Daniel 12:1–4 (Listen)
The Time of the End
12:1 “At that time shall arise Michael, the great prince who has charge of your people. And there shall be a time of trouble, such as never has been since there was a nation till that time. But at that time your people shall be delivered, everyone whose name shall be found written in the book. 2 And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt. 3 And those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the sky above; and those who turn many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever. 4 But you, Daniel, shut up the words and seal the book, until the time of the end. Many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall increase.”
Daniel 12:13 (Listen)
13 But go your way till the end. And you shall rest and shall stand in your allotted place at the end of the days.”
Acts 4:1–12 (Listen)
Peter and John Before the Council
4:1 And as they were speaking to the people, the priests and the captain of the temple and the Sadducees came upon them, 2 greatly annoyed because they were teaching the people and proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection from the dead. 3 And they arrested them and put them in custody until the next day, for it was already evening. 4 But many of those who had heard the word believed, and the number of the men came to about five thousand.
5 On the next day their rulers and elders and scribes gathered together in Jerusalem, 6 with Annas the high priest and Caiaphas and John and Alexander, and all who were of the high-priestly family. 7 And when they had set them in the midst, they inquired, “By what power or by what name did you do this?” 8 Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, “Rulers of the people and elders, 9 if we are being examined today concerning a good deed done to a crippled man, by what means this man has been healed, 10 let it be known to all of you and to all the people of Israel that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead—by him this man is standing before you well. 11 This Jesus is the stone that was rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone. 12 And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”
John 16:1–15 (Listen)
16:1 “I have said all these things to you to keep you from falling away. 2 They will put you out of the synagogues. Indeed, the hour is coming when whoever kills you will think he is offering service to God. 3 And they will do these things because they have not known the Father, nor me. 4 But I have said these things to you, that when their hour comes you may remember that I told them to you.
The Work of the Holy Spirit
“I did not say these things to you from the beginning, because I was with you. 5 But now I am going to him who sent me, and none of you asks me, ‘Where are you going?’ 6 But because I have said these things to you, sorrow has filled your heart. 7 Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you. 8 And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment: 9 concerning sin, because they do not believe in me; 10 concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you will see me no longer; 11 concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged.
12 “I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. 13 When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. 14 He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you. 15 All that the Father has is mine; therefore I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you.
Psalm 96 (Listen)
Worship in the Splendor of Holiness
96:1 Oh sing to the LORD a new song;
sing to the LORD, all the earth!
2 Sing to the LORD, bless his name;
tell of his salvation from day to day.
3 Declare his glory among the nations,
his marvelous works among all the peoples!
4 For great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised;
he is to be feared above all gods.
5 For all the gods of the peoples are worthless idols,
but the LORD made the heavens.
6 Splendor and majesty are before him;
strength and beauty are in his sanctuary.
7 Ascribe to the LORD, O families of the peoples,
ascribe to the LORD glory and strength!
8 Ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name;
bring an offering, and come into his courts!
9 Worship the LORD in the splendor of holiness;
tremble before him, all the earth!
10 Say among the nations, “The LORD reigns!
Yes, the world is established; it shall never be moved;
he will judge the peoples with equity.”
11 Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice;
let the sea roar, and all that fills it;
12 let the field exult, and everything in it!
Then shall all the trees of the forest sing for joy
13 before the LORD, for he comes,
for he comes to judge the earth.
He will judge the world in righteousness,
and the peoples in his faithfulness.
Psalm 148 (Listen)
Praise the Name of the Lord
148:1 Praise the LORD!
Praise the LORD from the heavens;
praise him in the heights!
2 Praise him, all his angels;
praise him, all his hosts!
3 Praise him, sun and moon,
praise him, all you shining stars!
4 Praise him, you highest heavens,
and you waters above the heavens!
5 Let them praise the name of the LORD!
For he commanded and they were created.
6 And he established them forever and ever;
he gave a decree, and it shall not pass away.
7 Praise the LORD from the earth,
you great sea creatures and all deeps,
8 fire and hail, snow and mist,
stormy wind fulfilling his word!
9 Mountains and all hills,
fruit trees and all cedars!
10 Beasts and all livestock,
creeping things and flying birds!
11 Kings of the earth and all peoples,
princes and all rulers of the earth!
12 Young men and maidens together,
old men and children!
13 Let them praise the name of the LORD,
for his name alone is exalted;
his majesty is above earth and heaven.
14 He has raised up a horn for his people,
praise for all his saints,
for the people of Israel who are near to him.
Praise the LORD!
Psalm 49 (Listen)
Why Should I Fear in Times of Trouble?
To the choirmaster. A Psalm of the Sons of Korah.
