Daily Devotion for December 28, 2012
Fourth Day of Christmas
CHILDERMAS or HOLY INNOCENTS
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.
Bearing gifts we traverse afar.
Field and fountain, moor and mountain,
Following yonder star.
O star of wonder, star of night,
Star with royal beauty bright,
Westward leading, still proceeding,
Guide us to thy perfect Light.
Born a king on Bethlehem's plain,
Gold I bring to crown Him again,
King forever, ceasing never
Over us all to reign.
Frankincense to offer have I.
Incense owns a Deity nigh.
Prayer and praising all men raising,
Worship Him, God on high.
Myrrh is mine: Its bitter perfume
Breaths a life of gathering gloom.
Sorrowing, sighing, bleeding dying,
Sealed in the stone-cold tomb.
Glorious now behold Him arise,
King and God and Sacrifice.
Sounds through the earth and skies.
Prayer for Guidance
Lord, teach me to number my days aright, that I may gain wisdom of heart. Help me do today the things that matter, not to waste the time I have.
The moments I have are precious, Lord, see that I count them dear. Teach me to number my days aright. Fill me this day with your kindness, that I may be glad and rejoice all the days of my life. Through Christ I pray,
Prayer for Humility
Heavenly Father, who sent your Son to ride on an ass and to work as a simple carpenter: if you so humbled yourself to save me, how can I puff myself up with pride above others? Let me follow Christ's example, never to inflate myself with pride of status, of opinion, or of any of the gifts you have bestowed upon me.
Give me the grace to realize my ignorance, admit my mistakes, recognize my needs. Let me welcome good advice and sound rebuke, without defensiveness. Grant me always to praise rather than criticize, sympathize rather than discourage, build rather than destroy, and when I am angry at the ignorance of another, to recall my own ignorance and remember that we are all your beloved children. Let my hope and glory be ever in you, and not in my own vanity. This I ask in Christ's sake,
Now, oh Lord, I pray that you may lift up the light of your countenance upon me, and give me peace; in my going out and in my coming in; in my sitting down and my rising up; in my work and in my play; in my joy and in my sorrow, in my laughter and in my tears; until that day comes which is without dawn and without dark.
(Additional prayers may be found at Prayers for All Occasions.)
God be with you 'til we meet again.
What Can I Give Him?
What can I give Him, poor as I am?
If I were a shepherd, I would bring a lamb.
If I were a Wise Man I would do my part.
Yet what can I give Him? I give Him my heart.
~ Christina Rossetti
The Three Wise Men
Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, saying, "Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the East and have come to worship Him."
When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born.
So they said to him, "In Bethlehem of Judea, for thus it is written by the prophet:
Are not the least among the rulers of Judah;
For out of you shall come a Ruler
Who will shepherd My people Israel.'"
Then Herod, when he had secretly called the wise men, determined from them what time the star appeared. And he sent them to Bethlehem and said, "Go and search carefully for the young Child, and when you have found Him, bring back word to me, that I may come and worship Him also."
When they heard the king, they departed; and behold, the star which they had seen in the East went before them, till it came and stood over where the young Child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceedingly great joy.
And when they had come into the house, they saw the young Child with Mary His mother, and fell down and worshiped Him. And when they had opened their treasures, they presented gifts to Him: gold, frankincense, and myrrh.
Then, being divinely warned in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed for their own country another way.
Notes on the Scripture
The story of the three wise men is one of the most cherished parts of the story of Christmas. Christian tradition has split it into two similar stories; 1) the "Three Wise Men" or "Magi", and 2) the "Three Kings". The second of these is really a backwards interpretation, as it comes from a passage in Isaiah: "Nations shall come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your dawn. . . They shall bring gold and frankincense, and shall proclaim the praise of the Lord." (Isaiah 60:3,6) Also, it was not uncommon for lesser kings to travel to greet great rulers, bringing gifts. It is a nice interpretation, and commonly told in Western churches, primarily because of the popularity of the Christmas carol We Three Kings (of Orient are). But there isn't really much to support it.
Much more clearly, they were magi. Although the word has come to refer to a magician in modern times, it did not when the Gospel of Matthew was written. The magi were a very specific sect of astrologers centered in Persia or perhaps Babylonia (both of which lie east of Bethlehem). So the three magi were almost certainly from the general vicinity of Iran, and magi would have noticed such an unusual star and given it religious significance.
The gold, frankincense, and myrrh were typical presents that would be brought to a king. Frankincense is a type of incense, burned for the fragrant smoke and often used in purification ceremonies; it is the "incense" still used today in some liturgical churches for special occasions. Myrrh is a fragrant oil, used for embalming and for unction. All three were costly. Many scholars have attributed a spiritual meaning to them: gold as a symbol of kingship on earth, frankincense as a symbol of priesthood, and myrrh (an embalming oil) as a symbol of death.