4:9 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.
– Hebrews 4:9
3:16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.
– John 3:16-17
What keeps you up at night? Do you ever toss and turn because your mind is racing from one concern to the next? I’m reminded of the old Scottish children’s rhyme about being kept awake by “ghoulies and ghosties and long-leggedy beasties and things that go bump in the night.” Martin Luther was a man who often struggled with what he called “Anfechtungen.” These were “assaults” and condemnations that came against him and left him restless both spiritually and physically. We also know what it’s like to lie awake under the word of condemnation. Unable to sleep because our noses are rubbed into every failure, regret, sin, embarrassment, criticism, grief or worry which continue to plague us.
Rest is a gift, and a necessity. We need rest for our mental, spiritual and physical health. Yet, when I can’t sleep, I personally find it impossible to “will” myself to do so. This is the reason melatonin and other “sleep aids” are so common. The Bible tells us that even God rested after the labor of creating the universe (Genesis 2:3). I don’t know for certain what to make of that. Is this telling us something about God or about we who are created in His image? Or both?
Evidently, incessant, unrelenting and unceasing activity is not an attribute of the inner, triune life of God. On the contrary, it is the devil who is ceaselessly active. The great psychologist Carl Jung once said, “Hurry isn’t of the devil. It is the devil.” This is why God commanded the Sabbath. God gave the Sabbath to us as a gift. “The Sabbath was made for man” says our Lord (Mark 2:27). The Book of Hebrews says that faith is the means by which we enter God’s sabbath rest. Faith is not work, but rest. And the works of faith are not feverishly done to earn merit before a stern Master. The works of faith are restful, joyful, peaceful, graceful and filled with love.
Dear friends, in order to rest we need to hear the Gospel again and again: “God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him” (John 3:17).
Prayer: O God of goodness and grace, You gave Your Son so that I could be free of condemnation. Help me to rest in the certainty of Your love and mercy. Amen.
Lenten Response: This Lent take some time to slow down and rest. Prayerfully repeat, “God did not send Jesus to condemn me, but to save me.” Take time, take a walk, take a break and let Jesus save you from hurry, worry and “ghoulies and ghosties and long-leggedy beasties and everything that goes bump in the night.”
Devotion written by the Rev. Dr. Eric Riesen
Deuteronomy 9:23–10:5 (Listen)
23 And when the LORD sent you from Kadesh-barnea, saying, ‘Go up and take possession of the land that I have given you,’ then you rebelled against the commandment of the LORD your God and did not believe him or obey his voice. 24 You have been rebellious against the LORD from the day that I knew you.
25 “So I lay prostrate before the LORD for these forty days and forty nights, because the LORD had said he would destroy you. 26 And I prayed to the LORD, ‘O Lord GOD, do not destroy your people and your heritage, whom you have redeemed through your greatness, whom you have brought out of Egypt with a mighty hand. 27 Remember your servants, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Do not regard the stubbornness of this people, or their wickedness or their sin, 28 lest the land from which you brought us say, “Because the LORD was not able to bring them into the land that he promised them, and because he hated them, he has brought them out to put them to death in the wilderness.” 29 For they are your people and your heritage, whom you brought out by your great power and by your outstretched arm.’
New Tablets of Stone
10:1 “At that time the LORD said to me, ‘Cut for yourself two tablets of stone like the first, and come up to me on the mountain and make an ark of wood. 2 And I will write on the tablets the words that were on the first tablets that you broke, and you shall put them in the ark.’ 3 So I made an ark of acacia wood, and cut two tablets of stone like the first, and went up the mountain with the two tablets in my hand. 4 And he wrote on the tablets, in the same writing as before, the Ten Commandments that the LORD had spoken to you on the mountain out of the midst of the fire on the day of the assembly. And the LORD gave them to me. 5 Then I turned and came down from the mountain and put the tablets in the ark that I had made. And there they are, as the LORD commanded me.”
Hebrews 4:1–10 (Listen)
4:1 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, 7 again 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.
John 3:16–21 (Listen)
For God So Loved the World
16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. 19 And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. 20 For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. 21 But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.”
Psalm 27 (Listen)
The Lord Is My Light and My Salvation
27:1 The LORD is my light and my salvation;
whom shall I fear?
The LORD is the stronghold of my life;
of whom shall I be afraid?
2 When evildoers assail me
to eat up my flesh,
my adversaries and foes,
it is they who stumble and fall.
3 Though an army encamp against me,
my heart shall not fear;
though war arise against me,
yet I will be confident.
4 One thing have I asked of the LORD,
that will I seek after:
that I may dwell in the house of the LORD
all the days of my life,
to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD
and to inquire in his temple.
5 For he will hide me in his shelter
in the day of trouble;
he will conceal me under the cover of his tent;
he will lift me high upon a rock.
6 And now my head shall be lifted up
above my enemies all around me,
and I will offer in his tent
sacrifices with shouts of joy;
I will sing and make melody to the LORD.
7 Hear, O LORD, when I cry aloud;
be gracious to me and answer me!
