2:29 “Why do you contend with me? You have all transgressed against me, declares the Lord. 30 In vain have I struck your children; they took no correction; your own sword devoured your prophets like a ravening lion. 31 And you, O generation, behold the word of the Lord. Have I been a wilderness to Israel, or a land of thick darkness? Why then do my people say, ‘We are free, we will come no more to you’? 32 Can a virgin forget her ornaments, or a bride her attire? Yet my people have forgotten me days without number.
– Jeremiah 2:29-32
The season of Lent is a time of penitence in the wilderness, and it is no coincidence that these passages cause us to reflect on our own lives in acts of confession. Yesterday’s passage from Jeremiah was a hard word, but today’s might be even harder. The Lord describes the days past to Israel, His people: “I remember the devotion of your youth, your love as a bride, how you followed me in the wilderness, in a land not sown. Israel was holy to the Lord, the firstfruits of his harvest” (vv. 2–3). This warm nostalgia turns to sadness, as the Lord laments over the current situation: “What wrong did your fathers find in me that they went far from me, and went after worthlessness, and became worthless? … And I brought you into a plentiful land to enjoy its fruits and its good things. But when you came in, you defiled my land and made my heritage an abomination. … Those who handle the law did not know me; the shepherds [or rulers] transgressed against me; the prophets prophesied by Baal and went after things that do not profit” (vv. 5–8). The people of God have taken the blessings and provisions given to them, and then rejected the Giver; they have covenanted to follow the Way of the Law, but then scorned its use. This is a dreary picture, indeed, one of which the Lord does not mince words: “Has a nation changed its gods, even though they are no gods? But my people have changed their glory for that which does not profit. Be appalled, O heavens, at this; be shocked, be utterly desolate” (vv. 11–12).
Ultimately, the Lord will declare, “You have all transgressed against me” (v. 29). Notice here that this is not directed toward the other nations, those who do not know the Lord. This is directed towards God’s own people, those of His covenant, protection, and promise: “Why then do my people say, ‘We are free, we will come no more to you?’ Can a virgin forget her ornaments, or a bride her attire? Yet my people have forgotten me days without number” (vv. 32–33). We are not left with hope at the end of this passage, but in today’s reading from Paul’s letter to the Romans, we receive the parallel news, and it is good news indeed! While Paul, too, warns us against idolatry, of “worship[ing] and serv[ing] a creature rather than the Creator” (v. 23), he gives us the good news that our hope, our righteousness, our true salvation is found in God — and it is revealed and given to us by faith. It is no wonder that our Gospel passage from John shows us the wonderful consequence of faith: here, the official “believed the word that Jesus spoke to him and went on his way” (v. 50), and this very Word brings life.
Prayer: Almighty God who gives us unfaltering faith, never allow us to forget you, that through your new life gifted to us, we may dwell in You and You in us for all of eternity. Amen.
Lenten Response: Pray for your generation and the generations to come, that all might continue to come to the Lord their God.
Devotion written by the Rev. Andrew Ames Fuller
Jeremiah 2:1–13 (Listen)
Israel Forsakes the Lord
2:1 The word of the LORD came to me, saying, 2 “Go and proclaim in the hearing of Jerusalem, Thus says the LORD,
“I remember the devotion of your youth,
your love as a bride,
how you followed me in the wilderness,
in a land not sown.
3 Israel was holy to the LORD,
the firstfruits of his harvest.
All who ate of it incurred guilt;
disaster came upon them,
declares the LORD.”
4 Hear the word of the LORD, O house of Jacob, and all the clans of the house of Israel. 5 Thus says the LORD:
“What wrong did your fathers find in me
that they went far from me,
and went after worthlessness, and became worthless?
6 They did not say, ‘Where is the LORD
who brought us up from the land of Egypt,
who led us in the wilderness,
in a land of deserts and pits,
in a land of drought and deep darkness,
in a land that none passes through,
where no man dwells?’
7 And I brought you into a plentiful land
to enjoy its fruits and its good things.
But when you came in, you defiled my land
and made my heritage an abomination.
8 The priests did not say, ‘Where is the LORD?’
Those who handle the law did not know me;
the shepherds transgressed against me;
the prophets prophesied by Baal
and went after things that do not profit.
9 “Therefore I still contend with you,
declares the LORD,
and with your children’s children I will contend.
10 For cross to the coasts of Cyprus and see,
or send to Kedar and examine with care;
see if there has been such a thing.
