Joshua 1:1–9 (Listen)
God Commissions Joshua
1:1 After the death of Moses the servant of the LORD, the LORD said to Joshua the son of Nun, Moses’ assistant, 2 “Moses my servant is dead. Now therefore arise, go over this Jordan, you and all this people, into the land that I am giving to them, to the people of Israel. 3 Every place that the sole of your foot will tread upon I have given to you, just as I promised to Moses. 4 From the wilderness and this Lebanon as far as the great river, the river Euphrates, all the land of the Hittites to the Great Sea toward the going down of the sun shall be your territory. 5 No man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life. Just as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave you or forsake you. 6 Be strong and courageous, for you shall cause this people to inherit the land that I swore to their fathers to give them. 7 Only be strong and very courageous, being careful to do according to all the law that Moses my servant commanded you. Do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may have good success wherever you go. 8 This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success. 9 Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.”
Hebrews 11:32–12:2 (Listen)
32 And what more shall I say? For time would fail me to tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets—33 who through faith conquered kingdoms, enforced justice, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, 34 quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, were made strong out of weakness, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight. 35 Women received back their dead by resurrection. Some were tortured, refusing to accept release, so that they might rise again to a better life. 36 Others suffered mocking and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. 37 They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were killed with the sword. They went about in skins of sheep and goats, destitute, afflicted, mistreated—38 of whom the world was not worthy—wandering about in deserts and mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth.
39 And all these, though commended through their faith, did not receive what was promised, 40 since God had provided something better for us, that apart from us they should not be made perfect.
Jesus, Founder and Perfecter of Our Faith
12:1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.
John 15:1–16 (Listen)
I Am the True Vine
15:1 “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. 2 Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. 3 Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. 4 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. 5 I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. 6 If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. 7 If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 8 By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. 9 As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. 10 If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. 11 These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.
12 “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command you. 15 No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you. 16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you.
Psalm 99 (Listen)
The Lord Our God Is Holy
99:1 The LORD reigns; let the peoples tremble!
He sits enthroned upon the cherubim; let the earth quake!
2 The LORD is great in Zion;
he is exalted over all the peoples.
3 Let them praise your great and awesome name!
Holy is he!
4 The King in his might loves justice.
You have established equity;
you have executed justice
and righteousness in Jacob.
5 Exalt the LORD our God;
worship at his footstool!
Holy is he!
6 Moses and Aaron were among his priests,
Samuel also was among those who called upon his name.
They called to the LORD, and he answered them.
7 In the pillar of the cloud he spoke to them;
they kept his testimonies
and the statute that he gave them.
8 O LORD our God, you answered them;
you were a forgiving God to them,
but an avenger of their wrongdoings.
9 Exalt the LORD our God,
and worship at his holy mountain;
for the LORD our God is holy!
Psalm 146 (Listen)
Put Not Your Trust in Princes
146:1 Praise the LORD!
Praise the LORD, O my soul!
2 I will praise the LORD as long as I live;
I will sing praises to my God while I have my being.
3 Put not your trust in princes,
in a son of man, in whom there is no salvation.
4 When his breath departs, he returns to the earth;
on that very day his plans perish.
5 Blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob,
whose hope is in the LORD his God,
6 who made heaven and earth,
the sea, and all that is in them,
who keeps faith forever;
7 who executes justice for the oppressed,
who gives food to the hungry.
The LORD sets the prisoners free;
8 the LORD opens the eyes of the blind.
The LORD lifts up those who are bowed down;
the LORD loves the righteous.
9 The LORD watches over the sojourners;
he upholds the widow and the fatherless,
but the way of the wicked he brings to ruin.
10 The LORD will reign forever,
your God, O Zion, to all generations.
Praise the LORD!
Psalm 96 (Listen)
Worship in the Splendor of Holiness
96:1 Oh sing to the LORD a new song;
sing to the LORD, all the earth!
2 Sing to the LORD, bless his name;
tell of his salvation from day to day.
3 Declare his glory among the nations,
his marvelous works among all the peoples!
4 For great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised;
he is to be feared above all gods.
5 For all the gods of the peoples are worthless idols,
but the LORD made the heavens.
6 Splendor and majesty are before him;
strength and beauty are in his sanctuary.
7 Ascribe to the LORD, O families of the peoples,
ascribe to the LORD glory and strength!
8 Ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name;
bring an offering, and come into his courts!
