Isaiah 41:17–29 (Listen)
17 When the poor and needy seek water,
and there is none,
and their tongue is parched with thirst,
I the LORD will answer them;
I the God of Israel will not forsake them.
18 I will open rivers on the bare heights,
and fountains in the midst of the valleys.
I will make the wilderness a pool of water,
and the dry land springs of water.
19 I will put in the wilderness the cedar,
the acacia, the myrtle, and the olive.
I will set in the desert the cypress,
the plane and the pine together,
20 that they may see and know,
may consider and understand together,
that the hand of the LORD has done this,
the Holy One of Israel has created it.
The Futility of Idols
21 Set forth your case, says the LORD;
bring your proofs, says the King of Jacob.
22 Let them bring them, and tell us
what is to happen.
Tell us the former things, what they are,
that we may consider them,
that we may know their outcome;
or declare to us the things to come.
23 Tell us what is to come hereafter,
that we may know that you are gods;
do good, or do harm,
that we may be dismayed and terrified.
24 Behold, you are nothing,
and your work is less than nothing;
an abomination is he who chooses you.
25 I stirred up one from the north, and he has come,
from the rising of the sun, and he shall call upon my name;
he shall trample on rulers as on mortar,
as the potter treads clay.
26 Who declared it from the beginning, that we might know,
and beforehand, that we might say, “He is right”?
There was none who declared it, none who proclaimed,
none who heard your words.
27 I was the first to say to Zion, “Behold, here they are!”
and I give to Jerusalem a herald of good news.
28 But when I look, there is no one;
among these there is no counselor
who, when I ask, gives an answer.
29 Behold, they are all a delusion;
their works are nothing;
their metal images are empty wind.
Ephesians 2:11–22 (Listen)
One in Christ
11 Therefore remember that at one time you Gentiles in the flesh, called “the uncircumcision” by what is called the circumcision, which is made in the flesh by hands—12 remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. 13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. 14 For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility 15 by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, 16 and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility. 17 And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near. 18 For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father. 19 So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, 20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, 21 in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. 22 In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.
Mark 2:1–12 (Listen)
Jesus Heals a Paralytic
2:1 And when he returned to Capernaum after some days, it was reported that he was at home. 2 And many were gathered together, so that there was no more room, not even at the door. And he was preaching the word to them. 3 And they came, bringing to him a paralytic carried by four men. 4 And when they could not get near him because of the crowd, they removed the roof above him, and when they had made an opening, they let down the bed on which the paralytic lay. 5 And when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven.” 6 Now some of the scribes were sitting there, questioning in their hearts, 7 “Why does this man speak like that? He is blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?” 8 And immediately Jesus, perceiving in his spirit that they thus questioned within themselves, said to them, “Why do you question these things in your hearts? 9 Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise, take up your bed and walk’? 10 But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—he said to the paralytic—11 “I say to you, rise, pick up your bed, and go home.” 12 And he rose and immediately picked up his bed and went out before them all, so that they were all amazed and glorified God, saying, “We never saw anything like this!”
Psalm 36 (Listen)
How Precious Is Your Steadfast Love
To the choirmaster. Of David, the servant of the LORD.
36:1 Transgression speaks to the wicked
deep in his heart;
there is no fear of God
before his eyes.
2 For he flatters himself in his own eyes
that his iniquity cannot be found out and hated.
3 The words of his mouth are trouble and deceit;
he has ceased to act wisely and do good.
4 He plots trouble while on his bed;
he sets himself in a way that is not good;
he does not reject evil.
5 Your steadfast love, O LORD, extends to the heavens,
your faithfulness to the clouds.
6 Your righteousness is like the mountains of God;
your judgments are like the great deep;
man and beast you save, O LORD.
7 How precious is your steadfast love, O God!
The children of mankind take refuge in the shadow of your wings.
8 They feast on the abundance of your house,
and you give them drink from the river of your delights.
9 For with you is the fountain of life;
in your light do we see light.
10 Oh, continue your steadfast love to those who know you,
and your righteousness to the upright of heart!
11 Let not the foot of arrogance come upon me,
nor the hand of the wicked drive me away.
12 There the evildoers lie fallen;
they are thrust down, unable to rise.
Psalm 147:2–13 (Listen)
2 The LORD builds up Jerusalem;
he gathers the outcasts of Israel.
3 He heals the brokenhearted
and binds up their wounds.
4 He determines the number of the stars;
he gives to all of them their names.
5 Great is our Lord, and abundant in power;
his understanding is beyond measure.
6 The LORD lifts up the humble;
he casts the wicked to the ground.
7 Sing to the LORD with thanksgiving;
make melody to our God on the lyre!
