Daily Devotion for December 26, 2011
Second Day of Christmas
Adoration of the Magi, Gerard David, c. 1495.
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 (written by Metropolitan Philaret)
Lord, give me the strength to greet the coming day in peace. Help me in all things to rely on Your holy will. Reveal Your will to me every hour of the day. Bless my dealings with all people. Teach me to treat all people who come to me throughout the day with peace of soul and with firm conviction that Your will governs all. In all my deeds and words guide my thoughts and feelings. In unexpected events, let me not forget that all are sent by you.
Teach me to act firmly and wisely, without embittering and embarrassing others. Give me the physical strength to bear the labors of this day. Direct my will, teach me to pray, pray in me.
A Christmas Prayer
Almighty God and Father of light, a child is born for us and a son is given to us. Your eternal Word streamed down from heaven in the silent watches of the night, and now your Church is filled with wonder at the nearness of her God. Open our hearts to receive his life and increase our vision with the rising of dawn, that our lives may be filled with his glory and his peace, who lives and reigns for ever and ever.
May the God of peace, who declared victory over death by the resurrection of His only Son, Jesus Christ, make me perfect in every thought and act through His grace, that my life might be pleasing in his sight and that I might share the perfect peace that is only possible through Him, to whom be glory for ever and ever.
(Additional prayers may be found at Prayers for All Occasions.)
God be with you 'til we meet again.
all nations serve him!
For he delivers the needy when he calls,
the poor and him who has no helper.
He has pity on the weak and the needy,
and saves the lives of the needy.
From oppression and violence he redeems their life,
and precious is their blood in his sight.
The Visit of the 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 saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him."
When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him; and assembling all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born. They told him, "In Bethlehem of Judea, for so it is written by the prophet:
are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
for from you shall come a ruler
who will shepherd my people Israel.'" [Micah 5:2]
Then Herod summoned the wise men secretly and ascertained from them what time the star had appeared. And he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, "Go and search diligently for the child, and when you have found him, bring me word, that I too may come and worship him."
After listening to the king, they went on their way. And behold, the star that they had seen when it rose went before them until it came to rest over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy.
And going into the house they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh. And being warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they departed to their own country by another way.
Notes on the Scripture
The story of the wise men is one of the most wonderful stories in the Bible. It has given rise to great research, speculation, and embellishment by later scholars. If you read the Bible, you will notice that nothing tells us how many there were, whether they each brought a single gift, or any indication of who they were, much less their names, races, or an indication that they were "kings".
The biggest hint is that they are called "magi", which at that time was specifically used for a group of star-watchers — astrologers or astronomers — in Persia. This fits in well with the Biblical information, because some of the Persian magi were wealthy, Persia is east of Israel, and astronomers would be so likely to notice and travel towards a new star.
Moreover, followers of Zoroaster were monotheistic and their beliefs were much less contentious than most religions; Zoroastrianism is al much a philosophy as a religion. Wise men could easily have studied and known the works of Hebrew prophets (in this case, Micah). They certainly credited the baby Jesus as a holy person, for they brought Him gifts and worshipped Him.
The implications of their journey are great, for they anticipate the salvation that Christ brings, not only to Jews, but to all the world. Having met and worshipped Christ, they departed "by another way". Of course, there is a literal meaning for this, since they do not want to encounter King Herod. But there is a symbolic meaning, also, for like all the world, the birth of Christ set them on a different spiritual path as well as a different physical path.