9:1 As he passed by, he saw a man blind from birth. 2 And his disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” 3 Jesus answered, “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him. 4 We must work the works of him who sent me while it is day; night is coming, when no one can work. 5 As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” 6 Having said these things, he spit on the ground and made mud with the saliva. Then he anointed the man’s eyes with the mud 7 and said to him, “Go, wash in the pool of Siloam” (which means Sent). So, he went and washed and came back seeing. 8 The neighbors and those who had seen him before as a beggar were saying, “Is this not the man who used to sit and beg?” 9 Some said, “It is he.” Others said, “No, but he is like him.” He kept saying, “I am the man.” 10 So they said to him, “Then how were your eyes opened?” 11 He answered, “The man called Jesus made mud and anointed my eyes and said to me, ‘Go to Siloam and wash.’ So, I went and washed and received my sight.”
– John 9:1-11
In this powerful text, Jesus declares He is the Light of the world. This is a powerful claim and the most powerful statement ever said or ever stated by any human being on the face of this planet. It was incredibly stunning, confusing and startling to all of those people who were listening to Him. Rather than trying to understand the source and the content of that claim, they started to look for and find fault in everything that Jesus was saying and in every action that He was taking.
Truly speaking, Jesus is the Light of the world! He spoke that statement and made that claim as He was dealing with the issue of sin. Jesus was also dealing with the tragic condition of human brokenness: such as sickness, poverty, blindness, and in general, the brokenness of human life. Before healing the blind man and changing the condition of his life, Jesus declared, “I am the light of the world.” Two important things need to be highlighted in this text: the first one is dealing with the issue in question of human sin, and the second one is resolving human tragedy and predicament. Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is the ultimate source and radical solution to the deepest predicament of humanity — namely dealing with our spiritual and physical brokenness. Jesus is truly the Light of the world! He brings light into our dark life and helps us to overcome the burden of sin. He also brings His light of love as He heals the brokenness of our life and resolves every issue and situation we have in our lives
Prayer: Dear Lord Jesus, may your light continue to shine in my life every day, especially as I’m dealing with the burden of my sin and with the brokenness of my body. I pray that You bring Your light into my life and show me the way to get out of my darkest life conditions. Thank You for declaring to me that You are the Light of the world and thank You for giving that light to me. Please help me to experience that Light and to let others also experience that Light through me. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
Lenten Response: Light a candle today, as you pray and remember that Jesus is the Light of the world
Devotion written by the Rev. Dr. Gemechis Buba
Jeremiah 24 (Listen)
The Good Figs and the Bad Figs
24:1 After Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon had taken into exile from Jerusalem Jeconiah the son of Jehoiakim, king of Judah, together with the officials of Judah, the craftsmen, and the metal workers, and had brought them to Babylon, the LORD showed me this vision: behold, two baskets of figs placed before the temple of the LORD. 2 One basket had very good figs, like first-ripe figs, but the other basket had very bad figs, so bad that they could not be eaten. 3 And the LORD said to me, “What do you see, Jeremiah?” I said, “Figs, the good figs very good, and the bad figs very bad, so bad that they cannot be eaten.”
4 Then the word of the LORD came to me: 5 “Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel: Like these good figs, so I will regard as good the exiles from Judah, whom I have sent away from this place to the land of the Chaldeans. 6 I will set my eyes on them for good, and I will bring them back to this land. I will build them up, and not tear them down; I will plant them, and not pluck them up. 7 I will give them a heart to know that I am the LORD, and they shall be my people and I will be their God, for they shall return to me with their whole heart.
8 “But thus says the LORD: Like the bad figs that are so bad they cannot be eaten, so will I treat Zedekiah the king of Judah, his officials, the remnant of Jerusalem who remain in this land, and those who dwell in the land of Egypt. 9 I will make them a horror to all the kingdoms of the earth, to be a reproach, a byword, a taunt, and a curse in all the places where I shall drive them. 10 And I will send sword, famine, and pestilence upon them, until they shall be utterly destroyed from the land that I gave to them and their fathers.”
Romans 9:19–33 (Listen)
19 You will say to me then, “Why does he still find fault? For who can resist his will?” 20 But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, “Why have you made me like this?” 21 Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for dishonorable use? 22 What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, 23 in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory—24 even us whom he has called, not from the Jews only but also from the Gentiles? 25 As indeed he says in Hosea,
“Those who were not my people I will call ‘my people,’
and her who was not beloved I will call ‘beloved.’”
