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Thursday, November 15, 2018

Daily Devotion for December 18, 2015


<i>The Annunciation</i> by pre-Raphaelite master John Wm. Waterhouse, c. 1914
The Annunciation by pre-Raphaelite master John Wm. Waterhouse, c. 1914

Prayers

Scripture

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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.

Amen.

An upbeat and happy modern advent song, from Jason Gray.



Prayer for the Morning

Heavenly Father, this morning I pray for those who are beginning to know Christ: may You strengthen them on their journey. I pray for all children, and for those who take care of them, especially those who awaken them to faith. I pray for the ill and those who are ending their lives in loneliness: Oh Lord, give them the strength they need. I pray for those who are condemned to prison or exile: Lord, sustain their hope. I pray that the fire of your Spirit may renew the energies of all your saints and enable us to welcome those who do not know you. And finally, Lord, may your Church be constantly renewed, in prayer, in your Word and in your worship; in Christ's name, this I ask,

Amen.

Prayer for the Spirit of Christmas

Oh Lord, I am so tired. It seems like the lists of to-do’s get longer each day, the frenzy in my home each night gets wilder. It seems like the holidays have barely started and already I am behind.

Help me, dear Jesus. Let me feel your loving arms wrap me tightly in the warm embrace of your endless love. Teach me to make choices about my time, to remember what is important this season and to say “no” whenever my “yes” would take me away from your peace. Fill me with patience, love and a sense of humor. Remind me of your deep love for me and let the fire of that love be something I can share with everyone around me.

Amen.

Meditation

[Let me learn to say “no” to the demands of the world, when it takes away from my peace.]


Benediction

Finally, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, let me think about these things. What I have learned and received, let me do; and the God of peace be with us all.

Amen.


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.



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

Psalm 98:1-6 (NSRV)

O sing to the Lord a new song, for he has done marvelous things. His right hand and his holy arm have gotten him victory.

The Lord has made known his victory; he has revealed his vindication in the sight of the nations.

He has remembered his steadfast love and faithfulness to the house of Israel. All the ends of the earth have seen the victory of our God.

Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth; break forth into joyous song and sing praises.

Sing praises to the Lord with the lyre, with the lyre and the sound of melody.

With trumpets and the sound of the horn make a joyful noise before the King, the Lord.

Blue Latin Cross

Luke 1:26-38 (ESV)

Christ’s Birth Announced to Mary

Now in the sixth month [of Elizabeth's pregnancy] the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin's name was Mary. And having come in, the angel said to her, “Rejoice, for you are highly favored. The Lord is with you; blessed are you among women!”

But when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and considered what manner of greeting this was. Then the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David. And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end.”

Then Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I have never known a man?”

The Annunciation (detail) Oswald Tanner
Detail from Oswald Tanner's Annunciation.

And the angel answered her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God. Now indeed, Elizabeth your relative has also conceived a son in her old age; and this is now the sixth month for her who was called barren. For with God nothing will be impossible.”

Then Mary said, “Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her.


Notes on the Scripture

The passage today is termed “The Annunciation” and is celebrated as a feast day in many churches. The celebration takes place around the spring equinox (in Orthodox churches, it is always March 25 and is extremely important). The Gospels, however, place it directly before accounts of the birth of Christ, and so it is also, in terms of narrative structure, part of Advent.

As with Zechariah, the angel Gabriel acts as God's messenger. The Catholic/Orthodox churches and Protestant churches differ in the degree of importance placed on the veneration of the Virgin Mary. Orthodox churches know her as “Theotokos”, Greek for “the bearer of God”. They place more emphasis on Christ's conception, as opposed to His birth, being the moment at which the salvation of humanity begins.

How a person worships is a very personal matter; some Christians place great emphasis on the Annunciation as the moment when the Good News was first told; some place great emphasis on Christmas; and at the opposite extreme, the Pilgrims did not even celebrate Christmas. Reacting to the debauchery of the holiday in Great Britain, in 1659 the Puritans of Boston formally banned this “great dishonor of God and offense of others”!

And yet their core belief of this fundamental point is identical; God came to save humanity from sin in the person of Christ, who was born as a male baby named Jesus, to a betrothed virgin named Mary, “to the end that all who believe in Him should not perish, but have eternal life”.

Let us join together during the Christmas season in celebrating the unity of all Christians; setting aside differences to emphasize the common beliefs of all who confess Christ to be their Savior.



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Today in Daily Prayer


Memory Verse

Hebrews 13:8 (ESV): Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.


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