December 5 Devotional (2020)

December 5, 2020
First Week of Advent

Today’s Readings: Ezekiel 36:24-28; Mark 11:27-33; Essay: “What is Advent?”


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

O God, the source of eternal light: Shed forth your unending day upon all of us who watch for you, that our lips may praise you, our lives may bless you, and our worship may give you glory; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.†[3, adapted]

The Hymn (German, 15th Century)

Lo, how a rose e’er blooming 

From tender stem has sprung! 

of Jesse’s lineage coming, 

As those of old have sung. 

It came a floweret bright, 

Amid the cold of winter, 

When half spent was the night. 

Isaiah ‘twas foretold it, 

The Rose I have in mind; 

With Mary we behold it, 

The Virgin Mother kind. 

To show God’s love aright, 

She bore to us a Savior, 

When half spent was the night. [4]

The Cry of the Church

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

Birch Heart
Wood Wall Sculpture
Created by Kerry Vesper
(source)

Morning Reading: Ezekiel 36:24-28

A new heart and a new spirit

24I will take you from the nations and gather you from all the countries and bring you into your own land. 25I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse you. 26And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. 27And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules.a28You shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers, and you shall be my people, and I will be your God.

Morning Lesson

A new life

About the Book of Ezekiel:

“The book of Ezekiel is built around three visions of the glory of God: on a river bank in Babylon; in Jerusalem, exiting the defiled Temple; and back in the land of Judah, entering a reconfigured and holy Temple. Ezekiel is introduced as a priest, deported with many of leaders of Judah after the first Babylonian invasion of the city in 597 bc. The divine visions he receives inform his prophetic mission as he shares, or is directed to share, them with the exiles (Ez 11:24–2540:443:10–11). They impart an unforgettable visual dimension to the prophetic word.” [5]

“In Ezekiel’s first vision God addresses him as “son of man,” designating him as human in relation to the divine presence (Ez 2:1). At the same time, Ezekiel perceives God as if in the likeness and appearance of a human being (though enthroned above the sky and surrounded by fiery brilliance). In his visionary experiences, Ezekiel serves as a human connection with a transcendent God who, despite the utter degeneracy of Jerusalem, chooses to appear to a “son of man” and through him to speak to those in exile from the city.” [6]

“The Temple was never rebuilt according to the dimensions specified in Ezekiel 40–48, nor were the old tribal territories of the land reapportioned, nor was Jerusalem renamed “The Lord is there” (Ez 48:35). Yet Ezekiel’s vision of an ideal Jerusalem and Judah, with the divine presence at its center and inhabited by a community with a new heart and spirit, remains as a paradigm of hope.” [7]

On today’s reading:

“God promised to restore Israel not only physically but spiritually. To accomplish this, God would give them a new heart for following Him and put His Spirit within them (see Ezek 11:19-20Psalm 51:7-11) to transform them and empower them to do His will. Again God promised the new covenant (see Ezek 16:61-3334:23-25), ultimately to be fulfilled in Christ. No matter how impure your life is right now, God offers you a fresh start. You can have your sins washed away, receive a new heart for God, and have His Spirit within you – if you accept God’s promise. Why try to patch up your old life when you can have a new one?” [8]

Morning Prayer

(“Lorica was originally the word for a breastplate that a Roman soldier would wear. Loricas were prayers for protection—sometimes praying for protection from every angle, or protection for every part of the body. St. Patrick’s Breastplate is also known as ‘The Lorica.’” [9])


The Lorica of Fursa 

May the guiding hands of God be on my shoulders, 

may the presence of the Holy Spirit be on my head, 

may the sign of Christ be on my forehead, 

may the voice of the Holy Spirit be in my ears, 

may the smell of the Holy Spirit be in my nose, 

may the sight of the company of heaven be in my eyes, 

may the speech of the company of heaven be in my mouth, 

may the work of the church of God be in my hands, 

may the serving of God and my neighbor be in my feet, 

may God make my heart his home, 

and may I belong to God, my Father, completely. [10]

(​Lorica of St. Fursa (Fursey), 7th Century Archiv für Celtische Lexikographie; Vol III, 1902, p. 232)


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. [12]

Early: will I seek Thee.

All the days of my life.

According to the multitude of Thy mercies:

Have mercy upon me, O God. [13]

🕇 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.

The Small Verse

And now, what is my hope?* 

O Lord, my hope is in you. 

(Psalm 39:8)

John the Baptist (right) with child Jesus, in the painting The Holy Children with a Shell” by Bartolomé Esteban Perez Murillo

Midday Reading: Mark 11:27-33

Jesus a prophet like John the Baptist

27And they came again to Jerusalem. And as he was walking in the temple, the chief priests and the scribes and the elders came to him, 28and they said to him, “By what authority are you doing these things, or who gave you this authority to do them?” 29Jesus said to them, “I will ask you one question; answer me, and I will tell you by what authority I do these things. 30Was the baptism of John from heaven or from man? Answer me.” 31And they discussed it with one another, saying, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ he will say, ‘Why then did you not believe him?’ 32But shall we say, ‘From man’?”—they were afraid of the people, for they all held that John really was a prophet. 33So they answered Jesus, “We do not know.” And Jesus said to them, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I do these things.”

