6:41 So the Jews grumbled about him, because he said, “I am the bread that came down from heaven.” 42 They said, “Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How does he now say, ‘I have come down from heaven’?” 43 Jesus answered them, “Do not grumble among yourselves. 44 No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day. 45 It is written in the Prophets, ‘And they will all be taught by God.’ Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to me— 46 not that anyone has seen the Father except he who is from God; he has seen the Father. 47 Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes has eternal life. 48 I am the bread of life. 49 Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. 50 This is the bread that comes down from heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die. 51 I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. And the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.”
– John 6:41-51
Here is another arresting word from God our heavenly Father — no one comes to Jesus unless the Father makes it happen.
This Word should stop us in our tracks as North Americans. We think we are the masters of our lives. We are in charge. We decide what to do, where to go and whom we follow. It’s my choice, my decision and my life.
Scripture runs completely counter to our assumptions and our worldview. If we believe in Jesus and we are following Him, it is not because we made the right choice. It is not because we have our act together and our values and desires are all lined up the right way.
Martin Luther’s explanation of the third article of the Apostles’ Creed in the Small Catechism states the truth. We cannot believe in Jesus Christ or come to Him by our good intentions, best efforts, wisdom or sheer determination. Rather, the Holy Spirit calls us through the Gospel.
That’s how the Father draws us to Jesus. He speaks promises of love, grace and mercy to us in Word and Sacrament. We are not drawn to Jesus by constant threats of condemnation. God may have to speak the harshest words of condemnation at times in our lives when our hearts are completely hardened. But those words don’t draw us to Christ. They soften our hearts, so we can hear God’s love and forgiveness for us in Jesus.
As we are drawn to Him, we realize He delights in us. In response, we delight in Him.
Prayer: Holy Spirit, thank You for calling me each day through the Gospel, and each day keeping me united in Jesus with the whole Church in true faith. Amen.
Lenten Response: Think of the people God used in your life to draw you to Jesus. Thank God for their witness and their love for you. If possible, thank one of those persons for discipling you.
Devotion written by the Rev. Mark Chavez
Jeremiah 22:13–23 (Listen)
13 “Woe to him who builds his house by unrighteousness,
and his upper rooms by injustice,
who makes his neighbor serve him for nothing
and does not give him his wages,
14 who says, ‘I will build myself a great house
with spacious upper rooms,’
who cuts out windows for it,
paneling it with cedar
and painting it with vermilion.
15 Do you think you are a king
because you compete in cedar?
Did not your father eat and drink
and do justice and righteousness?
Then it was well with him.
16 He judged the cause of the poor and needy;
then it was well.
Is not this to know me?
declares the LORD.
17 But you have eyes and heart
only for your dishonest gain,
for shedding innocent blood,
and for practicing oppression and violence.”
18 Therefore thus says the LORD concerning Jehoiakim the son of Josiah, king of Judah:
“They shall not lament for him, saying,
‘Ah, my brother!’ or ‘Ah, sister!’
They shall not lament for him, saying,
‘Ah, lord!’ or ‘Ah, his majesty!’
19 With the burial of a donkey he shall be buried,
dragged and dumped beyond the gates of Jerusalem.”
20 “Go up to Lebanon, and cry out,
and lift up your voice in Bashan;
cry out from Abarim,
for all your lovers are destroyed.
21 I spoke to you in your prosperity,
but you said, ‘I will not listen.’
This has been your way from your youth,
that you have not obeyed my voice.
22 The wind shall shepherd all your shepherds,
and your lovers shall go into captivity;
then you will be ashamed and confounded
because of all your evil.
23 O inhabitant of Lebanon,
nested among the cedars,
how you will be pitied when pangs come upon you,
pain as of a woman in labor!”
Romans 8:12–27 (Listen)
Heirs with Christ
12 So then, brothers, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. 13 For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. 14 For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. 15 For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” 16 The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.
18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. 19 For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. 20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. 22 For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. 23 And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. 24 For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? 25 But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.
26 Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. 27 And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.
John 6:41–51 (Listen)
41 So the Jews grumbled about him, because he said, “I am the bread that came down from heaven.” 42 They said, “Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How does he now say, ‘I have come down from heaven’?” 43 Jesus answered them, “Do not grumble among yourselves. 44 No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day. 45 It is written in the Prophets, ‘And they will all be taught by God.’ Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to me—46 not that anyone has seen the Father except he who is from God; he has seen the Father. 47 Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes has eternal life. 48 I am the bread of life. 49 Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. 50 This is the bread that comes down from heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die. 51 I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. And the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.”
Psalm 27 (Listen)
The Lord Is My Light and My Salvation
27:1 The LORD is my light and my salvation;
whom shall I fear?
