Daily Devotion for December 21, 2015
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.
Sweetly singing o'er the plains,
And the mountains in reply,
Echoing their joyous strains.
Gloria in excelsis Deo.
Gloria in excelsis Deo.
Shepherds, why this jubilee?
Why your joyous strains prolong?
What the gladsome tidings be
Which inspire your heavenly song?
Come to Bethlehem and see
Christ whose birth the angels sing.
Come adore on bended knee
Christ the Lord the newborn King.
See him in a manger laid
Whom the choirs of angels praise.
Mary, Joseph, lend your aid
While our hearts in love we raise .
For the Day's Work
O God, who orders all things in heaven and earth: Help me to go about the tasks and duties of this day with the remembrance that I am your servant therein. Make me honest, painstaking, and cheerful, and grant that all I do and say may bring good to others and glory to your Holy Name; through Jesus Christ, our Lord,
For Those Mired in Crime
O Mighty God, who spares us when we deserve punishment, and in your wrath remembers mercy; I humbly implore you, of your goodness, to comfort and enlighten all who suffer in prison, deserved though their punishment may be. Bring your light into their lives, O Lord, that they may know your only Son and find repentance and forgiveness in his name, leaving aside the guilt of past sins and the yearning for the darkness within which they committed them. And trusting in your truth and mercy, that they not place their hope anywhere except in the holiness, which only you can give them.
And awaken all criminals, whether convicted or free, to the light of conscience and self-knowledge, that they may learn to serve you and their fellow man, and so find their place at your side when they leave this earth. In Christ's name I beseech you on their behalf,
O thou who coverest thy high places with the waters,
Who settest the sand as a bound to the sea
And dost uphold all things:
The sun sings thy praises,
The moon gives thee glory,
Every creature offers a hymn to thee,
His author and creator, for ever.
[Every creature offers a hymn to God.]
Almighty God, by your Holy Spirit you have made me one with your saints in heaven and on earth. Grant that in my earthly pilgrimage I may always be supported by this fellowship of love and prayer, and know myself to be surrounded by their witness to your power and mercy. I ask this for the sake of Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns for ever and ever.
(Additional prayers may be found at Prayers for All Occasions.)
God be with you 'til we meet again.
A beautiful modern setting of the Magnificat, performed by Annie Karto and writer John Michael Talbot.
Christmas Message from Hamlet
Wherein our Saviour’s birth is celebrated,
The bird of dawning singeth all night long;
And then, they say, no spirit dare stir abroad, The nights are wholesome, then no planets strike, No fairy takes, nor witch hath power to charm, So hallow’d and so gracious is the time.
(by Wm. Shakespeare (1603), Act 1, Scene One)
Luke 1:46-55 (NKJV)
And Mary said:
“My soul magnifies the Lord,
And my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior.
For He has regarded the lowly state of His maidservant;
For behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed.
For He who is mighty has done great things for me,
And holy is His name.
And His mercy is on those who fear Him
From generation to generation.
He has shown strength with His arm;
He has scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts.
He has put down the mighty from their thrones,
And exalted the lowly.
He has filled the hungry with good things,
And the rich He has sent away empty.
He has helped His servant Israel,
In remembrance of His mercy,
As He spoke to our fathers,
To Abraham and to his seed forever.”
Notes on the Scripture
The theme of Mary's powerful hymn of praise and thanks is God's love of the innocent and lowly, and His justice that will exalt them above the powers of earth. It is easy to follow, other than the first several lines. The use of the verb “to magnify” in the sense here — to laud or praise highly — is not used often (although it is not considered archaic). But it is different from how we usually use it, for we think of magnifying as causing something to appear larger than it is; whereas, in this sense, Mary is helping us to see the greatness of a God whom we are apt to underestimate.
The second verse, similarly, makes us stop to understand it. “He has regarded the lowly state of his handmaiden” surely means something more than God looked at or noticed Mary's socio-economic status. In fact, even today, one of the definitions of “to regard” in Webster's is to respect or hold in high regard. God has actually chosen Mary, in part, because she is not exalted as rich or powerful; he has seen her lowly condition and esteemed it.
Every line is a gem. The dominant motif is a transition between the Old Covenant and Christianity. It expresses the very Christian theme of God exalting those who are lowly and simple, but it is very Jewish in its view of God working these miracles withing the framework of human society. As Christ comes of age and begins His teaching, another great theological principle will come to dominate: That those who love Him and follow him might willingly abjure earthly goods, because the delights of this life are so pale in comparison to a joy that will come only after our bodies die.
One cannot miss the poetic impact of such lines as, “He has scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts.” All of us suffer from pride that is purely a product of our own imagination, but some people take their self-importance to such an extreme that it becomes ludicrous. God will, Mary tells us, deflate the pompous. And so let us pray for humility, so that we ourselves will not have so far to fall.