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Saturday, October 22, 2016

Daily Devotion for December 28, 2013

4th Day of Christmas
Childermas (Feast of the Holy Innocents)

<i>The Magi</i> by Henry Siddons Mowbray, ca. 1915.
The Magi by Henry Siddons Mowbray, ca. 1915.



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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.


Prayer to Change to Better Serve God

Holy God, I believe that you will change people and many things, if asked and if it is your will. Change me Lord, if it is your will, for I would lead a better life. Touch me, I pray, great God whose touch transforms. Reach out your mighty hand to me, and to all who seek you in the name of your Son. Heal us, transform us, and make us whole; reach out your mighty hand to lift us up to serve you; touch me and all of us this very day, O Lord, that our own hands may bring your hope and healing to this broken world.


Prayer for Childermas

O  God, whom the Holy Innocents confessed and proclaimed on this day, not by speaking but by dying, grant, I pray, that the faith in you which I confess with my lips may also speak through the manner in which I lead my life.


Prayer for Eternal Life

Almighty God, with whom abide the spirits of those who depart hence in the love of Christ, and with whom the souls of the faithful, after they are delivered from the burden of the flesh, are in joy and felicity; I give you hearty thanks for the good examples of all your servants, who, having finished their course in faith, now rest from their labors. And I pray to you that I, with all those who are departed in the true faith of your holy Name, may have my own perfect consummation and bliss, both in body and soul, in your eternal and everlasting glory; through Jesus Christ our Lord.



May the God of hope fill me and all of us with the joy and peace that comes from believing, so that we may abound in hope, by the power of the Holy Spirit.


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

Mosaic of Three Wise Men for Christmas | Magi
In Byzantine art, the Magi were represented wearing Persian clothing, including breeches, capes, and Phrygian caps. Mosaic, ca. 565. Basilica of Sant'Appolonaire, Ravenna, Italy.

What Can I Give Him?

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 can I give Him? I give Him my heart.

~ Christina Rossetti

Blue Latin Cross

Matthew 2:1-12 (ESV)

The Three Wise Men

Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, saying, “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the East and have come to worship Him.”

When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born.

So they said to him, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for thus it is written by the prophet:

'But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
Are not the least among the rulers of Judah;
For out of you shall come a Ruler
Who will shepherd My people Israel.'”

Then Herod, when he had secretly called the wise men, determined from them what time the star appeared. And he sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search carefully for the young Child, and when you have found Him, bring back word to me, that I may come and worship Him also.”

Star of Bethlehem

When they heard the king, they departed; and behold, the star which they had seen in the East went before them, till it came and stood over where the young Child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceedingly great joy.

And when they had come into the house, they saw the young Child with Mary His mother, and fell down and worshiped Him. And when they had opened their treasures, they presented gifts to Him: gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

Then, being divinely warned in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed for their own country another way.

Notes on the Scripture

The story of the three wise men is one of the most cherished parts of the story of Christmas. Christian tradition has split it into two similar stories; 1) the “Three Wise Men” or “Magi”, and 2) the “Three Kings”. The second of these is really a backwards interpretation, as it comes from a passage in Isaiah: “Nations shall come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your dawn. . . They shall bring gold and frankincense, and shall proclaim the praise of the Lord.” (Isaiah 60:3,6) Also, it was not uncommon for lesser kings to travel to greet great rulers, bringing gifts.

It is a nice interpretation, and commonly told in Western churches, primarily because of the popularity of the Christmas carol We Three Kings (of Orient are). But the New Testament does not mention it, and even assuming it is a fulfillment of Isaiah's prophecy, we cannot tell if he meant “kings” literally. And nowhere does the Bible mention how many of them there were. So, the “Three Kings” is more legend than Bible, or at best, an imaginative interpretation.

Much more clearly, they were magi. Although the word has come to refer to a magician in modern times, it did not when the Gospel of Matthew was written. The magi were a very specific sect of astrologers centered in Persia or perhaps Babylonia (both of which lie east of Bethlehem). So the three magi were almost certainly from the general vicinity of Iran, and the actual magi of the day would, indeed, have noticed such an unusual star and given it religious significance.

The gold, frankincense, and myrrh were typical presents that would be brought to a king. Frankincense is a type of incense, burned for the fragrant smoke and often used in purification ceremonies; it is the “incense” still used today in some liturgical churches for special occasions. Myrrh is a fragrant oil, used for embalming and for unction. All three were costly. Most scholars attribute a spiritual meaning to them: gold as a symbol of Christ's kingship on earth, frankincense as a symbol of His priesthood, and myrrh as a symbol of His preordained death (and ultimate victory over it).

endless knot

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