DAILY DEVOTIONAL, 12/22/18

Saturday, 3rd 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)
Who are we, Lord God,
that you should come to us?
Yet you have visited your people
and redeemed us in your Son.
As we prepare to celebrate his birth,
make our hearts leap for joy at the sound of your word,
and move us by your Spirit to bless your wonderful works.
We ask this through him whose coming is certain,
whose day draws near,
your Son, our Lord Jesus Christ,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, forever and ever.
Amen.

Morning Psalm, Psalm 90

From Everlasting to Everlasting
A Prayer of Moses, the man of God.

90:1 Lord, you have been our dwelling place
    in all generations.
Before the mountains were brought forth,
    or ever you had formed the earth and the world,
    from everlasting to everlasting you are God.

You return man to dust
    and say, “Return, O children of man!”
For a thousand years in your sight
    are but as yesterday when it is past,
    or as a watch in the night.

You sweep them away as with a flood; they are like a dream,
    like grass that is renewed in the morning:
in the morning it flourishes and is renewed;
    in the evening it fades and withers.

For we are brought to an end by your anger;
    by your wrath we are dismayed.
You have set our iniquities before you,
    our secret sins in the light of your presence.

For all our days pass away under your wrath;
    we bring our years to an end like a sigh.
10 The years of our life are seventy,
    or even by reason of strength eighty;
yet their span is but toil and trouble;
    they are soon gone, and we fly away.
11 Who considers the power of your anger,
    and your wrath according to the fear of you?

12 So teach us to number our days
    that we may get a heart of wisdom.
13 Return, O Lord! How long?
    Have pity on your servants!
14 Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love,
    that we may rejoice and be glad all our days.
15 Make us glad for as many days as you have afflicted us,
    and for as many years as we have seen evil.
16 Let your work be shown to your servants,
    and your glorious power to their children.
17 Let the favor[d of the Lord our God be upon us,
    and establish the work of our hands upon us;
    yes, establish the work of our hands!

Prayer:
(from The Book of Common Worship)
Eternal God,
you alone are constant in this changing world.
Grant us true wisdom of heart
and guide us in serving you all the days of our life;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Amen.

Psalm of Praise, Psalm 149

Sing to the Lord a New Song

149:1 Praise the Lord!
Sing to the Lord a new song,
    his praise in the assembly of the godly!
Let Israel be glad in his Maker;
    let the children of Zion rejoice in their King!
Let them praise his name with dancing,
    making melody to him with tambourine and lyre!
For the Lord takes pleasure in his people;
    he adorns the humble with salvation.
Let the godly exult in glory;
    let them sing for joy on their beds.
Let the high praises of God be in their throats
    and two-edged swords in their hands,
to execute vengeance on the nations
    and punishments on the peoples,
to bind their kings with chains
    and their nobles with fetters of iron,
to execute on them the judgment written!
    This is honor for all his godly ones.
Praise the Lord!

Prayer:
(from The Book of Common Worship)
God our Maker,
you crown the humble with honor
and exalt the faithful who gather in your name.
Because you have favored us with life,
we dance before you in our joy
and praise you with unending song
for Jesus Christ our Lord.
Amen.

Old Testament Reading, Isaiah 31:1-9

Woe to Those Who Go Down to Egypt

31:1 Woe to those who go down to Egypt for help
    and rely on horses,
who trust in chariots because they are many
    and in horsemen because they are very strong,
but do not look to the Holy One of Israel
    or consult the Lord!
And yet he is wise and brings disaster;
    he does not call back his words,
but will arise against the house of the evildoers
    and against the helpers of those who work iniquity.
The Egyptians are man, and not God,
    and their horses are flesh, and not spirit.
When the Lord stretches out his hand,
    the helper will stumble, and he who is helped will fall,
    and they will all perish together.

For thus the Lord said to me,
“As a lion or a young lion growls over his prey,
    and when a band of shepherds is called out against him
he is not terrified by their shouting
    or daunted at their noise,
so the Lord of hosts will come down
    to fight[b on Mount Zion and on its hill.
Like birds hovering, so the Lord of hosts
    will protect Jerusalem;
he will protect and deliver it;
    he will spare and rescue it.”

Turn to him from whom people have deeply revolted, O children of Israel. For in that day everyone shall cast away his idols of silver and his idols of gold, which your hands have sinfully made for you.

“And the Assyrian shall fall by a sword, not of man;
    and a sword, not of man, shall devour him;
and he shall flee from the sword,
    and his young men shall be put to forced labor.
His rock shall pass away in terror,
    and his officers desert the standard in panic,”
declares the Lord, whose fire is in Zion,
    and whose furnace is in Jerusalem.

Epistle Reading, Revelation 21:22-22:5

21:22 And I saw no temple in the city, for its temple is the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb. 23 And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and its lamp is the Lamb. 24 By its light will the nations walk, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it, 25 and its gates will never be shut by day—and there will be no night there. 26 They will bring into it the glory and the honor of the nations. 27 But nothing unclean will ever enter it, nor anyone who does what is detestable or false, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s book of life.

The River of Life

22:1 Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb through the middle of the street of the city; also, on either side of the river, the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. No longer will there be anything accursed, but the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him. They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. And night will be no more. They will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever.