11 Has a nation changed its gods,
even though they are no gods?
But my people have changed their glory
for that which does not profit.
12 Be appalled, O heavens, at this;
be shocked, be utterly desolate,
declares the LORD,
13 for my people have committed two evils:
they have forsaken me,
the fountain of living waters,
and hewed out cisterns for themselves,
broken cisterns that can hold no water.
Jeremiah 2:29–32 (Listen)
29 “Why do you contend with me?
You have all transgressed against me,
declares the LORD.
30 In vain have I struck your children;
they took no correction;
your own sword devoured your prophets
like a ravening lion.
31 And you, O generation, behold the word of the LORD.
Have I been a wilderness to Israel,
or a land of thick darkness?
Why then do my people say, ‘We are free,
we will come no more to you’?
32 Can a virgin forget her ornaments,
or a bride her attire?
Yet my people have forgotten me
days without number.
Romans 1:16–25 (Listen)
The Righteous Shall Live by Faith
16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. 17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.”
God’s Wrath on Unrighteousness
18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. 19 For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. 20 For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. 21 For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools, 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.
24 Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, 25 because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.
John 4:43–54 (Listen)
43 After the two days he departed for Galilee. 44 (For Jesus himself had testified that a prophet has no honor in his own hometown.) 45 So when he came to Galilee, the Galileans welcomed him, having seen all that he had done in Jerusalem at the feast. For they too had gone to the feast.
Jesus Heals an Official’s Son
46 So he came again to Cana in Galilee, where he had made the water wine. And at Capernaum there was an official whose son was ill. 47 When this man heard that Jesus had come from Judea to Galilee, he went to him and asked him to come down and heal his son, for he was at the point of death. 48 So Jesus said to him, “Unless you see signs and wonders you will not believe.” 49 The official said to him, “Sir, come down before my child dies.” 50 Jesus said to him, “Go; your son will live.” The man believed the word that Jesus spoke to him and went on his way. 51 As he was going down, his servants met him and told him that his son was recovering. 52 So he asked them the hour when he began to get better, and they said to him, “Yesterday at the seventh hour the fever left him.” 53 The father knew that was the hour when Jesus had said to him, “Your son will live.” And he himself believed, and all his household. 54 This was now the second sign that Jesus did when he had come from Judea to Galilee.
Psalm 34 (Listen)
Taste and See That the Lord Is Good
Of David, when he changed his behavior before Abimelech, so that he drove him out, and he went away.
34:1 I will bless the LORD at all times;
his praise shall continually be in my mouth.
2 My soul makes its boast in the LORD;
let the humble hear and be glad.
3 Oh, magnify the LORD with me,
and let us exalt his name together!
4 I sought the LORD, and he answered me
and delivered me from all my fears.
5 Those who look to him are radiant,
and their faces shall never be ashamed.
6 This poor man cried, and the LORD heard him
and saved him out of all his troubles.
7 The angel of the LORD encamps
around those who fear him, and delivers them.
8 Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good!
Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!
9 Oh, fear the LORD, you his saints,
for those who fear him have no lack!
10 The young lions suffer want and hunger;
but those who seek the LORD lack no good thing.
11 Come, O children, listen to me;
I will teach you the fear of the LORD.
12 What man is there who desires life
and loves many days, that he may see good?
13 Keep your tongue from evil
and your lips from speaking deceit.
14 Turn away from evil and do good;
seek peace and pursue it.
15 The eyes of the LORD are toward the righteous
and his ears toward their cry.
16 The face of the LORD is against those who do evil,
to cut off the memory of them from the earth.
17 When the righteous cry for help, the LORD hears
and delivers them out of all their troubles.
18 The LORD is near to the brokenhearted
and saves the crushed in spirit.
19 Many are the afflictions of the righteous,
but the LORD delivers him out of them all.
20 He keeps all his bones;
not one of them is broken.
21 Affliction will slay the wicked,
and those who hate the righteous will be condemned.
22 The LORD redeems the life of his servants;
none of those who take refuge in him will be condemned.
Psalm 146 (Listen)
Put Not Your Trust in Princes
146:1 Praise the LORD!
Praise the LORD, O my soul!
2 I will praise the LORD as long as I live;
I will sing praises to my God while I have my being.
3 Put not your trust in princes,
in a son of man, in whom there is no salvation.
