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Daily Devotion for December 4, 2017


New Jerusalem with Jesus Is My Airplane
New Jerusalem with Jesus Is My Airplane, by Sister Gertrude Morgan, ca. 1970.

Prayers

Scripture

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Lord's Prayer

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.

Amen.




The Love of Christ

Oh holy Christ, I thank you and love you for seeing who I really am. You know things about me that I don't even know myself, for you see with the clear eye of God, and not through the psychological tangle of human emotion and self-deception as others see me and I see myself. I most especially thank you, I fall upon my knees in gratitude, that you love me despite all of the sin and ugliness you see in me. You can see my beauty and heart, also, though, and love me as nobody else possibly could.

Like a father, you love me. Like a perfect brother, you love me. Knowing that you see me so clearly, and yet love me enough to suffer torture and death to save my soul, transcends my comprehension. I would be sick with shame, except that you have forbidden it, and by the power of God forgive my wrongdoing.

I give myself to you wholly, freely; every part of me blesses you. Take me to your bosom, holy Christ; let me live your love and reflect your light, that others may see a dim reflection of your magnificence in my lowly life, and that despite my many grievous faults, I might please you by doing better today, and every day. And this I vow: I will try, at least once today, to take a step closer to you, by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Amen.

Prayer for the Holy Spirit's Guidance

Gracious God,
Send your Holy Spirit to deepen my worship life.
Open my heart to the gifts and cultures which surround my church.
Open my heart to the people who are different from me.
In Jesus' name, I pray.

Amen.

Benediction

Now unto him that is able to keep me from falling, and to present me faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy, to the only wise God our Savior, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever.

Amen.


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.



Christian Hope by George F. Watts
Hope by George Frederic Watts, c. 1886.

Preaching

Preach the gospel every day; if necessary, use words.

~ (St.) Francis of Assisi


Blue Latin Cross

Matthew 23:37-39 (ESV)

O Jerusalem

“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing! See, your house is left to you desolate.

For I tell you, you will not see me again, until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.’”


Matthew 24:1-2 (ESV)

Jesus left the temple and was going away, when his disciples came to point out to him the buildings of the temple. But he answered them, “You see all these, do you not? Truly, I say to you, there will not be left here one stone upon another that will not be thrown down.”


Notes on the Scripture

A

lthough it may seem odd to look at one of the last chapters of Matthew during Advent, it is important to understand fully the “why” of Christ’s birth in terms of the old covenant with the Jews, the covenant of Moses. So let us jump forward to the time just before the crucifixion.

In the section just before today’s passage, Matthew 23:29-36, Christ condemned the Pharisees, holding them guilty for the murder of God’s prophets centuries before, calling them “snakes and vipers,” and asking how they expect to escape hell. Their covenant with God has failed. It has ended with God’s judgment of them for their sins.

Yet we know that “God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.” (John 3:17) Despite the Jews’ horrific sinfulness, Christ cannot help but let His love for them show. He does not want anyone to go to hell for their sins, even the worst of sinners: the Pharisees and their colleagues, who had spilled the blood of the prophets, who had killed God’s very messengers and would soon kill Christ himself.

Monkeys battling snails from Illuminated Hymnal

The metaphor of a hen gathering chicks under her wings is first seen in the writings of Ezra, in 2 Esdras 1:30-33: “I gathered you as a hen gathers her brood under her wings. But now, what shall I do to you? I will cast you out from my presence. . . . I sent to you my servants the prophets, but you have taken and slain them . . . . Your house is desolate.”

The underlying message in this teaching is that the covenant with the Jews is fulfilled and replaced by God’s final covenant with humanity, the covenant of forgiveness in Christ. Indeed, Christ seems to be speaking as God the Father in the first paragraph, for He is announcing that physical Jerusalem (what Paul calls “Jerusalem . . . in slavery”) will no longer be a holy city. Jerusalem will be left to the Pharisees desolate; God will be gone from it. (And, in fact, the Temple building will be physically destroyed by the Romans 35 years later, never to rise again.) Mighty Jerusalem fails them; they (and we) are saved by humble Bethlehem.

Christ follows “your house is left to you desolate” with the words for “you will not see me again until . . . .” This can only mean one thing. He is the new Temple. God's “temple,” the place where the salvation of humanity dwells, has relocated from a building in Jerusalem to the body of Jesus Christ. Both of them will be “torn down,” but Christ's body will rise again. And the Jews — like everyone else — will not see the Temple again until Christ's second coming.





endless knot

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