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March 13, 2022

Year 2 - Week 28 (March 13-19, 2022)

Day 1 (Monday)

Exodus 10:21-29; 11:1-10 (Warning of the 10th Plague)

Last time we saw the 9th plague, the Darkness that could be felt, come upon Egypt, and Pharaoh make one more offer of a “bargain” with Yahweh, to let the Israelites go, but to require them to leave their livestock behind. When Moses replied that this was unacceptable, Pharaoh told him to leave his presence and never come back again. Moses agreed that this was the last time Pharaoh would see his face, and from this we understood that the time of warnings was over, and the moment of the judgement of Pharaoh for the enslavement of Israel and the murder of their children was arrived. Today we will see what God told Moses to say to Pharaoh as he left his presence, as the 10th plague is announced.

Warning of the Final Plague

11 The Lord said to Moses, “I will bring one more plague upon Pharaoh and upon Egypt; afterwards he will let you go from here; indeed, when he lets you go, he will drive you away. 2 Tell the people that every man is to ask his neighbor and every woman is to ask her neighbor for objects of silver and gold.” 3 The Lord gave the people favor in the sight of the Egyptians. Moreover, Moses himself was a man of great importance in the land of Egypt, in the sight of Pharaoh’s officials and in the sight of the people.

4 Moses said, “Thus says the Lord: About midnight I will go out through Egypt. 5 Every firstborn in the land of Egypt shall die, from the firstborn of Pharaoh who sits on his throne to the firstborn of the female slave who is behind the handmill, and all the firstborn of the livestock. 6 Then there will be a loud cry throughout the whole land of Egypt, such as has never been or will ever be again.

7 But not a dog shall growl at any of the Israelites—not at people, not at animals—so that you may know that the Lord makes a distinction between Egypt and Israel. 8 Then all these officials of yours shall come down to me, and bow low to me, saying, ‘Leave us, you and all the people who follow you.’ After that I will leave.” And in hot anger he left Pharaoh.

9 The Lord said to Moses, “Pharaoh will not listen to you, in order that my wonders may be multiplied in the land of Egypt.” 10 Moses and Aaron performed all these wonders before Pharaoh; but the Lord hardened Pharaoh’s heart, and he did not let the people of Israel go out of his land.

Discussion questions:

1) What did you notice in today’s reading? What surprised you or what was memorable to you? (The Leader should point out that this reading begins while Moses is still with Pharaoh, and starts by telling us what God says to Moses. Moses then warns Pharaoh of the impending death of the firstborn, and then, when Pharaoh does not relent, he leaves his presence. Then God makes clear to Moses that the purpose of all this is to show to all of Egypt, and to all nations, the glory and the wonders of Yahweh. Thus, in Egypt, a place dedicated to the demon gods who had raised rebellion against their Creator, in a place of darkness and horror, the Lord stands up and abolishes every other power, and delivers His people, and all who are willing to hear Him, from the power of Hell. We should definitely see in all this a prefigurement of the Lord’s Descent into Hades after His crucifixion.)

2) Where do we see Christ in this text; what is He saying or doing here?

3) Do we see ourselves and the Church in this text; what does it say about us?

4) What do you find difficult about this reading? Is there anything confusing about it, or anything that you dislike? (This is an open question, as always. )

5) Does this reading make you think that you need to change anything in your life?

Day 2 (Wednesday)

Saint Theophan the Recluse - The Path of Prayer - Sermon 1 - A Personal Rule of Prayer

Last time St. Theophan gave three basic rules for how to pray well, in a way that truly teaches our minds and hearts to pray truly. The first was to prepare for prayer before beginning, the second was to be attentive, not careless, while praying, and the the third was to not go back to normal life immediately after finishing one’s prayers. Today he will give some guidance in how to go about putting these rules into practice.

A Personal Rule of Prayer - 4

So, morning or evening, immediately before you begin to repeat your prayers, first stand for a while, sit for a while, or walk a little. Try to steady your mind, then turn it away from all worldly activities and objects. After this, think of who He is, Him to Whom you turn in prayer. Next, recollect who you are; who it is who is about to start this invocation to Him in prayer. Do this in such a way as to wake in your heart a feeling of humility and reverent awe because you are standing in the presence of God.

