Daily Devotion for December 20, 2012
Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come; Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
For Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever and ever.
Sweetly singing o'er the plains,
And the mountains in reply,
Echoing their joyous strains.
Gloria in excelsis Deo.
Gloria in excelsis Deo.
Shepherds, why this jubilee?
Why your joyous strains prolong?
What the gladsome tidings be
Which inspire your heavenly song?
Come to Bethlehem and see
Christ whose birth the angels sing.
Come adore on bended knee
Christ the Lord the newborn King.
See him in a manger laid
Whom the choirs of angels praise.
Mary, Joseph, lend your aid
While our hearts in love we raise .
Prayer for the Morning
Oh God the King eternal, who divides the day from the darkness, and has turned the shadow of death into the light of morning; I pray that this day you will incline my heart to keep your commandments, driving temptation from my mind. Guide my feet into the way of peace; that having done your will with cheerfulness while it was day, I may, when the night comes, rejoice in giving you thanks for a day lived in your presence; through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Thanks for the Life of Christ
Almighty God, I thank you especially this day for the life and teachings of your only Son, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. I wonder in astonishment that He lived and walked among us, one of us, a mortal man who felt pain and anger and love just as we do, who would become tired and hungry, and who would bleed and die. Your love in sharing the burdens of mortality with your humble creatures moves me in the depths of my heart.
Above all, your victory in suffering and overcoming pain and death was a gift beyond price. I praise you for Christ's resurrection and victory, and for his promise to all people, that He will intercede for us at our death, and bring us to eternal life. Today I remember and celebrate His resurrection, giving all glory to Father, Son and Holy Spirit for this miracle and the redemption of our own lives. Through Christ I pray,
If you are with me, O God, who can be against me? For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate me from the love of God in Christ Jesus my Lord.
(Additional prayers may be found at Prayers for All Occasions.)
God be with you 'til we meet again.
If you think nobody creates really extraordinary Christian music any more, this modern setting of the Magnificat might change your mind. Performed by Annie Karto and writer John Michael Talbot.
Psalm 139:1, 7-12
You have searched me, Lord, and you know me.
Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.
If I say, "Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,"
even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you.
Luke 1:46-55 (NKJV)
And Mary said:
"My soul magnifies the Lord, And my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior.
For He has regarded the lowly state of His maidservant; For behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed.
For He who is mighty has done great things for me, And holy is His name.
And His mercy is on those who fear Him From generation to generation.
He has shown strength with His arm; He has scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts.
He has put down the mighty from their thrones, And exalted the lowly.
He has filled the hungry with good things, And the rich He has sent away empty.
He has helped His servant Israel, In remembrance of His mercy,
As He spoke to our fathers, To Abraham and to his seed forever."
And Mary remained with her about three months and returned to her home.
Notes on the Scripture
The theme of Mary's powerful hymn of praise and thanks is God's love of the innocent and lowly, and His justice that will exalt them above the powers of earth. It is easy to follow, other than the first several lines. The use of the verb "to magnify" in the sense here — to laud or praise highly — is not used often (although it is not considered archaic). But it is different from how we usually use it, for we think of magnifying as causing something to appear larger than it is; whereas, in this sense, Mary is helping us to see the greatness of a God whom we are apt to underestimate.
The second verse, similarly, makes us stop to understand it. "He has regarded the lowly state of his handmaiden" surely means something more than God looked at or noticed Mary's socio-economic status. In fact, even today, one of the definitions of "to regard" in Webster's is to respect or hold in high regard. God has actually chosen Mary, in part, because she is not exalted as rich or powerful; he has seen her lowly condition and esteemed it.
Every line is a gem. The dominant motif is a transition between the Old Covenant and Christianity. It expresses the very Christian theme of God exalting those who are lowly and simple, but it is very Jewish in its view of God working these miracles withing the framework of human society. As Christ comes of age and begins His teaching, another great theological principle will come to dominate: That those who love Him and follow him might willingly abjure earthly goods, because the delights of this life are so pale in comparison to a joy that will come only after our bodies die.
One cannot miss the poetic impact of such lines as, "He has scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts." All of us suffer from pride that is purely a product of our own imagination, but some people take their self-importance to such an extreme that it becomes ludicrous. God will, Mary tells us, deflate the pompous. And so let us pray for humility, so that we ourselves will not have so far to fall.