DAILY DEVOTIONAL, 12/28/18

Friday, 4th Day of Christmas

Opening Prayer

In this, O God, your love was revealed among us,
that you sent your only Son into the world
so that we might live through him. (1 John 4:9)

(from The Book of Common Prayer)
Almighty God, you have given your only-begotten Son to
take our nature upon him, and to be born of a pure
virgin: Grant that we, who have been born again and made
your children by adoption and grace, may daily be renewed
by your Holy Spirit; through our Lord Jesus Christ, to whom
with you and the same Spirit be honor and glory, now and
for ever.
Amen.

Morning Psalm, Psalm 2

The Reign of the Lord’s Anointed

2:1 Why do the nations rage
    and the peoples plot in vain?
The kings of the earth set themselves,
    and the rulers take counsel together,
    against the Lord and against his Anointed, saying,
“Let us burst their bonds apart
    and cast away their cords from us.”

He who sits in the heavens laughs;
    the Lord holds them in derision.
Then he will speak to them in his wrath,
    and terrify them in his fury, saying,
“As for me, I have set my King
    on Zion, my holy hill.”

I will tell of the decree:
The Lord said to me, “You are my Son;
    today I have begotten you.
Ask of me, and I will make the nations your heritage,
    and the ends of the earth your possession.
You shall break them with a rod of iron
    and dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.”

10 Now therefore, O kings, be wise;
    be warned, O rulers of the earth.
11 Serve the Lord with fear,
    and rejoice with trembling.
12 Kiss the Son,
    lest he be angry, and you perish in the way,
    for his wrath is quickly kindled.
Blessed are all who take refuge in him.

Prayer:
(from The Book of Common Worship)
Sovereign God,
you gave us your only begotten to be the Savior of the world,
and you crowned him with grace to rule over all.
Give us humility
that we may faithfully serve him,
and so know the joy
given to all who take refuge in Christ our Lord.
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.

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.

First Reading, Isaiah 49:13-23

49:13 Sing for joy, O heavens, and exult, O earth;
    break forth, O mountains, into singing!
For the Lord has comforted his people
    and will have compassion on his afflicted.

14 But Zion said, “The Lord has forsaken me;
    my Lord has forgotten me.”

15 “Can a woman forget her nursing child,
    that she should have no compassion on the son of her womb?
Even these may forget,
    yet I will not forget you.
16 Behold, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands;
    your walls are continually before me.
17 Your builders make haste;
    your destroyers and those who laid you waste go out from you.
18 Lift up your eyes around and see;
    they all gather, they come to you.
As I live, declares the Lord,
    you shall put them all on as an ornament;
    you shall bind them on as a bride does.

19 “Surely your waste and your desolate places
    and your devastated land—
surely now you will be too narrow for your inhabitants,
    and those who swallowed you up will be far away.
20 The children of your bereavement
    will yet say in your ears:
‘The place is too narrow for me;
    make room for me to dwell in.’
21 Then you will say in your heart:
    ‘Who has borne me these?
I was bereaved and barren,
    exiled and put away,
    but who has brought up these?
Behold, I was left alone;
    from where have these come?’”

22 Thus says the Lord God:
“Behold, I will lift up my hand to the nations,
    and raise my signal to the peoples;
and they shall bring your sons in their arms,[b
    and your daughters shall be carried on their shoulders.
23 Kings shall be your foster fathers,
    and their queens your nursing mothers.
With their faces to the ground they shall bow down to you,
    and lick the dust of your feet.
Then you will know that I am the Lord;
    those who wait for me shall not be put to shame.”

Second Reading, Isaiah 54:1-13

The Eternal Covenant of Peace

54:1 “Sing, O barren one, who did not bear;
    break forth into singing and cry aloud,
    you who have not been in labor!
For the children of the desolate one will be more
    than the children of her who is married,” says the Lord.
“Enlarge the place of your tent,
    and let the curtains of your habitations be stretched out;
do not hold back; lengthen your cords
    and strengthen your stakes.
For you will spread abroad to the right and to the left,
    and your offspring will possess the nations
    and will people the desolate cities.

