Daily Devotion for January 3, 2012
Tenth 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
I bless you for the day you have made, Mighty Lord God, and pray that I may spend this day rejoicing in your creation. I pray for your Holy Spirit to fill me with the joy of my salvation, so that your light may shine through me into the world, that your honor and glory may be known to all people.
Remind me of your blessings, I pray, with every tribulation I may face, so that I may act with energy, forgiveness and love, ever mindful of the grace You have shown to me. Through Christ I pray,
Prayer for the Gifts of the Holy Spirit
Christ Jesus, before ascending into heaven, You promised to send the Holy Spirit to Your apostles and disciples. Grant that the same Spirit may perfect in my life the work of Your grace and love. and that I may bear my cross with You and, with courage, overcome the obstacles that interfere with my salvation; Teach me to be Your faithful disciple and animate me in every way with Your Spirit.
Lord, support me all the day long of this troublous life, until the shadows lengthen and the evening comes, and the busy world is hushed, and the fever of life is over and my work is done. Then of Thy mercy, grant me a safe lodging, and a holy rest and a peace at last through Jesus Christ, our Lord.
(Additional prayers may be found at Prayers for All Occasions.)
God be with you 'til we meet again.
Birth of John the Baptist
Make a joyful shout to the God of Jacob.
Raise a song and strike the timbrel,
The pleasant harp with the lute.
John the Baptist Prepares the Way
The beginning of the good news of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
As it is written in the prophet Isaiah,
who will prepare your way;
the voice of one crying out in the wilderness:
'Prepare the way of the Lord,
make his paths straight,'"
John the baptizer appeared in the wilderness, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. And people from the whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem were going out to him, and were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins. Now John was clothed with camel's hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey.
He proclaimed, "The one who is more powerful than I is coming after me; I am not worthy to stoop down and untie the thong of his sandals. I have baptized you with water; but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit."
Notes on the Scripture
Mark is the only one of the four Gospels that does not have an account of Christ's existence before his adult ministry began. John does not tell the story of Jesus' human birth, but begins with a unique account of Christ's spiritual origins. The Christmas story, per se — the child being born in Bethlehem, the angels and shepherds and wise men — comes from only two books, Matthew and Luke.
Although Mark dives right into Christ's adult life, he begins his account with the two great prophets of Christ, who foretold his coming and his final victory. The first is Isaiah; but Mark does not use a prophecy of Christ's coming to start his book, but a prophecy of John the Baptist.
Like any king, Christ had a clarion going before him, telling people to prepare themselves because the king was coming. Only instead of a haughty trumpeter with gold brocade clothes strutting before great buildings in city streets, John is a man who has utterly humbled himself. He lives in the middle of nowhere; he wears the roughest of clothes and eats locusts. Nor does he force himself into the faces of those he addresses. Rather, they must seek him out.
But the Jews were hungry for the spirit. People are not all stupid; many could see the corruption and evils of the Jewish establishment, but had nowhere to turn. Hearing that there was a man of true holiness who would take their confessions, they flocked to him.
But when they arrived, they were surprised to hear that this holy man did not claim holiness. Instead, he claimed that he was only the messenger of a great Savior who was to come after him. And although he baptized, he claimed that the one to come after him would have the power to transmit the spirit of God Himself, to those who might follow him.