Isaiah 42:18–43:13 (Listen)
Israel’s Failure to Hear and See
18 Hear, you deaf,
and look, you blind, that you may see!
19 Who is blind but my servant,
or deaf as my messenger whom I send?
Who is blind as my dedicated one,
or blind as the servant of the LORD?
20 He sees many things, but does not observe them;
his ears are open, but he does not hear.
21 The LORD was pleased, for his righteousness’ sake,
to magnify his law and make it glorious.
22 But this is a people plundered and looted;
they are all of them trapped in holes
and hidden in prisons;
they have become plunder with none to rescue,
spoil with none to say, “Restore!”
23 Who among you will give ear to this,
will attend and listen for the time to come?
24 Who gave up Jacob to the looter,
and Israel to the plunderers?
Was it not the LORD, against whom we have sinned,
in whose ways they would not walk,
and whose law they would not obey?
25 So he poured on him the heat of his anger
and the might of battle;
it set him on fire all around, but he did not understand;
it burned him up, but he did not take it to heart.
Israel’s Only Savior
43:1 But now thus says the LORD,
he who created you, O Jacob,
he who formed you, O Israel:
“Fear not, for I have redeemed you;
I have called you by name, you are mine.
2 When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you;
when you walk through fire you shall not be burned,
and the flame shall not consume you.
3 For I am the LORD your God,
the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.
I give Egypt as your ransom,
Cush and Seba in exchange for you.
4 Because you are precious in my eyes,
and honored, and I love you,
I give men in return for you,
peoples in exchange for your life.
5 Fear not, for I am with you;
I will bring your offspring from the east,
and from the west I will gather you.
6 I will say to the north, Give up,
and to the south, Do not withhold;
bring my sons from afar
and my daughters from the end of the earth,
7 everyone who is called by my name,
whom I created for my glory,
whom I formed and made.”
8 Bring out the people who are blind, yet have eyes,
who are deaf, yet have ears!
9 All the nations gather together,
and the peoples assemble.
Who among them can declare this,
and show us the former things?
Let them bring their witnesses to prove them right,
and let them hear and say, It is true.
10 “You are my witnesses,” declares the LORD,
“and my servant whom I have chosen,
that you may know and believe me
and understand that I am he.
Before me no god was formed,
nor shall there be any after me.
11 I, I am the LORD,
and besides me there is no savior.
12 I declared and saved and proclaimed,
when there was no strange god among you;
and you are my witnesses,” declares the LORD, “and I am God.
13 Also henceforth I am he;
there is none who can deliver from my hand;
I work, and who can turn it back?”
Ephesians 3:14–21 (Listen)
Prayer for Spiritual Strength
14 For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, 16 that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19 and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.
20 Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.
Mark 2:23–3:6 (Listen)
Jesus Is Lord of the Sabbath
23 One Sabbath he was going through the grainfields, and as they made their way, his disciples began to pluck heads of grain. 24 And the Pharisees were saying to him, “Look, why are they doing what is not lawful on the Sabbath?” 25 And he said to them, “Have you never read what David did, when he was in need and was hungry, he and those who were with him: 26 how he entered the house of God, in the time of Abiathar the high priest, and ate the bread of the Presence, which it is not lawful for any but the priests to eat, and also gave it to those who were with him?” 27 And he said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. 28 So the Son of Man is lord even of the Sabbath.”
A Man with a Withered Hand
3:1 Again he entered the synagogue, and a man was there with a withered hand. 2 And they watched Jesus, to see whether he would heal him on the Sabbath, so that they might accuse him. 3 And he said to the man with the withered hand, “Come here.” 4 And he said to them, “Is it lawful on the Sabbath to do good or to do harm, to save life or to kill?” But they were silent. 5 And he looked around at them with anger, grieved at their hardness of heart, and said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He stretched it out, and his hand was restored. 6 The Pharisees went out and immediately held counsel with the Herodians against him, how to destroy him.
Psalm 56 (Listen)
In God I Trust
To the choirmaster: according to The Dove on Far-off Terebinths. A Miktam of David, when the Philistines seized him in Gath.
56:1 Be gracious to me, O God, for man tramples on me;
all day long an attacker oppresses me;
2 my enemies trample on me all day long,
for many attack me proudly.
3 When I am afraid,
I put my trust in you.
