Daily Devotion for December 24, 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 Lord, most heavenly Father, Almighty and everlasting God, who has safely brought me to the beginning of this day; I give you thanks for my creation, preservation, and all the blessings of my life. Grant that this day I fall into no sin, neither run into any kind of danger; but that all my doings, being governed by your will, may be righteous in your sight. Through Christ our Lord, I pray.
Christmas Tree Blessing
Holy Creator of Trees, bless with your abundant grace this our Christmas tree as a symbol of joy. May its evergreen branches be a sign of your never-fading promises.
May its colorful lights and ornaments call us to decorate with love our home and our world. May the gifts that surround this tree be symbols of the gifts we have received from the Tree of Christ's Cross.
Holy Christmas tree within our home, may Joy and Peace come and nest in your branches and in our hearts.
Community of Prayer
Heavenly Lord, I know I am not alone saying these prayers or reading your Word this morning, but many people unknown to me, from all stations of life, have joined together in this brief moment of devotion. May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, be among the community of all who pray in the name of Christ this morning, and remain among us always.
(Additional prayers may be found at Prayers for All Occasions.)
God be with you 'til we meet again.
Brightest and Best
Dawn on our darkness and lend us thine aid!
Star of the East, the horizon adorning,
Guide where our Infant Redeemer is laid!
Cold on His cradle the dewdrops are shining,
Low lies His head with the beasts of the stall;
Angels adore Him in slumber reclining,
Maker and Monarch and Saviour of all!
~ Reginald Heber
Luke 2:1-7 (ESV)
The Birth of Jesus Christ
In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration when Quirinius was governor of Syria. And all went to be registered, each to his own town.
And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child.
And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.
Notes on the Scripture
Christmas Eve is such a beautiful time in the Christian year that we read the Bible verse which properly belongs to Christmas night. A lot of people cannot wait, in fact, and celebrate Christmas on Christmas Eve; in some churches, the principal Christmas service is a beautiful evening service, full of music and candlelight. We picture the birth of Jesus at night; the image is one of bleakest midwinter, when a star appears in the black sky and a savior is born in an animal shelter, his crib a feed bin.
Christmas Eve is the ultimate expression of human hope. A miracle occurs at the very moment that things look the most hopeless, when the nights are the longest and the sun is weak, when the trees look dead and the earth lies void of plant life. The birds have fled south and many animals simply go to sleep underground.
Yet we do not despair, because we know that spring will always come. As if by magic, the trees will become green again, flowers will bloom and the birds will return to raise nests of cheeping babies. If the world seems dead, Christmas promises that it is only asleep and soon to wake. If the world seems hopeless, God has sent his son to redeem it.
And if the deepest winter reminds us of our own mortality, the promise of Christ's birth reminds us that we will live again; for just as spring inevitably defeats winter, Christ leads us to victory over death. Christmas is a time of deep mystery, when the seed of our rebirth is planted and we know that it is only a matter of time until we come to eternal life and victory.