8 You have said, “Seek my face.”
My heart says to you,
“Your face, LORD, do I seek.”
9 Hide not your face from me.
Turn not your servant away in anger,
O you who have been my help.
Cast me not off; forsake me not,
O God of my salvation!
10 For my father and my mother have forsaken me,
but the LORD will take me in.
11 Teach me your way, O LORD,
and lead me on a level path
because of my enemies.
12 Give me not up to the will of my adversaries;
for false witnesses have risen against me,
and they breathe out violence.
13 I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the LORD
in the land of the living!
14 Wait for the LORD;
be strong, and let your heart take courage;
wait for the LORD!
Psalm 147:13–20 (Listen)
13 For he strengthens the bars of your gates;
he blesses your children within you.
14 He makes peace in your borders;
he fills you with the finest of the wheat.
15 He sends out his command to the earth;
his word runs swiftly.
16 He gives snow like wool;
he scatters frost like ashes.
17 He hurls down his crystals of ice like crumbs;
who can stand before his cold?
18 He sends out his word, and melts them;
he makes his wind blow and the waters flow.
19 He declares his word to Jacob,
his statutes and rules to Israel.
20 He has not dealt thus with any other nation;
they do not know his rules.
Praise the LORD!
Psalm 126 (Listen)
Restore Our Fortunes, O Lord
A Song of Ascents.
126:1 When the LORD restored the fortunes of Zion,
we were like those who dream.
2 Then our mouth was filled with laughter,
and our tongue with shouts of joy;
then they said among the nations,
“The LORD has done great things for them.”
3 The LORD has done great things for us;
we are glad.
4 Restore our fortunes, O LORD,
like streams in the Negeb!
5 Those who sow in tears
shall reap with shouts of joy!
6 He who goes out weeping,
bearing the seed for sowing,
shall come home with shouts of joy,
bringing his sheaves with him.
Psalm 102 (Listen)
Do Not Hide Your Face from Me
A Prayer of one afflicted, when he is faint and pours out his complaint before the LORD.
102:1 Hear my prayer, O LORD;
let my cry come to you!
2 Do not hide your face from me
in the day of my distress!
Incline your ear to me;
answer me speedily in the day when I call!
3 For my days pass away like smoke,
and my bones burn like a furnace.
4 My heart is struck down like grass and has withered;
I forget to eat my bread.
5 Because of my loud groaning
my bones cling to my flesh.
6 I am like a desert owl of the wilderness,
like an owl of the waste places;
7 I lie awake;
I am like a lonely sparrow on the housetop.
8 All the day my enemies taunt me;
those who deride me use my name for a curse.
9 For I eat ashes like bread
and mingle tears with my drink,
10 because of your indignation and anger;
for you have taken me up and thrown me down.
11 My days are like an evening shadow;
I wither away like grass.
12 But you, O LORD, are enthroned forever;
you are remembered throughout all generations.
13 You will arise and have pity on Zion;
it is the time to favor her;
the appointed time has come.
14 For your servants hold her stones dear
and have pity on her dust.
15 Nations will fear the name of the LORD,
and all the kings of the earth will fear your glory.
16 For the LORD builds up Zion;
he appears in his glory;
17 he regards the prayer of the destitute
and does not despise their prayer.
18 Let this be recorded for a generation to come,
so that a people yet to be created may praise the LORD:
19 that he looked down from his holy height;
from heaven the LORD looked at the earth,
20 to hear the groans of the prisoners,
to set free those who were doomed to die,
21 that they may declare in Zion the name of the LORD,
and in Jerusalem his praise,
22 when peoples gather together,
and kingdoms, to worship the LORD.
23 He has broken my strength in midcourse;
he has shortened my days.
24 “O my God,” I say, “take me not away
in the midst of my days—
you whose years endure
throughout all generations!”
25 Of old you laid the foundation of the earth,
and the heavens are the work of your hands.
26 They will perish, but you will remain;
they will all wear out like a garment.
You will change them like a robe, and they will pass away,
27 but you are the same, and your years have no end.
28 The children of your servants shall dwell secure;
their offspring shall be established before you.
Elizabeth Fedde, 1921; Emma Francis, 1945; Deaconesses (February 25)
About the Commemoration
Elizabeth Fedde was born on Christmas Day, 1850, at Feda, near Flekkefjord, Norway. At age nineteen, after the death of both her parents, she entered deaconess training at Lovisenberg Deaconess House under the supervision of Mother Katinka Guldberg, who had been trained at Fliedner’s Motherhouse at Kaiserswerth, Germany. Following her training she began work in the state hospital blazing a path for trained, professional nursing sisters. During a typhoid epidemic in 1877 she nursed a young typhoid victim back to health. In the following year she founded a hospital in a remote area of northern Norway. A serious illness forced her to recuperate at the home of relatives. There, on her thirty-second birthday, Christmas Day, 1882, Sister Elizabeth received a letter asking her to come to New York and take up a ministry to the Norwegian seamen in port and on the ships in the harbor. “You can come immediately if you dare, can, and will take on this work.” The letter was written by Gabriel Fedde, then the secretary to the Norwegian seamen’s pastor, Mr. Mortensen. Sister Elizabeth, with no knowledge of the English language, accepted the challenge and left Christiana on March 25,1883, and arrived in New York on April 9.
