10:7 So Jesus again said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. 8 All who came before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. 9 I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture. 10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.
– John 10:7-10
Throughout the Bible, God is depicted as a Good Shepherd. From Genesis to Revelation, one of the clearest images the Bible uses to show the love of God for humanity is God working, serving and leading His people as a Good Shepherd. Without a Good Shepherd all the sheep in the world would have a great deal of difficulty finding their daily food, place to live and protection and security from all kinds of animals and thieves who threaten their livelihood. God is doing exactly the same for us. Our life can be in great danger if God is not providing us His protection and if God is not leading our life through the deepest and darkest jungle of this world. On top of that, all of those things that we need to sustain our life, such as our daily nourishment, place to live, health, are given to us by God. Therefore, without a doubt, we can clearly and boldly confess, and declare, that God is our Good Shepherd. It’s only a fool who thinks that they can sustain their life by providing everything that is needed, such as safety, security, health, and all the necessary nourishments to sustain our life — including the clean oxygen that we are breathing every second. God is the Giver of life, God is the Protector of life and God is the only Sustainer of our life.
The Bible also tells us there is another entity or agency which is trying to work in opposition to what God is doing for us. The Bible calls that entity the thief! That is clearly Satan. That enemy comes into our lives to kill, to steal and to destroy. That enemy is fully capable of doing that. There is one fact that we can assert on top of that reality — there is no way that we can protect ourselves from the vicious attack that this enemy is trying to unleash over our lives. Our God, He’s our Shepherd — therefore we shall not want anything because He makes us lie down in green pastures. Even though we walked through the valley of the shadow of death, we will fear no evil because His rod and His staff are always with us because of our covenant relationship with Him.
Prayer: Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for having all of us as your sheep. We did not choose You, but You chose us. We did not come to You, but You came to us. Thank You for Your grace. Thank You for Your love and thank You for Your forgiveness. We are clearly like sheep, with no wisdom and no knowledge of life. We make bad choices and take wrong turns in life. But You are always there to protect us and to provide for us as our Good Shepherd. Because of You we have life, and because of You we have a future. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
Lenten Response: Take time to confess today the areas in which you try to serve as your own provider and shepherd, instead of acknowledging the Good Shepherd.
Devotion written by the Rev. Dr. Gemechis Buba
Jeremiah 25:30–38 (Listen)
30 “You, therefore, shall prophesy against them all these words, and say to them:
“‘The LORD will roar from on high,
and from his holy habitation utter his voice;
he will roar mightily against his fold,
and shout, like those who tread grapes,
against all the inhabitants of the earth.
31 The clamor will resound to the ends of the earth,
for the LORD has an indictment against the nations;
he is entering into judgment with all flesh,
and the wicked he will put to the sword,
declares the LORD.’
32 “Thus says the LORD of hosts:
Behold, disaster is going forth
from nation to nation,
and a great tempest is stirring
from the farthest parts of the earth!
33 “And those pierced by the LORD on that day shall extend from one end of the earth to the other. They shall not be lamented, or gathered, or buried; they shall be dung on the surface of the ground.
34 “Wail, you shepherds, and cry out,
and roll in ashes, you lords of the flock,
for the days of your slaughter and dispersion have come,
and you shall fall like a choice vessel.
35 No refuge will remain for the shepherds,
nor escape for the lords of the flock.
36 A voice—the cry of the shepherds,
and the wail of the lords of the flock!
For the LORD is laying waste their pasture,
37 and the peaceful folds are devastated
because of the fierce anger of the LORD.
38 Like a lion he has left his lair,
for their land has become a waste
because of the sword of the oppressor,
and because of his fierce anger.”
Romans 10:14–21 (Listen)
14 How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? 15 And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!” 16 But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed what he has heard from us?” 17 So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.
18 But I ask, have they not heard? Indeed they have, for
“Their voice has gone out to all the earth,
and their words to the ends of the world.”
19 But I ask, did Israel not understand? First Moses says,
“I will make you jealous of those who are not a nation;
with a foolish nation I will make you angry.”
20 Then Isaiah is so bold as to say,
“I have been found by those who did not seek me;
I have shown myself to those who did not ask for me.”
21 But of Israel he says, “All day long I have held out my hands to a disobedient and contrary people.”
John 10:1–18 (Listen)
I Am the Good Shepherd
10:1 “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door but climbs in by another way, that man is a thief and a robber. 2 But he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. 3 To him the gatekeeper opens. The sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. 4 When he has brought out all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. 5 A stranger they will not follow, but they will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers.” 6 This figure of speech Jesus used with them, but they did not understand what he was saying to them.