26 “And in the very place where it was said to them, ‘You are not my people,’
there they will be called ‘sons of the living God.’”
27 And Isaiah cries out concerning Israel: “Though the number of the sons of Israel be as the sand of the sea, only a remnant of them will be saved, 28 for the Lord will carry out his sentence upon the earth fully and without delay.” 29 And as Isaiah predicted,
“If the Lord of hosts had not left us offspring,
we would have been like Sodom
and become like Gomorrah.”
30 What shall we say, then? That Gentiles who did not pursue righteousness have attained it, that is, a righteousness that is by faith; 31 but that Israel who pursued a law that would lead to righteousness did not succeed in reaching that law. 32 Why? Because they did not pursue it by faith, but as if it were based on works. They have stumbled over the stumbling stone, 33 as it is written,
“Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense;
and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.”
John 9:1–17 (Listen)
Jesus Heals a Man Born Blind
9:1 As he passed by, he saw a man blind from birth. 2 And his disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” 3 Jesus answered, “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him. 4 We must work the works of him who sent me while it is day; night is coming, when no one can work. 5 As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” 6 Having said these things, he spit on the ground and made mud with the saliva. Then he anointed the man’s eyes with the mud 7 and said to him, “Go, wash in the pool of Siloam” (which means Sent). So he went and washed and came back seeing.
8 The neighbors and those who had seen him before as a beggar were saying, “Is this not the man who used to sit and beg?” 9 Some said, “It is he.” Others said, “No, but he is like him.” He kept saying, “I am the man.” 10 So they said to him, “Then how were your eyes opened?” 11 He answered, “The man called Jesus made mud and anointed my eyes and said to me, ‘Go to Siloam and wash.’ So I went and washed and received my sight.” 12 They said to him, “Where is he?” He said, “I do not know.”
13 They brought to the Pharisees the man who had formerly been blind. 14 Now it was a Sabbath day when Jesus made the mud and opened his eyes. 15 So the Pharisees again asked him how he had received his sight. And he said to them, “He put mud on my eyes, and I washed, and I see.” 16 Some of the Pharisees said, “This man is not from God, for he does not keep the Sabbath.” But others said, “How can a man who is a sinner do such signs?” And there was a division among them. 17 So they said again to the blind man, “What do you say about him, since he has opened your eyes?” He said, “He is a prophet.”
Psalm 119:73–80 (Listen)
73 Your hands have made and fashioned me;
give me understanding that I may learn your commandments.
74 Those who fear you shall see me and rejoice,
because I have hoped in your word.
75 I know, O LORD, that your rules are righteous,
and that in faithfulness you have afflicted me.
76 Let your steadfast love comfort me
according to your promise to your servant.
77 Let your mercy come to me, that I may live;
for your law is my delight.
78 Let the insolent be put to shame,
because they have wronged me with falsehood;
as for me, I will meditate on your precepts.
79 Let those who fear you turn to me,
that they may know your testimonies.
80 May my heart be blameless in your statutes,
that I may not be put to shame!
Psalm 145 (Listen)
Great Is the Lord
A Song of Praise. Of David.
145:1 I will extol you, my God and King,
and bless your name forever and ever.
2 Every day I will bless you
and praise your name forever and ever.
3 Great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised,
and his greatness is unsearchable.
4 One generation shall commend your works to another,
and shall declare your mighty acts.
5 On the glorious splendor of your majesty,
and on your wondrous works, I will meditate.
6 They shall speak of the might of your awesome deeds,
and I will declare your greatness.
7 They shall pour forth the fame of your abundant goodness
and shall sing aloud of your righteousness.
8 The LORD is gracious and merciful,
slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
9 The LORD is good to all,
and his mercy is over all that he has made.
10 All your works shall give thanks to you, O LORD,
and all your saints shall bless you!
11 They shall speak of the glory of your kingdom
and tell of your power,
12 to make known to the children of man your mighty deeds,
and the glorious splendor of your kingdom.
13 Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom,
and your dominion endures throughout all generations.
[The LORD is faithful in all his words
and kind in all his works.]
14 The LORD upholds all who are falling
and raises up all who are bowed down.
