Daily Devotion for December 29, 2011
Fifth Day of Christmas
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
You are ushering in another day, untouched and freshly new, So here I come to ask You God if You'll renew me too?
Forgive the many errors, that I made yesterday, And let me try again dear God, to walk closer in Thy way.
But Father, I am well aware, I can't make it on my own. So take my hand and hold it tight, for I can't walk alone.
Prayer to Live Christ's Word
Gracious God, Jesus is calling me to a new beginning; to a fresh call to discipleship. You are asking me to deny myself, take up my cross and follow you. It was at my baptism that you claimed me as your child.
Today, I affirm that I have been crucified with Christ, and it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. I surrender my will, my desires and my life to you, O God. I commit myself to your call to discipleship: to pray, study your Word, worship you, invite other people to a life of discipleship, encourage Christians in their life of faith, serve those in need, and give joyfully of the gifts that You first gave me. This I pray in Jesus' name.
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 companion of fools will be destroyed.
Herod Kills the Innocents
Then Herod, when he saw that he had been tricked by the wise men, became furious, and he sent and killed all the male children in Bethlehem and in all that region who were two years old or under, according to the time that he had ascertained from the wise men. Then was fulfilled what was spoken by the prophet Jeremiah:
weeping and loud lamentation,
Rachel weeping for her children;
she refused to be comforted, because they are no more."
Notes on the Scripture
Many people consider the "Holy Innocents" to be the first Christian martyrs, but really, they were simply uninvolved children who were in the wrong place at the wrong time. Herod the Great was notoriously murderous. In the day, when almost nobody but the Jews even considered murder immoral per se, Herod was notorious, because he murdered his wife and his three oldest sons to protect his crown, as well as innumerable other persons he found potentially dangerous or simply inconvenient.
The size of the massacre has often been exaggerated, especially in early works of Christian exposition, because of the horror. Bethlehem was a small town in the country; the number of children slain in the town was probably about 20, with another 10 being killed in the surrounding farms and hamlets.
Unfortunately there is no other contemporary account of it; the first non-Biblical mention of it that has been discovered to date is a line in a 4th century Roman History by Macrobius, who wrote:
As is often the case, the event is given significance by tying it to ancient prophesy. Ramah is an ancient city north of Jerusalem. Rachel was the second wife of Jacob (also called "Israel"), the great patriarch of the Hebrews and father of the twelve men from whom the twelve tribes of Israel grew. Rachel could be considered, in part, the mother of the Jews. And so, the slaughter of Jewish children is tied to her mourning for her children, because they are no more: they have been killed.