Daily Devotion for December 5, 2022
Only 19 Praying Days Left Until Christmas
The title refers to the ability to see the light, both physical and the “light of the world.” (John 1:4-5)
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.
Our music today, an anthem sung by the Birmingham Boys Choir, is the main subject of today’s Scripture Notes.
Ere the worlds began to be,
He is Alpha and Omega,
He the Source, the Ending He,
Of the things that are, that have been,
And that future years shall see
Evermore and evermore.
Oh, that birth forever blessed
When the Virgin, full of grace,
By the Holy Ghost conceiving,
Bare the Savior of our race,
And the Babe, the world's Redeemer,
First revealed His sacred face
Evermore and evermore.
O ye heights of heaven, adore Him;
Angel hosts, His praises sing;
Powers, dominions, bow before Him
And extol our God and King.
Let no tongue on earth be silent,
Every voice in concert ring
Evermore and evermore.
Prayer to Thirst for God
Lord God, I have tasted your goodness and it has satisfied me, yet it has made me thirst for even more. I am so painfully aware of my need for even more grace than I now enjoy; and even when I do not want more, I am ashamed of my lack of desire. I want you completely, mighty God, and I want to want you even more than I do.
Fill me with longing for you; make me even thirstier. Show me your glory, I pray, so that I may know you always better and better, growing in my faith and love. From your infinite mercy, begin a new work of love within me this moment. Say to my soul, ‘Rise up my love, my fair one, and come away.’ And give me grace to rise up and follow you, from this misty lowland where I have wandered so long.
Prayer for All People
O God, the creator and preserver of all mankind, I humbly pray to you for all sorts and conditions of humanity; that it might please you to make your Word known to them and bring your saving health to all nations. In particular I pray for the entirety of your church, in all of its many forms; that it may be guided and governed by your Holy Spirit, and that all who profess your name and call themselves Christians may be led into the way of truth. May all of us live in that unity of spirit which our faith in Christ provides to us, in the bond of peace, and in righteousness of life.
Finally, I commend to your fatherly goodness all those who are ill or in distress, in their mind, body, or circumstances. May it please you to comfort and relieve them in accordance with their needs, giving them patience during their suffering, and a fortunate outcome to all of their problems. And this I ask in the name of Jesus Christ, who was always pleased to relieve the suffering of those he encountered.
O God and Father of all, whom the whole heavens adore: Let the whole earth also worship you, all nations obey you, all tongues confess and bless you, and men and women everywhere love you and serve you in peace; through Jesus Christ our Lord, I pray,
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.
Today’s “Remember the Bible” Question
Which Bible verse tells us that God will rebuke us if we add to His words?
“For outlandish creatures like us, on our way to a heart, a brain, and courage, Bethlehem is not the end of our journey but only the beginning - not home but the place through which we must pass if ever we are to reach home at last.”
~ Frederick Buechner, The Magnificent Defeat
Revelation 22:12-17 (ESV)
Alpha and Omega
ehold, I am coming soon, bringing my recompense with me, to repay everyone for what he has done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.
Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they may have the right to the tree of life and that they may enter the city by the gates. Outside are the dogs and sorcerers and the sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices falsehood.
I, Jesus, have sent my angel to testify to you about these things for the churches. I am the root and the descendant of David, the bright morning star.
The Spirit and the Bride say, “Come.” And let the one who hears say, “Come.” And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price.
Notes on the Scripture
Alpha is the first letter of the Greek alphabet, and Omega is the last letter. Saying that “I am the Alpha and Omega” is a poetic way of restating that God is the very beginning of all things and will be the very end. There was nothing before Him, and there can be nothing after Him, because He is eternal.
The beautiful hymn highlighted in our devotional today, which prominently includes the phrase “He is Alpha and Omega,” is a remarkable work. The tune is recognizable as Gregorian chant and was actually written at least 1,000 years ago: The first written copy of the tune has been dated to the 11th Century. It was titled Divinum Mysterium (divine mystery) and it really does have a beautiful, mysterious, and spiritual effect on the listener.
The first verse is sung here exactly as it might have been sung a thousand years ago, by an a capella male choir. There is some (very nice) modern harmonization starting in the middle of verse 2, but much of the performance is sung in ancient monastic style (developed long before the musical revolutions of Renaissance and Baroque stying): in unison, in unison with a drone note, or in eerie sounding parallel fifths.
Just as remarkable, the words of the hymn are 1,600 years old! Of course it was originally written in Latin, by someone named Aurelius Clemens Prudentius, probably around 390 A.D. The first line in Latin is “Corde natus ex parentis ante mundi exordium.” The superb translation into English which we currently use was done by John Mason Neale in 1854, and improved by Sir Henry Williams Baker in 1859
Alpha and Omega became a common Christian symbol in the early days of the church; like the fish, it was often used by Christians in areas where they were persecuted, where the authorities would immediately recognize a cross and investigate to identify Christians in order to arrest them. The painting below shows Christ holding a book in His hand, with the Greek letter alpha on one page and omega on the other.