Daily Devotion for December 30, 2011
Sixth 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.
Mahalia Jackson does justice to a great gospel Christmas song. The video is a little homemade-looking, but this is the best audio version I could find.
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.
Prayer for Grace and Strength
Lord God, I pray that you will fill my heart with the blessing of your Holy Spirit. Grant me this day the strength to be temperate in all things, diligent in my duties, and patient under my afflictions. Direct me in all my ways. Give me grace to be just and upright in all my dealings; quiet and peaceable; full of compassion; and ready to do good to all people, according to my abilities and opportunities. For the sake of my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ,
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.
Think of the day ahead in terms of God with you, and visualize health, strength, guidance, purity, calm confidence, and victory as the gifts of His presence.
To the American People: Christmas is not a time or a season but a state of mind. To cherish peace and good will, to be plenteous in mercy, is to have the real spirit of Christmas. If we think on these things, there will be born in us a Savior and over us will shine a star sending its gleam of hope to the world.
~ Calvin Coolidge
Jesus Presented at the Temple
And when the time came for their purification according to the Law of Moses, they brought him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord (as it is written in the Law of the Lord, "Every male who first opens the womb shall be called holy to the Lord") [Exodus 13:2] and to offer a sacrifice according to what is said in the Law of the Lord, "a pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons."
Now there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon, and this man was righteous and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord's Christ. And he came in the Spirit into the temple, and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him according to the custom of the Law, he took him up in his arms and blessed God and said,
according to your word;
for my eyes have seen your salvation
that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples,
a light for revelation to the Gentiles,
and for glory to your people Israel."
Notes on the Scripture
In the very early days of Judaism, if a woman's first pregnancy resulted in a male child, the duties of a priest would fall upon him. (It was very strict; an elder sister or even a previous miscarriage by the mother would disqualify the first son. The boy had to "open the womb" of his mother.) He was therefore dedicated to God in a ceremony. After the exodus from Egypt, however, because the nation had built and worshipped a golden calf while Moses was on Mount Sinai getting the ten commandments (Exodus 32), the priesthood was taken away from the eldest sons and limited to the Levites: Aaron and his descendants. (Numbers 3:12-13)
But the eldest sons were still, because of the old law, required to travel to the temple and be purified. Jesus was not eligible to be a Jewish priest, because he was not of Aaron's tribe, but he still needed to be purified. Usually, also, the child would be "redeemed" from service by a payment of some sort; that is, some token payment would be made, since the child would not actually perform the services of a priest as required in Genesis. But there is no record of this payment being made for Christ in Luke.
The most meaningful passage of today's scripture is the song of Simeon. Once again, a person outside the family recognizes that Jesus is the promised Messiah. Simeon, whom God has promised will see the Messiah before he dies, praises God for letting him know peace before he dies. The translation is a bit misleading: Simeon is not asking God to let him die; rather, he is saying, "Lord, you have made it possible for your servant to depart in peace."
Simeon also begins the great expansion of Jewish monotheism that will find voice in Paul's epistles, especially Romans. He sings that the baby will be a "light for revelation to the Gentiles". This would have seemed very peculiar at the time; Judaism had always been exclusive and never had, as a goal, the conversion of other tribes or nations to its religion.