Daily Devotion for December 10, 2011
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.
This fabulous advent song is from the Taize Community, an ecumenical monastic order in rural France that invites people of different Christian faiths to worship together.
Prayer for the Morning
Blessed are you, Lord God of my salvation, to you be praise and glory for ever. As once you ransomed your people from Egypt and led them to freedom in the promised land, so now you have delivered me from the dominion of darkness and brought me into the kingdom of your risen Son. May I, the fruit of your new creation, rejoice in this new day you have made, and praise you for your mighty acts. Blessed be God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
Prayer of Thanksgiving
Father in heaven, creator of all and source of all goodness and love, please look kindly upon me and receive my heartfelt gratitude for all that you have done for me and for those I love. Thank you for all the graces and blessings you have bestowed upon us, spiritual and temporal: Our faith and religious heritage; our food and shelter; our health; the love we have for one another; and the lives of our Lord and friends. Dear Father, in your infinite generosity, please grant us continued grace and blessings during the coming day. This I ask in the name of Jesus Christ, your only son, who has saved us from death.
Prayer for Renewal
Lord, I am one of your people, the sheep of your flock. I pray for you to heal those who are wounded; touch those who are in pain; clean those who are soiled; warm those who are cold; help me to know the Father's love through Jesus the shepherd, and through the Spirit.
Help me to lift up that love, and show it all over this land. Help me to build love on justice and justice on love. Help me to believe mightily, hope joyfully, and love divinely. Renew me that I may help renew the face of the earth.
(Additional prayers may be found at Prayers for All Occasions.)
God be with you 'til we meet again.
But the foolish pulls it down with her hands.
Revelation 5:1-5 (ESV)
The Scroll and the Lamb
Then I saw in the right hand of him who was seated on the throne a scroll written within and on the back, sealed with seven seals.
And I saw a strong angel proclaiming with a loud voice, "Who is worthy to open the scroll and break its seals?" And no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth was able to open the scroll or to look into it, and I began to weep loudly because no one was found worthy to open the scroll or to look into it.
And one of the elders said to me, "Weep no more; behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has conquered, so that he can open the scroll and its seven seals."
Notes on the Scripture
Judaism has a concept of a "Book of Life" in which God writes the names of those whom He finds righteous; those who transgress the Lord sufficiently can have their names scratched out, e.g. "And the LORD said to Moses, 'Whoever has sinned against Me, I will blot him out of My book.' " (Exodus 32:33) Daniel specifies that "Every one that shall be found written in the book . . . shall awake to everlasting life." (Daniel 12:1) The modern practice, started by the Pharisees, is that the Lord makes His judgment and updates the book annually on Rosh ha-Shanah.
The symbolism of the Book of Life is not used in the New Testament — although there is no theological objection to it — until we get to Revelation. This shouldn't come as a surprise if you have read much of Revelation, for there is a great deal of Old Testament in it; John of Patmos (John the Divine) sought to reflect the entire scope of God's interaction with humanity, from Adam to the world after Christ's death, and his ornate and complex symbology is more typical of the Old Testament than the New.
Today, appropriate to Advent, an angel searches for someone righteous enough to open the Book of Life, and thereby expose the names of those who shall be saved, but he cannot find anyone. John begins to weep, for the entire world will be lost to hell.
Then an elder informs John about Christ, a Jew who is descended from David, who is able to open the book. And because this man exists, the scroll can be opened and the righteous saved.
Many difficulties lie in the path of reading Revelation: weird symbology and disruption of time, for two. But through his surrealism, John the Divine reminds us that the knowledge we have of God is minuscule; we have received only what we can understand, for God and his will are utterly beyond the grasp of the human mind. But this we can understand: We could not be saved in God's eyes, until Christ came.