7 So Jesus again said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. 8 All who came before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. 9 I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture. 10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. 11 I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. 12 He who is a hired hand and not a shepherd, who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. 13 He flees because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep. 14 I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, 15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep. 16 And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd. 17 For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it up again. 18 No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from my Father.”
Psalm 5 (Listen)
Lead Me in Your Righteousness
To the choirmaster: for the flutes. A Psalm of David.
5:1 Give ear to my words, O LORD;
consider my groaning.
2 Give attention to the sound of my cry,
my King and my God,
for to you do I pray.
3 O LORD, in the morning you hear my voice;
in the morning I prepare a sacrifice for you and watch.
4 For you are not a God who delights in wickedness;
evil may not dwell with you.
5 The boastful shall not stand before your eyes;
you hate all evildoers.
6 You destroy those who speak lies;
the LORD abhors the bloodthirsty and deceitful man.
7 But I, through the abundance of your steadfast love,
will enter your house.
I will bow down toward your holy temple
in the fear of you.
8 Lead me, O LORD, in your righteousness
because of my enemies;
make your way straight before me.
9 For there is no truth in their mouth;
their inmost self is destruction;
their throat is an open grave;
they flatter with their tongue.
10 Make them bear their guilt, O God;
let them fall by their own counsels;
because of the abundance of their transgressions cast them out,
for they have rebelled against you.
11 But let all who take refuge in you rejoice;
let them ever sing for joy,
and spread your protection over them,
that those who love your name may exult in you.
12 For you bless the righteous, O LORD;
you cover him with favor as with a shield.
Psalm 147:1–12 (Listen)
He Heals the Brokenhearted
147:1 Praise the LORD!
For it is good to sing praises to our God;
for it is pleasant, and a song of praise is fitting.
2 The LORD builds up Jerusalem;
he gathers the outcasts of Israel.
3 He heals the brokenhearted
and binds up their wounds.
4 He determines the number of the stars;
he gives to all of them their names.
5 Great is our Lord, and abundant in power;
his understanding is beyond measure.
6 The LORD lifts up the humble;
he casts the wicked to the ground.
7 Sing to the LORD with thanksgiving;
make melody to our God on the lyre!
8 He covers the heavens with clouds;
he prepares rain for the earth;
he makes grass grow on the hills.
9 He gives to the beasts their food,
and to the young ravens that cry.
10 His delight is not in the strength of the horse,
nor his pleasure in the legs of a man,
11 but the LORD takes pleasure in those who fear him,
in those who hope in his steadfast love.
12 Praise the LORD, O Jerusalem!
Praise your God, O Zion!
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 51 (Listen)
Create in Me a Clean Heart, O God
To the choirmaster. A Psalm of David, when Nathan the prophet went to him, after he had gone in to Bathsheba.
51:1 Have mercy on me, O God,
according to your steadfast love;
according to your abundant mercy
blot out my transgressions.
2 Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity,
and cleanse me from my sin!
3 For I know my transgressions,
and my sin is ever before me.
4 Against you, you only, have I sinned
and done what is evil in your sight,
so that you may be justified in your words
and blameless in your judgment.
5 Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity,
and in sin did my mother conceive me.
6 Behold, you delight in truth in the inward being,
and you teach me wisdom in the secret heart.
7 Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean;
wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
8 Let me hear joy and gladness;
let the bones that you have broken rejoice.
9 Hide your face from my sins,
and blot out all my iniquities.
10 Create in me a clean heart, O God,
and renew a right spirit within me.
11 Cast me not away from your presence,
and take not your Holy Spirit from me.
12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation,
and uphold me with a willing spirit.
13 Then I will teach transgressors your ways,
and sinners will return to you.
14 Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God,
O God of my salvation,
and my tongue will sing aloud of your righteousness.
15 O Lord, open my lips,
and my mouth will declare your praise.
16 For you will not delight in sacrifice, or I would give it;
you will not be pleased with a burnt offering.
17 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit;
a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.
18 Do good to Zion in your good pleasure;
build up the walls of Jerusalem;
19 then will you delight in right sacrifices,
in burnt offerings and whole burnt offerings;
then bulls will be offered on your altar.
