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Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Daily Devotion for December 27, 2010

Devotional mosaic of the three magi in a Byzantine mosaic, ca. 560



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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.


Martin Luther's Prayer for Morning

I give thanks to you, heavenly Father, through Jesus Christ your dear Son, that you have protected me through the night from all danger and harm. I ask you to preserve and keep me, this day also, from all sin and evil, that in all my thoughts, words, and deeds I may serve and please you. Into your hands I commend my body and soul and all that is mine. Let your holy angels have charge of me, that the wicked one have no power over me.


Prayer for Freedom from Fear

O Lord, I beseech you to deliver me, and all of your children, from the fear of the unknown future; from fear of failure; from fear of poverty; from fear of bereavement; from fear of loneliness; from fear of sickness and pain; from fear of age; from fear of death. Help us, O Father, by your grace to love and fear only you, and fill our hearts with cheerful courage and loving trust in you; through our Lord and Master Jesus Christ.


Prayer for Unknown Needs

Almighty God, the fountain of all wisdom, you know our necessities before we ask and our ignorance in asking: Have compassion on my weakness, and mercifully give me those things which for my unworthiness I dare not, and for my blindness I cannot ask; through the worthiness of your Son Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.



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.

endless knot

Psalm 143:7-8

Answer me speedily, O Lord; My spirit fails! Do not hide Your face from me, Lest I be like those who go down into the pit.

Cause me to hear Your lovingkindness in the morning, For in You do I trust; Cause me to know the way in which I should walk, For I lift up my soul to You.

Blue Latin Cross

Matthew 2:1-12

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.

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 there isn't really much to support it.

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 magi would 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. Many scholars have attributed a spiritual meaning to them: gold as a symbol of kingship on earth, frankincense as a symbol of priesthood, and myrrh (an embalming oil) as a symbol of death.

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