Isaiah 25:1–9 (Listen)
God Will Swallow Up Death Forever
25:1 O LORD, you are my God;
I will exalt you; I will praise your name,
for you have done wonderful things,
plans formed of old, faithful and sure.
2 For you have made the city a heap,
the fortified city a ruin;
the foreigners’ palace is a city no more;
it will never be rebuilt.
3 Therefore strong peoples will glorify you;
cities of ruthless nations will fear you.
4 For you have been a stronghold to the poor,
a stronghold to the needy in his distress,
a shelter from the storm and a shade from the heat;
for the breath of the ruthless is like a storm against a wall,
5 like heat in a dry place.
You subdue the noise of the foreigners;
as heat by the shade of a cloud,
so the song of the ruthless is put down.
6 On this mountain the LORD of hosts will make for all peoples
a feast of rich food, a feast of well-aged wine,
of rich food full of marrow, of aged wine well refined.
7 And he will swallow up on this mountain
the covering that is cast over all peoples,
the veil that is spread over all nations.
8 He will swallow up death forever;
and the Lord GOD will wipe away tears from all faces,
and the reproach of his people he will take away from all the earth,
for the LORD has spoken.
9 It will be said on that day,
“Behold, this is our God; we have waited for him, that he might save us.
This is the LORD; we have waited for him;
let us be glad and rejoice in his salvation.”
Acts 4:13–31 (Listen)
13 Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated, common men, they were astonished. And they recognized that they had been with Jesus. 14 But seeing the man who was healed standing beside them, they had nothing to say in opposition. 15 But when they had commanded them to leave the council, they conferred with one another, 16 saying, “What shall we do with these men? For that a notable sign has been performed through them is evident to all the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and we cannot deny it. 17 But in order that it may spread no further among the people, let us warn them to speak no more to anyone in this name.” 18 So they called them and charged them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. 19 But Peter and John answered them, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you rather than to God, you must judge, 20 for we cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard.” 21 And when they had further threatened them, they let them go, finding no way to punish them, because of the people, for all were praising God for what had happened. 22 For the man on whom this sign of healing was performed was more than forty years old.
The Believers Pray for Boldness
23 When they were released, they went to their friends and reported what the chief priests and the elders had said to them. 24 And when they heard it, they lifted their voices together to God and said, “Sovereign Lord, who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and everything in them, 25 who through the mouth of our father David, your servant, said by the Holy Spirit,
“‘Why did the Gentiles rage,
and the peoples plot in vain?
26 The kings of the earth set themselves,
and the rulers were gathered together,
against the Lord and against his Anointed’—
27 for truly in this city there were gathered together against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, 28 to do whatever your hand and your plan had predestined to take place. 29 And now, Lord, look upon their threats and grant to your servants to continue to speak your word with all boldness, 30 while you stretch out your hand to heal, and signs and wonders are performed through the name of your holy servant Jesus.” 31 And when they had prayed, the place in which they were gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and continued to speak the word of God with boldness.
John 16:16–33 (Listen)
Your Sorrow Will Turn into Joy
16 “A little while, and you will see me no longer; and again a little while, and you will see me.” 17 So some of his disciples said to one another, “What is this that he says to us, ‘A little while, and you will not see me, and again a little while, and you will see me’; and, ‘because I am going to the Father’?” 18 So they were saying, “What does he mean by ‘a little while’? We do not know what he is talking about.” 19 Jesus knew that they wanted to ask him, so he said to them, “Is this what you are asking yourselves, what I meant by saying, ‘A little while and you will not see me, and again a little while and you will see me’? 20 Truly, truly, I say to you, you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice. You will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will turn into joy. 21 When a woman is giving birth, she has sorrow because her hour has come, but when she has delivered the baby, she no longer remembers the anguish, for joy that a human being has been born into the world. 22 So also you have sorrow now, but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you. 23 In that day you will ask nothing of me. Truly, truly, I say to you, whatever you ask of the Father in my name, he will give it to you. 24 Until now you have asked nothing in my name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.
I Have Overcome the World
25 “I have said these things to you in figures of speech. The hour is coming when I will no longer speak to you in figures of speech but will tell you plainly about the Father. 26 In that day you will ask in my name, and I do not say to you that I will ask the Father on your behalf; 27 for the Father himself loves you, because you have loved me and have believed that I came from God. 28 I came from the Father and have come into the world, and now I am leaving the world and going to the Father.”