8 He covers the heavens with clouds;
he prepares rain for the earth;
he makes grass grow on the hills.
9 He gives to the beasts their food,
and to the young ravens that cry.
10 His delight is not in the strength of the horse,
nor his pleasure in the legs of a man,
11 but the LORD takes pleasure in those who fear him,
in those who hope in his steadfast love.
12 Praise the LORD, O Jerusalem!
Praise your God, O Zion!
13 For he strengthens the bars of your gates;
he blesses your children within you.
Psalm 80 (Listen)
Restore Us, O God
To the choirmaster: according to Lilies. A Testimony. Of Asaph, a Psalm.
80:1 Give ear, O Shepherd of Israel,
you who lead Joseph like a flock.
You who are enthroned upon the cherubim, shine forth.
2 Before Ephraim and Benjamin and Manasseh,
stir up your might
and come to save us!
3 Restore us, O God;
let your face shine, that we may be saved!
4 O LORD God of hosts,
how long will you be angry with your people’s prayers?
5 You have fed them with the bread of tears
and given them tears to drink in full measure.
6 You make us an object of contention for our neighbors,
and our enemies laugh among themselves.
7 Restore us, O God of hosts;
let your face shine, that we may be saved!
8 You brought a vine out of Egypt;
you drove out the nations and planted it.
9 You cleared the ground for it;
it took deep root and filled the land.
10 The mountains were covered with its shade,
the mighty cedars with its branches.
11 It sent out its branches to the sea
and its shoots to the River.
12 Why then have you broken down its walls,
so that all who pass along the way pluck its fruit?
13 The boar from the forest ravages it,
and all that move in the field feed on it.
14 Turn again, O God of hosts!
Look down from heaven, and see;
have regard for this vine,
15 the stock that your right hand planted,
and for the son whom you made strong for yourself.
16 They have burned it with fire; they have cut it down;
may they perish at the rebuke of your face!
17 But let your hand be on the man of your right hand,
the son of man whom you have made strong for yourself!
18 Then we shall not turn back from you;
give us life, and we will call upon your name!
19 Restore us, O LORD God of hosts!
Let your face shine, that we may be saved!
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!
Eivind Josef Berggrav, Bishop of Oslo, 1959 (January 14)
About the Commemoration
Eivind Berggrav was born October 25, 1884 in the port city of Stavanger, in the southwestern part of Norway. He was the son of the bishop of Hamar, Otto Jensen. The name Berggrav, taken by the son, is thought to mean “mountain diggers,” for his ancestors, like Luther’s, were miners in Thuringia. They were invited to Norway in 1624 to work the Konigsberg silver mines. Eivind Berggrav first planned a career in engineering, but he was drawn to the ministry and received his master’s degree in theology in 1908. Nonetheless, for ten years following his graduation he served as editor of Kirke og Kultur, studying the psychology of religion and wrestling with his own vocation. He also served as a teacher in a folk school in Eidsvoll, 1909-1914, and as headmaster of Holmestrand Teachers’ College, 1914-1915. He studied at Oxford and Cambridge Universities in 1914 and in Berlin in 1916. Finally, in 1919 he was ordained by the Church of Norway and became the pastor of a rural parish, Hurdal, near Oslo. In 1925 he became a prison chaplain in Oslo, and while there he earned his doctorate from the University of Oslo for his work The Threshold of Religion.
In 1928 he was elected bishop of Tromsø in the extreme north of Norway, a diocese of fishermen, fur trappers, and seamen, which reached to the land of the Lapps. In 1937 he was made Bishop of Oslo and Primate of Norway.
He was elected president of the World Alliance for Promoting International Friendship through the Churches in 1938 and in the following year on the outbreak of war called a conference of Scandinavian Church leaders. In May 1940, a month after the Nazis invaded the country, Berggrav was named one of the negotiators to determine the intentions of the Nazi occupation. He withdrew from the commission after two days, refusing to offer a compromise to the Germans. With the six other bishops of Norway he led the opposition to the Nazi edicts and insisted on the right of clerical confidence, noninterference in the spiritual province of the Church, and the rights of the Jews. With the other bishops he resigned February 24, 1941, “what the state has committed to my charge,” at the same time declaring, “the spiritual calling which has been ordained to me at the altar of God remains mine by God and by right.” Berggrav consolidated a united front against the Nazis and wrote declarations and confessional documents in the Kirchenkampf (church struggle).
