Home > Reading > Daily Reading – December 7, 2022

Wednesday of the Second Week in Advent

“Let him who is without sin cast the first stone” (John 8:7). Those words are proverbial. To cast stones is a figurative way of saying that we are judging someone. Jesus was not a stone caster. God did not send his Son into the world in order to condemn the world, but in order to save the world (John 3:17). Jesus came to find lost coins, lost sheep, lost sons and daughters, lost sinners, and lost scribes and Pharisees too!You may know that the story of the woman caught in the very act of adultery is not found in the best and earliest manuscripts we have of John’s Gospel. In some modern translations there are usually brackets around the story in order to indicate this textual difficulty. Fortunately, the Holy Spirit guided the Church to put this remarkable story in the John’s Gospel. This shouldn’t surprise us. John ends his Gospel saying that Jesus did many other things that are not recorded in his Gospel.
An adulterous woman is brought to Jesus. Of course, we wonder where the adulterous man was! She certainly didn’t commit adultery alone. But, it’s a group of men, scribes and Pharisees, who bring her to Jesus. They remind Jesus what the Bible says. The Law was clear. She should be stoned for her sin in order to rid the community of this attack on moral decency.  Of course, it’s a trap.  Did Jesus “really” believe the Bible? Would He uphold the Law?
Jesus kneels down and begins to write in the dirt. What did He write? No one knows for certain, but if we know Jesus, then maybe we can take a guess. Maybe He was just writing His name. After all, Jesus means “the Lord saves”.  I imagine Him kneeling in the dirt and reflecting on His mission to be the Agent of God’s Salvation.
Jesus’ response to the religious leaders is absolutely brilliant. To paraphrase, He says, “Okay, go ahead and stone her.” That’s what the Bible says. But, here’s the deal: “Let the person without sin throw the first stone.”
Then He kneels down and begins writing in the dirt again. The scribes and Pharisees are silent. Then, beginning with the oldest, they melt away. Jesus does not condemn anyone. That’s not why He came.
The Angel of the Lord said to Joseph: “You shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21).  I’ve good news for you. Jesus Christ came to save all sinners — the unrighteous and the self-righteous.
The greatest gift we can ever receive is the gift of God’s forgiveness. Then, by God’s grace, we can put down our stones and begin to forgive as we have been forgiven.

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, the power and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen.

Devotion written by The Rev. Dr. Eric M. Riesen

“Ambrose, Bishop of Milan, 397”

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 several challenging years 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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