4 In God, whose word I praise,
in God I trust; I shall not be afraid.
What can flesh do to me?
5 All day long they injure my cause;
all their thoughts are against me for evil.
6 They stir up strife, they lurk;
they watch my steps,
as they have waited for my life.
7 For their crime will they escape?
In wrath cast down the peoples, O God!
8 You have kept count of my tossings;
put my tears in your bottle.
Are they not in your book?
9 Then my enemies will turn back
in the day when I call.
This I know, that God is for me.
10 In God, whose word I praise,
in the LORD, whose word I praise,
11 in God I trust; I shall not be afraid.
What can man do to me?
12 I must perform my vows to you, O God;
I will render thank offerings to you.
13 For you have delivered my soul from death,
yes, my feet from falling,
that I may walk before God
in the light of life.
Psalm 149 (Listen)
Sing to the Lord a New Song
149:1 Praise the LORD!
Sing to the LORD a new song,
his praise in the assembly of the godly!
2 Let Israel be glad in his Maker;
let the children of Zion rejoice in their King!
3 Let them praise his name with dancing,
making melody to him with tambourine and lyre!
4 For the LORD takes pleasure in his people;
he adorns the humble with salvation.
5 Let the godly exult in glory;
let them sing for joy on their beds.
6 Let the high praises of God be in their throats
and two-edged swords in their hands,
7 to execute vengeance on the nations
and punishments on the peoples,
8 to bind their kings with chains
and their nobles with fetters of iron,
9 to execute on them the judgment written!
This is honor for all his godly ones.
Praise the LORD!
Psalm 100 (Listen)
His Steadfast Love Endures Forever
A Psalm for giving thanks.
100:1 Make a joyful noise to the LORD, all the earth!
2 Serve the LORD with gladness!
Come into his presence with singing!
3 Know that the LORD, he is God!
It is he who made us, and we are his;
we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.
4 Enter his gates with thanksgiving,
and his courts with praise!
Give thanks to him; bless his name!
5 For the LORD is good;
his steadfast love endures forever,
and his faithfulness to all generations.
Psalm 63 (Listen)
My Soul Thirsts for You
A Psalm of David, when he was in the wilderness of Judah.
63:1 O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you;
my soul thirsts for you;
my flesh faints for you,
as in a dry and weary land where there is no water.
2 So I have looked upon you in the sanctuary,
beholding your power and glory.
3 Because your steadfast love is better than life,
my lips will praise you.
4 So I will bless you as long as I live;
in your name I will lift up my hands.
5 My soul will be satisfied as with fat and rich food,
and my mouth will praise you with joyful lips,
6 when I remember you upon my bed,
and meditate on you in the watches of the night;
7 for you have been my help,
and in the shadow of your wings I will sing for joy.
8 My soul clings to you;
your right hand upholds me.
9 But those who seek to destroy my life
shall go down into the depths of the earth;
10 they shall be given over to the power of the sword;
they shall be a portion for jackals.
11 But the king shall rejoice in God;
all who swear by him shall exult,
for the mouths of liars will be stopped.
George Fox, Renewer of Society, 1691 (January 16)
About the Commemoration
Commemorated with William Penn, 1644; Robert Barclay, 1690; John Woolman, 1772
George Fox, a weaver’s son, was born in July 1624 in the village of Drayton-in-the-Clay (now Fenny Drayton), Leicestershire, England. He was apprenticed for a time to a shoemaker; he may also have been a shepherd. There is little evidence that he had any formal education, yet he read extensively.
His religious background seems to have been Puritan, but he found this not entirely satisfying. At the age of eighteen, he left home on a religious quest. During his search he experienced several “openings” as he called them in his Journal, which he thought corrected traditional concepts of faith and life in English religion. He went beyond the Puritan reaction to the forms of the established Church, and after long and intense struggle, he arrived at the central belief of his life, that God speaks inwardly and directly to a person’s heart. Finding no comfort in the Church and receiving no help from its ministers, he became a wandering preacher, proclaiming the God-given inward light as the real source of authority above creeds and even above Scripture itself.
