Daily Devotion for December 19, 2013
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.
How about a trip down Memory Lane?
Prayer for the Morning
Blessed are you, O Lord my God, King of the universe, who removes sleep from my eyes, that I may see the returning light of the your day. I thank you for all that you have done while I was asleep, watching over me and all your children while we slept unaware, and I pray that my thoughts and acts this day may show forth my love and thanks for you and all you have done for me.
Help me through your Holy Spirit, that I may remember what you have taught me in the Bible and it may show forth in my every deed. Let me not wander into the hands of sin, nor into the hands of pride or perversity, nor into the hands of temptation, nor into the hands of shame, but steer my inclinations towards goodness and charity this morning and all the day. In the name of Christ I pray.
Prayer for the Spirit of Christmas
Oh Lord, I am so tired. It seems like the lists of to-do’s get longer each day. Help me, dear Jesus. Let me feel your loving arms wrap me tightly in the warm embrace of your endless love. Teach me to make choices about my time, to remember what is important this season and to say “no” whenever my “yes” would take me away from your peace. Fill me with patience, love and a sense of humor. Remind me of your deep love for me and let the fire of that love be something I can share with everyone around me.
And finally, may the grace of Christ our Savior, and the Father's boundless love, with the Holy Spirit's favor, rest upon me, and all of us, from above. Thus may we abide in union, with each other and the Lord, and possess, in sweet communion, joys which earth cannot afford.
(Additional prayers may be found at Prayers for All Occasions.)
God be with you 'til we meet again.
In the old days, it was not called the Holiday Season; the Christians called it 'Christmas' and went to church; the Jews called it 'Hanukkah' and went to synagogue; the atheists went to parties and drank. People passing each other on the street would say 'Merry Christmas!' or 'Happy Hanukkah!' or (to the atheists) 'Look out for the wall!”
~ Dave Barry
Luke 1:26-38 (ESV)
Birth of Jesus Foretold
In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. And the virgin’s name was Mary. And he came to her and said, “Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!”
But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and tried to discern what sort of greeting this might be. And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”
And Mary said to the angel, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?”
And the angel answered her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy — the Son of God. And behold, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son, and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren. For nothing will be impossible with God.” And Mary said, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her.
Notes on the Scripture
The “sixth” month refers to the pregnancy of Mary's relative, Elizabeth, who is carrying John the Baptist. Elizabeth is often referred to as Mary's cousin, but the exact family relationship is unknown; she was much older, since she was past the age of childbearing. Mary was betrothed and thus almost certainly a teenager, as young as 13.
We see a very private and quiet scene, compared to the announcement to Zechariah. Mary is alone, unoccupied, and compared to Zechariah, a bit of a nobody. We picture her in her little bedroom, perhaps, where Zechariah was standing before the high altar of the temple, in full regalia. From the tone of the passage, it seems the young virgin handles the appearance of Gabriel with a good deal more aplomb than Zechariah had. She seems simply to accept the message, in her humility, while Zechariah — who was a righteous man, but an important man in the middle of performing an important function.
So we see a foreshadowing of the shift from the old covenant to the new. The old is, well, old. Elizabeth is past the age of childbearing; Mary has just passed into womanhood. John will be a figure of transition, the last prophet of the old covenant who announces and accepts the new. He will represent the old religion of the Jews, handing the baton over to Jesus. And the acts of annunciation are consistent with the roles announced: John's birth is announced in the rich, elaborate temple to the celebrant in his fine robes; Jesus is announced to a simple working girl in a her little home. Zechariah is performing public ritual; Mary is alone with the thoughts of her heart.
We don't learn much in the way of detail about Mary's pregnancy. Most of us assume that her parents and community simply accepted her story, which would show a degree of faith and acceptance of God's interaction with human life that would be almost unthinkable today. Imagine your engaged teenage daughter telling you that God had made her pregnant! (Or your neighbors telling you such a tale about their daughter.) Not to mention, that an angel had materialized in her bedroom to inform her and that the child would be the “Son of the most High”.
But we do believe it about Mary, even in this skeptical day and age, perhaps because we have the benefit of hindsight. We know that the child actually will be the son of God, the most remarkable man in history, who will defeat death itself. And once we make the step of believing in Christ, the Annunciation and virgin birth become easy to believe.