DAILY DEVOTIONAL, 12/7/18

Friday, 1st Week of Advent

Opening Prayer

Oh Lord, open my lips
And my mouth shall proclaim your praise. (Ps. 51:15)

(from The Book of Common Worship)
Eternal God,
through long generations you prepared a way
for the coming of your Son,
and by your Spirit
you still bring light to illumine our paths.
Renew us in faith and hope
that we may welcome Christ to rule our thoughts
and claim our love,
as Lord of lords and King of kings,
to whom be glory always.
Amen.

Morning Psalm, Psalm 102

Do Not Hide Your Face from Me
A Prayer of one afflicted, when he is faint and pours out his complaint before the Lord.

102:1 Hear my prayer, O Lord;
let my cry come to you!
Do not hide your face from me
    in the day of my distress!
Incline your ear to me;
    answer me speedily in the day when I call!
For my days pass away like smoke,
    and my bones burn like a furnace.
My heart is struck down like grass and has withered;
    I forget to eat my bread.
Because of my loud groaning
    my bones cling to my flesh.
I am like a desert owl of the wilderness,
    like an owl[a of the waste places;
I lie awake;
    I am like a lonely sparrow on the housetop.
All the day my enemies taunt me;
    those who deride me use my name for a curse.
For I eat ashes like bread
    and mingle tears with my drink,
10 because of your indignation and anger;
    for you have taken me up and thrown me down.
11 My days are like an evening shadow;
    I wither away like grass.
12 But you, O Lord, are enthroned forever;
    you are remembered throughout all generations.
13 You will arise and have pity on Zion;
    it is the time to favor her;
    the appointed time has come.
14 For your servants hold her stones dear
    and have pity on her dust.
15 Nations will fear the name of the Lord,
    and all the kings of the earth will fear your glory.
16 For the Lord builds up Zion;
    he appears in his glory;
17 he regards the prayer of the destitute
    and does not despise their prayer.
18 Let this be recorded for a generation to come,
    so that a people yet to be created may praise the Lord:
19 that he looked down from his holy height;
    from heaven the Lord looked at the earth,
20 to hear the groans of the prisoners,
    to set free those who were doomed to die,
21 that they may declare in Zion the name of the Lord,
    and in Jerusalem his praise,
22 when peoples gather together,
    and kingdoms, to worship the Lord.
23 He has broken my strength in midcourse;
    he has shortened my days.
24 “O my God,” I say, “take me not away
    in the midst of my days—
you whose years endure
    throughout all generations!”
25 Of old you laid the foundation of the earth,
    and the heavens are the work of your hands.
26 They will perish, but you will remain;
    they will all wear out like a garment.
You will change them like a robe, and they will pass away,
27     but you are the same, and your years have no end.
28 The children of your servants shall dwell secure;
    their offspring shall be established before you.

Prayer:
(from The Book of Common Worship)
Lord, while our days vanish like shadows
and our lives wear out like a garment,
you are eternal.
Although our earthly lives come to an end,
help us to live in Christ’s endless life
and at length attain our home,
the heavenly Jerusalem,
where he lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
now and forever.
Amen.

Psalm of Praise, Psalm 148

Praise the Name of the Lord

148:1 Praise the Lord!
Praise the Lord from the heavens;
    praise him in the heights!
Praise him, all his angels;
    praise him, all his hosts!
Praise him, sun and moon,
    praise him, all you shining stars!
Praise him, you highest heavens,
    and you waters above the heavens!
Let them praise the name of the Lord!
    For he commanded and they were created.
And he established them forever and ever;
    he gave a decree, and it shall not pass away.[a
Praise the Lord from the earth,
    you great sea creatures and all deeps,
fire and hail, snow and mist,
    stormy wind fulfilling his word!
Mountains and all hills,
    fruit trees and all cedars!
10 Beasts and all livestock,
    creeping things and flying birds!
11 Kings of the earth and all peoples,
    princes and all rulers of the earth!
12 Young men and maidens together,
    old men and children!
13 Let them praise the name of the Lord,
    for his name alone is exalted;
    his majesty is above earth and heaven.
14 He has raised up a horn for his people,
    praise for all his saints,
    for the people of Israel who are near to him.
Praise the Lord!

