Daily Devotion for December 22, 2013
Fourth Sunday in Advent
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.
Our “Virtual Sunday Church” takes us to the Kings College Chapel for one of the great Christmas hymns.
Let nothing you dismay,
Remember, Christ, our Saviour
Was born on Christmas day,
To save us all from Satan's power
When we were gone astray,
O tidings of comfort and joy,
Comfort and joy.
O tidings of comfort and joy.
In Bethlehem, in Israel,
This blessed Babe was born,
And laid within a manger
Upon this blessed morn,
The which His Mother Mary
Did nothing take in scorn,
From God our Heavenly Father
A blessed Angel came;
And unto certain Shepherds
Brought tidings of the same:
How that in Bethlehem was born
The Son of God by Name.
Now to the Lord sing praises,
All you within this place,
And with true love and brotherhood
Each other now embrace;
This holy tide of Christmas
All other doth deface.
For the Spirit of Prayer
Almighty God, who pours out the spirit of grace and of supplication to all who ask for it; Deliver me, when I draw near to you, from coldness of heart and wanderings of mind, so that with steadfast thoughts and kindled affections, I may worship You in spirit and in truth; through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Prayer to Have Inner Peace in the Coming Week
Heavenly God, may I have peace within, this day and throughout the coming week;
May I trust that I am exactly where I am meant to be.
May I not forget the infinite possibilities that are born of faith.
May I use those gifts that I have received, and pass on the love that has been given to me.
May I be confident knowing I am a child of God.
Let this presence settle into my bones, and allow my soul the freedom to sing, dance, praise and love. This I pray in Christ's name,
(~ St. Therese of Lisieux)
Thanks for Christ’s Birth
God of every nation and people, from the beginning of Creation you have made known your love through the gift of your Son, who bears the name Emmanuel, “God with Us”. In the fullness of time the Christ-child came to be the Good News to all who would receive him.
Grant that I may remember every day the blessing that this season represents, to me personally and to all Christians throughout the world; and especially, to those who have not yet received the Word, but may find Christ in the future. Thank you, Lord, for your great blessing to us all.
Oh God who has made me, oh God who keeps me, oh God who will be my Lord through all eternity, shine down Your blessings and wisdom upon me like the sun upon a field; and may I keep You in the forefront of my every thought and deed, throughout this day, and evermore.
Think of the day ahead in terms of God with you, and visualize health, strength, guidance, purity, calm confidence, and victory as the gifts of His presence.
Love was Born at Christmas
Love came down at Christmas,
Love all lovely, Love divine;
Love was born at Christmas;
Star and angels gave the sign.
~ Christina Rossetti
Luke 1:57-66 (ESV)
The Birth of John the Baptist
Now the time came for Elizabeth to give birth, and she bore a son. And her neighbors and relatives heard that the Lord had shown great mercy to her, and they rejoiced with her.
And on the eighth day they came to circumcise the child. And they would have called him Zechariah after his father, but his mother answered, “No; he shall be called John.” And they said to her, “None of your relatives is called by this name.”
And they made signs to his father, inquiring what he wanted him to be called. And he asked for a writing tablet and wrote, “His name is John.” And they all wondered.
And immediately his mouth was opened and his tongue loosed, and he spoke, blessing God. And fear came on all their neighbors. And all these things were talked about through all the hill country of Judea, and all who heard them laid them up in their hearts, saying, “What then will this child be?” For the hand of the Lord was with him.
Notes on the Scripture
There is a big surprise in the neighborhood! Old Elizabeth and Zechariah — who has been unable to speak for almost a year now — have had a baby. Their friends and neighbors in the tightly-bound little community are naturally delighted for them.
But then, things start to get a little strange. When the prescribed time comes to circumcise and name the baby, eight days after birth, Elizabeth doesn't want to follow the usual custom of naming him after someone in one of their families. So they double check with Zechariah, who (because he can't speak) writes down that, yes, they should name the child “John”. And almost as soon as he writes this down, his power of speech returns, and he begins praising God.
These peculiar events soon become the talk of the town and even the neighboring towns. It cannot be an evil thing, because Zechariah is known to be a devout man and is a priest, to boot. Plus, he has been praising God. So everyone slowly realizes that the child himself is special — their fears that this is some sort of weirdness subside, and the people watch the child and wait, for they have come to realize that he is special to God and might do wonderful things in his life.
There is a simple lesson for us all in this story. If you want to follow God's will, you might have to do something contrary to the customs of your society. Zechariah — having learned from Gabriel's punishment of muting him for his doubts (Luke 1:18-25) — and Elizabeth get negative comments from their neighbors, because they contravene the rules for naming a baby in their society. But they are doing God's bidding, and as promised, Zechariah's penalty is lifted, and he can speak again.