Day 1 (Monday)
Genesis 1:20 - 2:3
At the beginning of the Bible is the book of Genesis, and it starts with God making the universe. On the first four days, God made light, and space, and earth, and plants, and stars & planets. We will start on day 5, verse 20.
Genesis 1:20 And God said, "Let the waters bring forth swarms of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the dome of the sky." 21 So God created the great sea monsters and every living creature that moves, of every kind, with which the waters swarm, and every winged bird of every kind. And God saw that it was good. 22 God blessed them, saying, "Be fruitful and multiply and fill the waters in the seas, and let birds multiply on the earth." 23 And there was evening and there was morning, the fifth day. 24 And God said, "Let the earth bring forth living creatures of every kind: cattle and creeping things and wild animals of the earth of every kind." And it was so. 25 God made the wild animals of the earth of every kind, and the cattle of every kind, and everything that creeps upon the ground of every kind. And God saw that it was good. 26 Then God said, "Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the wild animals of the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth." 27 So God created humankind in his image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. 28 God blessed them, and God said to them, "Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves upon the earth." 29 God said, "See, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit; you shall have them for food. 30 And to every beast of the earth, and to every bird of the air, and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food." And it was so. 31 God saw everything that he had made, and indeed, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.
1 Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all their multitude. 2 And on the seventh day God finished the work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all the work that he had done. 3 So God blessed the seventh day and hallowed it, because on it God rested from all the work that he had done in creation.
1) What did God make on the 5th day? (sea animals) What about the 6th day? (Land animals and human beings).
2) What did God say after each day’s work? (That what He had made was very good)
3) What did God do differently when He made humanity? (He made them in His own image and likeness)
4) What do you think it means that God made us in His image and likeness? (Answers may vary - we are rational/intelligent, we have free will, we are relational/communal creatures, we are capable of love, etc)
5) What job did God give humanity? (Be fruitful, and multiply, and fill and subdue the earth, and take care of everything else that God made)
6) Did God tell human beings to eat meat? (no…he gave them all the plants to eat. If anyone wonders when God told people to eat meat, that doesn’t happen until Noah, after the Flood)
7) What did God do on the 7th day? (He rested…anyone who makes the connection with Holy Friday and Holy Saturday, the 6th & 7th days of Holy Week, gets major bonus points).
5) What shape would Moses have been in with his hands held up? (A cross…here we see the Cross as a sign of victory)
Day 2 (Wednesday)
The Priest's Prayer during the Trisagion Hymn in the Divine Liturgy
This prayer is said by the Priest while the Trisagion Hymn is chanted during the Liturgy (sing in Greek & English briefly). The prayer is usually said quietly, but it is a good example of how to pray.
Holy God, You dwell among Your saints. You are praised by the Seraphim with the thrice holy hymn and glorified by the Cherubim and worshiped by all the heavenly powers. You have brought all things out of nothing into being. You have created man and woman in Your image and likeness and adorned them with all the gifts of Your grace. You give wisdom and understanding to the supplicant and do not overlook the sinner but have established repentance as the way of salvation. You have enabled us, Your lowly and unworthy servants, to stand at this hour before the glory of Your holy altar and to offer to You due worship and praise. Master, accept the thrice holy hymn also from the lips of us sinners and visit us in Your goodness. Forgive our voluntary and involuntary transgressions, sanctify our souls and bodies, and grant that we may worship and serve You in holiness all the days of our lives, by the intercessions of the holy Theotokos and of all the saints who have pleased You throughout the ages.
For You are holy, our God, and to You we give glory, to the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, now and forever, and unto the ages of ages.
It can be helpful to re-state this prayer in your own words, to make sure we understand what we are saying to God. Here is my re-stated, simpler version of this prayer:
“God, You are with Your people, and are praised by all the angels with the thrice holy hymn. You made everything out of nothing, and created human beings in your image and likeness, and gave them good gifts. You give wisdom to those who ask you for it, and you listen to sinners, and gave them a way to be saved, through repentance. We are low and sinful people, but you allow us to stand before you now and worship You at this Altar. We sing this hymn to glorify you; accept it from us, and visit us in Your goodness. Forgive all our sins, make us holy in body and soul, and as all the saints pray to You for us, enable us to serve you all our lives, because You are holy, and we send up glory to You, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, from now until eternity.”
Please feel free to try this yourselves. Then see if you can answer these questions. Try paying attention to some of the other prayers of the Church, and see whether they follow the same pattern.
1) What do we do 1st when we pray? (We remind ourselves Who God is - in this prayer, we remember that He is holy and that He made everything, including us).
2) What do we do 2nd when we pray? (We remind ourselves who we are - we are people that God has made, who are here to worship Him and ask Him for mercy and strength and everything that is truly good)
3) What do we do 3rd when we pray? (We actually ask him for these good things)
4) What do we ask God for in this prayer? (To accept us and to be with us, to forgive us, to make us holy, and to allow us to be with Him and worship Him always)
5) What is the last thing we do when we pray? (We conclude by reminding ourselves one more time Who God is, and giving Him glory.
6) Can you summarize what prayer looks like, then? (We have to look toward God, we have to be ourselves, and we ask God to be with us, even though we aren’t worthy to be with Him, and we give Him glory and worship, because that is the only thing that it makes sense to do when we see God for Who He is, and ourselves for who we are).
Day 3 (Friday)
26 In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, 27 to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin's name was Mary. 28 And he came to her and said, "Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you." 29 But she was much perplexed by his words and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. 30 The angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. 31 And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus. 32 He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his ancestor David. 33 He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end." 34 Mary said to the angel, "How can this be, since I am a virgin?" 35 The angel said to her, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be holy; he will be called Son of God. 36 And now, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son; and this is the sixth month for her who was said to be barren. 37 For nothing will be impossible with God." 38 Then Mary said, "Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word." Then the angel departed from her.
1) It says that Gabriel visited Mary in the 6th month. What 6th month are we talking about? (This is the 6th month of Elisabeth’s pregnancy, which we talked about two weeks ago)
2) What did Gabriel say to Mary? (He told her that she would become pregnant).
3) Who did Gabriel say Mary’s baby was going to be? (The Son of God, and a king like David, but that He would rule forever)
4) What did she say in response? (She asked how she could be pregnant, because she was only engaged, and was dedicated to God for service in the temple, so she intended never to have children and only to serve God).
5) What did the angel say to her? (He told her that the Holy Spirit would do a miracle, and that her child would be the Son of God).
6) What did Mary say to this? (She said: I am the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word)
7) What is important about this? (This is the moment when Jesus came into the world - he wasn’t born for 9 months, but from this time God was physically present in the world, as a baby in His mother’s womb).
8) What day does the Church celebrate what happens in this reading? (On March 25th, which is nine months before Christmas, when Jesus was born).