Daily Devotion for December 6, 2016
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.
Turn up the volume! Handel’s setting of today’s Scripture is one of the greatest pieces of music ever written. I think, if I were an atheist and heard this, I'd be converted on the spot!
Prayer for Purity of Thought
Almighty God, who alone gave me the breath of life, and alone can keep alive in me the holy desires your Spirit brings; I pray to you, in the name of your infinite compassion, to sanctify my thoughts and endeavors this day; that I may not begin to act without a pure intention or continue it without your blessing. And grant that, having the eyes of my mind opened to behold things invisible and unseen, I may in heart be inspired by your wisdom, and in work be upheld by your strength, and in the end be accepted by you as your faithful servant; through Jesus Christ our Savior.
To Spread Cheer
Holy God, as I stumble through this life, help me to create more laughter than tears, dispense more cheer than gloom, spread more joy than despair. Let me remind those I meet that our final existence will be total joy, and that we may taste this joy through the Spirit even today. Never let me become so indifferent that I will fail to see the wonder in the eyes of a child, or the twinkle in the eyes of the aged. Never let me forget that my total effort is to cheer people, make them happy, and forget momentarily all the temporary unpleasantness in their lives. And in my final moment, may I hear You whisper, “When you made My people smile, you made Me smile.”
Lord, in utter humility I thank you and glorify you, that you might hear the prayer of one so small as myself, amidst the billions of souls among billions of stars in one of billions of galaxies in your universe. Let me go forth in your peace, keeping your Spirit always in my mind; and bless me, I pray, that I might always follow your will and live in the radiance of your blessing.
(Additional prayers may be found at Prayers for All Occasions.)
God be with you 'til we meet again.
A Clever Trick
The supreme trick of Old Scratch is to have us so busy decorating, preparing food, practicing music and cleaning in preparation for the feast of Christmas that we actually miss the coming of Christ. Hurt feelings, anger, impatience, injured egos — the list of clouds that busyness creates to blind us to the birth can be long, but it is familiar to us all.
Edward Hays, A Pilgrim’s Almanac
Once again, we come to the Holiday Season, a deeply religious time that each of us observes, in his own way, by going to the mall of his choice.
~ Dave Barry
Isaiah 9:2-7 (ESV)
A Light Has Dawned
The people who walked in darkness
have seen a great light;
those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness,
on them has light shone.
You have multiplied the nation;
you have increased its joy;
they rejoice before you
as with joy at the harvest,
as they are glad when they divide the spoil.
For the yoke of his burden,
and the staff for his shoulder,
the rod of his oppressor,
you have broken as on the day of Midian.
For every boot of the tramping warrior in battle tumult
and every garment rolled in blood
will be burned as fuel for the fire.
For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given;
and the government shall be upon his shoulder,
and his name shall be called
Wonderful Counselor, the Mighty God,
the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace.
Of the increase of his government and of peace
there will be no end,
on the throne of David and over his kingdom,
to establish it and to uphold it
with justice and with righteousness
from this time forth and forevermore.
The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this.
Notes on the Scripture
After listening to the Mormon Tabernacle Choir singing Unto Us a Child is Born (from Handel's Messiah), it is nearly impossible to write comments on the passage; words seem inadequate compared to the way Handel catches the power of the text — a promise that, some day, a Savior will be born, the Prince of Peace.
We are commanded to avoid judgment, but it is often a struggle not to rail against the secularization of Christmas. It has become, in most of the U.S., a holiday to celebrate mammon. This year the cult of Santa Claus has sunk to a new low: there is now a replacement for the Advent calendar, consisting of daily audio messages from Santa's workshop, to keep the children abreast of progress in making their toys and getting the sled and reindeer ready.
There is nothing wrong with Santa or the pleasant legends about his elves and reindeer. But do the adults have any idea what they are missing, or what they are depriving their children of, by not understanding and emphasizing the actual origin of our celebration?
What could be more wondrous than the power of God coming to fruition to save humanity from death, from sending us a Savior? Advent is a celebration of the realization that God Himself is going to come to earth! It is the most exciting and uplifting news we could possibly receive. It is better — and more startling — than being told that, in a couple of weeks, we are going to win the Powerball lottery, hear that a cure has been found for every disease and disability, and witness an alien spaceship is landing on our street.
Every time this crosses my mind, I redouble my resolve to share God's grace and salvation with those who have turned away into darkness. Let us all remember to make some effort to keep Christ's light shining to the world, not to sink into apathy and complacency about the salvation of the world we celebrate on December 25.