DAILY DEVOTIONAL, 1/5/19

Saturday, 12th Day of Christmas

Opening Prayer

The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light;
those who lived in a land of deep darkness—
on them light has shined. (Isaiah 9:2)

(from The Book of Common Worship)
Eternal God,
a thousand years in your sight
are like a watch in the night.
As you have led us in days past,
so guide us now and always,
that our hearts may learn to choose your will,
and new resolves be strengthened;
through Jesus Christ our Lord,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and forever.
Amen.

Morning Psalm, Psalm 99

The Lord Our God Is Holy

99:1 The Lord reigns; let the peoples tremble!
    He sits enthroned upon the cherubim; let the earth quake!
The Lord is great in Zion;
    he is exalted over all the peoples.
Let them praise your great and awesome name!
    Holy is he!
The King in his might loves justice.[a
    You have established equity;
you have executed justice
    and righteousness in Jacob.
Exalt the Lord our God;
    worship at his footstool!
    Holy is he!

Moses and Aaron were among his priests,
    Samuel also was among those who called upon his name.
    They called to the Lord, and he answered them.
In the pillar of the cloud he spoke to them;
    they kept his testimonies
    and the statute that he gave them.

O Lord our God, you answered them;
    you were a forgiving God to them,
    but an avenger of their wrongdoings.
Exalt the Lord our God,
    and worship at his holy mountain;
    for the Lord our God is holy!

Prayer:
(from The Book of Common Worship)
Holy God,
you are exalted over all the nations,
and just in all your ways.
Strengthen us to worship you with our deeds
and to proclaim your greatness with our lips,
for the glory of 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, Joshua 1:1-9

God Commissions Joshua

1:1 After the death of Moses the servant of the Lord, the Lord said to Joshua the son of Nun, Moses’ assistant, “Moses my servant is dead. Now therefore arise, go over this Jordan, you and all this people, into the land that I am giving to them, to the people of Israel. Every place that the sole of your foot will tread upon I have given to you, just as I promised to Moses. From the wilderness and this Lebanon as far as the great river, the river Euphrates, all the land of the Hittites to the Great Sea toward the going down of the sun shall be your territory. No man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life. Just as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave you or forsake you. Be strong and courageous, for you shall cause this people to inherit the land that I swore to their fathers to give them. Only be strong and very courageous, being careful to do according to all the law that Moses my servant commanded you. Do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may have good success[a wherever you go. This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

Epistle Reading, Hebrews 11:32-12:2

11:32 And what more shall I say? For time would fail me to tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets— 33 who through faith conquered kingdoms, enforced justice, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, 34 quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, were made strong out of weakness, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight.35 Women received back their dead by resurrection. Some were tortured, refusing to accept release, so that they might rise again to a better life. 36 Others suffered mocking and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. 37 They were stoned, they were sawn in two,[a they were killed with the sword. They went about in skins of sheep and goats, destitute, afflicted, mistreated— 38 of whom the world was not worthy—wandering about in deserts and mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth.

39 And all these, though commended through their faith, did not receive what was promised, 40 since God had provided something better for us, that apart from us they should not be made perfect.

Jesus, Founder and Perfecter of Our Faith

12:1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.

Gospel Reading, John 15:1-16

I Am the True Vine

15:1 “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me.I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. 10 If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. 11 These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.

12 “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.13 Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.14 You are my friends if you do what I command you. 15 No longer do I call you servants,[a for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you. 16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you.

Reflection for the Day

“God Became Man So That Man Might Become God”
from a sermon by
Augustine of Hippo (4th – 5th Centuries)
as reprinted in The Liturgy of the Hours

Beloved, our Lord Jesus Christ, the eternal creator of all things, today became our Savior by being born of a mother. Of his own will he was born for us today, in time, so that he could lead us to his Father’s eternity. God became man so that man might become God. The Lord of the angels became man today so that man could eat the bread of angels. 

Today, the prophecy is fulfilled that said: Pour down, heavens, from above, and let the clouds rain the just one: let the earth be opened and bring forth a savior. The Lord who had created all things is himself now created, so that he who was lost would be found. Thus man, in the words of the psalmist confesses: Before I was humbled, I sinned. Man sinned and became guilty; God is born a man to free man from his guild. Man fell, but God descended; man fell miserably, but God descended mercifully; man fell through pride, God descended with his grace. 

My brethren, what miracles! What prodigies! The laws of nature are changed in the case of man. God is born. A virgin becomes pregnant with man. The Word of God marries the woman who knows no man. She is now at the same time both mother and virgin. She becomes a mother, yet she remains a virgin. The virgin bears a son, yet she does not know man; she remains untouched, yet she is not barren. He alone was born without sin for she bore him without the embrace of a man, not by the concupiscence of the flesh but by the obedience of the mind. 

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.

Closing Prayer

(from The Liturgy of the Hours)
Almighty ever-living God,
who were pleased to shine forth with new light
through the coming of your Only Begotten Son,
grant, we pray,
that, just as he was pleased to share our bodily form
through the childbearing of the Virgin Mary,
so we, too, may one day merit
to become companions in his kingdom of grace.
Who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. 

Amen.

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