4 When his breath departs, he returns to the earth;
on that very day his plans perish.
5 Blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob,
whose hope is in the LORD his God,
6 who made heaven and earth,
the sea, and all that is in them,
who keeps faith forever;
7 who executes justice for the oppressed,
who gives food to the hungry.
The LORD sets the prisoners free;
8 the LORD opens the eyes of the blind.
The LORD lifts up those who are bowed down;
the LORD loves the righteous.
9 The LORD watches over the sojourners;
he upholds the widow and the fatherless,
but the way of the wicked he brings to ruin.
10 The LORD will reign forever,
your God, O Zion, to all generations.
Praise the LORD!
Psalm 25 (Listen)
Teach Me Your Paths
25:1 To you, O LORD, I lift up my soul.
2 O my God, in you I trust;
let me not be put to shame;
let not my enemies exult over me.
3 Indeed, none who wait for you shall be put to shame;
they shall be ashamed who are wantonly treacherous.
4 Make me to know your ways, O LORD;
teach me your paths.
5 Lead me in your truth and teach me,
for you are the God of my salvation;
for you I wait all the day long.
6 Remember your mercy, O LORD, and your steadfast love,
for they have been from of old.
7 Remember not the sins of my youth or my transgressions;
according to your steadfast love remember me,
for the sake of your goodness, O LORD!
8 Good and upright is the LORD;
therefore he instructs sinners in the way.
9 He leads the humble in what is right,
and teaches the humble his way.
10 All the paths of the LORD are steadfast love and faithfulness,
for those who keep his covenant and his testimonies.
11 For your name’s sake, O LORD,
pardon my guilt, for it is great.
12 Who is the man who fears the LORD?
Him will he instruct in the way that he should choose.
13 His soul shall abide in well-being,
and his offspring shall inherit the land.
14 The friendship of the LORD is for those who fear him,
and he makes known to them his covenant.
15 My eyes are ever toward the LORD,
for he will pluck my feet out of the net.
16 Turn to me and be gracious to me,
for I am lonely and afflicted.
17 The troubles of my heart are enlarged;
bring me out of my distresses.
18 Consider my affliction and my trouble,
and forgive all my sins.
19 Consider how many are my foes,
and with what violent hatred they hate me.
20 Oh, guard my soul, and deliver me!
Let me not be put to shame, for I take refuge in you.
21 May integrity and uprightness preserve me,
for I wait for you.
22 Redeem Israel, O God,
out of all his troubles.
Psalm 91 (Listen)
My Refuge and My Fortress
91:1 He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High
will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.
2 I will say to the LORD, “My refuge and my fortress,
my God, in whom I trust.”
3 For he will deliver you from the snare of the fowler
and from the deadly pestilence.
4 He will cover you with his pinions,
and under his wings you will find refuge;
his faithfulness is a shield and buckler.
5 You will not fear the terror of the night,
nor the arrow that flies by day,
6 nor the pestilence that stalks in darkness,
nor the destruction that wastes at noonday.
7 A thousand may fall at your side,
ten thousand at your right hand,
but it will not come near you.
8 You will only look with your eyes
and see the recompense of the wicked.
9 Because you have made the LORD your dwelling place—
the Most High, who is my refuge—
10 no evil shall be allowed to befall you,
no plague come near your tent.
11 For he will command his angels concerning you
to guard you in all your ways.
12 On their hands they will bear you up,
lest you strike your foot against a stone.
13 You will tread on the lion and the adder;
the young lion and the serpent you will trample underfoot.
14 “Because he holds fast to me in love, I will deliver him;
I will protect him, because he knows my name.
15 When he calls to me, I will answer him;
I will be with him in trouble;
I will rescue him and honor him.
16 With long life I will satisfy him
and show him my salvation.”
John Wesley, 1791; Charles Wesley, 1788; Renewers of the Church (March 2)
About the Commemoration
In the eighteenth century the Church of England was in serious decline. Worship was dull and formal, church buildings had been allowed to fall into decay, the poor were neglected, bishops were appointed for political reasons, many of the clergy were worldly and cynical. The Wesley brothers attempted the renewal of the English Church by taking seriously the obligations of the Christian life. Their religious movement began within the Church of England, but the Evangelical revival, as it came to be called, was not always welcome in the established Church and eventually moved outside it.
