Daily Devotion for January 3, 2014
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.
If you think you have heard every Christmas carol fifty times, this a capella duet by Kathleen Lundquist and a friend might be a new one for you. All This Night My Heart Rejoices is a lovely Elizabethan hymn.
A Prayer of Entreaty by Jane Austen
Compassionate Lord, give me a thankful sense of the Blessings in which I live, of the many comforts of my lot; that I may not deserve to lose them by Discontent or Indifference.
Be gracious to my Necessities, and guard me, and all I love, from Evil this day. May the sick and afflicted, be now, and ever thy care; and heartily do I pray for the safety of all that travel by Land or by Sea, for the comfort & protection of the Orphan and Widow and that thy pity may be shewn upon all Captives and Prisoners.
Above all other blessings Oh! God, for myself, and my fellow-creatures, I implore Thee to quicken our sense of thy Mercy in the redemption of the World, of the Value of that Holy Religion in which we have been brought up, that we may not, by our own neglect, throw away the salvation thou hast given us, nor be Christians only in name. Hear me Almighty God, for His sake who has redeemed me, and taught me thus to pray.
Prayer of Determination for the Coming Year
Oh heavenly Father, who has created me, and preserved my life, and promised the joy of eternal life to all who come to Him through his only Son, Jesus Christ: I vow and determine to grow in my faith during the coming year, learning your holy Word, coming to you in prayer every day, and resolving to walk in all those good works which you have commanded us to walk in.
Bless me in my endeavors, dear God; if it may please you, send your Holy Spirit always to remind and correct me when I stray from your path; and renew in me, today and every day, a sense of prayer without ceasing. Let me honor you with my time, my love, my bounty, my words and deeds, as I lay up my treasure in heaven. In Christ's name, I pray,
Now all glory to you, mighty God, who is able to keep me from falling away and will bring me with great joy into your glorious presence without a single fault. All glory to you who alone are God, our Savior through Jesus Christ our Lord. All glory, majesty, power, and authority are yours before all time, and in the present, and beyond all time,
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.
Courage does not always roar. Sometimes it is a quiet voice at the end of the day, saying, “I will try again tomorrow.”
~ Mary Anne Radmacher
Luke 2:22-24, 36-40 (NKJV)
Anna Bears Witness to the Redeemer
Now when the days of Mary's purification according to the law of Moses were completed, they brought Him to Jerusalem to present Him to the Lord (as it is written in the law of the Lord, “Every male who opens the womb shall be called holy to the Lord”), and to offer a sacrifice according to what is said in the law of the Lord, “A pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons.”
A pair of turtle doves
Now there was one, Anna, a prophetess, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was of a great age, and had lived with a husband seven years from her virginity; and this woman was a widow of about eighty-four years, who did not depart from the temple, but served God with fastings and prayers night and day. And coming in that instant she gave thanks to the Lord, and spoke of Him to all those who looked for redemption in Jerusalem.
So when they had performed all things according to the law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee, to their own city, Nazareth. And the Child grew and became strong in spirit, filled with wisdom; and the grace of God was upon Him.
Notes on the Scripture
The details of Anna's life are not completely clear. She would normally have been betrothed before she was 14 (twelve and a half was common), but marriage as we know it, with the parties living and sleeping together, would usually occur at least a year after the betrothal. It is a good guess that she became fully married at age 14 or 15. So what this passage means is that she was widowed at age 21 (approximately).
The verse does not specify whether she was 84 years old, or had been a widow for 84 years, which would make her 105. You could fairly argue either age. It was not impossible for a woman to live to 105; there are known instances of people living active lives at that age in parts of the world little different from Roman Israel.
But the important point is that she had lived for a very long time like a medieval nun, cloistered in the Temple, devoted entirely to worship. She had strong spiritual credentials; she was a proven holy woman.
Why is this passage even worth recounting? It would have been much more important to the Jews of the day than it is to us. In important cases, such as murder, a court decision would only be given on the testimony of “two or three witnesses”. (Deut. 19:15) Thus, along with Simeon, two people have borne witness to Jesus' holiness when he was brought to the Temple for his birth sacrifice.
Luke is trying to prove that Jesus was the Messiah, ordained before his birth. Anna's testimony is less compelling than Simeon's, but it was important enough for Luke to have included it.
(Note that “two turtledoves”, the birth sacrifice for Jesus, is included in the secular Christmas song The Twelve Days of Christmas.)