15 The eyes of all look to you,
and you give them their food in due season.
16 You open your hand;
you satisfy the desire of every living thing.
17 The LORD is righteous in all his ways
and kind in all his works.
18 The LORD is near to all who call on him,
to all who call on him in truth.
19 He fulfills the desire of those who fear him;
he also hears their cry and saves them.
20 The LORD preserves all who love him,
but all the wicked he will destroy.
21 My mouth will speak the praise of the LORD,
and let all flesh bless his holy name forever and ever.
Psalm 121 (Listen)
My Help Comes from the Lord
A Song of Ascents.
121:1 I lift up my eyes to the hills.
From where does my help come?
2 My help comes from the LORD,
who made heaven and earth.
3 He will not let your foot be moved;
he who keeps you will not slumber.
4 Behold, he who keeps Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.
5 The LORD is your keeper;
the LORD is your shade on your right hand.
6 The sun shall not strike you by day,
nor the moon by night.
7 The LORD will keep you from all evil;
he will keep your life.
8 The LORD will keep
your going out and your coming in
from this time forth and forevermore.
Psalm 6 (Listen)
O Lord, Deliver My Life
To the choirmaster: with stringed instruments; according to The Sheminith. A Psalm of David.
6:1 O LORD, rebuke me not in your anger,
nor discipline me in your wrath.
2 Be gracious to me, O LORD, for I am languishing;
heal me, O LORD, for my bones are troubled.
3 My soul also is greatly troubled.
But you, O LORD—how long?
4 Turn, O LORD, deliver my life;
save me for the sake of your steadfast love.
5 For in death there is no remembrance of you;
in Sheol who will give you praise?
6 I am weary with my moaning;
every night I flood my bed with tears;
I drench my couch with my weeping.
7 My eye wastes away because of grief;
it grows weak because of all my foes.
8 Depart from me, all you workers of evil,
for the LORD has heard the sound of my weeping.
9 The LORD has heard my plea;
the LORD accepts my prayer.
10 All my enemies shall be ashamed and greatly troubled;
they shall turn back and be put to shame in a moment.
Jonathan Edwards, Teacher, Missionary to the Native Americans, 1758 (March 22)
About the Commemoration
Jonathan Edwards, a man of exceptional intellect who influenced theology not only in America but in Britain as well, was born in East Windsor, Connecticut, October 5, 1703. He was a fifth of eleven children and the only son of his father, who was the pastor of the Congregational Church there. After a rigorous education at home, the son enrolled at Yale when he was thirteen and received the B.A. in 1720. He continued in the study of divinity there for a time before a short pastorate in New York, from August 1722 to May 1723. He returned to Yale for the M.A., which he received in 1723 and stayed on again as tutor until 1726, when he became assistant to his grandfather Samuel Stoddard at Northampton, the most important church in Massachusetts outside Boston. He was ordained February 22, 1727. Five months later he married the seventeen-year-old Sarah Pierrepont; they were to have eleven children. In 1729 he succeeded his grandfather as pastor of the Northampton church.
As a young man he had already shown remarkable powers of observation and analysis and a wide variety of interests. At the age of fourteen, before any other American thinker, he had discovered in Locke’s Essay Concerning Human Understanding a new theory of knowledge and a psychology that he was able later to use in support of traditional Calvinist doctrines. He had passionately worked through intellectual objections to his theological heritage and in a conversion experience early in 1721 had discovered a “delightful conviction” of divine sovereignty. He joined his profound learning with mystical experience and remarkable gifts in logic.
Edwards became convinced that the ills of the time were attributable to Arminianism, a popular theological position that minimized original sin, stressed free will, and tended to make morality the essence of religion. He preached a series of sermons on justification by faith alone in November 1734, which resulted in a revival of religion in the Connecticut valley in 1734-1735. Edwards reported the events in A Faithful Narrative of the Surprising Work of God (1737) in which he examined the several kinds of conversion experience.
Shortly after this revival of religion, the preaching of George Whitefield, the English Methodist evangelist, and Gilbert Tennant, a New Jersey Presbyterian preacher, led to the Great Awakening of 1740-1742. This widespread revival was defended by Edwards, notably in A Treatise Concerning Human Affections (1746), in which he maintained that the essence of all religion lies in holy love that proves itself by practical results. He was thus able to bridge the eighteenth-century polarization of intellect and emotion.