The LORD is the stronghold of my life;
of whom shall I be afraid?
2 When evildoers assail me
to eat up my flesh,
my adversaries and foes,
it is they who stumble and fall.
3 Though an army encamp against me,
my heart shall not fear;
though war arise against me,
yet I will be confident.
4 One thing have I asked of the LORD,
that will I seek after:
that I may dwell in the house of the LORD
all the days of my life,
to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD
and to inquire in his temple.
5 For he will hide me in his shelter
in the day of trouble;
he will conceal me under the cover of his tent;
he will lift me high upon a rock.
6 And now my head shall be lifted up
above my enemies all around me,
and I will offer in his tent
sacrifices with shouts of joy;
I will sing and make melody to the LORD.
7 Hear, O LORD, when I cry aloud;
be gracious to me and answer me!
8 You have said, “Seek my face.”
My heart says to you,
“Your face, LORD, do I seek.”
9 Hide not your face from me.
Turn not your servant away in anger,
O you who have been my help.
Cast me not off; forsake me not,
O God of my salvation!
10 For my father and my mother have forsaken me,
but the LORD will take me in.
11 Teach me your way, O LORD,
and lead me on a level path
because of my enemies.
12 Give me not up to the will of my adversaries;
for false witnesses have risen against me,
and they breathe out violence.
13 I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the LORD
in the land of the living!
14 Wait for the LORD;
be strong, and let your heart take courage;
wait for the LORD!
Psalm 147:13–20 (Listen)
13 For he strengthens the bars of your gates;
he blesses your children within you.
14 He makes peace in your borders;
he fills you with the finest of the wheat.
15 He sends out his command to the earth;
his word runs swiftly.
16 He gives snow like wool;
he scatters frost like ashes.
17 He hurls down his crystals of ice like crumbs;
who can stand before his cold?
18 He sends out his word, and melts them;
he makes his wind blow and the waters flow.
19 He declares his word to Jacob,
his statutes and rules to Israel.
20 He has not dealt thus with any other nation;
they do not know his rules.
Praise the LORD!
Psalm 126 (Listen)
Restore Our Fortunes, O Lord
A Song of Ascents.
126:1 When the LORD restored the fortunes of Zion,
we were like those who dream.
2 Then our mouth was filled with laughter,
and our tongue with shouts of joy;
then they said among the nations,
“The LORD has done great things for them.”
3 The LORD has done great things for us;
we are glad.
4 Restore our fortunes, O LORD,
like streams in the Negeb!
5 Those who sow in tears
shall reap with shouts of joy!
6 He who goes out weeping,
bearing the seed for sowing,
shall come home with shouts of joy,
bringing his sheaves with him.
Psalm 102 (Listen)
Do Not Hide Your Face from Me
A Prayer of one afflicted, when he is faint and pours out his complaint before the LORD.
102:1 Hear my prayer, O LORD;
let my cry come to you!
2 Do not hide your face from me
in the day of my distress!
Incline your ear to me;
answer me speedily in the day when I call!
3 For my days pass away like smoke,
and my bones burn like a furnace.
4 My heart is struck down like grass and has withered;
I forget to eat my bread.
5 Because of my loud groaning
my bones cling to my flesh.
6 I am like a desert owl of the wilderness,
like an owl of the waste places;
7 I lie awake;
I am like a lonely sparrow on the housetop.
8 All the day my enemies taunt me;
those who deride me use my name for a curse.
9 For I eat ashes like bread
and mingle tears with my drink,
10 because of your indignation and anger;
for you have taken me up and thrown me down.
11 My days are like an evening shadow;
I wither away like grass.
12 But you, O LORD, are enthroned forever;
you are remembered throughout all generations.
13 You will arise and have pity on Zion;
it is the time to favor her;
the appointed time has come.
14 For your servants hold her stones dear
and have pity on her dust.
15 Nations will fear the name of the LORD,
and all the kings of the earth will fear your glory.
16 For the LORD builds up Zion;
he appears in his glory;
17 he regards the prayer of the destitute
and does not despise their prayer.
18 Let this be recorded for a generation to come,
so that a people yet to be created may praise the LORD:
19 that he looked down from his holy height;
from heaven the LORD looked at the earth,
20 to hear the groans of the prisoners,
to set free those who were doomed to die,
21 that they may declare in Zion the name of the LORD,
and in Jerusalem his praise,
22 when peoples gather together,
and kingdoms, to worship the LORD.
23 He has broken my strength in midcourse;
he has shortened my days.
24 “O my God,” I say, “take me not away
in the midst of my days—
you whose years endure
throughout all generations!”
25 Of old you laid the foundation of the earth,
and the heavens are the work of your hands.
