Home > Reading > Daily Reading – March 12, 2022

2:23 So 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.”

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.

– Mark 2:23–3:6

There are times in life and in ministry when most of us would very much like to swing the hammer of the Law a bit more forcefully. When people, even Christian people so readily ignore the commandment, “Remember the Sabbath Day to keep it holy,” we might wish we could call down fire from heaven to threaten those who don’t/won’t keep the Sabbath — driving them into the church on Sunday mornings.

We have two words from Holy Scripture in this regard: “remember the Sabbath to keep it holy,” and “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.” These we keep in tension, aware that Sunday worship is not to be in fulfillment of a legalistic requirement, yet knowing God gave us a Sabbath day of worship and renewal — for our own sake — for our own balance, health and spiritual vitality. And yet, the message is, “The Son of Man is lord, even of the Sabbath.”

The difficulty in Jesus’ time was that the religious leaders considered themselves “lords,” arbiters of the Sabbath, establishing detailed, picayune regulations about what constituted “keeping the Sabbath” and what was a perceived violation. Even certain healing activities were prohibited because they might include some form of “work.” Jesus, however, as Lord of the Sabbath, never hesitated to do good, to sustain, preserve or restore life.

It may be that we have come to understand ourselves as “lords and ladies” of the Sabbath! Perhaps we take the words of Jesus to heart and our liberty becomes license — as we easily dismiss the Sabbath and Sabbath observance. If only we could see and understand the Sabbath commandment, not as restrictive or limiting, but freeing and life-giving! In our Gospel freedom, perhaps the season of Lent is a wonderful time to “take back Sunday?”

Prayer: Lord God, as we focus on renewal in our churches, free us and renew us as well. Amen.

Devotion written by the Rev. Dr. David M. Wendel

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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