Despite the increasing reputation of the pastor (and in some measure perhaps because of it), Edwards’s relations with his congregation became strained. Edwards restricted admission to the Holy Communion to the converted and so opposed the more liberal policies of his grandfather who had accepted the “Halfway Covenant,” which allowed those who were baptized but not clearly converted to share the Lord’s Supper and have their children baptized. Edwards’s position was more in keeping with the situation of the Congregational Church after disestablishment, and the position eventually triumphed. Edwards himself, however, was dismissed by his congregation. He preached a dignified and moving farewell sermon July 1, 1750, and went to the frontier of Stockbridge, Massachusetts, to be a missionary to the Native Americans. Despite difficulties with language, sickness, conflict with personal enemies, and Indian wars, he nonetheless was able to publish his Freedom of the Will (1754) and The Great Christian Doctrine of Original Sin Defended (1758).
Late in 1757 Edwards accepted the presidency of the College of New Jersey (later Princeton University) and took up his duties in January. Princeton was at the time suffering from an outbreak of smallpox. Edwards was inoculated but suffered from a secondary infection and died March 22, 1758, in his fifty-fifth year. His worn gravestone is still to be seen in the cemetery there.
Edwards is on the calendar in the Lutheran Book of Worship, Evangelical Lutheran Worship, and the Methodist For All the Saints.
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: Jonathan Edwards (theologian)
From Jonathan Edwards’s Personal Narrative
The sense I had of divine things would often of a sudden kindle up, as it were, a sweet burning in my heart; an ardor of soul, that I know not how to express.
Not long after I began to experience these things, I gave an account to my father of some things that had passed in my mind. I was pretty much affected by the discourse we had together; and when the discourse ended, I walked abroad alone, in a solitary place in my father’s pasture for contemplation. And as I was walking there and looking up on the sky and clouds, there came into my mind so sweet a sense of the glorious majesty and grace of God, that I know not how to express. I seemed to see them both in a sweet conjunction; majesty and meekness joined together; it was a gentle, and holy majesty; and also a majestic meekness; a high, great, and holy gentleness.
After this my sense of divine things gradually increased, and became more and more lively, and had more of that inward sweetness. The appearance of everything was altered; there seemed to be, as it were, a calm, sweet cast, or appearance of divine glory, in almost every thing. God’s excellency, his wisdom, his purity, and love, seemed to appear in every thing; in the sun, moon, and stars; in the clouds, and blue sky; in the grass, flowers, trees; in the water, and all nature; which used greatly to fix my mind. I often used to sit and view the moon for continuance; and in the day, spent much time in viewing the clouds and sky, to behold the sweet glory of God in these things; in the mean time, singing forth, with a low voice, my contemplations of the Creator and Redeemer. And scarce any thing, among all the works of nature, was so delightful to me as thunder and lightning; formerly, nothing had been so terrible to me. Before, I used to be uncommonly terrified with thunder, and to be struck with terror when I saw a thunderstorm rising; but now, on the contrary, it rejoiced me. I felt God, so to speak, at the first appearance of a thunder storm; and used to take the opportunity, at such times, to fix myself in order to new the clouds, and see the lightnings play, and hear the majestic and awful voice of God’s thunder, which oftentimes was exceedingly entertaining, leading me to sweet contemplations of my great and glorious God. While thus engaged, it always seemed natural to me to sing, or chant for my meditations; or, to speak my thoughts in soliloquies with a singing voice.
The Works of President Edwards, ed. S. B. Dwight, vol. 1 (New York: Converse, 1829), 60—62.
Almighty God, you gave to your servant Jonathan Edwards great gifts to understand and to teach your majesty and your grace: Grant that by his teaching your church may know you in your gentle and holy majesty and serve you in love and gratitude; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.
Readings: Isaiah 6:1-8; Psalm 119:89-104; 1 Corinthians 2:6-10, 13-16; John 17:6-10
Hymn of the Day: “My God, how wonderful thou art” (H82 463, LBW 524, ELW 863); “Majestic sweetness sits enthroned” (H40 353, SBH 570); “Eternal God, whose power upholds” (SBH 322)
Prayers: For a deepened sense of the majesty of God; For the spirit of inquiry; For an awakened conscience.
Preface: A Saint (1) (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.