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1:11 And the word of the Lord came to me, saying, “Jeremiah, what do you see?” And I said, “I see an almond branch.” 12 Then the Lord said to me, “You have seen well, for I am watching over my word to perform it.” 13 The word of the Lord came to me a second time, saying, “What do you see?” And I said, “I see a boiling pot, facing away from the north.” 14 Then the Lord said to me, “Out of the north disaster shall be let loose upon all the inhabitants of the land … 19 They will fight against you, but they shall not prevail against you, for I am with you, declares the Lord, to deliver you.”

– Jeremiah 1:11-19


Following Jeremiah’s calling from the Lord, we read that he received two visions — a way of confirming and reinforcing his call. The first vision was of a branch of an almond tree (שָׁקֵד/shaqed). In a play on words (cf. Amos 8:1–2) God said he was “watching” (v. 12, שֹׁקֵד/shoqed) in order that His word would be fulfilled. The almond tree was called the “awake” tree because it blossoms early in the spring while other trees remain dormant. The purpose of this first vision was to warn that God’s pronouncements of judgment through earlier prophets had not been forgotten. Whenever Jeremiah and the people of Judah saw the almond tree, they were to remember that their God was watching them (5:6; 31:28). However, this vision also is interpreted as a message of encouragement to Judah that God was not unaware of the wickedness of other nations. They would be punished.

In the second vision, Jeremiah saw a boiling pot, either a cooking pot or washpot. This was an object Jeremiah had seen many times, but now he saw it in a new way — as a symbol of imminent judgment. The pot tilted toward the south with its liquid contents about to boil over. The impending disaster on Judah (the southern kingdom) is compared to the spilling of the contents of a boiling pot, which would scald the people of Judah. The meaning of the vision is unmistakable. It pictures the certainty of God’s judgment that was going to come on Jerusalem by an enemy invasion from the north; and, thus, the urgency of Jeremiah’s message. Unfortunately, the people of Judah would scoff at Jeremiah’s warnings of danger, as they knew that the Assyrian power was coming to end with the death of its last great monarch, Ashurbanipal. While it was indeed the Assyrians that had conquered Israel (the northern kingdom) years before, the scoffing people of Judah were not aware that their destruction would instead be inflicted by the Babylonians, fulfilling God’s judgment.

In that day Jerusalem’s inhabitants would ask God why the calamity had happened. He would answer by reminding them of their faithlessness in worshiping other gods, giving their hope and protection to peoples, rulers and items other than the Lord. Together the two visions mean that the Lord was watching over His word of threatened punishment to carry it out. That punishment would be inflicted at the hands of an enemy coming from the north. The impending calamity on Judah would not be due to economic or political factors but was theological and moral.

Every generation faces a similar challenge to trust in God for its security rather than in “gods” of its own making. As Walter Brueggemann explains: “It is a recurring temptation for every concentration of power to imagine itself self-sufficient and therefore free to order its life for its own purposes without the requirements of Yhwh.” As it has been noted by many, this judgment is given to God’s own people. We should be wary of this as the evangelical church in North America during this third millennium as we, too, are tempted to follow false idols claiming to give us security and hope. The good news, though, is found in verse 19: “they shall not prevail against you, for I am with you, declares the Lord, to deliver you.”

Prayer: Almighty God, you who never ceases to watch over your people, save us from our false idols and turn our hearts toward the worship of You. Amen.

Lenten Response: Reflect, discern, and repent of any false idols in your life by asking the question: What am I counting on to bring me security or safety, comfort or peace, value or worth, prosperity or immortality that cannot actually deliver on that promise?

Devotion written by the Rev. Andrew Ames Fuller

George Herbert, Priest, 1633 (March 1)

About the Commemoration

George Herbert, a model of the saintly parish priest, in his short life, made a lasting contribution to the Christian church and to English literature. He was born in Montgomery Castle April 3, 1593, the fifth son of an aristocratic and distinguished Welsh family. His father died in 1596, and the young son was raised by his mother, Magdalen Herbert, who was a friend of John Donne. Handsome, elegant, witty, Herbert excelled in classical scholarship, languages (Greek, Latin, Italian, Spanish, French), and music at Trinity College, Cambridge, and, as University Orator, (1620-1627), seemed destined for high political office.