29 His disciples said, “Ah, now you are speaking plainly and not using figurative speech! 30 Now we know that you know all things and do not need anyone to question you; this is why we believe that you came from God.” 31 Jesus answered them, “Do you now believe? 32 Behold, the hour is coming, indeed it has come, when you will be scattered, each to his own home, and will leave me alone. Yet I am not alone, for the Father is with me. 33 I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”
Psalm 92 (Listen)
How Great Are Your Works
A Psalm. A Song for the Sabbath.
92:1 It is good to give thanks to the LORD,
to sing praises to your name, O Most High;
2 to declare your steadfast love in the morning,
and your faithfulness by night,
3 to the music of the lute and the harp,
to the melody of the lyre.
4 For you, O LORD, have made me glad by your work;
at the works of your hands I sing for joy.
5 How great are your works, O LORD!
Your thoughts are very deep!
6 The stupid man cannot know;
the fool cannot understand this:
7 that though the wicked sprout like grass
and all evildoers flourish,
they are doomed to destruction forever;
8 but you, O LORD, are on high forever.
9 For behold, your enemies, O LORD,
for behold, your enemies shall perish;
all evildoers shall be scattered.
10 But you have exalted my horn like that of the wild ox;
you have poured over me fresh oil.
11 My eyes have seen the downfall of my enemies;
my ears have heard the doom of my evil assailants.
12 The righteous flourish like the palm tree
and grow like a cedar in Lebanon.
13 They are planted in the house of the LORD;
they flourish in the courts of our God.
14 They still bear fruit in old age;
they are ever full of sap and green,
15 to declare that the LORD is upright;
he is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in him.
Psalm 149 (Listen)
Sing to the Lord a New Song
149:1 Praise the LORD!
Sing to the LORD a new song,
his praise in the assembly of the godly!
2 Let Israel be glad in his Maker;
let the children of Zion rejoice in their King!
3 Let them praise his name with dancing,
making melody to him with tambourine and lyre!
4 For the LORD takes pleasure in his people;
he adorns the humble with salvation.
5 Let the godly exult in glory;
let them sing for joy on their beds.
6 Let the high praises of God be in their throats
and two-edged swords in their hands,
7 to execute vengeance on the nations
and punishments on the peoples,
8 to bind their kings with chains
and their nobles with fetters of iron,
9 to execute on them the judgment written!
This is honor for all his godly ones.
Praise the LORD!
Psalm 23 (Listen)
The Lord Is My Shepherd
A Psalm of David.
23:1 The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.
2 He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters.
3 He restores my soul.
He leads me in paths of righteousness
for his name’s sake.
4 Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.
5 You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies;
you anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD
Psalm 114 (Listen)
Tremble at the Presence of the Lord
114:1 When Israel went out from Egypt,
the house of Jacob from a people of strange language,
2 Judah became his sanctuary,
Israel his dominion.
3 The sea looked and fled;
Jordan turned back.
4 The mountains skipped like rams,
the hills like lambs.
5 What ails you, O sea, that you flee?
O Jordan, that you turn back?
6 O mountains, that you skip like rams?
O hills, like lambs?
7 Tremble, O earth, at the presence of the Lord,
at the presence of the God of Jacob,
8 who turns the rock into a pool of water,
the flint into a spring of water.
Mikael Agricola, Bishop of Turku, Renewer of the Church 1557; with Paavali (Paul) Juusten, Bishop of Viipuri, 1576; and Paavo Henrik Ruotsalaien, Evangelist, 1852 (April 10)
About the Commemoration
Mikael Agricola (the accent is on the first syllable of his surname: AH-gree-co-la) was born in Uusimaa, Finland, which was then a province of Sweden, in 1512. He went to school in Viipuri and later moved to Turku, where he stayed for six or seven years. He did well in his studies, and he was one of the eight Finnish students whom the aged Martinus Skytte, Bishop of Turku (1528-1550), a former Dominican monk, sent to study under Luther and Melanchthon at the University of Wittenberg. He received his master’s degree there in 1539 and, returning with Luther’s special recommendation in a letter to the king, became rector of the cathedral school and, in 1548, assistant to the bishop.
In 1554, after the death of Bishop Skytte, he was consecrated Bishop of Turku by the Swedish hierarchy without submitting his name for papal approval. He carried out in Finland a thoroughgoing Lutheran reformation comparable to that of the Petri Brothers in Sweden (see April 19), retaining much of the historic doctrines and practices of the Church but eliminating unscriptural elements and encouraging greater participation of the laity.
