Isaiah 43:14–44:5 (Listen)
14 Thus says the LORD,
your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel:
“For your sake I send to Babylon
and bring them all down as fugitives,
even the Chaldeans, in the ships in which they rejoice.
15 I am the LORD, your Holy One,
the Creator of Israel, your King.”
16 Thus says the LORD,
who makes a way in the sea,
a path in the mighty waters,
17 who brings forth chariot and horse,
army and warrior;
they lie down, they cannot rise,
they are extinguished, quenched like a wick:
18 “Remember not the former things,
nor consider the things of old.
19 Behold, I am doing a new thing;
now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?
I will make a way in the wilderness
and rivers in the desert.
20 The wild beasts will honor me,
the jackals and the ostriches,
for I give water in the wilderness,
rivers in the desert,
to give drink to my chosen people,
21 the people whom I formed for myself
that they might declare my praise.
22 “Yet you did not call upon me, O Jacob;
but you have been weary of me, O Israel!
23 You have not brought me your sheep for burnt offerings,
or honored me with your sacrifices.
I have not burdened you with offerings,
or wearied you with frankincense.
24 You have not bought me sweet cane with money,
or satisfied me with the fat of your sacrifices.
But you have burdened me with your sins;
you have wearied me with your iniquities.
25 “I, I am he
who blots out your transgressions for my own sake,
and I will not remember your sins.
26 Put me in remembrance; let us argue together;
set forth your case, that you may be proved right.
27 Your first father sinned,
and your mediators transgressed against me.
28 Therefore I will profane the princes of the sanctuary,
and deliver Jacob to utter destruction
and Israel to reviling.
Israel the Lord’s Chosen
44:1 “But now hear, O Jacob my servant,
Israel whom I have chosen!
2 Thus says the LORD who made you,
who formed you from the womb and will help you:
Fear not, O Jacob my servant,
Jeshurun whom I have chosen.
3 For I will pour water on the thirsty land,
and streams on the dry ground;
I will pour my Spirit upon your offspring,
and my blessing on your descendants.
4 They shall spring up among the grass
like willows by flowing streams.
5 This one will say, ‘I am the LORD’s,’
another will call on the name of Jacob,
and another will write on his hand, ‘The LORD’s,’
and name himself by the name of Israel.”
Hebrews 6:17–7:10 (Listen)
17 So when God desired to show more convincingly to the heirs of the promise the unchangeable character of his purpose, he guaranteed it with an oath, 18 so that by two unchangeable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to hold fast to the hope set before us. 19 We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain, 20 where Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf, having become a high priest forever after the order of Melchizedek.
The Priestly Order of Melchizedek
7:1 For this Melchizedek, king of Salem, priest of the Most High God, met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings and blessed him, 2 and to him Abraham apportioned a tenth part of everything. He is first, by translation of his name, king of righteousness, and then he is also king of Salem, that is, king of peace. 3 He is without father or mother or genealogy, having neither beginning of days nor end of life, but resembling the Son of God he continues a priest forever.
4 See how great this man was to whom Abraham the patriarch gave a tenth of the spoils! 5 And those descendants of Levi who receive the priestly office have a commandment in the law to take tithes from the people, that is, from their brothers, though these also are descended from Abraham. 6 But this man who does not have his descent from them received tithes from Abraham and blessed him who had the promises. 7 It is beyond dispute that the inferior is blessed by the superior. 8 In the one case tithes are received by mortal men, but in the other case, by one of whom it is testified that he lives. 9 One might even say that Levi himself, who receives tithes, paid tithes through Abraham, 10 for he was still in the loins of his ancestor when Melchizedek met him.
John 4:27–42 (Listen)
27 Just then his disciples came back. They marveled that he was talking with a woman, but no one said, “What do you seek?” or, “Why are you talking with her?” 28 So the woman left her water jar and went away into town and said to the people, 29 “Come, see a man who told me all that I ever did. Can this be the Christ?” 30 They went out of the town and were coming to him.
31 Meanwhile the disciples were urging him, saying, “Rabbi, eat.” 32 But he said to them, “I have food to eat that you do not know about.” 33 So the disciples said to one another, “Has anyone brought him something to eat?” 34 Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to accomplish his work. 35 Do you not say, ‘There are yet four months, then comes the harvest’? Look, I tell you, lift up your eyes, and see that the fields are white for harvest. 36 Already the one who reaps is receiving wages and gathering fruit for eternal life, so that sower and reaper may rejoice together. 37 For here the saying holds true, ‘One sows and another reaps.’ 38 I sent you to reap that for which you did not labor. Others have labored, and you have entered into their labor.”