The work of the Norwegian deaconesses was officially established in America at a meeting held in Pastor Mortensen’s home April 19,1883, under the name of the Norwegian Relief Society. That work had its beginning in three small rooms (rented at $9 per month) at 109 Williams Street, next to the Seamen’s Church and was marked by a service in that church June 11,1883. Sister Elizabeth established a six-bed hospital that was to become a large medical center in Brooklyn. In 1885 the Deaconess House in Brooklyn was opened. The condition of the Norwegian immigrants to whom she ministered was indescribable; physical and mental illness, financial and spiritual poverty, abounded. In addition to her work with Norwegian seamen, she visited Ward Island Immigrant Hospital, founded homes for widows and orphans, collected and distributed food and clothing to the poor, made burial arrangements, taught Sunday school, solicited funds for ship fares for the disillusioned who wanted to return home.
Sister Elizabeth also established the Lutheran Deaconess Home and Hospital of the Lutheran Free Church in Minneapolis in 1889. Sister Elizabeth, plagued by ill health, returned to Norway in November 1895. There she married, and lived for nearly twenty-five years. She died at her home, Slettebo, Egersund, on February 25, 1921.
It is appropriate to remember with Sister Elizabeth another deaconess, one who devoted her entire life to the diaconate and who shows its wide-ranging influence. Emma Hermina Francesca Francis, of African ancestry, was born in the British West Indies in 1875 and was educated in Antigua and in Germany. In 1908 she opened an orphanage, the Ebenezer Home for Girls, in Frederiskted on the island of St. Croix in the Virgin Islands. When the Virgin Islands passed from Danish control to the United States in 1917, she became associated with the Philadelphia Motherhouse of Deaconesses, and in 1922, at the age of forty-seven, she was consecrated a deaconess by the Philadelphia Motherhouse. As a canvasser for the West Indies Mission Board, Sister Emma helped found the Lutheran Church of the Transfiguration on 126th Street in New York City where she served as a parish worker for five years. In 1926 Sister Edith Prince, the second deaconess of African descent, joined the staff. In 1927 Sister Emma returned to Frederiksted, and at the Queen Louise Home resumed her work with children. So effective was her work and so great was the people’s love for her that the attendance at her funeral in April 1945 was one of the largest on record in the Virgin Islands. The relationship between the Lutheran Virgin Islanders and parishes in New York City remains strong.
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: Elizabeth Fedde
From Light of Christ by Evelyn Underhill
The Triumphant Church is not a collection of pious people with robes washed white—it is the whole of life’s energy running right, sublimated and woven into the loving self-expression of God—it is the Kingdom of Heaven. Its frontiers must stretch till they embrace the whole Universe in its power, mystery, beauty and bring it under the rule of Christ, the intellectual radiance full of love. For the work of the Incarnation, as St. Paul saw it, is not finished till the whole of the created order is filled with God and, at the heart of the universe, ruling it in its most majestic sweep and its homeliest detail, we find His uttered Word, His love….
And you and I are committed as baptized Christians, to what has been given His deep and touching earthly revelation, to the steady loyal effort, in our own small place and way, towards bringing that mounting vision a little nearer completeness, bringing a little more of that Kingdom in. Each faithful upward glance, each movement of trust, each act of selfless love, helps it on. A time such as we have had here is only justified if it brings that mounting vision into focus again; reminds us of what it means to be Inheritors of Heaven. The Hallowing of the whole Universe, physical, mental, and spiritual in all its grades, the infinitely great and the infinitely small, giving our lives at whatever cost to the helping of the fulfillment of their sacramental promise—we must take sides in some way for that, because we are the Children of God.
Evelyn Underhill, The Light of Christ (London: Longmans, 1945), 74-75, 91-92, 64, 27-28, 28-29, 82-83. Reprinted by permission of Wipfand Stock Publishers.
Lord God, your Son came among us to serve and not to be served, and to give his life for the world: By his love, reflected in the sacrifice of your servants Elizabeth Fedde and Emma Francis, encourage us to serve those to whom the world offers no comfort and little help, giving hope to the hopeless, love to the unloved, peace to the troubled, and rest to the weary; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit one God, now and forever.
LBW Common of Renewers of Society, rev. PHP
Readings: Hosea 2:18-23; Psalm 94:1-14; Romans 12:9-21; Luke 6:20-36
Hymn of the Day: “Lord of glory, you have bought us” (LBW 424, LSB 851, ELW 707)
Prayers: For the spirit of selfless service; For sailors and mariners; For the sick, the needy, the forgotten; For those who minister to those in need; For the liberation of women and men everywhere from bondage to stereotypes.
Preface: Baptism (BCP, LBW)
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.