Gospel Reading, Luke 1:39-56

Mary Visits Elizabeth

39 In those days Mary arose and went with haste into the hill country, to a town in Judah, 40 and she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. 41 And when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the baby leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit, 42 and she exclaimed with a loud cry, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! 43 And why is this granted to me that the mother of my Lord should come to me? 44 For behold, when the sound of your greeting came to my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. 45 And blessed is she who believed that there would be[a a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord.”

Mary’s Song of Praise: The Magnificat

46 And Mary said,

“My soul magnifies the Lord,
47     and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
48 for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant.
    For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed;
49 for he who is mighty has done great things for me,
    and holy is his name.
50 And his mercy is for those who fear him
    from generation to generation.
51 He has shown strength with his arm;
    he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts;
52 he has brought down the mighty from their thrones
    and exalted those of humble estate;
53 he has filled the hungry with good things,
    and the rich he has sent away empty.
54 He has helped his servant Israel,
    in remembrance of his mercy,
55 as he spoke to our fathers,
    to Abraham and to his offspring forever.”

56 And Mary remained with her about three months and returned to her home.

Reflection for the Day

“The Magnificat”
from A Commentary of Luke by
Bede (7th-8th Centuries)
as reprinted in The Liturgy of the Hours

Mary said: My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord, my spirit rejoices in God my Savior. The Lord has exalted me by a gift so great, so unheard of, that language is useless to describe it, and the depths of love in my heart can scarcely grasp it. I offer then all the powers of my soul in praise and thanksgiving. As I contemplate his greatness, which knows no limits, I joyfully surrender my whole life, my senses, my judgment, for my spirit rejoices in the eternal Godhead of that Jesus, that Savior, whom I have conceived in this world of time.

The Almighty has done great things for me, and holy is his name. 

Mary looks back to the beginning of her song, where she said: My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord. Only that soul for whom the Lord in his love does great things can proclaim his greatness with fitting praise and encourage those who share her desire and purpose, saying: Join with me in proclaiming the greatness of the Lord; let us extol his name together. 

Those who know the Lord, yet refuse to proclaim his greatness and sanctify his name to the limit of their power, will be called least in the kingdom of heaven. His name is called holy because in the sublimity of his unique power he surpasses every creature and is far removed from all that he had made.

He has come to the help of his servant Israel for he has remembered his promise of mercy. In a beautiful phrase Mary calls Israel the servant of the Lord. The Lord came to his aid to save him. Israel is an obedient and humble servant, in the words of Hosea: Israel was a servant, and I loved him. 

Those who refuse to be humble cannot be saved. They cannot say with the prophet: See, God comes to my aid; the Lord is the helper of my soul. But anyone who makes himself humble like a little child is greater in the kingdom of heaven. 

The promise he made to our fathers, to Abraham and his children for ever. This does not refer to the physical descendants of Abraham, but to his spiritual children. These are his descendants, sprung not from the flesh only, but who, whether circumcised or not, have followed him in faith. Circumcised as he was, Abraham believed, and this was credited to him as an act of righteousness.

The coming of the Savior was promised to Abraham and to his descendants for ever. These are the children of promise, to whom it is said: If you belong to Christ, then you are descendants of Abraham, heirs in accordance with the promise. 

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)
God of glory, we praise you for your presence in our lives, and for all goodness that you shower upon your children in Jesus Christ. Especially we thank you for

promises kept and hope for tomorrow . . .
the enjoyment of friends . . .
the wonders of your creation . . .
love from our parents, our sisters and brothers, our spouses and children . . .
pleasures of living. . . .

God of grace, we are one with all your children, for we are sisters and brothers of Jesus Christ, and we offer our prayers for all whom we love. Especially we pray for

those we too often forget . . .
people who have lost hope . . .
victims of tragedy and disaster . . .
those who suffer mental anguish . . .
ecumenical councils and church agencies. . . .

Amen.

O Antiphons

O Wisdom,
coming forth from the mouth of the Most High,
pervading and permeating all creation,
you order all things with strength and gentleness:
Come now and teach us the way to salvation.

Come, Lord Jesus.

O Adonai,
Ruler of the house of Israel,
you appeared in the burning bush to Moses
and gave him the law on Sinai:
Come with outstretched arm to save us.

Come, Lord Jesus.

O Root of Jesse,
rising as a sign for all the peoples,
before you earthly rulers will keep silent,
and nations give you honor:
Come quickly to deliver us.

Come, Lord Jesus.

O Key of David,
Scepter over the house of Israel,
you open and no one can close,
you close and no one can open:
Come to set free the prisoners
who live in darkness and the shadow of death.

Come, Lord Jesus.

O Radiant Dawn,
splendor of eternal light,
Sun of justice:
Come, shine on those who live in darkness
and in the shadow of death.

Come, Lord Jesus.

O Ruler of the nations,
Monarch for whom the people long,
you are the Cornerstone uniting all humanity:
Come, save us all,
whom you formed out of clay.

Come, Lord Jesus.

(silence)

God of grace,
ever faithful to your promises,
the earth rejoices in hope of our Savior’s coming
and looks forward with longing
to his return at the end of time.
Prepare our hearts to receive him when he comes,
for he is Lord forever and ever.
Amen.

Closing Prayer

(from The Liturgy of the Hours)
O God, who, seeing the human race fallen into death,
willed to redeem it by the coming of your Only Begotten Son,
grant, we pray,
that those who confess his Incarnation with humble fervor
may merit his company as their Redeemer.
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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