Daily Devotion for December 30, 2014
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.
Away in a manger, no crib for a bed,
The little Lord Jesus laid down His sweet head.
The stars in the [bright] sky looked down where He lay,
The little Lord Jesus, asleep on the hay.
The cattle are lowing, the Baby awakes,
But little Lord Jesus, no crying He makes;
I love Thee, Lord Jesus, look down from the sky
And stay by my cradle till morning is nigh.
Be near me, Lord Jesus, I ask Thee to stay
Close by me forever, and love me, I pray;
Bless all the dear children in Thy tender care,
And fit us for Heaven to live with Thee there.
Music (1st tune) by James R. Murray 1887
Music (2d tune) by William J. Kirkpatrick 1837
Lyrics anon. (sometimes attributed to Martin Luther)
Prayer for the Morning
Heavenly Lord, you have brought me to the beginning of a new day. As the world is renewed fresh and clean, so I ask you to renew my heart with your strength and purpose. Forgive me the errors of yesterday and bless me to walk closer in your way today. This is the day I begin my life anew; shine through me so that every person I meet may feel your presence in my soul. Take my hand, precious Lord, for I cannot make it by myself. Through Christ I pray and live,
A Prayer of Humility at Christmas
Jesus, the Light of the World, as I celebrate your birth may I begin to see the world in the light of the understanding you give me. As you chose the lowly, the outcast, and the poor to receive the greatest news the world had ever known, so may I worship you in meekness of heart. May I always remember my brothers and sisters less fortunate than myself in this season of giving.
Prayer of Repentance (from Psalm 51)
Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love; according to your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin!
For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me. Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight. I am full of shame at my sin, and my heart lies heavy.
Purge me and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. Let me hear joy and gladness; Hide your face from my sins, and blot out all my iniquities. This I ask in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord.
I pray that I may be blessed every step of my path this day by the great God of light. May your sun shine upon me; as the moon moves the tide, may your Spirit move my emotions with every grace and magic; may my heart sing with voice of your angels and my hearth be warm; and may this and every blessed day You have given me be filled with joy.
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.
Lord, what is man, that You take knowledge of him?
Or the son of man, that You are mindful of him?
Man is like a breath;
His days are like a passing shadow.
The Home in Nazareth
Now when Herod was dead, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt, saying, "Arise, take the young Child and His mother, and go to the land of Israel, for those who sought the young Child's life are dead." Then he arose, took the young Child and His mother, and came into the land of Israel.
But when he heard that Archelaus was reigning over Judea instead of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there. And being warned by God in a dream, he turned aside into the region of Galilee.
And he came and dwelt in a city called Nazareth, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets, "He shall be called a Nazarene."
Notes on the Scripture
After Herod the Great died, he divided his kingdom into three parts, each ruled by one of his surviving sons. Unfortunately for us, all of them were also called "Herod".
In fact, there were a number of other rulers with the name "Herod"; if you ever want to get thoroughly confused, try to figure them all out. There was even a famous woman named "Herodias", who divorced Herod Phillip I and married Herod Antipas.
Herod Archelaus was the King of Judea, the heart of Israel where Jerusalem and Bethlehem were located. He was every bit as cruel as his father (Herod the Great) had been, and Joseph was justified in fearing him.
Thus, instead of returning to Judea, Joseph traveled to Nazareth, a town in Galilee. This area was ruled by another of Herod the Great's sons, Herod Antipas. He was not called a king, but a "tetrarch", which means "one-quarter of a king".
Joseph chose wisely, because as bad as Herod Antipas was, he was the best of the bunch. Herod Antipas is the one who eventually would allow his wife's daughter, Salome, to demand the head of John the Baptist on a silver platter. Ironically, he was also the Herod who eventually arrested Christ and presided over His trial.
At any rate, this is how Jesus came to be born in Bethlehem, a town in Judea, but grew up in Nazareth, a town in Galilee (which was considered a separate country under Roman rule). This all fit in perfectly with the messianic prophesies of the Old Testament, which predicted the birth of the Messiah in Bethlehem, but also said that the Messiah would be a Nazarene.
(For anyone interested in such things, Antipas is a contraction of Antipater, a frequent name of Greek notables. It does not mean "against the father", as you would think, but rather "like the father" or possibly "not the father". Also, the super-cruel Archelaus came to a bad end. Rome deposed him after 10 years and exiled him — a refined man, educated and frequently resident in Rome — to a rough village at the border of Roman Gaul and Germany called Vienne, which would eventually became Vienna, Austria.)