He traveled on foot, preaching in the Midlands and then in the northern counties of England. Local congregations were established by Fox and by other itinerant men and women preachers who called themselves “Publishers of the Truth.” Fox had most success first in Westmoreland and later in Lancashire, Yorkshire, and London. His radical views and his peculiar habits (wearing a leather suit, sitting in hollow trees, refusing to take his hat off to anyone) provoked derision and hostility. He was beaten, stoned, put in the stocks, imprisoned. Between 1649 and 1673 he was jailed eight times. Altogether in his lifetime he spent seven years in jail, often in filthy conditions, which he sought to reform. Nevertheless, he persisted and gained a considerable following, not only among the poor and uncultured but also among people of wealth and distinction such as William Penn, who left an important summary of Fox’s character. A man of enormous yet attractive self-confidence, Fox covered England with his influence and generated a new sense of morality. Shopkeepers of this persuasion were universally respected for their integrity.
His followers were persecuted because they refused to take oaths or to pay tithes. The restoration of the monarchy in 1660 led to special legislation and action against the “Quakers” as they were derisively nicknamed. Fox encouraged the local groups of his followers to organize into regular monthly and quarterly business meetings, and this became the permanent pattern of church government for the “Religious Society of Friends.” Not until the Toleration Act of 1689 were the Quakers legally accepted.
In 1669, after his return from a missionary trip to Ireland, Fox married Margaret Fell, one of his early converts. She was the widow of Judge Thomas Fell of Swarthmore Hall, Ulverston, Lancashire. It was in this house that Fox lived from time to time in the years following. From 1671 to 1673 he visited the British colonies in the Caribbean and North America, especially Maryland and Rhode Island, strengthening communities of Friends there. He also saw firsthand the horrors of the slave trade, and upon his return to England, he founded the abolitionist movement. In 1677 and 1684 he journeyed to Holland and northern Europe.
Fox died on the thirteenth of January (or as the Friends style it, First Month), 1691 and was buried in the Friends’ burial ground near Bunhill Fields. He is commemorated on this date, January 13, on the calendar in the Lutheran Book of Worship, the Methodist For All the Saints, the German Lutheran Calendar of Names by Frieder Schulz and others (1962), and the Christian Year calendar (1997) of the Church of England. George Fox contributed to the renewal of the church by calling into question its pride and self-satisfaction. But perhaps his greatest contribution is to the renewal of society in two principal ways: complete religious toleration and the equality of everyone before the law.
Together with George Fox, three others of the Society of Friends might fittingly be remembered. William Penn was born in 1644, the son of a Cromwellian admiral who had become rich and powerful. He was a quiet, introspective child, naturally drawn to the teachings of George Fox, perhaps the first person of means, learning, and high social standing to join the Society of Friends. He took the teaching of George Fox and combined it with the work of a French theologian Moïse Amyraut, who had argued that God’s laws live in the hearts of people and that one learns by listening to the voice of conscience, and popularized it through tracts and pamphlets, printed secretly and disseminated widely. Penn, like others in the movement, was often imprisoned. He obtained the forty-five-thousand square miles of Pennsylvania from Charles II in 1682 and regarded his colony there as a “holy experiment.” Steadfastly committed to democratic principles, he established free public education in his commonwealth as well as chartering a public school (in current American usage a private school) in Philadelphia that now bears his name, the William Penn Charter School, worked for better food and housing, regarded women as the equals of men, and established religious freedom. He suffered two strokes and lived out his last years in England in frail health. He died there July 30, 1718. Penn is included on the German Evangelical Calendar of Names (1966) on July 30.
Robert Barclay was the foremost theologian of the Society of Friends and, with William Penn, the movement’s most influential writer. He was born December 23, 1648, and was educated at the Roman Catholic Scottish College in Paris. He joined the Society of Friends in 1667. His humanitarian and his pacifist precepts are still followed, but his most important writing was An Apology for the True Christian Divinity: Being an Explanation and Vindication of the People Called Quakers (Latin 1676, English 1678). This became the standard statement of Quaker doctrine and set forth fifteen propositions against both the Roman Catholic and the Protestant positions, affirming that neither church nor Scripture could claim ultimate authority, but that both church and Scripture are secondary to the work of the Holy Spirit. Barclay was often imprisoned for his beliefs. He traveled through Germany and Holland advancing his views, and upon his return home he won the friendship of the Duke of York (later James II), who helped him obtain a patent to settle New Jersey. In 1683 Robert Barclay was himself governor of eastern New Jersey. He returned to his native Scotland, where he died at his estate in Aberdeen, October 3, 1690.
