Daily Devotion for December 17, 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.
Prayer for the Morning
Oh God the King eternal, who divides the day from the darkness, and has turned the shadow of death into the light of morning; I pray that this day you will incline my heart to keep your commandments, driving temptation from my mind. Guide my feet into the way of peace; that having done your will with cheerfulness while it was day, I may, when the night comes, rejoice in giving you thanks for a day lived in your presence; through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Prayer for All People
O God, the creator and preserver of all humanity, I humbly pray to you for all sorts and conditions of people; that it might please you to make your Word known to them and bring your saving health to all nations. In particular I pray for the entirety of your church, in all of its many forms; that it may be guided and governed by your Holy Spirit, and that all who profess your name and call themselves Christians may be led into the way of truth. May all of us live in the unity of spirit our faith in Christ provides to us, in the bond of peace, and in righteousness of life.
Finally, I commend to your fatherly goodness all those who are ill or in distress, in their mind, body, or circumstances. May it please you to comfort and relieve them in accordance with their needs, giving them patience during their suffering, and a fortunate outcome to all of their problems. And this I ask in the name of Jesus Christ, who was always pleased to relieve the suffering of those he encountered.
The Lord bless us and keep us. The Lord make his face to shine upon us, and be gracious unto us. The Lord lift up his countenance upon us, and give us peace, this day and evermore.
(Additional prayers may be found at Prayers for All Occasions.)
God be with you 'til we meet again.
When you do not perceive in him the lips of knowledge.
The wisdom of the prudent is to understand his way,
But the folly of fools is deceit.
Birth of Jesus Foretold
In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. And the virgin’s name was Mary. And he came to her and said, "Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!"
But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and tried to discern what sort of greeting this might be. And the angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end."
And Mary said to the angel, "How will this be, since I am a virgin?"
And the angel answered her, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy — the Son of God. And behold, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son, and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren. For nothing will be impossible with God." And Mary said, "Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word." And the angel departed from her.
Notes on the Scripture
The "sixth" month refers to the pregnancy of Mary's relative, Elizabeth, who is carrying John the Baptist. Elizabeth is often referred to as Mary's cousin, but the exact family relationship is unknown; she was much older, since she was past the age of childbearing. Mary was betrothed and thus almost certainly a teenager, as young as 13.
From the tone of the passage, it seems the young virgin handles the appearance of Gabriel with a good deal more aplomb than Zecharias had. She seems simply to accept the message; she was truly, by this first meeting and by all accounts in the Bible, a faithful servant of God.
We don't learn much in the way of detail about Mary's pregnancy. Most of us assume that her parents and community simply accepted her story, which would show a degree of faith and acceptance of God's interaction with human life that would be almost unthinkable today. Imagine your engaged teenaged daughter telling you that God had made her pregnant! (Or your neighbors telling you such a tale about their daughter.) Not to mention, that an angel had materialized in her bedroom to inform her and that the child would be the "Son most High".
But we do believe it about Mary, even in this skeptical day and age, perhaps because we have the benefit of hindsight. We know that the child actually will be the son of God, the most remarkable man in history who will defeat death itself. And once we make the step of believing in Christ, the Annunciation and virgin birth become easy to believe.