Home > Reading > Daily Reading – March 7, 2022

145:10 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.

– Psalm 145:10-14

Have you ever wondered if God still speaks to His people through dreams and visions? In Genesis 37, God spoke to Joseph through a dream. Before that God spoke to Jacob in a dream at Bethel and showed him a ladder to heaven (Genesis 28). Other poignant examples of God speaking to His servants in dreams include Daniel 7 where the young man saw a vision of the four great beasts who were the four kingdoms of Babylon; when Joseph was visited by the Lord in a dream (Matthew 1:20-21) where he was told to take Mary as his wife; in Acts (chapter 10) Peter received a vision about clean and unclean animals. Is it possible that God still reaches out to us in this manner? I would say it is possible, but I would also say that we aren’t that comfortable with the idea and might miss the message when it comes, chalking it up to our imagination or indigestion.

Today is the feast day of two women of the third-century church who were martyred for their faith. Perpetua, a noblewoman from what is today known as Tunisia in Northern Africa, and her maidservant, Felicitas, were martyred in the year 203 AD by the Roman Emperor Hilarianus, along with three other Christians who confessed Jesus and refused to worship the emperor. We know about Perpetua because she wrote a diary while in prison. St. Augustine, the fourth century bishop of Hippo in Africa, preached four famous sermons about her.

Perpetua was a 22-year-old newly married wife and mother of an infant son. She was part of a thriving Christian community in Carthage, in North Africa, and was studying along with a number of others in the catechumenate. One day they were arrested and thrown into prison for failing to submit to the Roman Emperor who wanted them to make a sacrifice in his honor. Perpetua, Felicitas and the others would not falter. They were beaten, shackled and thrown into a dark dungeon but still they stayed strong in the faith. At one point some of the deacons from their faith community were granted access to the prisoners and baptized them. This bolstered their resolve, especially when the emperor interrogated them.

Perpetua’s father begged her to recant her faith in order to save her newborn son, but she refused. She was a Christian and she would not give up on the Lord in whom she trusted. During her imprisonment, Perpetua received four visions that she wrote about in her diary. One was a vision of a ladder to heaven where she was assaulted from every angle by beasts and a dragon. In that vision she saw a beautiful garden and a white haired shepherd who said to her, “You are welcome, daughter.”

In the second vision she saw a young boy who had died for the faith drinking water that never ran out. In the third vision she saw a deacon knocking on a gate. The deacon said to her, “Perpetua, we are waiting for you.” In the fourth vision she saw heaven where four angels said to her, “Come first, enter and greet your Lord.”

Perpetua also had visions of being attacked by wild animals which eventually came true as the Roman Emperor had her and her four companions led into a stadium to be mauled. The crowd became restless because it was taking too long for the animals to kill the Christians. The soldiers lined up the five, drew their swords, and before they could slay the believers, the friends exchanged kisses. Their faith had led them to this moment of martyrdom.

Perpetua and her friends trusted in the Lord’s promise as the Psalmist wrote: “The Lord upholds all who are falling and raises up all who are bowed down.” May we, like young Perpetua, Felicitas, and their friends, have faith strong enough to withstand the attacks that are aimed at us for following Christ.

Prayer: Holy and loving God, You uphold those who are faithful to You. Help us to be faithful in our daily walk with Jesus, that our lives would inspire others to a deeper faith in You. Grant that we would resist the temptations around us that seek to lead us astray. Bless your Holy Church. Pour out your Holy Spirit that every one of our congregations in the North American Lutheran Church would be revived and would thrive, serving our communities and the world You love. We pray this through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Devotion written by the Rev. Dr. Amy C. Little

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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