9 Worship the LORD in the splendor of holiness;
tremble before him, all the earth!
10 Say among the nations, “The LORD reigns!
Yes, the world is established; it shall never be moved;
he will judge the peoples with equity.”
11 Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice;
let the sea roar, and all that fills it;
12 let the field exult, and everything in it!
Then shall all the trees of the forest sing for joy
13 before the LORD, for he comes,
for he comes to judge the earth.
He will judge the world in righteousness,
and the peoples in his faithfulness.
Psalm 110 (Listen)
Sit at My Right Hand
A Psalm of David.
110:1 The LORD says to my Lord:
“Sit at my right hand,
until I make your enemies your footstool.”
2 The LORD sends forth from Zion
your mighty scepter.
Rule in the midst of your enemies!
3 Your people will offer themselves freely
on the day of your power,
in holy garments;
from the womb of the morning,
the dew of your youth will be yours.
4 The LORD has sworn
and will not change his mind,
“You are a priest forever
after the order of Melchizedek.”
5 The Lord is at your right hand;
he will shatter kings on the day of his wrath.
6 He will execute judgment among the nations,
filling them with corpses;
he will shatter chiefs
over the wide earth.
7 He will drink from the brook by the way;
therefore he will lift up his head.
Kaj Munk, Martyr, 1944 (January 5)
About the Commemoration
Kaj Harald Leininger Petersen (his given name is pronounced KYE to rhyme with “sky”) was born January 13, 1898, in Maribo, on the island of Lolland, Denmark. His father was a tanner and shopkeeper. After his father died, his mother attempted to continue the business but soon died of tuberculosis. The boy, not yet six, was adopted by the Munk family, his distant cousins, in Opanger, and he took their name as his own. He has left a tender tribute to his adoptive mother upon the occasion of her death, in his sermon for the Sixth Sunday after Easter, collected in his volume of collected sermons, By the Rivers of Babylon. The pietistic home left a deep impression on the boy and influenced his decision to become a priest. He was tutored privately by Oscar Geismar, a poet and literary critic and supporter of Nikolai Grundtvig’s ideas (see September 2), who encouraged him to read the Iliad and the Odyssey and Scandinavian mythology. Although his family was poor, they were able to send him to Nykøping Cathedral School and at the University of Copenhagen, where he took a degree in theology in 1924. While he was there he came under the influence of Søren Kierkegaard, from whom he learned that the truths of Christianity can only be realized in action.
Munk was ordained priest in 1924 and became pastor at Vedersø in western Jutland, one of the smallest parishes in Denmark. It was his only parish. He married his housekeeper, and they had four children and adopted one child. He was influenced by the two strands of Danish devotion, Grundtvigianism and the evangelical fervor of Indre [Inner] Mission. Munk was respected and loved by his people, and when he suggested that he ought to resign his parish to devote himself to his writing, the parishioners urged him to stay and called an assistant to help with the pastoral work. For a time in the 1930s Munk had admired Hitler and Mussolini, as he had admired Napoleon, but after the occupation of Denmark by Nazi forces in 1940, his powerful sermons drew masses to the resistance, and his own opposition became so outspoken that his plays were banned.
He wrote his first play, Pilatus (published in 1938), when he was only nineteen. It revealed his fascination with powerful leaders who triumph over all obstacles. Munk, an exponent of religious drama with a strong sense of theater, revived heroic Shakespearean and Schillerian drama with writing of a passionate intensity. His three best plays are En Idealist, 1928 (in English translation, Herod the King, 1955), which was panned by the critics when it was first staged in Copenhagen; Ordet, 1932 (English translation, The Word, 1955), a miracle play set among the peasants of Jutland: and Han Sidder ved Smeltedigeln, 1938 (English translation, He Sits at the Melting Pot, 1944) a drama of Hitler’s Germany, attacking the persecution of the Jews and presenting a weak man as a hero.
Because of his outspoken resistance. Munk was arrested in the fall of 1943 but was released at Christmas. On the night of January 4, 1944, Munk was taken from his vicarage by the Gestapo. His body was found the next day in a ditch near Hørbylunde on the main road to Silkeborg. He had been shot through the head. His Bible was found some twenty meters from his body, as if it had been taken away from him before he was killed. More than four thousand people defied Nazi orders and attended his funeral at Vedersø. A marble cross now marks the place of his execution.