39 Many Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, “He told me all that I ever did.” 40 So when the Samaritans came to him, they asked him to stay with them, and he stayed there two days. 41 And many more believed because of his word. 42 They said to the woman, “It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is indeed the Savior of the world.”
Psalm 67 (Listen)
Make Your Face Shine upon Us
To the choirmaster: with stringed instruments. A Psalm. A Song.
67:1 May God be gracious to us and bless us
and make his face to shine upon us, Selah
2 that your way may be known on earth,
your saving power among all nations.
3 Let the peoples praise you, O God;
let all the peoples praise you!
4 Let the nations be glad and sing for joy,
for you judge the peoples with equity
and guide the nations upon earth. Selah
5 Let the peoples praise you, O God;
let all the peoples praise you!
6 The earth has yielded its increase;
God, our God, shall bless us.
7 God shall bless us;
let all the ends of the earth fear him!
Psalm 150 (Listen)
Let Everything Praise the Lord
150:1 Praise the LORD!
Praise God in his sanctuary;
praise him in his mighty heavens!
2 Praise him for his mighty deeds;
praise him according to his excellent greatness!
3 Praise him with trumpet sound;
praise him with lute and harp!
4 Praise him with tambourine and dance;
praise him with strings and pipe!
5 Praise him with sounding cymbals;
praise him with loud clashing cymbals!
6 Let everything that has breath praise the LORD!
Praise the LORD!
Psalm 46 (Listen)
God Is Our Fortress
To the choirmaster. Of the Sons of Korah. According to Alamoth. A Song.
46:1 God is our refuge and strength,
a very present help in trouble.
2 Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way,
though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea,
3 though its waters roar and foam,
though the mountains tremble at its swelling. Selah
4 There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
the holy habitation of the Most High.
5 God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved;
God will help her when morning dawns.
6 The nations rage, the kingdoms totter;
he utters his voice, the earth melts.
7 The LORD of hosts is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress. Selah
8 Come, behold the works of the LORD,
how he has brought desolations on the earth.
9 He makes wars cease to the end of the earth;
he breaks the bow and shatters the spear;
he burns the chariots with fire.
10 “Be still, and know that I am God.
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth!”
11 The LORD of hosts is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress. Selah
Psalm 93 (Listen)
The Lord Reigns
93:1 The LORD reigns; he is robed in majesty;
the LORD is robed; he has put on strength as his belt.
Yes, the world is established; it shall never be moved.
2 Your throne is established from of old;
you are from everlasting.
3 The floods have lifted up, O LORD,
the floods have lifted up their voice;
the floods lift up their roaring.
4 Mightier than the thunders of many waters,
mightier than the waves of the sea,
the LORD on high is mighty!
5 Your decrees are very trustworthy;
holiness befits your house,
O LORD, forevermore.
Antony, Abbot in Egypt, 356 (January 17)
About the Commemoration
Commemorated with Pachomius, Abbot, 346
Antony (or Anthony), the founder of monasticism, was born near Memphis in Lower Egypt ca. 251. When he was a young man, he was so moved by hearing the command in the Gospel, “Go, sell your possessions, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me” (Matt. 19:21), that he did just that with his considerable inheritance and went to live alone in the desert of Upper Egypt as an anchorite, a solitary ascetic, spending time in prayer and study, making baskets to earn a living.
He lived in complete solitude for twenty years and underwent severe spiritual and physical temptations, tormented by demons in various guises. He became aware of the dangers of solitude for those who are unprepared, and, as in time a number of disciples gathered around him, he organized them into loosely knit communities and exerted a certain authority over them. He initiated a formula of monastic rule where common life, prayer, and the rule of a superior and fraternal love proved more secure means of holiness of life than eremitic practices. His preference, however, was for solitude, so about the year 312 he withdrew further away and lived in a cave on Mount Colzim (or Kolzim) in the harsh mountainous landscape of the Eastern Desert, near the northwest corner of the Red Sea. He fell in love with the place at first sight and remained there for the rest of his life.
People of all kinds sought out Antony to get his advice or simply to see the man out of curiosity. He would occasionally visit his followers in their hermitages. At an advanced age he went to Alexandria to encourage opposition to Arianism, which denied the full divinity of Christ. Notably moderate in contrast to the more eccentric austerities of other solitaries, Antony was a man of spiritual wisdom, whose disciplined pursuit of holiness was always directed toward the better service of God.