“Fear not, for you will not be ashamed;
    be not confounded, for you will not be disgraced;
for you will forget the shame of your youth,
    and the reproach of your widowhood you will remember no more.
For your Maker is your husband,
    the Lord of hosts is his name;
and the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer,
    the God of the whole earth he is called.
For the Lord has called you
    like a wife deserted and grieved in spirit,
like a wife of youth when she is cast off,
    says your God.
For a brief moment I deserted you,
    but with great compassion I will gather you.
In overflowing anger for a moment
    I hid my face from you,
but with everlasting love I will have compassion on you,”
    says the Lord, your Redeemer.

“This is like the days of Noah to me:
    as I swore that the waters of Noah
    should no more go over the earth,
so I have sworn that I will not be angry with you,
    and will not rebuke you.
10 For the mountains may depart
    and the hills be removed,
but my steadfast love shall not depart from you,
    and my covenant of peace shall not be removed,”
    says the Lord, who has compassion on you.

11 “O afflicted one, storm-tossed and not comforted,
    behold, I will set your stones in antimony,
    and lay your foundations with sapphires.
12 I will make your pinnacles of agate,
    your gates of carbuncles,[d
    and all your wall of precious stones.
13 All your children shall be taught by the Lord,
    and great shall be the peace of your children.

Gospel Reading, Matthew 18:1-14

Who Is the Greatest?

18:1 At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of themand said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

“Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me, but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.

Temptations to Sin

“Woe to the world for temptations to sin! For it is necessary that temptations come, but woe to the one by whom the temptation comes! And if your hand or your foot causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life crippled or lame than with two hands or two feet to be thrown into the eternal fire. And if your eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into the hell of fire.

The Parable of the Lost Sheep

10 “See that you do not despise one of these little ones. For I tell you that in heaven their angels always see the face of my Father who is in heaven. 12 What do you think? If a man has a hundred sheep, and one of them has gone astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine on the mountains and go in search of the one that went astray? 13 And if he finds it, truly, I say to you, he rejoices over it more than over the ninety-nine that never went astray. 14 So it is not the will of my Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish.

Reflection for the Day

“The Lord Gives Life to His Body in the Spirit”
from On the Holy Spirit by
Basil of Caesarea (Basil the Great; 4th Century)
as reprinted in The Liturgy of the Hours

A spiritual man is one who no longer lives by the flesh, but is led by the Spirit of God, one called a Son of God, remade in the likeness of God’s Son. As the power of sight is active in the healthy eye, so the Holy Spirit is active in the purified soul.

We may form a word either as a thought in the heart or as a sound on the lips.  So the Holy Spirit, bearing witness to our spirit, cries out in our hearts saying “Abba Father,” or speaks in our place, as Scripture says: “It is not you who speak; it is the Spirit of the Father who speaks in you.”

In the gifts that he distributes, we can see the Spirit as a whole in relation to its parts.  We are all members of one another, but with different gifts according to the grace God gives us. “So the eye cannot say to the hand, I do not need you, nor can the head say to the feet, I have no need of you.”  All the members together make up the body of Christ in the unity of the Spirit, and render each other a necessary service through their gifts.  God has arranged the various parts of the body according to his own will, but there exists among them all a spiritual fellowship which makes it natural for them to share one another’s feelings and to be concerned for one another.  “If one member suffers, all suffer with it; if one member is honored, all rejoice together.  Moreover, as parts are present in a single whole, so each of us is in the Spirit since all who make up the one body have been baptized into the one Spirit.

As the Father is seen in the Son, so the Son is seen in the Spirit.  To worship in the Spirit, then, is to have our minds open to the light, as we may learn from our Lord’s word to the Samaritan woman. Misled by the tradition of her country, she imagined that it was necessary to worship in a certain place but our Lord gave her a different teaching.  He told her that one must worship in Spirit and in Truth, and clearly by the truth he meant himself. 

As then we speak of worship in the Son because the Son is the image of God the Father as, so we speak of worship in the Spirit because the Spirit is the manifestation of the divinity of the Lord. Through the light of the Spirit, we behold the Son the splendor of God’s glory, and through the Son, the very stamp of the Father we are led to him who is the source both of his stamp, who is the Son, and of its seal, who is the Holy Spirit.

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)
Grant your people, O Lord, we pray,
unshakable strength of faith,
so that all who profess that your Only Begotten Son
is with you for ever in your glory
and was born of the Virgin Mary
in a body truly like our own
may be freed from present trials
and given a place in abiding gladness.
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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