December 4 Devotional (2020)

December 4, 2020
First Week of Advent

Today’s Readings: Jeremiah 1:4-10; Acts 11:19-26; St. Catherine of Siena on the Virgin Mary


Early in the morning, while it was still dark, 
Jesus got up and slipped out to a solitary place to pray.
(Mark 1:35)

The Invitatory

Lord, open our lips.

And our mouth shall proclaim your praise. [1]

Let Thy merciful kindness, O Lord, be upon us.

As we do put our trust in thee.

O God, make speed to save us.

O Lord, make haste to help us. [2]

🕇 Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit: 

as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be for ever. Amen.

Opening Prayer

Lord God, almighty and everlasting Father, you have brought me in safety to this new day: Preserve me with your mighty power, that I may not fall into sin, nor be overcome by adversity; and in all I do direct me to the fulfilling of your purpose; through Jesus Christ my Lord. Amen.† 

[3, adapted

The Hymn: “Savior of the Nations, Come!” by St. Ambrose of Milan and adapted by Martin Luther

(1982 Hymnal #54)

1 Savior of the nations, come!

Virgin’s Son, make here your home.

Marvel now, both heaven and earth,

that the Lord chose such a birth.

2 Wondrous birth! Oh, wondrous child

Of the Virgin undefiled!

Mighty God and Mary’s son,

eager now his race to run! [4]

Antiphon

Come, O Lord, and tarry not;

Do away the offenses of Thy people Israel. [5]

Anatomical drawing of a foetus in the womb By Jan van Rymsdyk
(Source)

Morning Reading: Jeremiah 1:4-10

God appoints a prophet

4Now the word of the LORD came to me, saying,

5“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,

and before you were born I consecrated you;

I appointed you a prophet to the nations.”

6Then I said, “Ah, Lord GOD! Behold, I do not know how to speak, for I am only a youth.” 

7But the LORD said to me,

“Do not say, ‘I am only a youth’;

for to all to whom I send you, you shall go,

and whatever I command you, you shall speak.

8Do not be afraid of them,

for I am with you to deliver you,

declares the LORD.”

9Then the LORD put out his hand and touched my mouth. And the LORD said to me,

“Behold, I have put my words in your mouth.

10See, I have set you this day over nations and over kingdoms,

to pluck up and to break down,

to destroy and to overthrow,

to build and to plant.”

Morning Lesson

Before I formed you, I knew you.

About the Book of Jeremiah:

The prophet Jeremiah is the author of this Old Testament book. His name means “the one who God exalts or appoints,” and he prophesied from about 627 to 582 BC. 

Destruction and captivity is the major theme of the Book of Jeremiah. “Jeremiah prophesied the persecutions and destruction of Jerusalem and the temple; he also foretold the captivity of the Jews in Babylon. He exhorted the people to repent, promising hope for those who remain faithful to the Lord. He prophesied there would come a new covenant [31:31-38] to be inscribed in every believer’s heart, inaugurated and fulfilled through Christ God, the Messiah of Israel.” [6]

“Jeremiah was called ‘the weeping prophet.’ He shed many tears during the dark and despairing time of the Babylonian captivity. He began prophesying during King Josiah’s reign (640-609 BC). Jeremiah was also known as ‘the prophet of the interior life’ because he preached a personal knowledge of God and the forgiveness of sins [31:31-38]. The bulk of his message was such a heavy burden to him that it broke even his own heart [Jer 8:19-21].” [7]

On today’s reading:

“The book of Jeremiah begins with an account of the divine call and commission of the prophet. It is in the form of a dialogue between God and Jeremiah, with each voice speaking in the first person. As elsewhere in Jeremiah, questions surface and perspectives are brought to light in a dramatic and personal way.” [8]

