Daily Devotion for December 14, 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.
The text of Handel's famous For Unto Us a Child is Born is taken from today's Scripture. One of the most thrilling choral works ever written, performed here by Eugene Ormandy and the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.
Prayer of Thanks for God's Creation
O Lord God of Israel and God of the nations, you are the only God in heaven above or the earth below. I walk before you with all my heart. I bless your name in the morning when I rise and in the evening when I sleep, and all the day when your creation fills my eye. Bless me to remember you this day. When I see and hear the thousand miracles of your creation, let me see them anew, recalling that you have made them, and no other; that I may live in your presence among the common miracles I take for granted. Through Christ I pray,
Prayer of Thanks
O Thou whose bounty fills my cup, With every blessing meet! I give Thee thanks for every drop, The bitter and the sweet.
I praise Thee for the desert road, And for the riverside; For all Thy goodness hath bestowed, And all Thy grace denied.
I thank Thee for both smile and frown, And for the gain and loss; I praise Thee for the future crown And for the present cross.
I thank Thee for both wings of love Which stirred my worldly nest; And for the stormy clouds which drove Me, trembling, to Thy breast.
I bless Thee for the glad increase, And for the waning joy; And for this strange, this settled peace Which nothing can destroy.
Oh Lord Jesus Christ, who said to your apostles, "Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you"; I pray that I and your whole church, the body of all faithful people, will know your peace, and live in harmony and unity, one with another, in accordance with your wishes. This I pray to you, who lives and reigns forever.
(Additional prayers may be found at Prayers for All Occasions.)
God be with you 'til we meet again.
Behold, happy is the man whom God corrects; Therefore do not despise the chastening of the Almighty.
For He bruises, but He binds up; He wounds, but His hands make whole.
For Unto Us a Child is Born
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 unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, 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.
Notes on the Scripture
We return to Isaiah for the last of our Old Testament prophecies during this Advent, for Isaiah was the great prophet of the Messiah to come 700 years later. Most of the prophecy of a Messiah came later in Isaiah, such as Chapter 40.
Today's passage comes, however, from much earlier in Isaiah; it appears suddenly, in a form much like a poem, in the middle of a long section concerning how Assyria will punish Israel for idolatry.
Of all the prophecies of Christ in the Old Testament, this may be the most important to Christian theology. The language is powerful and full of certainty. A child will be born and He will be God. He will rule the world in justice and righteousness, and there will be no end to His peace.
This news is set in a time of terrible war, a time where no end to the warfare is in sight. It is doubly touching, then, that Isaiah begins the passage with an image of soldiers' boots and bloody garments being cast into a fire, because they are no longer needed. And it is unusual. Historically, the Hebrews had looked for God's blessing in the form of a military leader, and they looked for a Messiah who would don armor and crush the enemies who constantly assailed Israel from all sides.
But Isaiah's prophecy is radically different. He predicts a Messiah who will burn the tools of war in the fire, a prince of peace. He predicts Christ.