Daily Devotion for December 27, 2013
3d Day of Christmas
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.
What child is this, who, laid to rest,
On Mary's lap lay sleeping?
Whom angels greet with anthems sweet,
While shepherds watch are keeping?
This, this is Christ the King,
Whom shepherds guard and angels sing:
Haste, haste to bring Him laud,
The Babe, the son of Mary.
Why lies he in such mean estate
Where ox and ass are feeding?
Good Christian, fear: for sinners here
The silent Word is pleading.
Nails, spear shall pierce Him through,
The cross be borne for me, for you.
Hail, hail the Word made flesh,
The Babe, the Son of Mary.
So bring him incense, gold, and myrrh,
Come, peasant, king, to own him.
The King of kings salvation brings,
Let loving hearts enthrone him.
Raise, raise a song on high,
The virgin sings her lullaby.
Joy, joy for Christ is born,
The Babe, the Son of Mary.
Traditional English folk song Greensleeves
Lyrics by William Chatterton Dix, 1865.
Song of Praise (based on Psalm 8)
O Lord my God, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory above the heavens. When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, who am I that you are mindful of me, who are any of us that you should guide and protect us?
Yet you have made us in your image, a little lower than the angels, and crowned us with glory and honor we do not deserve. You have given us dominion over the works of your hands and put the earth beneath our feet; you have given us dominion over the beasts of the field, the birds of the heavens, and the fish of the sea. O Lord my God, I praise you for your gifts to me. How majestic is your name in all the earth!
A Christmas Prayer
Eternal God, this joyful day is radiant with the brilliance of your one true light. May that light illuminate my heart and shine in my words and deeds. May the hope, the peace, the joy, and the love represented by the birth in Bethlehem fill my life and become part of all that I say and do. May I share the divine life of your son Jesus Christ, even as he humbled himself to share my humanity. Bless me and the feast that You have provided for me, let me be thankful for the true gift of Christmas, your Son.
Prayer of Trust When We Feel Lost
Lord God, sometimes I feel like a lost child, alone in the woods or on a strange street. I cannot see the road ahead of me. I fear what lies in the shadows.
I have no idea where I am going. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself. And even though I am trying to follow your will, sometimes I can't be sure whether I am or not. Sometimes, I think, I am fooling myself. But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you and that you will direct me, even if sometimes I get it wrong.
I hope and pray that I will at least not do anything today that I am certain will displease you, and I know that if I do this, you will lead me by the right road, though I may know nothing about it. Therefore I will trust you always. Though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death, I will not fear, for you are ever with me and you will never leave me to face my troubles alone.
God of mercy, swift to help: as my lips pour forth your praise, fill my heart with the peace you give to those who wait for your salvation in Jesus Christ our Lord.
(Additional prayers may be found at Prayers for All Occasions.)
God be with you 'til we meet again.
Luke 2:25-35 (KJV)
Simeon Sees God's Salvation
There was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon; and the same man was just and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel: and the Holy Ghost was upon him. And it was revealed unto him by the Holy Ghost, that he should not see death, before he had seen the Lord's Christ.
And he came by the Spirit into the temple: and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him after the custom of the law, then took he him up in his arms, and blessed God, and said,
For mine eyes have seen thy salvation,
Which thou hast prepared before the face of all people;
A light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel.’
And Joseph and his mother marvelled at those things which were spoken of him.
And Simeon blessed them, and said unto Mary his mother, Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising again of many in Israel; and for a sign which shall be spoken against; (Yea, a sword shall pierce through thy own soul also,) that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.
Notes on the Scripture
The events recounted in the Scripture today do not involve Christ's circumcision; that occurred eight days after His birth, probably still in his manger in Bethlehem. Jewish law required a period of purification for the mother, which lasted forty days, and presentation of the child (with a sacrifice of two doves) at the end; in fact, on February 2 or 3, some churches celebrate the "Feast of Purification". (See Luke 2:21-24.)
When they arrive, they find waiting for them a sort of private prophet, a man of great holiness named Simeon, touched by the Spirit, who waits in the courts of the great Temple to see the Messiah; for the Spirit has promised Simeon that he should see the Christ child before his death, and this is all Simeon waits upon before he dies.
The lovely canticle he recites is sometimes called the “Canticle of Simeon” but is also known by its first two words, in Latin: Nunc dimittis, “Now you dismiss (your servant)”.
The revelation that this baby was the Messiah, so strongly prophesied in the holy literature of Judaism for 800 years, was made only to a very small number of people. Christ's birth was practically forgotten by the time He began to preach, when He was about 30 years old. Here, we have the oddity of a holy man declaring that he is now ready to die, because he has seen the Christ, right in the epicenter of Judaic religious practice, the Temple itself — and yet very few people seem to take notice.
But the beauty of Simeon's song would echo in history, for here was a man so powerful in faith, that his only wish was to see Christ and then give up earthly life. The strength of his conviction inspires us today.
Simeon also echoes the odd prophesy of Isaiah. The Jewish Messiah did not come to save the Jews only; He had come as a “light to bring revelation to the Gentiles” as well, a sentiment unheard of in the Temple, where Gentiles were an abomination.