On February 1, 1942, Vidkun Quisling was appointed head of the Nazi-controlled government. Bishop Berggrav, deprived by Quisling of the title of bishop and designated “an ordinary private person,” was put under house arrest on Maundy Thursday, April 2. In protest, all the bishops and 797 of the 861 priests of the Church of Norway resigned their offices at Easter. Berggrav was then imprisoned on the charge of instigating rebellion and then placed again under house arrest as a solitary prisoner in a log cabin on the outskirts of Oslo, reportedly at the direction of Adolf Hitler because of reports of widespread public unrest. An underground church was formed to continue religious life independent of the Quisling regime. Berggrav in disguise was able to meet with the church. In April 1945 he escaped and remained in hiding in Oslo until the liberation of Norway shortly afterward.
After the war, in the reorganization of the Church, he recommended a more active participation by lay people in the affairs of the Church. He was a leader in the World Council of Churches from its founding in 1948 and in the Lutheran World Federation. Ill health forced him to resign his bishopric in 1950. He died on this date in 1959.
Berggrav published many books in the area of the psychology of religion: Soldier Life and Religion (1915), The Threshold of Religion (1925), Religious Feelings (1928), The Prisoner’s Soul (1928), Body and Soul (1933). His Biblical History and his edition of Luther’s Small Catechism have been widely used in schools in Norway. He also published With God in the Darkness (1943) and When the Fight Came (1945) about his war experiences, Church Order in Norway about the reorganization of the Church, and Man and State, a study of basic ethical questions. He translated into English a hymn by Peter Dass, “Mighty God, to thy dear Name be given,” which was included as hymn number 357 in the Service Book and Hymnal (1958).
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: Eivind Berggrav
From Eivind Berggrav, Man and State, written secretly while under house arrest by the Nazis
It cannot be denied that revolt is Christian. Nor is it enough to say that one must only turn in cases of necessity to revolt with arms or without. When men are mutiny-minded they can insist that a case of necessity exists every time something opposes their own wishes. That is why it is a good thing that revolt or mutiny always involves great outward risk. For one who is subject to an authoritative conscience, however, there is an even greater risk of the judgment of God.
Christianity has always maintained that a willingness to suffer is a practical test of whether we are rightly related to God. Christianity has therefore designated as absolutely sinful any mutiny based solely on personal desire. At this point the Christian Church must preach uncompromising obedience. Here Paul and the Epistle to the Romans are in complete agreement with the popular Lutheran interpretation. The Christian must even be willing to suffer considerable injustice against himself. If opposition to those in power is necessary it should be on the ground that others have suffered unduly and on the presupposition that such action would bring still more suffering to oneself. Thomas Aquinas says, “To bear with patience the evil which is committed against one is a sign of perfection. To be patient, however, with the evil which is done to others, is a sign of imperfection yea, it is a sin.”
It must be remembered, however, that suffering can be a dangerous test if one takes as one’s starting point the natural desire to want to get off cheap. In that case the possibility of suffering would restrain one from undertaking anything. That is why it is equally important to make the Christian’s burning challenge to withstand all unrighteousness the criterion. Where God’s orders are trodden underfoot and the right of one’s fellow man to live is threatened at the very outset, there the Christian must be willing to go the way of sacrifice, even if it involves revolt against illegal authority. Keeping in touch with the conscience of one’s fellows, i.e., with the corporate conscience, will constitute the greatest controlling factor. At a time of decision Cromwell said to his followers, “I charge you, Christians, to search your hearts and to consider whether you may not have erred.”
But if conscience is rooted in God then a social matter is also God’s concern. It is inappropriate for a Christian to say that the freedom of the Church or of God’s Word is not yet directly threatened and we ought to take suffering and strife upon ourselves just for the sake of “secular matters.” There are no such things as “secular matters” for a Christian conscience. The moment that God calls on him to assume them they are God’s concern as far as he is concerned. This is the explanation of that fact that the two expressions “to suffer for Jesus sake and to suffer for righteousness’ sake” stand side by side in the Sermon on the Mount. The moment conscience has received its orders and is willing to accept suffering and sacrifice, the thing becomes more than social. It then signifies covenant relationship with God.
The words on John Knox’s tombstone are a challenging note about the strongest radical guaranty in this life: “Here lies the man who never feared the face of any man.”
Eivind Josef Berggrav, Man and State, trans. George Aus (Philadelphia: Muhlenberg, 1951), 282-84.
Mighty God, you gave your servant Eivind Berggrav, together with the bishops and faithful priests of Norway, strength and courage to resist tyranny, to defend your ancient people the Jews, and to uphold the rights of your church: So strengthen our faith by their witness, we pray, that we in our generation may serve you faithfully and confess your Name before the world; through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.
Readings: Ezekiel 34:11-16; Psalm 84; 1 Peter 5:1-4; John 21:15-17
Prayers: For those under persecution; For those who resist tyranny; For those in prison; For those who explore relationships between religion and culture; For colleges and schools.
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.