He served as a member of Parliament for Montgomery from 1624 to 1625, but the death of his patron, James I, together with the influence of his friend Nicholas Ferrar (see December 1), whose religious community called Little Gidding he frequently visited, led him to decide upon the study of divinity, to which he had long been drawn. He was ordained a deacon sometime between 1624 and 1626 and was assigned to Leighton Bromswold in the diocese of Lincoln. Although he was still University Orator, he devoted himself to rebuilding the ruined church. He married Jane Danvers in 1629 after a courtship of three days; the marriage was apparently a happy one.

In April 1630, Herbert was instituted as rector of St. Peter’s Fugglestone and St. Andrew, Bemerton (near Salisbury). He was ordained priest September 19, 1630. He served this tiny rural parish for but three years exercising there unusual diligence in pastoral care and taking pains to instruct his largely unlettered parishioners in the significance of every part of the liturgy and in the meaning of the church year. Izaac Walton’s biography (1670) of the man his parishioners with deep affection called “holy Mr. Herbert” reports that at the sound of the church bell announcing Morning and Evening Prayer, many of the parishioners “let their plough rest” that they might join their prayers with the morning and evening prayers of their beloved pastor.

Herbert, whose health had never been strong, died of consumption March 1, 1622, at the age of forty and was buried two days later beneath the high altar of his parish church in Bemerton.

His English poems were published shortly after his death by Nicholas Ferrar, to whom they had been left with the instruction that if Ferrar thought they might do good to “any dejected poor soul” he should have them published; otherwise, he should burn them. Two editions of the collection, The Temple, were published before the year was out; there were thirteen editions by 1679. The poems, called “the best collection of religious lyrics in English,” breathe a gentle freshness and grace, not without earnest wrestling with worldly ambition and a continued struggle to submit to his vocation. Some of the poems are still sung as hymns: The Elixir, “Teach me my God and King”; Antiphon, “The king of love my shepherds is”; and “Let all the world in every corner sing.” The graceful and moving poetry is a counterpart to the prose of Jeremy Taylor (see August 13), and it is W. H. Auden’s judgment that “together they are the finest expression we have of Anglican piety at its best.” Herbert’s poetry is like John Bunyan’s prose in that, although most carefully crafted, it leaves the impression of an unsophisticated mind, drawing its messages from ordinary life.

Herbert also wrote A Priest to the Temple; or the Country Parson, a simple and moving description of the parish pastor as well-read, temperate, given to prayer, devoted to his people: “Now love is his business and aim.” In this book, Herbert might well have been describing himself.

George Herbert is commemorated in the calendar in the American Book of Common Prayer (1979) and on other Anglican calendars on February 27 to make room for the commemoration of St. David on March 1. The Lutheran Book of Worship, the Methodist For All the Saints, and Evangelical Lutheran Worship remember him on the date of his death, March 1.

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: George Herbert

Reading

From A Priest to the Temple by George Herbert

The country parson values catechizing highly: for there being three points of his duty, the one, to infuse a competent knowledge of salvation in every one of his flock; the other, to multiply and build up this knowledge to a spiritual Temple; the third, to inflame this knowledge, to press and drive it to practice, turning it to reformation of life, by pithy and lively exhortations; catechizing is the first point, and but by catechizing, the other cannot be attained. Besides, whereas in sermons there is a kind of state [stateliness], in catechizing there is an humbleness very suitable to Christian regeneration, which exceedingly delights him as by way of exercise upon himself, and by way of preaching to himself, for the advancing of his own mortification; for in preaching to others, he forgets not himself, but is first a sermon to himself, and then to others, growing with the growth of his parish. He useth and prefereth the ordinary Church-catechism, partly for obedience to authority, partly for uniformity sake, that the same common truths may be everywhere professed, especially since many remove from parish to parish, who like Christian soldiers are to give the word, and to satisfy the congregation by their catholic answers. He exacts of [from] all the doctrine of the catechism; of the younger sort, the very words; of the elder, the substance. Those he catechizeth publicly, these privately, giving age honour, according to the Apostle’s rule 1 Tim. 5.1. He requires all to be present at catechizing: first, for the authority of the work; secondly, that parents and masters, as they hear the answers prove, may when they come home, either commend or reprove, either reward or punish. Thirdly, that those of the elder sort who are not well grounded may then by an honourable way take occasion to be better instructed. Fourthly, that those who are well grown in the knowledge of Religion may examine their grounds, renew their vows, and by occasion of both, enlarge their meditations. When once all have learned the words of the catechism, he thinks it the most useful way that a pastor can take, to go over the same, but in other words: for many say the catechism by rote, as parrots, without ever piercing into the sense of it. In this course the order of the catechism would be kept, but the rest varied: as thus, in the Creed: How came this world to be as it is? Was it made, or came it by chance? Who made it? Did you see God make it? Then there are some things to be believed that are not seen? Is this the nature of belief? Is not Christianity full of such things, as are not to be seen, but believed? You said, God made the world; Who is God? And so forward, requiring answers to all these, and helping and cherishing the answerer b making the question very plain with comparisons, and making much even of a word of truth from him. This order being used to one, would be a little varied to another. And this is an admirable way of teaching, wherein the catechized will at length find delight, and by which the catechizer, if he once get the skill of it, will draw out of ignorant and silly [ uneducated] souls even the dark and deep points of Religion.