Bishop Agricola realized the need for the Finns to read the Scripture and participate in the services of the Church in their own language. He therefore devised an orthography, which is the basis for modern Finnish spelling, and prepared an ABC book; a prayer book (1544), probably his most widely read book, which contained miscellaneous secular information in addition to prayers; a translation of the New Testament (1548); and a vernacular translation of the Mass (1549). He began a collection of Finnish hymns and translated others. For these and other writings he became recognized as the creator of the Finnish literary language.
Bishop Agricola was one of the members of a royal commission sent to Russia to negotiate peace after the Russian-Swedish hostilities of 1555-1557, and on his return from this strenuous trip he fell ill on Palm Sunday, April 9, 1557, and died that night. He had been bishop but three years and was not yet fifty years old.
He is remembered as a learned man, interested in mysticism and the ancient religion of his homeland, moderate and conciliatory in dealings with others, but anxious for the well-being of the Church and the Christian life of its members. In 1948, on the four hundredth anniversary of his death, he was widely commemorated and many new articles and books on his life and works were published. The Finnish Lutheran Church in Toronto is named for him.
With Agricola, Paavali (Paul) Juusten (1516-1576) might also be remembered. He, too, had been sent by Bishop Skytte to Wittenberg (1543-1546). He was rector of the cathedral school at Turku, and in 1554 he was consecrated the first bishop of the newly established diocese of Viipuri (Viborg), near the Russian border. He later became a successor of Agricola and served as Bishop of Turku for thirteen years. Juusten wrote a catechism and a manual for the clergy, was concerned for the spiritual and intellectual welfare of the clergy of Finland, and, together with Agricola, revived the spirituality of the Church in Finland.
Paavo Henrik Ruotsalainen was a lay evangelist who in the eighteenth century revitalized the springs of the religious tradition. He was born July 9, 1777, and spent most of his life in Nilsia. A poor peasant, without formal education, this “prophet of the wilderness” nonetheless became the outstanding layman in the Church of Finland. He was known as a sympathetic confessor and spiritual counselor, an effective preacher despite harassment by ecclesiastical and secular officials. He died January 27, 1852, and is commemorated on that date by 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.
From Orthodoxy by C. K. Chesterton
Mysticism keeps man sane. As long as you have mystery you have health; when you destroy mystery you create morbidity. The ordinary man has always been sane because the ordinary man has always been a mystic. He has permitted the twilight. He has always had one foot in earth and the other in fairy land. He has always left himself free to doubt his gods; but (unlike the agnostic of today) free also to believe in them. He has always cared more for truth than for consistency. If he saw two truths that seemed to contradict each other, he would take the two truths and the contradiction along with them. His spiritual sight is stereoscopic, like his physical sight: he sees two different pictures at once and yet sees all the better for that. Thus he has always believed that there is such a thing as fate, but such a thing as free will also. Thus he believed that children were indeed the kingdom of heaven, but nevertheless ought to be obedient to the kingdom of earth. He admired youth because it was young and age because it was not.
It is exactly this balance of apparent contradictions that had been the whole buoyancy of the healthy man. The whole secret of mysticism is this: that man can understand everything by the help of what he does not understand. The morbid logician seeks to make everything lucid, and succeeds in making everything mysterious. The mystic allows one thing to be mysterious, and everything else becomes lucid. The determinist makes the theory of causation quite clear, and then finds that he cannot say “if you please” to the housemaid. The Christian permits free will to remain a sacred mystery; but because of this his relations with the household become of a sparkling and crystal clearness. He puts the seed of dogma in a central darkness; but it branches forth in all directions with abounding natural health. As we have taken the circle as the symbol of reason and madness, we may very well take the cross as the symbol at once of mystery and of health. Buddhism is centripetal, but Christianity is centrifugal: it breaks out. For the circle is perfect and infinite in its nature; but it is fixed for ever in its size; it can never be larger or smaller. But the cross, though it has at its heart a collision and a contradiction, can extend its four arms for ever without altering its shape. Because it has a paradox in its centre it can grow without changing. The circle returns upon itself and is bound. The cross opens its arms to the four winds; it is a signpost for free travellers.
G. K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy (New York and London: John Lane, 1908), 49-50.
Almighty God, by the ministry of your servants Mikael Agricola, Paavali Juusten, and Paavo Ruotsalainen, you revived the Church in Finland and renewed its life: Raise up in our own day teachers and prophets inspired by your Spirit, whose voices will give strength to your church and proclaim the reality of your kingdom; through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.
LBW, ELW Common of Renewers of the Church, rev. PHP
Readings: Jeremiah 1:4-10; Psalm 46; 1 Corinthians 3:11-23; Mark 10:35-45
Hymn of the Day: “Lord, as a pilgrim through life I go” (LBW 485)
Prayers: For the Church in Finland: its archbishop, bishops, priests, and people; For increasingly intelligent participation in the worship of the church; For compassion and a conciliatory spirit, especially in controversy; For those who study language and culture.