He remained a layman all his life and was over one hundred when he died, in perfect health, in 356. The Monastery of St. Antony, which still exists, was built a few years after his death.
Antony is remembered on this date on the Eastern, Roman Catholic, Episcopal (Anglican), Lutheran, and Methodist calendars.
Antony’s younger contemporary, Pachomius, may appropriately be remembered with him. He was born ca. 290 near Esneh in Upper Egypt of pagan parents and was later conscripted into the imperial army. After his discharge in 313 he became a Christian and was baptized. He founded a monastery at Tabennisi near the Nile about 320 where his fame soon attracted large numbers of monks. Pachomius applied the administrative skills he learned in military service to the preparation of a rule and the organization of the communal life of monks, emphasizing life in community, work according to one’s craft, and common prayer. To keep the monks from spiritual pride, he did not permit any to be ordained to the priesthood but had a priest come from outside the monastery to celebrate the Divine Liturgy. He set the example himself, it is said, by fleeing when the renowned Patriarch of Alexandria, Athanasius, sought to ordain him a priest. Pachomius is honored as the founder of Christian cenobitic (community) monasticism. At his death in 346 he was ruling as abbot-general over nine communities for men and two for women. Pachomius’s feast day in the East is May 15, May 14 in the West, May 9 in the Coptic Church. He is not on the General Roman Calendar nor on the Episcopal calendar; he is, however, on the 1962 German Evangelical Calendar and among the “Witnesses to the Faith” in the Lutheran African American service book, This Far By Faith (1999) and, together with Antony, has been added to the calendar in Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006).
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 Life of St. Antony by St. Athanasius
When Antony was about eighteen or twenty years old, his parents died, leaving him alone to care for a very young sister and to look after the family property.
Some six months later, on his way to church, he thought of how the apostles had left everything and followed the Savior, and also of how the Christians, recorded in the book of Acts, had sold their possessions and brought the money to the apostles for distribution to those in need. He reflected on the great hope stored up in heaven for such as these. All this was all in his mind when he entered the church just as the Gospel was being read, and he heard the Lord’s words to the rich man, If you wish to be perfect, go, sell your possessions, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.” [Matt. 19:21 ]
It seemed to Antony that it was God who had brought the early saints to his mind and that the words of the Gospel had been spoken directly to him. Immediately he left the church and gave away to the villagers all the property he had inherited, about two hundred acres of very beautiful and fertile land, so that it would no longer distract his sister and himself. He sold all his other possessions as well, and gave the money to the poor, except for a small sum to care for his sister.
On another occasion when he went to church he heard the Lord say in the Gospel, “Do not worry about tomorrow.” [Matt. 6:34] Without hesitation he went out and gave the poor all that he had left. He placed his sister in the care of some trustworthy nuns and arranged for her to be brought up in the convent. Then, not far from his home, he dedicated himself to the ascetic life, keeping a careful watch over himself and practicing great austerity. He worked with his hands because he had heard the words, “Anyone not willing to work should not eat.” [2 Thess. 3:10] With the profit from this work he bought bread for himself and gave the rest to the poor.
Having learned that we should pray always, even when we are by ourselves, he prayed constantly. Indeed, he was so attentive when Scripture was read that nothing escaped him, and because he retained all that he heard, his memory became his library.
Seeing the kind of life he lived, the villagers and all the virtuous people in the neighborhood called him the friend of God, and they loved him as both son and brother.
Athanasius, The Life of St. Antony, chaps. 2-4. Trans. PHP, based on A Short Breviary by St. John’s Abbey and the English translation of the Office of Readings from the Liturgy of the Hours.
O God, by your Holy Spirit you called Antony and Pachomius to renounce the world and to serve you in the solitude of the desert, withstanding the temptations of the world, the flesh, and the devil: Grant us grace to learn by their example to deny ourselves, to love you above all things, and, with pure hearts and minds, to follow you, the only God; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever.
PHP, RS + LFF
Readings: 1 Peter 5:6-10; Psalm 91:9-16 or Psalm 1; Mark 10:17-21 or Matthew 19:18-26
Hymn of the Day: “Fight the good fight with all thy might” (H82 552, 553; LSB 664; LBW 461)
Prayers: For all whom God is calling to the Religious Life; For all monks and nuns and for all communities in which men and women seek a deeper faith and a fuller life; For an appreciation of the virtues of poverty, chastity, and obedience; For deliverance from acquisitiveness and from attachment to the things of this world.
Preface: A Saint (2)
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.