“The initial word of God to Jeremiah reveals that he was formed by the divine hand before his birth, dedicated or set apart (literally, made holy), as a prophet to the nations (1:4–5). Jeremiah’s call as a prophet thus shapes his life from its beginning and entails a global mission (cf. Is 49:1, 6). It suggests broad parallels with Moses, who was singled out for survival from birth and who brought the Egyptians, a foreign nation, to know that the Lord is God (Ex 7:514:41825). Jeremiah’s hesitation and God’s response to it, including the promise “I am with you to deliver you,” echo the narrative of Moses’s call in Exodus 34 (Jer 1:6–7; cf. Ex 3:124:10–12). A connection between the two traditional turning points of the exodus from Egypt and the exile in Babylon, including the role of prophetic intermediaries in them, is conveyed here.” [9]
“Jeremiah’s commission is dual: with the words God places in his mouth he is both “to uproot and tear down, to destroy and to demolish” and “to build and to plant” (Jer 1:10). The negative aspect of the prophetic mission is given double play here, suggesting the dominant tone of the prophetic oracles and narratives that follow. Yet destructive activity is the first part of a sequence that includes constructive activity, implying a larger process in which replanting follows preparing the field (cf. Is 28:23–29). The language of this commission recurs throughout the book of Jeremiah, appearing three times in the first part (Jer 1:1018:7–924:6) and three times in the second (Jer 31:2842:1045:4). It serves as a summary of the overall outlook of the book: ruin and desolation in the present but the possibility of a new start in the more distant future.” [10]

Morning Prayer

Stir up Your power, we beseech You, O Lord, and come, that by Your protection we may deserve to be rescued from the threatening dangers of our sins and saved by Your deliverance. Who lives and reigns with God the Father in the unity of the Holy Ghost, God, world without end. Amen. [11]

(adapted from THE SHORT BREVIARY)


In the evening, in the morning, and at noonday, I will complain and lament,* 
and he will hear my voice. 
(Psalm 55:18)

The Invitatory

Lord, hear our prayer;

And let our cry come to you. [13]

Early: will I seek Thee.

All the days of my life.

According to the multitude of Thy mercies:

Have mercy upon me, O God. [14]

🕇 Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit: 

as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be for ever. Amen.

Antiphon

Behold, He that is both God and Man shall come forth from the house of David;

To sit on the throne. Alleluia! [15]

“A study of the Head of Madonna” c. 1484
By Leonardo da Vinci
(source)

Midday Reading

Saint Catherine of Siena on the Virgin Mary

If I consider your own great counsel, eternal Trinity, I see that in your light you saw the dignity and nobility of the human race. So, just as love compelled you to draw us out of yourself, so that same love compelled you to buy us back when we were lost. In fact, you showed that you loved us before we existed, when you chose to draw us out of yourself only for love. But you have shown us greater love still by giving us yourself, shutting yourself up today in the pouch of humanity. And what more could you have given us than to give your very self? So you can truly ask us, “What should I or could I have done for you that I have not done?” I see, then, that whatever your wisdom saw, in that great council of yours, as best for our salvation, is what your mercy willed, and what your power has today accomplished. So in that council your power, your wisdom, and your mercy agreed to our salvation, O eternal Trinity. In that council your great mercy chose to be merciful to your creature, and you, O eternal Trinity, chose to fulfill your truth in us by giving us eternal life. For this you had created us, that we might share and be glad in you. But your justice disagreed with us, protesting in the great council that justice, which lasts for ever, is just as much your hallmark as is mercy. Therefore, since your justice leaves no evil unpunished nor any good unrewarded, we could not be saved because we could not make satisfaction to you for our sin.

So what do you do? What way did your eternal unfathomable Wisdom find to fulfill your truth and be merciful, and to satisfy your justice as well? What remedy did you give us? O see what a fitting remedy! You arranged to give us the Word, your only-begotten Son. He would take on the clay of our flesh which had offended you so that when he suffered in that humanity your justice would be satisfied—not by humanity’s power, but by the power of divinity united with that humanity. And so your truth was fulfilled, and both justice and mercy were satisfied.

O Mary, I see this Word given to you, living in you yet not separated from the Father—just as the word one has in one’s mind does not leave one’s heart or become separated from it even though the word is externalized and communicated to others. In these things our human dignity is revealed—that God should have done such and so great things for us.

And even more: in you, O Mary, our human strength and freedom are today revealed, for after the deliberation of such and so great a council, the angel was sent to you to announce to you the mystery of divine counsel and to seek to know your will, and God’s son did not come down to your womb until you had given your will’s consent. He waited at the door for you to open to him; for he wanted to come into you, but he would never have entered unless you had opened to him, saying, “Here I am, God’s servant; let it be done to me as you have said.”