Kaj Munk is commemorated not only for his own bold witness to the faith but also as a symbol of the many thousands who bravely but with less attention resisted Nazi tyranny. A popular telling of the stories of the heroes is found in John Oram Thomas, The Giant Killers: The Story of the Danish Resistance Movement 1940-1945 (London: Michael Joseph, 1975). Munk’s Five Plays, with a preface and English translations was published in 1953. His sermons have appeared in English as Four Sermons and By the Rivers of Babylon. A brief biography is appended to each volume. Kaj Munk Playwright, Priest, and Patriot, ed. R. P. Keigwin, appeared in 1944. Kaj Munk by Sven Stolpe was published in 1944. He is included in the Encyclopedia of World Literature in the Twentieth Century (vol. 3, 1999). There is a portrait of Munk in the Encyclopedia of the Lutheran Church.
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: Kaj Munk
From a sermon for New Year’s Day by Kaj Munk
Do not trust too much in the preachers. As a rule they are poorly paid. They are brought up as humanists. They have forgotten—or never learned—what Christianity is. They have imbibed lo-o-o-ve with the bottle milk in the cradle. In a world of men they too often plead the cause of the effeminate. They “abstain from politics.” They preach peace at any price for the uplift of the devil, who rejoices to see evil develop in peace. The Scriptures do not say: When your neighbor is smitten on one cheek it is your duty to hold him so that he may be smitten on the other cheek also. Do not trust the preachers until they wake up and remember that they are servants of the whole gospel, and of the Prince of Peace who came not to bring peace but a sword; of Him who forgave Peter and permitted Judas to hang himself; of Him who was meek and humble of heart and yet drove the sacrilegists from the temple courts.
And do not trust the majority, which likes to take things easy and therefore is easy to please…. Do not trust the great neglected masses. I believe that the heart of the nation is strong, but it has become encased in fat….
This is what our old nation needs; a rejuvenating power, God’s rejuvenating strength, that a new people may come forth, which is yet the old, worthy sons of the fathers. The gospel will have to teach the Danish nation to think as a great people; to choose honor rather than profit, freedom rather than a well paid guardianship; to believe in the victory of the spirit of sacrifice; to believe that life comes out of death, and that the future comes out of giving oneself;—in short, faith in Christ. What would it profit a people if it gained all the advantages of the world, but lost its soul?
The cross in our flag—it is long since we realized that it stands for something, and we have forgotten that now. And yet it is the cross that characterizes the flags of the North.—We have come to church—the few of us who go to church, and we have heard about the cross, about Christ’s example of suffering, and Christ’s words about self-denial and struggle. We have thought that this was all to be taken in a spiritual sense, and that it did not pertain to our time. We thought we were Christians when we sat in Church and sang Amen. But No, No! We are Christians only when we go out into the world and say No to the devil, renounce all his works and all his ways, and say Yes to the Holy Spirit.
Lead us, thou cross in our flag, lead us into that Nordic struggle where shackled Norway and bleeding Finland fight against an idea which is directly opposed all to our ideas. Lead old Denmark forth to its new spirit. Not by the grace of others, or by their promises, shall Danneborg again become a free banner. For freedom only God can give; and he gives it only to those who accept its responsibilities. Lead us, cross in our flag, forward toward unity with other flags of the cross. With honor and liberty regained, the old Denmark in the young North—that vision looms before us this New Year’s Day. We who have the vision will give ourselves to its realization. We promise we will. May God hear our vow and add his Amen!
Kaj Munk, Four Sermons, trans. J. M. Jensen (Blair: Lutheran Publishing House, 1944), 27, 30-32.
Gracious Lord, in every age you have sent men and women who have given their lives for the message of your love: Inspire us with the example of your servant Kaj Munk, whose faithfulness led him in the way of the cross, and give us courage to bear full witness with our lives to the victory over sin and death won by Jesus Christ our Lord; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God now and forever.
LBW, ELW Common of Martyrs, rev. PHP
Readings: Ezekiel 20:40-42; Psalm 5; Revelation 6:9-11; Mark 8:34-38
Hymn of the Day: “Thy strong word did cleave the darkness” (LBW 233, LSB 578, ELW 511)
Prayers: For strength to follow Christ into the world; For those under persecution; For all who resist tyranny; For courage to proclaim the whole gospel; For the theater writers, actors, audiences, and all who produce and perform drama.
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.