All preparation for prayer consists in this reverent standing in the presence of God. To achieve this is a small task, but it is not one to be ignored. It is the beginning of [true] prayer, and a good beginning is half the complete task.

Discussion questions:

1) What did you notice in today’s reading? What surprised you or what was memorable to you? (The Leader should repeat and emphasize the basic point of preparation, that it is to a) turn away from the world and its concerns, b) to remember Who God is, and c) to be truly present within ourselves as we approach God in prayer. Even the first step, we can say, is a preparation for the other two. We need to be truly present when we are standing before the Lord, truly being ourselves, and recognizing that we are standing before Him. But we can’t do that if our mind is filled with other thoughts and ideas and concerns. So we prepare to prepare by setting aside the things of the world, and then we prepare for prayer by inhabiting ourselves and directing our attention toward the Lord before Whom we stand.)

2) Where do we see Christ in this text; what is He saying or doing here?

3) Do we see ourselves and the Church in this text; what does it say about us?

4) What do you find difficult about this reading? Is there anything confusing about it, or anything that you dislike? (This is an open question, as always. )

5) Does this reading make you think that you need to change anything in your life?

Day 3 (Friday)

Mark 9:30-50

Last time we saw Jesus come down the mountain after the Transfiguration and heal the boy possessed by demons. The disciples had been unable to cast the demons out of him, but when His father asked Jesus for mercy, and asked the Lord to “help his unbelief/lack of trust/faithlessness,” the Lord delivered the boy. From here Jesus is moving still more quickly toward His passion, Crucifixion, and Resurrection, and is continuing to teach His disciples that while they will be great in the Kingdom of Heaven, that greatness is very different from what the world is accustomed to thinking greatness means.

Jesus Again Foretells His Death and Resurrection

30 They went on from there and passed through Galilee. He did not want anyone to know it; 31 for he was teaching his disciples, saying to them, “The Son of Man is to be betrayed into human hands, and they will kill him, and three days after being killed, he will rise again.” 32 But they did not understand what he was saying and were afraid to ask him.

Who Is the Greatest?

33 Then they came to Capernaum; and when he was in the house he asked them, “What were you arguing about on the way?” 34 But they were silent, for on the way they had argued with one another who was the greatest. 35 He sat down, called the twelve, and said to them, “Whoever wants to be first must be last of all and servant of all.” 36 Then he took a little child and put it among them; and taking it in his arms, he said to them, 37 “Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes not me but the one who sent me.”

Another Exorcist

38 John said to him, “Teacher, we saw someone casting out demons in your name, and we tried to stop him, because he was not following us.” 39 But Jesus said, “Do not stop him; for no one who does a deed of power in my name will be able soon afterward to speak evil of me. 40 Whoever is not against us is for us. 41 For truly I tell you, whoever gives you a cup of water to drink because you bear the name of Christ will by no means lose the reward.

Temptations to Sin

42 “If any of you put a stumbling block before one of these little ones who believe in me, it would be better for you if a great millstone were hung around your neck and you were thrown into the sea. 43 If your hand causes you to stumble, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life maimed than to have two hands and to go to hell, to the unquenchable fire. 45 And if your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life lame than to have two feet and to be thrown into hell. 47 And if your eye causes you to stumble, tear it out; it is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than to have two eyes and to be thrown into hell, 48 where their worm never dies, and the fire is never quenched.

49 “For everyone will be salted with fire. 50 Salt is good; but if salt has lost its saltiness, how can you season it? Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with one another.”

Discussion Questions

1) What did you notice in today’s reading? What surprised you or what was memorable to you? (Leader should point out the consistent theme of this passage, that the disciples do not understand the way of the Cross to which Jesus is calling them, even as He goes Himself to the Cross. The lesson of the child and exorcist is that they need to stop focusing on what they are entitled to, on what their authority and power and position will be in the Kingdom of God, and focus simply on being Faithful. Their pride, their desire to be right, to be more on the inside than others, to compete with one another, are all things that He is urging them to cut off, lest these things cause them to stumble and fall into damnation. We should take heed to ourselves in this as well.)

2) What do we learn about God in this story?

3) What do we learn about human beings in this story?

4) What do you find difficult about this story? Is there anything confusing about it, or anything that you dislike? (This is an open question, as always.)

5) Does this story make you think that you need to change anything in your life?