Preface: A Saint (1) (BCP) or All Saints
William Law, Priest, 1761 (April 10)
About the Commemoration
The son of a village grocer in Kings Cliffe, Northamptonshire, William Law was born in 1686 and educated at Emmanuel College, Cambridge, of which he became a fellow in 1711. Three years later, because he refused to abjure the Stuarts and take the oath of allegiance to George I, he was compelled to resign from his position and was deprived of the usual means of making a living as a clergyman of the Church of England. He became a “Nonjuror” and retired into private life.
He worked as tutor to the father of Edward Gibbon, the historian, from 1727 to 1737. He then, in 1740, returned to his native village, where with a Mrs. Hutcheson and Hester Gibbon he organized schools and almshouses, and led a life of great simplicity, devotion, and charity. He defended the Scriptures and sacraments against the attacks of the Deists and spoke out eloquently against the warfare of his day. He was a stalwart defender of the poor and shared his food with them every day, a practice that so offended the local vicar that he preached a sermon denouncing such indiscriminate charity.
William Law’s book A Serious Call to a Devout and Holy Life (1728) is one of the great classics of Christian devotion. In it, he insists that the moral virtues of temperance, humility, and self-denial, all animated by the intention to glorify God, should be the basis of daily living. “If we are to follow Christ,” he wrote, “it must be in our common way of spending every day.” The book, inspired by such spiritual writers as Johannes Tauler, John Ruysbroek, and Thomas à Kempis, is written with humor, based on accurate observation of manners, couched in straightforward prose set out in brief paragraphs that are easy to digest, and interspersed with character sketches that give point to the summons to a devout life. The book had a profound influence on John Wesley and George Whitefield and laid the foundation for the evangelical revival of the eighteenth century, the Evangelical Movement in England, and the Great Awakening in America.
William Law died April 9, 1761. His commemoration in the calendar of the American Book of Common Prayer, April 9, has in Lesser Feasts and Fasts 1997 been moved to the next day to make room for the commemoration of Dietrich Bonhoeffer on April 9. Churches that remember Mikael Agricola on this date might choose to transfer the commemoration of William Law to April 11. The Methodist calendar in For All the Saints remembers both Dietrich Bonhoeffer and William Law on April 9.
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: William Law
From A Serious Call to a Devout and Holy Life by William Law
If contempt of the world and heavenly affection is a necessary temper of Christians, it is necessary that this temper appear in the whole course of their lives, in their manner of using the world, because it can have no place anywhere else. If self-denial be a condition of salvation, all that would be saved must make it a part of their ordinary life. If humility be a Christian duty, then the common life of a Christian is to be a constant course of humility in all its kinds. If poverty of spirit be necessary, it must be the spirit and temper of every day of our lives. If we are to relieve the naked, the sick, and the prisoner, it must be the common charity of our lives, as far as we can render ourselves able to perform it. If we are to love our enemies, we must make our common life a visible exercise and demonstration of that love. If content and thankfulness, if the patient bearing of evil be duties to God, they are the duties of every day, and in every circumstance of our life. If we are to be wise and holy as the newborn sons of God, we can not otherwise be so, but by renouncing every thing that is foolish and vain in every part of our common life. If we are to be in Christ new creatures, we must show that we are so, by having new ways of living in the world. If we are to follow Christ, it must be in our common way of spending every day….
If our common life is not a common course of humility, self-denial, renunciation of the world, poverty of spirit, and heavenly affection, we do not live the lives of Christians.
William Law, A Serious Call to a Devout and Holy Life (1728), Everyman Ed. 1906, 1912, pp. 6, 7.
Almighty and everlasting God, you called William Law to a life of contemplation, and gave him, in visions of eternity, the assurance of your unalterable love: Grant us also, amid the transient occupations of our workaday world, glimpses of the King in his beauty, your Son Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.
Isa. 33:17; Oxford Centenary Supplementary Missal, rev. JWP
Readings: Psalm 1 or 103:1-4, 13-18; Philippians 3:7-14; Matthew 6:1-6, 16-21.
Hymn of the Day: “O for a closer walk with God” (H82 683, 684; SBH 466)
Prayers: For all those who by their writing and example, help Christians to pray; For the church’s work among the poor and needy; For the timid and those who suffer at the hands of oppressors; For grace that our lives may reflect our prayers.
Preface: A Saint (2) (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.