The strength and freedom of the will is clearly revealed, then, for no good nor any evil can be done without that will. Nor is there any devil or other creature that can drive it to the guilt of deadly sin without its consent. Nor, on the other hand, can it be driven to do anything good unless it so chooses. The eternal Godhead, O Mary, was knocking at your door, but unless you had opened that door of your will, God would not have taken flesh in you. Blush, my soul, when you see that today God has become your relative in Mary. Today you have been shown that even though you were made without your help, you will not be saved without your help, for today God is knocking at the door of Mary’s will and waiting for her to open to Him.

O Mary, my tenderest love! In you is written the Word from whom we have the teaching of life. You are the tablet that sets this teaching before us. I see that this Word, once written in you, was never without the cross of holy desire. Even as He was conceived within you, desire to die for the salvation of humankind was engrafted and bound into Him. This is why He had been made flesh. So it was a great cross for Him to carry for such a long time that desire, when He would have liked to see it realized at once. In fact, the Godhead was united even with Christ’s body in the tomb and with His soul in limbo, and afterwards with both his soul and body. The relationship was so entered into and sealed that it will never be dissolved, any more than it has been broken up to now. [16]

Midday Prayer

A Prayer from China

Help each one of us, gracious Father, to live in such magnanimity and restraint that the Head of the Church may never have cause to say to any one of us, This is my body, broken by you. [17]


He got down on his knees three times a day and prayed 
and gave thanks before his God…
(Daniel 6:10)

The Invitatory

Light and peace, in Jesus Christ our Lord.

Thanks be to God. [18]

All the days of my life:

The Lord was ready to save me. [19]

🕇 Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit: 

as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be for ever. Amen.

Antiphon

Out of Egypt have I called my Son;

He shall come to save His people. [20]

Map of Antioch (source)

Evening Reading: Acts 11:19-26

The new community called “Christian”

19Now those who were scattered because of the persecution that arose over Stephen traveled as far as Phoenicia and Cyprus and Antioch, speaking the word to no one except Jews. 20But there were some of them, men of Cyprus and Cyrene, who on coming to Antioch spoke to the Hellenists also, preaching the Lord Jesus. 21And the hand of the Lord was with them, and a great number who believed turned to the Lord. 22The report of this came to the ears of the church in Jerusalem, and they sent Barnabas to Antioch. 23When he came and saw the grace of God, he was glad, and he exhorted them all to remain faithful to the Lord with steadfast purpose, 24for he was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and of faith. And a great many people were added to the Lord. 25So Barnabas went to Tarsus to look for Saul, 26and when he had found him, he brought him to Antioch. For a whole year they met with the church and taught a great many people. And in Antioch the disciples were first called Christians.

Evening Lesson

The Apostolic Church

About the Acts of the Apostles:

The Acts of the Apostles were written by Luke, “the beloved physician” (Col 4:14), around AD 75-85. Acts “is the continuation by Luke of the account given in his gospel.” [21] “The Gospel covers over 30 years of Christ’s earthly life; Acts covers over 30 years of early Church life.” [22]

“The Acts of the Apostles is a spiritual and theological record of how the Church developed, as seen through the actions of the early Christians. The book is not to be read as a blueprint for reproducing the specific details and aspects of the Church which we read there. However, it is of great importance for understanding the organization and structure of the Church; its method of resolving controversies; the role of apostles, bishops, priests (elders), and deacons; and the spiritual life of the Church.” [23]

On today’s reading:

“The evangelization of the Gentiles brought a significant amount of conflict to the early Church. Even though Christ had commanded the Apostles to preach the gospel universally (1:8), it took a while for this to be put into practice. Much debate would come over what requirements from the OT Law, if any, these Gentile Christians would have to follow (see ch. 15).” [24]

Hellenists in verse 20, “refers to actual Greeks, not to Helllenistic Jews (contrast 6:1). The Church in Antioch was instrumental in bringing numerous Gentiles to the Lord Jesus.” [25] 

