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Saturday, October 22, 2016

Daily Devotion for December 21, 2013

The Annunciation by George Hitchcock, ca. 1887. We might not realize that this is Mary, except for the faint halo around her head. The blue dress and lilies are symbolic, but they are presented in a real-world setting. The lilies are not idealized, but growing as in an actual field, with grungy brown-spotted leaves. Her purity is internal and spiritual.



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lessons and scripture

Lord's Prayer

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.


These three modern settings of Mary’s Song (Holy is His Name) are charmingly (and appropriately) simple and pretty.
The first singer, Annie Karto, is a dead ringer for Judy Collins. John Michael Talbot, who wrote the song, sings the middle section. The last performer, Jackie François, sings another updated version, My Soul Rejoices.

Prayer for the Morning

I  bless you for the day you have made, Mighty Lord God, and pray that I may spend this day rejoicing in your creation. I pray for your Holy Spirit to fill me with the joy of my salvation, so that your light may shine through me into the world, that your honor and glory may be known to all people.

Remind me of your blessings, I pray, with every tribulation I may face, so that I may act with energy, forgiveness and love, ever mindful of the grace You have shown to me. Through Christ I pray,


Prayer by a Mother with a Long To-Do List

I  sit here with my to-do list in my mind, Lord, and I know I need help finding a balance. I am so looking forward to Christmas Day, but, Lord, there is so much to do! When will it all get done? How will I maintain any semblance of inner peace in this “peaceful” season?

I think, Lord, that I need some balance in my life. I feel so torn between wanting to cook and fill my house with wonderful welcoming smells, and wanting to decorate my home. I have shopping to do, and cleaning, and cards to write and mail. When? How?

Help me, guide me, Lord. Help me to set priorities around doing those things that will bring me closer to you. Maybe my home really is clean enough, or maybe I can ask my family or friends for help. Can the cards wait until a quiet afternoon after Christmas? Can my decorations be simpler? Is there more than a little ego involved in all of this?

Help me remember the joy of simplicity, Lord. Help me to remember what I am celebrating. Help me to find it in my heart to call out, “Come, Lord Jesus.”



And now, as a little child, let me abide in you all this day, oh Christ, so that when you appear I may have confidence and not shrink from you in shame at your coming. For I know that you are righteous, and I am sure that I will be made righteous only by my life in you.


(Additional prayers may be found at Prayers for All Occasions.)
God be with you 'til we meet again.

endless knot

Psalm 46:1-3

God is our refuge and strength,
A very present help in trouble.

Therefore we will not fear,
Even though the earth be removed,
And though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea;

Blue Latin Cross

Luke 1:46-56 (KJV)

The Magnificat: Mary’s Song of Praise

And Mary said,

My soul doth magnify the Lord,
And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour.
For he hath regarded the low estate of his handmaiden: for, behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed.
For he that is mighty hath done to me great things; and holy is his name.
And his mercy is on them that fear him from generation to generation.
He hath shewed strength with his arm; he hath scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts.
He hath put down the mighty from their seats, and exalted them of low degree.
He hath filled the hungry with good things; and the rich he hath sent empty away.
He hath helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy;
As he spake to our fathers, to Abraham, and to his seed for ever.

And Mary abode with her about three months, and returned to her own house.

Notes on the Scripture

The word "magnify" often gives readers of the Bible a problem, because the word is no longer used in its original sense. "To magnify" originally meant to speak in a way that glorifies or honors someone. Think of "magnificent", i.e., worthy to be magnified. It has very nearly the same meaning as "to praise".

Despite its length, the Magnificat is a simple and beautiful song in two sections. In the first part, Mary praises God, as a reaction to the honor that has been bestowed upon her. She is overcome that God should have even "looked on the humble estate of his servant", that God Himself should have paid her the slightest notice.

The second part is similar to a psalm of David; it is taken from the same poetic tradition and uses the standard poetic device of "parallelism", where one statement is followed by a second in the same meter, which either repeats the main idea or provides a contrast to it, such as "He hath put down the mighty from their seats" followed by "and exalted them of low degree".

The theme, however, is very Christian and presages the Beatitudes (Matthew 5:3-11) Compare, for example, “he hath exalted them of low degree” to “Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” We get a sense of the timelessness of God, for in choosing humble Mary to bear the great King, God is fulfilling a promise that Christ will make 30 years later. One might imagine that Mary became physically pregnant at the moment of the Annunciation, in accordance with the aspect of Jesus that is fully human, so that he already lives both physically and spiritually in her womb.

Mostly, though, the meaning of the Magnificat is straightforward. It is worth reading through it slowly and letting each sentence sink in a bit. Mary, who is loved by Christians of all stripes and is venerated by many, voices a beautiful tribute to the God who has chosen her to bear His son.

Devotional painting of The Annunciation, Philippe de Champaigne  (French, Brussels 1602–1674 Paris) ca. 1644
The Annunciation, Philippe de Champaigne ca. 1644

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Today in Daily Prayer

Memory Verse

Luke 2:10-12 (ASV): And the angel said unto them, “Be not afraid; for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which shall be to all the people: for there is born to you this day in the city of David a Saviour, who is Christ the Lord. And this is the sign unto you: Ye shall find a babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, and lying in a manger.”

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