Prayer:
(from The Book of Common Worship)
God Most High,
by your Word you created a wondrous universe,
and through your Spirit
you breathed into it the breath of life.
Accept creation’s hymn of praise from our lips,
and let the praise that is sung in heaven
resound in the heart of every creature on earth,
to the glory of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit,
now and forever.
Amen.

Old Testament Reading, Isaiah 2:5-22

Judgment on Judah and Jerusalem

3:1 For behold, the Lord God of hosts
    is taking away from Jerusalem and from Judah
support and supply,
    all support of bread,
    and all support of water;
the mighty man and the soldier,
    the judge and the prophet,
    the diviner and the elder,
the captain of fifty
    and the man of rank,
the counselor and the skillful magician
    and the expert in charms.
And I will make boys their princes,
    and infants shall rule over them.
And the people will oppress one another,
    every one his fellow
    and every one his neighbor;
the youth will be insolent to the elder,
    and the despised to the honorable.

For a man will take hold of his brother
    in the house of his father, saying:
“You have a cloak;
    you shall be our leader,
and this heap of ruins
    shall be under your rule”;
in that day he will speak out, saying:
“I will not be a healer;
    in my house there is neither bread nor cloak;
you shall not make me
    leader of the people.”
For Jerusalem has stumbled,
    and Judah has fallen,
because their speech and their deeds are against the Lord,
    defying his glorious presence.

For the look on their faces bears witness against them;
    they proclaim their sin like Sodom;
    they do not hide it.
Woe to them!
    For they have brought evil on themselves.
10 Tell the righteous that it shall be well with them,
    for they shall eat the fruit of their deeds.
11 Woe to the wicked! It shall be ill with him,
    for what his hands have dealt out shall be done to him.
12 My people—infants are their oppressors,
    and women rule over them.
O my people, your guides mislead you
    and they have swallowed up the course of your paths.

13 The Lord has taken his place to contend;
    he stands to judge peoples.
14 The Lord will enter into judgment
    with the elders and princes of his people:
“It is you who have devoured[f the vineyard,
    the spoil of the poor is in your houses.
15 What do you mean by crushing my people,
    by grinding the face of the poor?”
declares the Lord God of hosts.

16 The Lord said:
Because the daughters of Zion are haughty
    and walk with outstretched necks,
    glancing wantonly with their eyes,
mincing along as they go,
    tinkling with their feet,
17 therefore the Lord will strike with a scab
    the heads of the daughters of Zion,
    and the Lord will lay bare their secret parts.

18 In that day the Lord will take away the finery of the anklets, the headbands, and the crescents; 19 the pendants, the bracelets, and the scarves; 20 the headdresses, the armlets, the sashes, the perfume boxes, and the amulets; 21 the signet rings and nose rings; 22 the festal robes, the mantles, the cloaks, and the handbags;23 the mirrors, the linen garments, the turbans, and the veils.

24 Instead of perfume there will be rottenness;
    and instead of a belt, a rope;
and instead of well-set hair, baldness;
    and instead of a rich robe, a skirt of sackcloth;
    and branding instead of beauty.
25 Your men shall fall by the sword
    and your mighty men in battle.
26 And her gates shall lament and mourn;
    empty, she shall sit on the ground.

4:1 And seven women shall take hold of one man in that day, saying, “We will eat our own bread and wear our own clothes, only let us be called by your name; take away our reproach.”

Epistle Reading, 1 Thessalonians 3:1-13

A Life Pleasing to God

Finally, then, brothers, we ask and urge you in the Lord Jesus, that as you received from us how you ought to walk and to please God, just as you are doing, that you do so more and more. For you know what instructions we gave you through the Lord Jesus. For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality; that each one of you know how to control his own body[c in holiness and honor, not in the passion of lust like the Gentiles who do not know God; that no one transgress and wrong his brother in this matter, because the Lord is an avenger in all these things, as we told you beforehand and solemnly warned you. For God has not called us for impurity, but in holiness.Therefore whoever disregards this, disregards not man but God, who gives his Holy Spirit to you.