“Two key truths are revealed in Barnabas being sent out to Antioch: (1) an apostle is sent, but does not work in isolation from the Church (v. 23); and (2) the church in Antioch needed the seal of apostolic authority to be integrated into the universal Church.” [26]

See also 11:13 regarding the Call of Simon: “The need to be received into the apostolic Church is indisputable. Even those who have direct revelations of Christ in the Holy Spirit are invariably directed to the apostolic Church (see also 9:6-1811:22). For it is in the Church that the unity and fullness of Christ are experienced, and the words of salvation (v. 14) are proclaimed,” guarding against alteration. [27] 

As a first century-born faith, the Anglican Church teaches Apostolic Succession: “Before the Apostles died, they ordained other faithful men to succeed them as the chief rulers of the Kingdom. These men were called Bishops: a word which means overseers. As the apostles were sent by Christ, so they in turn sent the Bishops. The unbroken succession of Bishops which has come down to us from the Apostles is called Apostolic Succession, or Historic Episcopate; and all Christian people who are in communion with these Bishops are said to be in the ‘Fellowship of the Apostles’” and members of the one holy catholic and apostolic Church. [28]

“In seeking help Barnabas reveals humility, a recognition of his own limitations, and his communion with and dependence on the other apostles.” [29]
“Two key elements of early church practice included (1) the eucharistic assembly and (2) the teaching of the gospel. That the disciples were first called Christians in Antioch is more than just historical fact. It demonstrates that Christ’s command to preach the gospel among the Gentiles was first fully realized in Antioch. ‘It was there for the first time that men were accounted worthy of that name’” [St. John Chrysostom]. [30]

Evening Prayer

Almighty God, we give you thanks for surrounding us, as daylight fades, with the brightness of the vesper light; and we implore you of your great mercy that, as you enfold us with the radiance of this light, so you would shine into our hearts the brightness of your Holy Spirit; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. [31]

The Concluding Prayers of the Church

Almighty God, who has promised to hear the petitions of those who ask in your Son’s Name: I beseech you mercifully to incline your ear to me who have made my prayers and supplications to you; and grant that those things which I have faithfully asked according to your will, I may effectually obtain, to the relief of my necessity, and to the setting forth of your glory; through Jesus Christ my Lord. Amen.† May the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in eternal peace. Amen. [32]


Devotionals compiled/written by S.P. Rogers

Citations:

[1] Episcopal Church. (1979). Daily Office: Daily Morning Prayer: Rite Two. In The Book of common prayer: And administration of the sacraments, and other rites and ceremonies of the church, according to the use of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America: Together with the psalter, or, Psalms of David (pp. 80). New York, NY: Church Publishing Incorporated.

[2] Episcopal Church. (1911). Psalter. In Breviary offices from Lauds to Compline inclusive: Translated from the Sarum Book and Supplemented from Gallican and Monastic Uses (Ebook ed., Printed For The Society Of S. Margaret, Boston, U.S., pp. 80). New York, NY: J. Pott &.

[3] Episcopal Church. (1979). Daily Morning Prayer: A Collect for Grace. In The Book of common prayer: And administration of the sacraments, and other rites and ceremonies of the church, according to the use of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America: Together with the psalter, or, Psalms of David (pp. 100). New York, NY: Church Publishing Incorporated.

[4] Ambrose of Milan, & Luther, M. (n.d.). The Hymnal 1982: According to the use of the Episcopal Church 54. Savior of the nations, come. Retrieved November 25, 2020, from https://hymnary.org/hymn/EH1982/54

[5] Episcopal Church. (1911). Proper of Seasons. In Breviary offices from Lauds to Compline inclusive: Translated from the Sarum Book and Supplemented from Gallican and Monastic Uses (Ebook ed., Printed For The Society Of S. Margaret, Boston, U.S., pp. 108). New York, NY: J. Pott &.

[6] Academic Community of St. Athanasius Academy of Orthodox Theology (2008). Jeremiah. In The Orthodox study Bible (p. 1142). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson.

