered unduly from the disease of segregation. For years now I have heard the word “Wait!” It rings in the ear of every Negro with a piercing familiarity. This “Wait” has almost always meant “Never.” We must come to see, with one of our distinguished jurists, that “justice too long delayed is justice denied.”

We have waited for more than 340 years for our constitutional and God-given rights. The nations of Asia and Africa are moving with jetlike speed toward gaining political independence, but we still creep at horse-and-buggy pace toward the gaining of a cup of coffee at a lunch counter. Perhaps it is easy for those who have never felt the stinging darts of segregation to say, “Wait.” But when you have seen vicious mobs lynch your mothers and fathers at will and drown your sisters and brothers at whim; when you have seen hate-filled policemen curse, kick and even kill your black brothers and sisters; when you see the vast majority of your twenty million Negro brothers smothering in an airtight cage of poverty in the midst of an affluent society’; when you suddenly find your tongue twisted and your speech stammering as you seek to explain to your six-year old daughter why she can’t go to the public amusement park that has just been advertised on television, and see tears welling up in her eyes when she is told that Funtown is closed to colored children, and see ominous clouds of inferiority beginning to form in her little mental sky, and see her beginning to distort her personality by developing an unconscious bitterness toward white people; when you have to concoct an answer for a five-year old son who is asking: “Daddy, why do white people treat colored people so mean?”; when you take a cross-country drive and find it necessary to sleep night after night in the uncomfortable corners of your automobile because no motel will accept you; when you are humiliated day in and day out by nagging signs reading “white” and “colored”; when your first name becomes “nigger” and your middle name becomes “boy” (however old you are) and your last name becomes “John,” and your wife and mother are never given the respected title “Mrs.”; when you are harried by day and haunted by night by the fact that you are a Negro, living constantly at tiptoe stance never quite knowing what to expect next, and plagued with inner fears and outer resentments; when you are forever fighting a degrading sense of “nobodiness”—then you will understand why we find it difficult to wait. There comes a time when the cup of endurance runs over, and men are no longer willing to be plunged into the abyss of despair. I hope, sirs, you can understand our legitimate and unavoidable impatience.
Martin Luther King Jr., “A letter from Birmingham Jail” in Why We Cant Wait is reprinted by arrangement with The Heirs to the Estate of Martin Luther King, Jr., c/o Writers House, Ina as agent for the proprieter. Copyright © 1963 by Martin Luther Kint Jr., copyright renewed 1991 by Coretta Scott King.


Holy and righteous God, you created us in your image. Grant us grace to contend fearlessly against evil and to make no peace with oppression. Help us, like your sen ant Martin Luther King, to use our freedom to bring justice among people and nations, to the glory of your Name; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.
BCP, rev. LBW, ELW Common of Renewers of Society

Readings: Exodus 3:7-12; Psalm 77:11-20 or 98:1-4; Romans 12:9-21; Luke 6:27-36
Hymn of the Day:Judge eternal, throned in splendor” (LBW 418, H82 596); “Lift every voice and sing” (LBW 562, LSB 964, ELW 841, H82 599) (the African American anthem)
Prayers: For peace For social justice; For grace to learn that voluntary suffering can be redemptive; For a quickening of the national conscience.
Preface: Baptism (BCP, LBW)
Color: Red

Benedict the African, Friar, 1589 (April 4)

About the Commemoration

St. Benedict the Black (Benedict the Moor) is remembered on this date on the Roman Catholic calendar, and on the calendar in Evangelical Lutheran Worship as Benedict the African.

Benedict was born near Messina, Italy, in 1526, the son of slaves who had been taken to Italy and later became Christians. He worked as a field hand until he was eighteen, when he was given his liberty. For the next ten years he made his living as a day laborer, sharing his meager wages with the poor and devoting much of his leisure time to the care of the sick. Although his race and his parents’ servitude made him the object of frequent ridicule, he bore the humiliation with impressive dignity. His gentle replies to his tormenters attracted the attention of Jerome Lanzi, a young man who had withdrawn from the world to imitate the life of Francis of Assisi. Benedict joined Jerome’s group of hermits. After Jerome died, Benedict reluctantly became their superior. When Pius IV directed all independent groups of hermits to affiliate with established religious orders, Benedict became a Franciscan lay brother. He worked for a number of years as a cook at the Friary of St. Mary of Jesus in Palermo. Domestic duties gave him opportunity to perform small acts of charity, well suited to his retiring nature.

In 1578 the illiterate lay brother was appointed guardian of the Friary, and he proved to be an ideal superior. His reputation for sanctity spread, and he chose to travel at night or in the daytime with his face covered. His ability to expound Scripture was impressive and his intuitive understanding of theological questions astonished scholars. Toward the end of his life he asked to be relieved of his duties as superior in order to return to the kitchen. He died at Palermo April 4, 1589, and was buried in the friary church. In 1611 the Spanish king Philip II donated to the church a shrine where Benedict’s remains continue to be venerated.

Benedict the Black may be commemorated in conjunction with Martin Luther King Jr., one set of propers serving for both. If a separate remembrance is desired, his commemoration may be transferred to the following day.
Excerpts from New Book of Festivals & Commemorations: A Proposed Common Calendar of Saints by Philip H. Pfatteicher, copyright, 2008 by Fortress Press, an imprint of Augsburg Fortress.

See also: Benedict the Moor
Preface: Saint (2)
Color: White

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.

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