Daily Devotion for December 23, 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.
In the bleak midwinter, frosty wind made moan,
Earth stood hard as iron, water like a stone;
Snow had fallen, snow on snow, snow on snow,
In the bleak midwinter, long ago.
Our God, Heaven cannot hold Him, nor earth sustain;
Heaven and earth shall flee away when He comes to reign.
In the bleak midwinter a stable place sufficed
The Lord God Almighty, Jesus Christ.
Enough for Him, whom cherubim, worship night and day,
Breastful of milk, and a mangerful of hay;
Enough for Him, whom angels fall before,
The ox and ass and camel which adore.
Angels and archangels may have gathered there,
Cherubim and seraphim thronged the air;
But His mother only, in her maiden bliss,
Worshipped the beloved with a kiss.
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 I can I give Him: give my heart.
Music by Gustav Holst/Harold Edwin Darke 1909
Lyrics by Christine Rossetti c. 1872
Prayer for the Morning
Heavenly Father, I thank you this morning for all that I have. Even if I have problems with my health, I am alive today. If I have money problems, I will eat today. I have clothes to wear, a roof to protect me, and air to breathe.
Let me never take for granted these gifts of life, oh Lord, but always remember that they come from you; without you, no man could make the sun shine or the tree bear its fruit. I pray to live this day in joy and thankfulness for what I have, remembering always who made me and who keeps me. In the name of Christ I pray,
Heavenly Father, thank you for sending your Son to earth as a baby so many years ago. Thank you that He paid the punishment for my sins by dying on the cross. And thank you that He rose again to prove that death was truly defeated. I place my trust in You to be my Savior. Guide me through the dark times of my life and give me courage to live for You.
Prayer for All People
O God, the creator and preserver of all mankind, I humbly pray to you for all sorts and conditions of humanity; that it might please you to make your Word known to them and bring your saving health to all nations. In particular I pray for the entirety of your church, in all of its many forms; that it may be guided and governed by your Holy Spirit, and that all who profess your name and call themselves Christians may be led into the way of truth. May all of us live in that unity of spirit which our faith in Christ provides to us, in the bond of peace, and in righteousness of life.
Finally, I commend to your fatherly goodness all those who are ill or in distress, in their mind, body, or circumstances. May it please you to comfort and relieve them in accordance with their needs, giving them patience during their suffering, and a fortunate outcome to all of their problems. And this I ask in the name of Jesus Christ, who was always pleased to relieve the suffering of those he encountered.
Holy God, I pray to be filled with your Holy Spirit for the rest of this day. Let me go forth, walking with your Spirit in my heart, that I may be filled with the joy and energy and praise for your entire creation, thankful in the many gifts you have given me, and showing forth your light in my every word and deed. This I pray in Christ's name,
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.
The Virgin, weighed with the Word of God, comes down the road: if only you will shelter her.
~ St. John of the Cross
John 1:1-14 (New King James Version)
The Word Becomes Flesh
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God.
All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shined in the darkness, and the darkness comprehended it not.
There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. This man came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all through him might believe. He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light. That was the true Light which gives light to every man coming into the world.
He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him. But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.
And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.
Notes on the Scripture
This is John's Christmas story. Just as Matthew and Luke begin with detailed accounts of the physical, historical way in which Jesus was born, John tells the story of how Christ came to be with us in a theological way.
Christ became man 2000 years ago, but saying he was “born” on Christmas Day is true in only one sense. He was born of woman on Christmas, made flesh and blood, a fully human part of our world; but He existed at the beginning of time. John tells us that in the beginning, He was with God, and was God.
Orion Nebula; it looks as if a figure
of Christ is rising above the chaos,
a nice illustration for John 1:1.
It parallels Genesis 1:1, even starting with the same phrase, “In the beginning”. But while Genesis begins with God creating, John begins even earlier; God was not simply present at the beginning, He was the beginning. Thus, this passage tells us initially that Christ existed from the beginning of time.
Secondly, it encapsulates the mystery of the Holy Trinity, by the perplexing statement, “the Word was with God, and the Word was God”. How can Christ be with God, yet be God? It defies human logic. We try to accommodate this impossible thought by saying God has one essence but three persons. The Greek word translated as “with” here has a shade of meaning not present in English, one of intimate connection. (Actually, in the past few decades English has begun to use the word this way. People now sometimes say, for instance, “I am with Jimmy Smith” to indicate a committed romantic relationship.)
Calling Christ the Word (Greek “logos”) had great significance both Gentiles and Jews at the time, in completely different ways. Greek philosophers had come to understand that some shaping force must be behind the universe, and although the precise definition was utterly abstract, the idea was powerful. The Jews, on the other hand, had a very concrete belief that the world had been created, literally, by the speech (or breath) of a very real Yahweh.
Part of the power of Christianity comes from this meeting of these two very different forms of wisdom, Greek and Jew. The infant Christ has come, bearing the fulfillment not only of the Jewish prophecies of a Messiah, but also the Greek search for truth and the meaning of life.