[7] Ibid. 6

[8] Senior, D., Collins, J. J., & Getty-Sullivan, M. A. (2016). Jeremiah. In The Catholic study Bible: The New American Bible, revised edition, translated from the original languages with critical use of all the ancient sources (Third ed., p. 665). Oxford: Oxford University Press.

[9] Ibid. 8, P. 665-666

[10] Ibid. 8, P. 666

[11] Tickle, P. (2006). Advent. In The divine hours: Prayers for Autumn and Wintertime (Kindle ed., vol. 2, p. 303). New York, NY: Image Books.

[12] Kiefer, J. (n.d.). John of Damascus, Hymn-writer, Defender of Icons. Retrieved November 25, 2020, from http://justus.anglican.org/resources/bio/297.html

[13] Episcopal Church. (1979). Daily Office: Daily Noonday Prayer: Rite Two. In The Book of common prayer: And administration of the sacraments, and other rites and ceremonies of the church, according to the use of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America: Together with the psalter, or, Psalms of David (pp. 107). New York, NY: Church Publishing Incorporated.

[14] Episcopal Church. (1911). Psalter. In Breviary offices from Lauds to Compline inclusive: Translated from the Sarum Book and Supplemented from Gallican and Monastic Uses (Ebook ed., Printed For The Society Of S. Margaret, Boston, U.S., pp. 85). New York, NY: J. Pott &.

[15] Episcopal Church. (1911). Proper of Seasons. In Breviary offices from Lauds to Compline inclusive: Translated from the Sarum Book and Supplemented from Gallican and Monastic Uses (Ebook ed., Printed For The Society Of S. Margaret, Boston, U.S., pp. 105). New York, NY: J. Pott &.

[16] Tickle, P. (2006). Advent Compline. In The divine hours: Prayers for Autumn and Wintertime (Kindle ed., vol. 2, p. 424-425). New York, NY: Image Books.

[17] Tickle, P. (2006). Advent. In The divine hours: Prayers for Autumn and Wintertime (Kindle ed., vol. 2, p. 312). New York, NY: Image Books.

[18] Episcopal Church. (1979). Daily Office: Daily Evening Prayer: Rite Two. In The Book of common prayer: And administration of the sacraments, and other rites and ceremonies of the church, according to the use of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America: Together with the psalter, or, Psalms of David (pp. 109). New York, NY: Church Publishing Incorporated.

[19] Episcopal Church. (1911). Psalter. In Breviary offices from Lauds to Compline inclusive: Translated from the Sarum Book and Supplemented from Gallican and Monastic Uses (Ebook ed., Printed For The Society Of S. Margaret, Boston, U.S., pp. 86). New York, NY: J. Pott &.

[20] Episcopal Church. (1911). Proper of Seasons. In Breviary offices from Lauds to Compline inclusive: Translated from the Sarum Book and Supplemented from Gallican and Monastic Uses (Ebook ed., Printed For The Society Of S. Margaret, Boston, U.S., pp. 105). New York, NY: J. Pott &.

[21] Academic Community of St. Athanasius Academy of Orthodox Theology (2008). Acts. In The Orthodox study Bible (p. 1499). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson.

[22] Ibid. 21, P. 1500

[23] Ibid. 21

[24] Ibid. 21, P. 1519

[25] Ibid. 21, P. 1519

[26] Ibid. 21, P. 1519-1520

[27] Ibid. 21, P. 1519

[28] Haughwout, L. M. (1920). The Sacred Ministry. In The ways and teachings of the church: A one year course of lessons for pupils of confirmation age (Ebook ed., p. 93). Milwaukee, WI: Morehouse Publishing.

[29] Academic Community of St. Athanasius Academy of Orthodox Theology (2008). Acts. In The Orthodox study Bible (p. 1520). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson.

[30] Ibid. 29

[31] Episcopal Church. (1979). An Order of Worship for the Evening. In The Book of common prayer: And administration of the sacraments, and other rites and ceremonies of the church, according to the use of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America: Together with the psalter, or, Psalms of David (pp. 110). New York, NY: Church Publishing Incorporated.
[32] Tickle, P. (2006). Advent. In The divine hours: Prayers for Autumn and Wintertime (Kindle ed., vol. 2, p. 317). New York, NY: Image Books.

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