John (born June 17, 1703) was the fifteenth and Charles (born December 18, 1707) the eighteenth child of Susanna Wesley and her husband Samuel, the rector of Epworth in Lincolnshire, who was descended from an old Puritan family. Susanna was a demanding mother and imparted to her sons a sense of holiness and seriousness that remained with them to the end. The two brothers were both educated at Christ Church College, Oxford. John was ordained a priest in 1728, Charles in 1735. At Oxford, John became a member of the “Holy Society” founded by Charles. The group was composed of those who were dissatisfied with contemporary religious life and who sought mutual improvement. They emphasized frequent communion and fasting twice a week, and their service extended to social work as well. Their methodical program earned them the derogatory name “Methodists.” John’s powerful personality soon made him the leader of the group.
In 1735 the brothers went to Georgia, John sent by the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel and Charles as secretary to the governor, James Oglethorpe. The experience of both brothers was unhappy. John’s purpose was to evangelize the colonists and the Indians, but his preaching against the slave trade and against gin alienated the colonists. He broke with the Calvinists and joined with the Moravians. The brothers returned to London in 1738 and frequented the Moravian chapel in Fetter Lane. Both experienced an inner conversion, Charles on May 21, 1738, and John three days later at a meeting in Aldersgate Street with a Moravian group. The eighteenth-century Evangelical revival was born.
John spent the rest of his long life in evangelistic work. He visited Count von Zinzendorf in Germany. The brothers were increasingly excluded from the established Church, though they continued to respect it, and they turned more and more to preaching in the fields. It is said that John traveled more than a quarter of a million miles on horseback all over England and preached more than forty thousand sermons, often several each day. On June 11, 1739, John wrote in his journal, “I look upon all the world as my parish; thus far I mean, that, in whatever part of it I am in, I judge it meet, right and my bounden duty, to declare unto all that are willing to hear, the glad tidings of salvation. This is the work which I know God has called me to; and sure I am that his blessing attends it.”
In 1740 the brothers ended their connection with the Moravians and opened a “Methodist” chapel in Bristol. Both brothers wished to remain in the established Church but differed with each other concerning their right to ordain ministers if none were forthcoming from the Church of England.
Charles, the best of the hymn writers of the age, wrote, it is said, over six thousand hymns. He married in 1749, retired from itinerant preaching in 1756, and settled in Bristol. In 1771 he moved to London.
John, the greatest single force in the eighteenth-century revival, incurred hostility and violence at times. A ruthless antagonist, he was an able organizer and produced an enormous quantity of writing: a long journal, a Christian library of wide-ranging devotional works, hymn translations, two editions of George Herbert’s poems. Much of his editing seems to have done while he was traveling on horseback. When there was an urgent and unfulfilled need for ministers, John, against the advice of Charles, in 1784 ordained Thomas Coke as superintendent or bishop and instructed him to ordain Francis Asbury in America as his colleague. John also ordained ministers for Scotland in 1785.
Charles died March 29, 1788, and was buried in the graveyard of Old Marylebone Church. John died on March 2, 1791, and was buried in the cemetery behind his chapel and house on City Road, London.
On the calendar in the Book of Common Prayer and on certain other Anglican calendars, John and Charles Wesley are remembered on March 3 to make room for the commemoration of Chad on March 2. The Methodist calendar in For All the Saints commemorates John Wesley on March 2, Charles Wesley on March 29, their father Samuel Wesley on April 24, and their remarkable mother Susanna Wesley on July 30.
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 the Journal of John Wesley, May 24, 1738
I think it was about five this morning that I opened my Testament on those words, “There are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises, even that ye should be partakers of the divine nature,” Just as I went out, I opened it again on those words, “Thou art not far from the kingdom of God.” In the afternoon I was asked to go to St Paul’s. The anthem was, “Out of the deep have I called unto thee, O Lord. O let thine ears consider well the voice of my complaint. If thou, Lord, wilt be extreme to mark what is done amiss, O Lord, who may abide it? For there is mercy with thee; therefore shalt thou be feared. O Israel, trust in the Lord; for with the Lord there is mercy, and with him is plenteous redemption. And he shall redeem Israel from all his sins.”
In the evening I went very unwillingly to a society in Aldersgate Street, where one was reading Luther’s preface to the Epistle to the Romans. About a quarter before nine, while he was describing the change which God works in the heart through faith in Christ, I felt my heart strangely warmed. I felt I did trust in Christ, Christ alone, for my salvation; and an assurance was given me that He had taken away my sins, even mine, and saved me from the law of sin and death.