49:1 Hear this, all peoples!
Give ear, all inhabitants of the world,
2 both low and high,
rich and poor together!
3 My mouth shall speak wisdom;
the meditation of my heart shall be understanding.
4 I will incline my ear to a proverb;
I will solve my riddle to the music of the lyre.
5 Why should I fear in times of trouble,
when the iniquity of those who cheat me surrounds me,
6 those who trust in their wealth
and boast of the abundance of their riches?
7 Truly no man can ransom another,
or give to God the price of his life,
8 for the ransom of their life is costly
and can never suffice,
9 that he should live on forever
and never see the pit.
10 For he sees that even the wise die;
the fool and the stupid alike must perish
and leave their wealth to others.
11 Their graves are their homes forever,
their dwelling places to all generations,
though they called lands by their own names.
12 Man in his pomp will not remain;
he is like the beasts that perish.
13 This is the path of those who have foolish confidence;
yet after them people approve of their boasts. Selah
14 Like sheep they are appointed for Sheol;
death shall be their shepherd,
and the upright shall rule over them in the morning.
Their form shall be consumed in Sheol, with no place to dwell.
15 But God will ransom my soul from the power of Sheol,
for he will receive me. Selah
16 Be not afraid when a man becomes rich,
when the glory of his house increases.
17 For when he dies he will carry nothing away;
his glory will not go down after him.
18 For though, while he lives, he counts himself blessed
—and though you get praise when you do well for yourself—
19 his soul will go to the generation of his fathers,
who will never again see light.
20 Man in his pomp yet without understanding is like the beasts that perish.
Psalm 138 (Listen)
Give Thanks to the Lord
138:1 I give you thanks, O LORD, with my whole heart;
before the gods I sing your praise;
2 I bow down toward your holy temple
and give thanks to your name for your steadfast love and your faithfulness,
for you have exalted above all things
your name and your word.
3 On the day I called, you answered me;
my strength of soul you increased.
4 All the kings of the earth shall give you thanks, O LORD,
for they have heard the words of your mouth,
5 and they shall sing of the ways of the LORD,
for great is the glory of the LORD.
6 For though the LORD is high, he regards the lowly,
but the haughty he knows from afar.
7 Though I walk in the midst of trouble,
you preserve my life;
you stretch out your hand against the wrath of my enemies,
and your right hand delivers me.
8 The LORD will fulfill his purpose for me;
your steadfast love, O LORD, endures forever.
Do not forsake the work of your hands.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Teacher, Martyr, 1945 (April 9)
About the Commemoration
Dietrich Bonhoeffer was born in Breslau February 4,1906, and grew up in the university circles of Berlin, where his father Karl was professor of psychiatry and neurolog)’. He studied at the universities of Berlin and Tubingen from 1923 to 1927; his doctoral thesis was published in 1930 as Communio Sanctorum (“The Communion of Saints”). From 1928 to 1933 he was the assistant pastor of a German-speaking congregation in Barcelona. He then spent a year as an exchange student at Union Seminary in New York City and returned to Germany in 1931 to lecture in systematic theology at the University of Berlin.
From the first days of the Nazi accession to power in 1933, Bonhoeffer was involved in protests against the regime, especially its anti-Semitism. From 1933 to 1935 he was the pastor of two small German congregations in London but nonetheless was a leading spokesman for the Confessing Church, the center of Protestant resistance to the Nazis. In 1935 Bonhoeffer was appointed to organize and head a new seminary at Finkenwald, which continued in a disguised form until 1940. He described the community in Life Together (1939; English translation 1954, 1997). Out of his struggle also came his best-known book, The Cost of Discipleship (1948; English translation 1959, 2001), which attacked the notion of “cheap grace,” an unlimited offer of forgiveness that masked moral laxity.
The Bishop of Chichester, G. K. A. Bell, became interested in efforts to interpret the Church struggle (Kirchenkampf) and became a friend of Bonhoeffer. Bonhoeffer’s own involvement became increasingly political after 1939, when his brother-in-law introduced him to the group seeking Hitler’s overthrow. In 1939 Bonhoeffer considered refuge in the United States, but he returned to Germany where he was able to continue his resistance as an employee of the Military Intelligence Department, which was a center of resistance. In May of 1942 he flew to Sweden to meet Bishop Bell and convey through him to the British government proposals for a negotiated peace. The Allies rejected the offer, who insisted upon unconditional surrender.