This is the practice which the parson so much commends to all his fellow-labourers; the secret of whose good consists in this, that at sermons and prayers, men may sleep or wander; but when one is asked a question, he must discover what he is.

George Herbert, “The Parson Catechizing,” chap. 11 of A Priest to the Temple, in George Herbert and Henry Vaughan, ed. Louis L. Martz, The Oxford Authors (New York: Oxford University Press, 1986), 215-17.

Propers

Our God and King, you called your servant George Herbert from the pursuit of worldly honors to be a pastor of souls, a poet, and a priest in your temple: Give us grace, we pray, joyfully to perform the tasks you give us to do, knowing that nothing is menial or common that is done for your sake; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever.

LFF

Readings: Psalm 23 or Psalm 1; 1 Peter 5:1-4; Matthew 5:1-10

Hymn of the Day:Come, my way, my truth, my life” (H82 487, LBW 513, ELW 816)

Prayers: For poets and those who make language sing; For humility; For grace to find God in everyday life; For devotion to prayer and dedication to service among clergy and laity.

Preface: A Saint (1) (BCP)

Color: White

David, Bishop of Menevia, Wales, c. 544 (March 1)

About the Commemoration

David (the English approximation of the Welsh Dewi), the patron of Wales, is the best known and best loved of its many saints. Little is known of his life. He was born and ordained in Wales, and, after traveling and founding twelve monasteries, he settled at Menevia, where he founded the monastery since known as St. David’s. These monasteries became centers for the spread of Christianity and bastions of learning, justice, and good order in a hostile environment. The monastic rule was very strict and the monks spent much time in prayer, worship, and good works. David is traditionally known as “the Waterman,” perhaps because he insisted that his monks abstain from other drink or because he is said to have immersed himself daily in cold water in order to subdue the desires of the flesh. He is said to have made a pilgrimage to Jerusalem and was there consecrated bishop. At the Council of Brefi in Cardigan he was recognized as primate of Wales in place of Dubricius. Toward the end of his life he had several Irish saints as his pupils at the monastery. A life of St. David was written by Rhigyfarch ca. 1090, but its reliability is dubious.

David was included on the calendar in the 1979 Book of Common Prayer.

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: Saint David

Reading

From The Life of St. David by Rhigyfarch

The father himself, overflowing with daily fountains of tears, and fragrant with a twofold flame of charity, consecrated with pure hands the due oblation of the Lord’s Body. After matins, he proceeded alone to hold converse with the angels…. The whole of the day he spent, inflexibly and unweariedly, in teaching, praying, genuflecting, and in care for the brethren; also in feeding a multitude of orphans, wards, widows, needy, sick, feeble, and pilgrims: so he began; so he continued; so he ended…. To all men the holy bishop David was the supreme overseer, the supreme protector, the supreme preacher, from whom all received their standard and pattern of living virtuously. To all he was their regulator, he was their dedication, he was their benediction, he was their absolution, their reformation. To the studious, he was instruction; to the needy, life; to the orphans, upbringing; to widows, support; to fathers, a leader; to monks, he was their rule; to non-monastic clergy, the way of life; to all he was all things…. With what blaze of excellence did he shine!

D. A. Foster, The Anglican Year (London: Skeffington, 1953), 133.

Propers

Almighty God, you called your servant David to be a faithful and wise steward of your mysteries for the people of Wales: Mercifully grant that, following his purity of life and zeal for the whole Gospel of Christ, we may with him receive your heavenly reward; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever.

The Church in Wales, rev. DvD; LFF

Readings: Psalm 16:5-11 or 96:1-7; 1 Thessalonians 2:2b-12; Mark 4:26-29

Hymn of the Day:Guide me, O thou great Jehovah” (H82 690, LBW 344, LSB 918, ELW 618) (the only Welsh hymn in common use)

Prayers: For the church in Wales; For the people and leaders of Wales; For the spirit of simplicity and austerity.

Preface: Apostles (BCP)

Color: White

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.

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