I began to pray with all my might for those who had in a more especial manner despitefully used me and persecuted me. I then testified openly to all there what I now first felt in my heart. But it was not long before the enemy suggested, “This cannot be faith; for where is the joy?” Then was I taught that peace and victory over sin are essential to faith in the Captain of our salvation; but that, as to the transports of joy that usually attend the beginning of it, especially in those who have mourned deeply, God sometimes giveth, sometimes witholdeth them, according to the counsels of His own will.
John Wesley, The Heart of John Wesley’s Journal, ed. Percy Livingston Parker (London: Revell, n.d.), 28-30.
Lord God, you inspired your servants John and Charles Wesley with burning zeal for the sanctification of souls, and endowed them with eloquence in speech and song: Kindle in your Church, we entreat you, such fervor, that those whose faith has cooled may be warmed, and those who have not known Christ may turn to him and be saved; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.
Readings: Isaiah 49:5-6; Psalm 98:1-4 (5-10) or 103:1-4, 13-18; Luke 9:2-6
Hymn of the Day: “O for a thousand tongues to sing” (H82 493, LBW 559, LSB 528, ELW 886)
Prayers: For a heart burning with love for God; For a deepened spiritual life; For a social conscience; For the reconciliation of the Methodist and Anglican Churches.
Preface: Pentecost (BCP), or, if after Ash Wednesday, Lent
Chad, Bishop of Lichfield, 672 (March 2)
About the Commemoration
The Venerable Bede in his Ecclesiastical History draws a most attractive portrait of Chad. He was born in Northumbria early in the seventh century and trained in the Celtic tradition under Aidan at Lindisfarne (see June 9). In 664 he succeeded his brother Cedd as abbot of Lastingham and two years later was appointed Bishop of Northumbria with his see at York. In 669 Theodore, the new Archbishop of Canterbury who had arrived from Rome, judged Chad’s consecration by British bishops to be irregular. Chad gladly resigned, “for I never thought myself worthy of it,” and returned to his monastery. Theodore, however, impressed by Chad’s humble character, reordained him and made him Bishop of Mercia and Northumbria with his seat at Lichfield where Chad served until his death from the plague three years later, in 672.
Chad is on the calendar in the Book of Common Prayer but is not on the General Roman Calendar.
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: Chad of Mercia
From History of the English Church and People by the Venerable Bede (Book III, chapter 3)
The most reverend bishop Chad always preferred to undertake his preaching missions on foot rather than on horseback; but Theodore (Archbishop of Canterbury) ordered him to ride whenever he undertook a long journey. He was most reluctant to forego this pious exercise which he loved, but the Archbishop, who recognized his outstanding holiness and considered it more proper for him to ride, himself insisted on helping him to mount his horse. So Chad received the Bishopric of the Mercians and the people of Lindsey, and administered his diocese in great holiness of life after the example of the early Fathers….
Chad established his Episcopal seat in the town of Lichfield, where he also died and was buried, and where succeeding bishops of the province have their see to this day. There he built himself a house near the church, where he used to retire privately with seven or eight brethren in order to pray or study whenever his work and preaching permitted. In addition to his many virtues of continence, preaching, prayer and many others, he was filled with the fear of God and mindful of his last end in all he did.
Bede, History of the English Church and People, trans, with an introduction by Leo Sherley-Price, Revised by R. E Latham (Penguin Classics 1955, Revised edition 1968), 207, 208. Copyright © Lee Sherley-Price, 1955, 1968.
Almighty God, for the peace of the Church your servant Chad relinquished cheerfully the honors that had been thrust upon him, only to be rewarded with equal responsibility” Keep us, we pray, from thinking of ourselves more highly than we ought to think, and make us ready at all times to step aside for others, that the cause of Christ may be advanced; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.
CMG, LFF, rev. DvD
Readings: Psalm 84:7-12 or Psalm 23; Philippians 4:10-13; Luke 14:1, 7-14
Hymn of the Day: “Father all loving, who rules in majesty” (H82 568); “Spirit of God, descend upon my heart” (LBW 486, ELW 800)
Prayers: For the cathedral and diocese of Lichfield; For deliverance from deception by dreams of worldly greatness; For the gift of holiness and true humility; For charity in ail our actions.
Preface: A Saint (2) (BCP), or, if after Ash Wednesday, Lent
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.