Bonhoeffer was arrested April 5, 1943, and imprisoned in Berlin (he had just announced his engagement to be married). After an attempt on Hitler’s life failed April 9, 1944, documents were discovered linking Bonhoeffer to the conspiracy. He was taken to Buchenwald concentration camp, then to Schönberg prison. On Sunday, April 8, 1945, just as he concluded a service in a school building in Schönberg in the Bavarian forest, two men came in with the chilling summons, “Prisoner Bonhoeffer, come with us.” As he left, he said to Payne Best, an English prisoner who described the event in The Venlo Incident, “This is the end. For me, the beginning of life.” Bonhoeffer was hanged the next day, April 9, 1945, at Flossenburg prison.
When Bonhoeffer was included on the calendar in the Lutheran Book of Worship he was not described as a martyr because of some hesitation both in Germany and in America, since he was killed not for his adherence to the Christian faith but for his political activities against the German government. In Lesser Feasts and Fasts, which now lists him, he is called “Pastor and Theologian” but not “Martyr.” The reluctance to call him a martyr, however, has largely dissipated in the face of the recognition that his resistance was rooted clearly in his Christian commitment. (A Berlin court ruled in 1996 that Bonhoeffer was innocent of high treason.) The German Evangelical Calendar of Names lists him as “Martyr in the Church Struggle,” and there is in Bonhoeffer’s life a remarkable unity of faith, prayer, writing, and action. The pacifist theologian came to accept the guilt of plotting the death of Hitler because he was convinced that not to do so would be a greater evil. Discipleship was to be had only at great cost.
Bonhoeffer was included on the calendar in the Lutheran Book of Worship and was added to the Episcopal calendar in Lesser Feasts and Fasts 1997, and is on the calendar in the Methodist book For All the Saints.
In remembering key figures in important religious and social movements such as Bonhoeffer or Martin Luther King Jr., one needs to keep in mind that these people are representatives who both clarify and have been nourished by the struggle of countless more obscure people who were no less brave in their witness.
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: Dietrich Bonhoeffer
From a letter by Dietrich Bonhoeffer
I often ask myself why a “Christian instinct” often draws me more to the religionless people than to the religious, by which I don’t in the least mean with any evangelizing intention, but, I might almost say, “in brotherhood.” While I’m often reluctant to mention God by name to religious people—because that name somehow seems to me here not to ring true, and I feel myself to be slightly dishonest (it’s particularly bad when others start to talk in religious jargon; I then dry up almost completely and feel awkward and uncomfortable)—to people with no religion 1 can on occasion mention him by name quite calmly and as a matter of course. Religious people speak of God when human knowledge (perhaps simply because they are too lazy to think) has come to an end, or when human resources fail—in fact it is always the deus ex machina that they bring on the scene, either for the apparent solution of insoluble problems, or as strength in human failure—always, that is to say, exploiting human weakness or human boundaries. Of necessity, that can go on only till people can by their own strength push those boundaries somewhat further out, so that God becomes superfluous as a deus ex machina. I’ve come to be doubtful of talking about any human boundaries (is even death, which people now hardly fear, and is sin, which they now hardly understand, still a genuine boundary today?). It always seems to me that we are trying anxiously in this way to reserve some space for God; I should like to speak of God not on the boundaries but at the center, not in weakness but in strength; and therefore not in death and guilt but in man’s life and goodness. As to the boundaries, it seems to me better to be silent and leave the insoluble unsolved. Belief in the resurrection is not the “solution” of the problem of death. God’s “beyond” is not the beyond of our cognitive faculties. The transcendence of epistemological theory has nothing to do with the transcendence of God. God is beyond in the midst of our life. The church stands, not at the boundaries where human powers give out, but in the middle of the village. That is how it is in the Old Testament, and in this sense we still read the New Testament far too little in the light of the Old. How this religionless Christianity looks, what form it takes, is something that I’m thinking about a great deal, and I shall be writing to you again about it soon. It may be that on us in particular, midway between East and West, there will fall a heavy responsibility.
From a letter to Eberhard Bethge (30 April 1944) from Tegel prison, in Letters and Papers from Prison, enlarged ed., ed. Eberhard Bethge (New York: Macmillan, 1971), 281-82.
Gracious Lord, the Christian faith of your servant Dietrich Bonhoeffer impelled him to defy the forces of darkness, to protest the evil of anti-Semitism, and finally, fearing not death but rather the greater evil of tolerating oppression, to lay down his life in witness to your rule: Grant us the same Spirit of courage to resist tyranny in all its forms and the strength to follow Christ into unfamiliar places, knowing that, whether we live or die, we are with you; through your Son Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.
Readings: Proverbs 3:1-7; Psalm 119:89-96; Revelation 6:9-11; Matthew 13:47-52
Hymn of the Day: “God of grace and God of glory” (H82 594, 595; LBW 415, LSB 850, ELW 705)
Prayers: For a deepened discipleship; For courage to resist tyranny in all its forms; For strength to pay the price of following Christ into places where we are beyond familiar rules; For those whose names are not remembered who with Bonhoeffer resisted tyranny.
