Behold, how good and pleasant it is
when brothers dwell in unity!
It is like the precious oil on the head,
running down on the beard,
on the beard of Aaron,
running down on the collar of his robes!
It is like the dew of Hermon,
which falls on the mountains of Zion!
For there the Lord has commanded the blessing,
life forevermore. Psalm 133
Now when the wall had been built and I had set up the doors, and the gatekeepers, the singers, and the Levites had been appointed, I gave my brother Hanani and Hananiah the governor of the castle charge over Jerusalem, for he was a more faithful and God-fearing man than many. . . .
And all the people gathered as one man into the square before the Water Gate. And they told Ezra the scribe to bring the Book of the Law of Moses that the Lord had commanded Israel. So Ezra the priestbrought the Law before the assembly, both men and women and all who could understand what they heard, on the first day of the seventh month. And he read from it facing the square before the Water Gate from early morning until midday, in the presence of the men and the women and those who could understand. And the ears of all the people were attentive to the Book of the Law. . . . And Ezra blessed the Lord, the great God, and all the people answered, “Amen, Amen,” lifting up their hands.And they bowed their heads and worshiped the Lord with their faces to the ground. Also . . . the Levites [i.e., the priests], helped the people to understand the Law, while the people remained in their places. They read from the book, from the Law of God, clearly [with interpretation], and they gave the sense, so that the people understood the reading. Nehemiah 7:1-2; 8:1-3, 6-8
Command these things as well, so that they may be without reproach. But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever. 1 Timothy 5:7-8
[Worship] is not a function of the mouth but of the whole body. It is to bow the head, bend the body, fall on the knees, prostrate one’s self, and so forth, and to do such things as a sign and acknowledgment of an authority and power; . . . Such outward adoration is what the Scriptures really mean by worship. . . . We read in the Scriptures that worship or adoration is rendered outwardly both to God and to kings without distinction,. . .
From this understanding of outward worship you will also understand what Christ meant by true spiritual worship. It is the adoration or bowing of the heart, so that from the bottom of your heart you thereby show and confess yourself to be his subordinate creature. For from this you see that true worship can be nothing else than faith; it is faith’s sublimest activity with respect to God. For no one is capable of such heartfelt confession, adoration, bending, bowing (or whatever you want to call it) before God in his heart, unless he unwaveringly holds God to be his Lord and Father, from whom he receives and will receive all good things, and through whom, without any merit on his part, he is redeemed and preserved from all sins and evil. [The Reverend Dr. Martin Luther, pastor, theologian, reformer 1483-1546]
DAILY PRAYER for THURSDAY
O Lord Jesus Christ, true King of heaven and earth, You promised to Your Church that the gates of hell would not prevail against her, and You still cause Your Word to be preached and Your Holy Sacraments to be administered among us. But ah! O Lord, the sins of Your people obscure the majesty of Your bride. Your holy vineyard is trampled and Your blessed sacrifice stands neglected. Many think themselves strong and despise the life-giving food that You have ordained for Your holy people, for the forgiveness of their sins.
Pardon all our arrogance and do not come to us in wrath to remove the lamp of Your Word from before our eyes! O Lord, we pray You: visit this vine, which You once established for Yourself, and renew us with the sun of Your mercy and the water of eternal life.
Give us a great hunger for the food of Your true body and blood, and let all Your faithful people ever be found in the apostles’ doctrine, in the fellowship, in the breaking of Your bread, and in the prayers.
We implore You, O Lord, for our altar; that it may ever be a place where the medicine of eternal life, the forgiveness of our sins, strengthens us in body and soul; that disbelief and impenitence may stay far from all who come there so that they may not eat and drink to their own judgment.
O Eternal High Priest, let the fruit of Your Spirit grow in us, which is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, gentleness, and chastity. Cause us to live in holy conduct toward one another to the glory of Your holy name, here in time and hereafter in eternity; for You live and reign with the Father and the same Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.