Good King Wenceslas—Readers’ Choice

Readers’ Choice Month:
This September, The Park Forum is looking back on readers’ selections of our most meaningful and helpful devotionals from the past 12 months. Thank you for your readership. This month is all about hearing from you. Submit a Readers’ Choice post today.

Today’s post was originally published, on December 8, 2021, based on 3 John 3-6 and Luke 6:38
It was selected by reader, EN: 
“Hymns and carols have always been close to my heart. This was a wonderful reflection.”


Scripture Focus: 3 John 3-6
3 It gave me great joy when some believers came and testified about your faithfulness to the truth, telling how you continue to walk in it. 4 I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.
5 Dear friend, you are faithful in what you are doing for the brothers and sisters, even though they are strangers to you. 6 They have told the church about your love. Please send them on their way in a manner that honors God.

Luke 6:38
Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.

Reflection: Good King Wenceslas—Readers’ Choice
By Jon Polk

In 921, the Duke of Bohemia (in modern Czech Republic) died when his son Wenceslas was only 13 years old, too young to rule. Wenceslas’ late grandfather converted to Christianity under the influence of Byzantine missionaries and his grandmother had seen to his education, so she was made regent in his stead.

At age 18, Wenceslas was made Duke of Bohemia and his reign was characterized by his Christian heritage. He became known for acts of charity and almsgiving, winning the admiration of his subjects.

Historian Cosmas of Prague wrote about Wenceslas in 1119:

His deeds I think you know better than I could tell you; rising every night from his noble bed, he went around to God’s churches and gave alms generously to widows, orphans, those in prison and afflicted by every difficulty, so much so that he was considered, not a prince, but the father of all the wretched.

Wenceslas’ legacy helped shape the medieval concept of the righteous king, whose power is based on great piety in addition to regal authority.

Written by English hymn writer John Mason Neale in 1853, the carol “Good King Wenceslas” recounts one incident of love and generosity by the good king.

Good King Wenceslas looked out
On the Feast of Stephen
When the snow lay round about
Deep and crisp and even
Brightly shone the moon that night
Though the frost was cruel
When a poor man came in sight
Gathering winter fuel

The king orders his servants to gather food, drink and firewood and summons his page to help him deliver the goods to the poor peasant. 

Page and monarch forth they went
Forth they went together
Through the rude wind’s wild lament
And the bitter weather

As the weather worsens, the page insists he can go no further; the king suggests that the page simply follow boldly in his footsteps. Upon doing so, the page discovers that he is warmed by the sod where snow had melted under his master’s footprints.

The Christmas season often prompts many people to engage in acts of charity and kindness. There are toy drives, meals served in soup kitchens and generous donations made to notable causes, all our expressions of God’s love.

Unfortunately, however, our generosity usually ends on December 26th.

While the carol recounts only one incident at Christmastime, Wenceslas was remembered for a life of generosity and love for those in need.

We follow a Righteous King who lived his whole life as a servant. He invites us to simply walk boldly in his footsteps, serving others not only for a few weeks during the Christmas season, but consistently throughout the year.

Therefore, Christian men, be sure
Wealth or rank possessing
Ye who now will bless the poor
Shall yourselves find blessing

Listen: Good King Wenceslas by Downhere
Read: Lyrics from Hymnary.org

Divine Hours Prayer: The Refrain for the Morning Lessons
Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled. — Matthew 5.6

– From The Divine Hours: Prayers for Summertime by Phyllis Tickle.

Today’s Readings
Lamentations 4(Listen 3:42)
Romans 2(Listen 4:13)

Readers’ Choice is Here!
Thanks for sharing your recommended posts from the last 12 months. We have loved hearing from you!

Read more about He Became a Servant — Love of Advent
Jesus is our perfect and complete picture of what God is like. He is still among us as one who serves and we are to be like him.

Seeing God in the Wilderness :: A Guided Prayer

Exodus 24.11
They saw God, and they ate and drank.

From John:
We are one week into Lent. One way of picturing the observance of Lent is as if one is passing through a desert on a spiritual quest. How is your wilderness experience so far? There is much to learn from the Spirit of God in the desert places of our lives.

Today we take some passages from our readings in Exodus and in John to pray about how we can meet with God in the desert as the elders of Israel did.

Reflection: Seeing God in the Wilderness :: A Guided Prayer
By John Tillman

We pray to you, Lord, in the wilderness of Lent…

Like Israel, we desert what has enslaved us. We come to a desert place to meet with you.

“Come up to the Lord, you and Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel. You are to worship at a distance, but Moses alone is to approach the Lord; the others must not come near. And the people may not come up with him.”

Israel came to a mountain, forbidden and foreboding, only a few could see your face.

[They] went up and saw the God of Israel…But God did not raise his hand against these leaders of the Israelites; they saw God, and they ate and drank.

But now, Christ extends his hand, inviting us to a joy-filled city, in which the God of creation waits to dine with us.

In Lent, Lord, we have the opportunity to leave behind worldly things we cling to, to partake of your presence and the heavenly food and drink that is doing the will of God.

If we cling to the things of earth, which are like dust, we cannot help but walk with our head down—looking down at what we can hold. Watching them crumble to dust.

In Lent, remind us that we are born again and raise our eyes to heavenly things.

“Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.

Oh, Lord, let your Holy Spirit refresh our eyes to see what you see.
Let your Holy Spirit tell us of heavenly things and prepare us to understand them.

I have spoken to you of earthly things and you do not believe; how then will you believe if I speak of heavenly things?

May we lift you up, to draw those around us to you.

Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him.”

Prayer: The Greeting
Your are my hope, O Lord God, my confidence since I was young. I have been sustained by you ever since I was born; from my mother’s womb you have been my strength; my praise shall be always of you.  — Psalm 71.5-6

Today’s Readings
Exodus 24 (Listen – 2:48)
John 3 (Listen – 4:41)

Thank You!
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Read more about Seeing the Lord
He came to me in the wilderness of my own destitution.
He came to me in the poverty of my own understanding.

Read more about Our Opportunistic Opponent
By Christ’s mercy we can resist Satan and he will flee. But just as when Satan left Jesus in the wilderness, he is only waiting for an opportune time to return.