Preface: A Saint (3) (BCP)
Holocaust Remembrance Day (Yom HaShoah) (Nisan 27)
About the Commemoration
Yom Hashoah/יום השואה (or Yom HaShoah), the remembrance Day of the Holocaust, is observed by the Jews on the 27th of the lunar month Nisan, the anniversary of the uprising in the Warsaw Ghetto. The date, after the celebration of Passover but within the time of the Warsaw Uprising and also the anniversary of the liberation of the death camp at Buchenwald (27 Nisan 5705 = 10 April 1945), was set aside by the Israeli Knesset on April 12, 1951, as a day of mourning for the victims of the Holocaust. The Lutheran Book of Worship (p. 39) notes the desirability of the observance of the day by Christians as well as Jews. On the Gregorian calendar in common use, 27 Nisan falls in the latter part of April or early May. It may be necessary for Christians to move the observance to a later date when it falls during Easter Week. Lesser Feasts and Fasts 2006 of the Episcopal Church has added, on April 24, Genocide Remembrance 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.
From an essay by Elie Wiesel
I admit it sadly: I feel threatened. For the first time in many years I feel that I am in danger. For the first time in my adult life I am afraid that the nightmare may start all over again, or that it has never ended, that since 1945 we have lived in parenthesis. Now they are closed.
Could the Holocaust happen again? Over the years I have often put the question to my young students. And they, consistently, have answered yes, while I said no. I saw it as a unique event that would remain unique. I believed that if mankind had learned anything from it, it was that hate and murder reach beyond the direct participants; he who begins by killing others, in the end, will kill his own. Without Auschwitz, Hiroshima would not have been possible. The murder of one people inevitably leads to that of mankind.
In my naïveté I thought, especially in the immediate postwar period, Jews would never again be singled out, handed over to the executioner. That anti-Semitism had received its deathblow long ago, under the fiery skies of Poland. I was somehow convinced that—paradoxically—man would be shielded, protected by the awesome mystery of the Event.
I was wrong. What happened once, could happen again. Perhaps I am exaggerating. Perhaps I am oversensitive. But then I belong to a traumatized generation. We have learned to take threats more seriously than promises.
…I have chosen until now to place the Holocaust on a mystical or ontological level, one that defies language and transcends imagination. I have quarreled with friends who built entire theories and doctrines on an event which, in my view, is not to be used or approached casually. If I speak of it now, it is only because of my realization that Jewish survival is being called into question.
Hence the fear in me. All of a sudden, I am too much reminded of past experiences. The enemy growing more and more powerful, more and more popular. The aggressiveness of the blackmailers, the permissiveness of some leaders and the total submissiveness of others. The overt threats. The complacency and indifference of bystanders. I feel as my father must have felt when he was my age.
Not that I foresee the possibility of Jews being massacred in the cities of America or in the forests of Europe. Death-factories will not be built again. But there is a certain climate, a certain mood in the making. As far as the Jewish people are concerned, the world has remained unchanged: as indifferent to our fate as to its own.
And so I look at my young students and tremble for their future; I set myself at their age surrounded by ruins. What am I to tell them?
I would like to be able to tell them that in spit of endless disillusionments one must maintain faith in man and in mankind; that one must never lost heart. I would like to tell them that, notwithstanding the official discourses and policies, our people does have friends and allies and reasons to advocate hope. But I have never lied to them, I am not going to begin now. And yet….
Despair is no solution, I know that. What is the solution? Hitler had one. And he tried it while a civilized world kept silent.
I remember. And I am afraid.
Elie Wiesel, “Ominous Signs and Unspeakable Thoughts,” The New York Times, December 28, 1974. © 1974 by the New York Times Company. Reprinted by permission.
Almighty God, in penitence we come before you, acknowledging the sin that is within us. We share the guilt of those who, bearing the name Christian, slay their fellow human beings because of race or faith or nation. Whether killing or standing silent while others kill, we crucify our Lord anew. Forgive us and change us by your love, that your Word of hope may be heard clearly throughout the world; through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.
Readings: Nehemiah 1:4-11a; Psalm 6; 1 John 1:5-2:2; Luke 15:11-32
Hymn of the Day: “When in the hour of deepest need” (LBW 303, LSB 615)
Prayers: For a remembrance of the Holocaust so that it will never happen again; For the Jewish people that they remain faithful to the ancient covenant and learn of the new covenant; For tolerance and understanding; For an appreciation of the rich fabric of human society.
Preface: Lent (LBW/ELW) or Weekdays
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.