26 They will perish, but you will remain;
they will all wear out like a garment.
You will change them like a robe, and they will pass away,
27 but you are the same, and your years have no end.
28 The children of your servants shall dwell secure;
their offspring shall be established before you.
Cyril, Bishop of Jerusalem, 386 (March 18)
About the Commemoration
Cyril, one of the most attractive Christian leaders of the fourth century, was born near Jerusalem ca. 315. He was ordained priest about 345 and despite his youth was entrusted with the preparation of candidates for baptism, a task that bishops generally reserved for themselves. The Catechetical Lectures he delivered before Easter in 347 are justly famous and are the clearest surviving exposition of the early Church’s teaching of adults who presented themselves for the rites of initiation. Cyril became Bishop of Jerusalem probably in 349 and held that office until his death on March 18, 386. He spent sixteen of those thirty-seven years in exile, having been deposed and subsequently reinstated three times during the stormy doctrinal controversies of the period.
Jerusalem was the principal focus for pilgrimage, and it is likely that Cyril organized the devotions and instituted the observances of Palm Sunday and Holy Week during the latter years of his episcopate in Jerusalem. As Christians returned home, they took with them the liturgies of Holy Week and so the observance of those holy days spread throughout the Church. The renewed rites of Holy Week in the several Christian churches derive in large measure from Cyril’s understanding and work.
Cyril is included on the General Roman Calendar, the calendar in the Book of Common Prayer, and the Methodist For All the Saints. He is also on the 1962 German Evangelical Calendar of Names.
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: Cyril of Jerusalem
From the Catechetical Lectures of Cyril of Jerusalem, 3, 1-3
“Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice.” [Ps. 96:11] For these people who are about to be sprinkled with hyssop will be cleansed spiritually. His power will purify them, for during his passion the hyssop touched his lips. Let the heavenly angels rejoice. Let those who are about to be wedded to a spiritual spouse prepare themselves. “A voice cries out, ‘In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord.’” [Isa. 40:3] And so, children of righteousness, follow John’s exhortation, “Make straight the way of the Lord.” Remove all obstacles and stumbling blocks so that you will be able to travel straight along the road to eternal life. Through a sincere faith prepare yourselves to receive the Holy Spirit. Wash your garments through repentance, so that when you are summoned to the spouse’s bedchamber, you will be found spotless.
Heralds proclaim the Bridegroom’s invitation and summon all humanity to the wedding feast, for he is a generous lover. Once the crowd has assembled, the bridegroom marks out those who will enter the wedding feast. This is sacramentally effected through baptism.
Give your name at the gate and enter. I hope that none of you will later hear the words, “Friend, how did you get in here without a wedding robe?” [Matt. 22:11] Rather may all of you hear the words, “Well done, good and trustworthy slave; you have been trustworthy in a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.” [Matt. 25:21]
Up to this point in the history of salvation you have stood outside the gate. Now I hope you will all hear the words, “The king has brought me into his chambers. My spirit rejoices in God my Savior. He has clothed me with the garments of salvation and in the cloak of joy. He has made me a bridegroom by placing a crown on my head. He has made me a bride by adorning me with jewels and golden ornaments.” [Song of Sol. 1:4; Luke 1:46; Isa. 61:10]
…[T]his is a truly great occasion. Approach it with caution. You are standing in front of God and in the presence of the hosts of angels. The Holy Spirit is about to impress his seal on each of your souls. You are about to be pressed into the service of a great King.
And so prepare yourselves to receive the sacrament, not with the gleaming white garments you are about to put on, but rather with the devotion of a clean conscience.
Trans. PHP. based on A Short Breviary by the monks of St. John’s Abbey and the English translation of the Office of Readings from the Liturgy of the Hours by the International Committee on English in the Liturgy.
O Lord our God, through Cyril of Jerusalem you led your church to a deeper understanding of the mysteries of salvation: Strengthen the bishops of your church in their calling to be teachers and ministers of the Sacraments, so that they may effectively instruct your people in Christian faith and practice; and that we, taught by them, may enter more fully into the celebration of the Paschal mystery; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.
PHP, RS + LFF
Readings: Psalm 122 or 34:1-8; Ecclesiasticus 47:8-10; Luke 24:44-48
Hymn of the Day: “All who believe and are baptized” (H82 298, LBW 194, LSB 601, ELW 442) or “Baptized into your name most holy” (LBW 192, LSB 590)
Prayers: For the Patriarch of Jerusalem; For the peace of Jerusalem and for reconciliation between Arabs and Jews; For all Christians in Jerusalem, that their unity may increase and that their witness to the love of Christ may be seen by all.
Preface: Dedication of a Church (BCP)
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.