John Woolman, judged by Elton Trueblood to be “the most highly respected Quaker who ever lived,” is a notable exemplar of ethical living. Born in 1720, he lived in Mount Holly, New Jersey, near Philadelphia, and worked as a tailor. He traveled widely as an itinerant preacher. He vigorously attacked slavery and roused the conscience of the Quakers against it and through them the whole Western world. He refused to pay taxes in support of the French and Indian War. He taught and practiced simple living both for individual and for social good, to the extent of giving up his store when business got too brisk and became an encumbrance. He sought to experience himself the hardships of slaves, seamen, and Indians so that he might have “a quick and lively feeling of the afflictions of my fellow creatures.” John Woolman was one who radiated love and humility and who exemplified the sensitivity of the Quaker conscience and their steadfastness of purpose. His Journal (1774) is a classic of devotion and of literature: it begins with the sentence, “I have often felt a motion of love to leave some hints in writing of my experience of the goodness of God.” John Woolman died of smallpox October 7, 1772. He is commemorated on October 6 on the Methodist calendar in For All the Saints of the Order of St. Luke.
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 the Journal of George Fox
After I had received that opening from the Lord, that to be bred at Oxford or Cambridge, was not sufficient to fit a man to be a minister of Christ, I regarded the priests less, and looked more after the dissenting people. Among them I saw there was some tenderness; and many of them came afterwards to be convinced, for they had some openings. But as I had forsaken the priests, so I left the separate preachers also, and those called the most experienced people; for I saw there was none among them all that could speak to my condition. And when all my hopes in them and in all men were gone, so that I had nothing outwardly, to help me, nor could tell what to do; then, O then, I heard a voice which said, “There is one, even Christ Jesus, that can speak to thy condition.” When I heard it, my heart did leap for joy. Then the Lord let me see why there was none upon earth that could speak to my condition, namely, that I might give him all the glory. For all are concluded under sin, and shut up in unbelief, as I had been, that Jesus Christ might have the pre-eminence, who enlightens, and gives grace, faith, and power. Thus when God doth work, who shall let [i.e., hinder] it? This I knew experimentally. My desires after the Lord grew stronger, and zeal in the pure knowledge of God, and of Christ alone, without the help of any man, book, or writing. For though I read the Scriptures that spake of Christ and of God, yet I knew him not by revelation, as he did who hath the key did open, and as the Father of life drew me to his Son by his Spirit. The Lord led me gently along, and let me see his love, which was endless and eternal, surpassing all the knowledge that men have in the natural state, or can get by history or books….
Thus in the deepest miseries, in the greatest sorrows and temptations that beset me, the Lord in his mercy did keep me. I found two thirsts in me; the one after the creatures, to have got help and strength there; and the other after the Lord the Creator, and his Son Jesus Christ; and I saw all the world could do me no good. If I had a king’s diet, palace and attendance, all would have been as nothing, for nothing gave me comfort but the Lord by his power. I saw professors, priests, and people, were whole and at ease in that condition which was my misery, and they loved that which I would have been rid of. But the Lord did stay my desires upon himself, from whom my help came, and my care was cast upon him alone. Therefore, all wait patiently upon the Lord, whatsoever condition you be in; wait in the grace and truth that comes by Jesus; for if ye do so, there is a promise to you, and the Lord God will fulfill it in you. Blessed are all they indeed that do indeed hunger and thirst after righteousness, they shall be satisfied with it. I have found it so, praised the Lord who filleth with it, and satisfieth the desires of the hungry soul.
Passages from the Life and Writings of George Fox Taken from His Journal (Philadelphia: Friends Book Store, 1881), 18-20.
Holy and righteous God, you created us in your image: Illumine our hearts and our minds with your light that we may recognize injustice, and, strengthened by your might and encouraged by the example of George Fox, may contend fearlessly against oppression and bring justice and peace among peoples and nations; through your Son Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.
Readings: 1 Kings 19:9-13; Psalm 94; Romans 12:9-21; Luke 6:20-36
Hymn of the Day: “Dear Lord and Father of mankind” (H82 652, 653; LBW 506)
Prayers: For seekers after truth; For those in prison; For the outcast and those out of step with society; For equal justice for all.
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.