(Updated 3 Feb 2009)
In The Lutheran Hymnal and in the Book of Family Prayer there is a schedule of Bible texts that may be used for devotions through the Church Year. From what I can see, its chief advantage is variety. Its disadvantage is convenience. I find it much more convenient to keep a bookmark in the Bible that sits on our living room shelf. Then I can grab that Bible (or the second edition of Concordia that sits nearby) for something to read during breakfast.
In the Evangelical Lutheran Hymnary there is a list of the monthly psalter, which takes the reader through the entire book of Psalms once a month, with readings in the morning and evening. For a few years I had my computer sending out those readings via email. That worked well enough. Someone suggested that I make it available as an RSS feed instead. I never really had the right combination of opportunity, means, and motive, until today.
For a few weeks now, I’ve been producing a bulletin insert for my churches here containing some ideas and helps for use in personal devotion. Included are the readings from both the schedule I mentioned above and from the monthly psalter. That’s also where I list prayer requests, Sunday school lesson themes, and progressive excerpts from the Small and Large Catechisms. It’s a useful little insert, especially for those who can keep one handy through the week. I could do that, but today I realized I can do something else, too.
In the last year or two, I’ve been using an RSS feed aggregator to keep up with a few blogs and news sources. Right now, I’m very satisfied with one called Akregator, which is part of the KDE desktop environment. For those who don’t know what an RSS feed or an aggregator is, here’s a brief (3-paragraph) explanation:
Many web sites have pages or other information that gets updated from time to time. If you want to stay abreast of the information with your web browser, then you’ll have to fire up your browser and tell it to show you that page every time you remember to check for changes. Sometimes, there will be no changes at all, so you will have wasted some time in checking. Sometimes you won’t even remember to check for a while. That inconvenience and wasted time is solved by RSS feeds and aggregators.
An RSS feed can be provided by the web site you want to keep tabs on. It’s a link that shows a machine-readable list of recent changes. Each item in the list of changes can contain a link to the changed information, a comment or description, a bit of audio or video media (then we call it a podcast), and any number of other useful tidbits.
An aggregator (or feed reader) is an inobtrusive program that you keep running on your computer, which periodically checks all the RSS feeds you may be interested in for new information. When it finds something new, it lets you know. The aggregator also provides a way for you to subscribe to new feeds, manage your feeds, and even view the items they contain. Google and other web portals have built-in aggregators, but I prefer one that I can use without a web browser.
So today I decided it’s high time to provide this devotional information in an RSS Feed. Anyone can use it. Each item you fetch from the feed contains a brief description and a link to the devotion text for that time of that day. At 12 PM Pacific, the feed switches from morning devotions to evening devotions. (If you’re in another time zone, there’s not much I can do about it. I don’t think I have access to your tz information when you fetch the feed.) Generally, there are two items in the feed: the devotion text and the psalter reading. Since there are no devotion texts for Sunday, the feed is set to provide Sunday texts from the historic lectionary.
If you already use an aggregator, or if your brower has one built-in, then all you need is the link. You can use either of these:
You may have better success using this Feedburner link. It also works with a plain old webbrowser:
If your web browser doesn’t know what to do with those, and you don’t have an aggregator, then I suggest that you try out some free ones. You’ll find links from Wikipedia, among other places.