Óscar Arnulfo Romero, Archbishop of San Salvador, Martyr, 1980 (March 24)
About the Commemoration
Óscar Arnulfo Romero y Galdámez was born in 1917 in Ciudad Barrios, in the mountains of El Salvador near the border with Honduras. He left school at twelve and began an apprenticeship as a carpenter. He showed promise as a craftsman, but while still very young he went to seminary. He trained at San Miguel and San Salvador and completed his theological studies in Rome. He was ordained priest there in 1942, but because of the Second World War no member of his family was present. He returned to El Salvador in 1944 and served as a parish priest in the country before becoming rector of the interdioccsan seminary of San Salvador. In 1946 he became secretary of the Bishops’ Conference of El Salvador and remained in this post for twenty-three years.
He was consecrated bishop in 1970 and served as assistant to the aging Archbishop of San Salvador. In 1974 he was made Bishop of Santiago de Maria and in 1977 Archbishop of San Salvador. There was growing unrest in the country because of social injustices and widespread poverty, and the country was in virtual civil war. He had barely begun his work as archbishop when two of his priests were murdered. Romero demanded an inquiry into the events and set up a permanent commission for the defense of human rights. Accusations and attacks continued, even from within the Church. He continued to condemn all forms of what he called “the mysticism of violence.”
In the evening of March 24, 1980, he was celebrating Mass in the small chapel of the Hospital of Divine Providence, which had been his home since his enthronement as archbishop. As he was about to elevate the bread and wine at the Offertory, Óscar Arnulfo Romero was shot through the heart. Minutes before, he had said in his sermon, “Those who surrender to the service of the poor through love of Christ, will live like the grain of wheat that dies. It only apparently dies. If it were not to die, it would remain a solitary grain. The harvest comes because of the grain that dies….We know that every effort to improve society, above all when society is so full of injustice and sin, is an effort that God blesses, that God wants, that God demands of us.” Aware that his life was in danger, he had already announced, “You may say, if they succeed in killing me, that I pardon and bless those who do it. Would, indeed, they might be convinced not to waste their time. A bishop will die, but God’s Church, which is the people, will never perish.”
Óscar Romero was added to the calendar in the Spanish-language service book produced by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Libro de Liturgica y Cántico (Minneapolis: Augsburg Fortress, 1998); and is on the calendar in Evangelical Lutheran Worship. He is on the 1997 Church of England calendar, the Christian Year, and is among those commemorated in new statues on the west front of Westminster Abbey. He was added to the Episcopal (Anglican) calendar in Lesser Feasts and Fasts 2006.
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: Óscar Romero
A Meditation Attributed to Archbishop Romero, “Prophets of a Future Not Our Own”
It helps, now and then, to step back and take the long view. The kingdom is not only beyond our efforts, it is beyond our vision.
We accomplish in our lifetime only a tiny fraction of the magnificent enterprise that is God’s work. Nothing we do is complete, which is another way of saying that the kingdom always lies beyond us.
No statement says all that could be said. No prayer fully expresses our faith. No confession brings perfection. No pastoral visit brings wholeness. No program accomplishes the Church’s mission. No set of goals and objectives includes everything.
This is what we are about: We plant seeds that one day will grow. We water seeds already planted, knowing that they hold future promise. We lay foundations that will need further development. We provide yeast that produces effects beyond our capabilities.
We cannot do everything, and there is a sense of liberation in realizing that. This enables us to do something, and to do it very well. It may be incomplete, but it is a beginning, a step along the way, an opportunity for God’s grace to enter and do the rest.
We may never see the end results, but that is the difference between the master builder and the worker. We are workers not master builders, ministers not messiahs. We are prophets of a future not our own.
http://www.nextreformation.com/wp-admin/general/romero.htm (accessed October 10, 2007). The meditation was written by Ken Untener (1937-2004), later Bishop of Saginaw, for John Cardinal Dearden in November 1979 for a celebration of departed priests; it has been widely attributed to Archbishop Romero.
Eternal God of justice and love, you hold in your mind a vision of creation as you intend it to be: By the example of your servant Oscar Arnulfo Romero give us such a view of your work that we may commit the future to you, confident that what we do in your Name will, in your good time, grow and flourish to your glory; through your Son Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.
Readings: Ezekiel 20:40-42; Psalm 5; Revelation 6:9-11; Mark 8:34-38
Hymn of the Day: “Son of God, eternal Savior” (LBW 364, LSB 842, ELW 655)
Prayers: For compassion for all in need; For social justice; For the poor and the oppressed; For an end to violence.
Preface: A Saint (3) (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.