Now concerning brotherly love you have no need for anyone to write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love one another, 10 for that indeed is what you are doing to all the brothers throughout Macedonia. But we urge you, brothers, to do this more and more, 11 and to aspire to live quietly, and to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, as we instructed you, 12 so that you may walk properly before outsiders and be dependent on no one.

Gospel Reading, Luke 20:27-40

Whose Son Is the Christ?

41 But he said to them, “How can they say that the Christ is David’s son? 42 For David himself says in the Book of Psalms,

“‘The Lord said to my Lord,
“Sit at my right hand,
43until I make your enemies your footstool.”’

44 David thus calls him Lord, so how is he his son?”

Beware of the Scribes

45 And in the hearing of all the people he said to his disciples, 46 “Beware of the scribes, who like to walk around in long robes, and love greetings in the marketplaces and the best seats in the synagogues and the places of honor at feasts, 47 who devour widows’ houses and for a pretense make long prayers. They will receive the greater condemnation.”

The Widow’s Offering

21 Jesus looked up and saw the rich putting their gifts into the offering box,and he saw a poor widow put in two small copper coins.[b And he said, “Truly, I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all of them. For they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.”

REFLECTION FOR THE DAY

“The Word Creates a Divine Harmony in Creation”
from Discourse Against the Pagans by
Athanasius of Alexandria (4th Century)
as reprinted in The Liturgy of the Hours

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. All things were made through him, and without him nothing was made” (John 1:1-3). In these words John the theologian teaches that nothing exists or remains in being except in and through the Word.

Think of a musician tuning his lyre. By his skill he adjusts high notes to low and intermediate notes to the rest, and produces a series of harmonies. So too the wisdom of God holds the world like a lyre and joins things in the air to those on earth, and things in heaven to those in the air, and brings each part into harmony with the whole. By his decree and will he regulates them all to produce the beauty and harmony of a single, well-ordered universe. While remaining unchanged with his Father, he moves all creation by his unchanging nature, according to the Fathers will. To everything he gives existence and life in accordance with its nature, and so creates a wonderful and truly divine harmony.

To illustrate this profound mystery, let us take the example of a choir of many singers. A choir is composed of a variety of men, women and children, of both old and young. Under the direction of one conductor, each sings in the way that is natural for him: men with men’s voices, boys with boys’ voices, old people with old voices, young people with young voices Yet all of them produce a single harmony. Or consider the example of our soul. It moves our senses according to their several functions so that in the presence of a single object they all act simultaneously: the eye sees, the ear hears, the hand touches, the nose smells, the tongue tastes, and often the other parts of the body act as well as, for example, the feet may walk.

Although this is only a poor comparison, it gives some idea of how the whole universe is governed. The Word of God has but to give a gesture of command and everything falls into place; each creature performs its own proper function, and all together constitute one single harmonious order. 

Prayer for the Day

Take time to reflect and pray. Pray for those listed on our prayer list from worship. If you’d like to use it, here is a prayer to guide you:

(from The Book of Common Worship)
Merciful God, we praise you that you give strength for every weakness, forgiveness for our failures, and new beginnings in Jesus Christ. Especially we thank you for

the guidance of your spirit through this day . . .
signs of new life and hope . . .
people who have helped us . . .
those who struggle for justice . . .
expressions of love unexpected or undeserved. . . .

Almighty God, you know all needs before we speak our prayers, yet you welcome our concerns for others in Jesus Christ. Especially we pray for

those who keep watch over the sick and dying . . .
those who weep with the grieving . . .
those who are without faith and cannot accept your love . . .
the aged who are lonely, distressed or weak . . .
Reformed, Presbyterian, and Lutheran churches. . . .
Amen.

Closing Prayer

(from The Liturgy of the Hours)
Attend to the pleas of your people with heavenly care, 
O Lord, we pray, 
that they may see what must be done 
and gain strength to do what they have seen. 
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. 

Let us praise the Lord.
– And give him thanks. 
Amen.

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