Midday Lesson

Christ came from heaven above

About the Gospel of Mark:

“Mark the Apostle, also known as John Mark, is widely attested by the ancient Church as the author of this gospel. He traveled with Paul and Barnabas and later aided Peter (1Pt 5:13). According to tradition, Mark subsequently used Peter’s teaching as the primary source for this gospel, adding to it his personal experience and other church traditions.” [14]

“As with the other gospels, the exact date of writing is unknown. Because of its connection with Rome and it’s lack if any clear reference to the destruction of Jerusalem (13:2), the Gospel of mark may be dated shortly before the fall of Jerusalem in AD 70. Many believe this was the first of the four gospels to be written.” [15]

“According to some Church Fathers, Mark [was] writing for the Christian community in Rome, which was either experiencing the great persecution by Nero (beginning in AD 64) or was caught up in the apocalyptic fervor occasioned by the Jewish War (Jerusalem was destroyed in AD 70). Mark tells the story of Jesus so his readers may see their own suffering as a prelude to the glorious Second Coming of Jesus and may discern the reward of those who endure to the end. The suffering and the glory are equally real: this was true for Jesus and will be true for all believers.” [16]

On today’s reading:

Since Jesus, while on earth, “was not a Levitical priest, the Chief priests and elders challeng[ed] His authority to cleanse the temple. As Christ is careful not to reveal Himself  [that is, His divinity] to scoffers, He confounds them with a different question about John [the Baptist]. Both the elders’ question and Christ’s question require the same answer [the answer being ‘from heaven’], and thus would lead a person to confess that Jesus had come from heaven. By not answering them directly, Jesus teaches us not to answer people who come asking about holy things with a malicious intent.” [17]

Midday Prayer

May the strength of God pilot us. 

May the power of God preserve us. 

May the wisdom of God instruct us. 

May the hand of God protect us. 

May the way of God direct us. 

May the shield of God defend us. Amen. [18]

—adapted from St. Patrick

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. [19]

All the days of my life:

The Lord was ready to save me. [20]

🕇 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.

The Small Verse

My dwelling place will be with them; 

I will be their God, 

and they will be my people.

(Ezekiel 37:27)

 “Expectant Madonna”
(source)

Evening Reading

 What is Advent?

“Beginning with the foundations of the Jewish calendar, the early church built a temple to God in time rather than in space. Our spiritual ancestors measured out the days, weeks, and months. They collected, sorted, and named them. They put everything in place so that we, their children, would have a splendid palace in which to worship. It’s sad that many Christians have left this temple, though some are making their way back. Anglicans are privileged to stand in a family line that never abandoned the church calendar. We cared for it, nurtured it, and inhabit it today.” [21]

“Sometimes, a movie drops you right into the middle of the action. The first scene opens on a critical moment of life and death. The bad guy is standing over the hero, the bomb is seconds away from exploding, and it looks like all is lost. Then, the scene cuts to a lovely shot of a boat on water or a sports car driving through the mountains. Words appear at the bottom of the screen: ‘Forty-eight hours earlier.’ The story restarts, building up to that intense moment you’ve already seen.” [22]

“Advent is like that. The first Sunday in Advent, which often falls on the Sunday after Thanksgiving Day, is all about the sky ripping open and the moon turning to blood. It’s about the second coming of Christ—a shock to the system after a few bloated days of turkey and football. The other three Sundays in Advent refer to the end of time, but they’re also about the prophecies of the coming Christ. If you’re in an Anglican church, you will hear about Mary, Joseph, and the angel Gabriel. You’ll also get a dose of John the Baptist, fire and brimstone, and the end of the world.” [23]

“Advent is four Sundays long and begins four or five weeks before Christmas. It’s a time of expectation. On one hand, it’s about preparing for the first coming of Christ as an infant in a manger. On the other, it’s about the coming of Christ at the end of the age.” [24]

“During Advent, Christians are called to fast. Taking on a special spiritual discipline, such as refraining from consuming a certain food or form of entertainment, or reading a devotional book, etc., these are the kinds of things that we take on during Advent. Fasting like this is about making space in our hearts and souls for the coming of Jesus.” [25]

“There’s usually an Advent wreath in the sanctuary of the church, as there may also be one in your home. An Advent wreath is a circle of four purple (or blue or pink) candles with one larger white candle in the center. The four candles represent the four Sundays of Advent, while the white candle stands for Christmas.” [26]

“Purple is the color of Advent. You will usually see purple fabrics in the church sanctuary. Purple is the sign of both royalty and repentance. The coming of the King is both a regal celebration and a time to prepare for his righteous judgment. In some Anglican churches, you will see blue hangings, which are based on an alternate English custom. On the third Sunday in Advent the church may be decorated with the color rose-pink, because it’s a day of celebration.” [27]

Evening Prayer

Almighty God, who after the creation of the world rested from all your works and sanctified a day of rest for all your creatures: Grant that I, putting away all earthly anxieties, may be duly prepared for the service of public worship, and grant as well that my Sabbath upon earth may be a preparation for the eternal rest promised to your people in heaven; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.†[28, adapted]

The Concluding Prayer of the Church

May God shield me; 

may God fill me; 

may God keep me; 

may God watch me;

may God bring me this night to the nearness of His love.

The peace of the Father of joy, 

the peace of the Christ of hope, 

the peace of the Spirit of grace, 

the peace of all peace be mine this night 

🕇  in the name of the Father, 

and of the Son, 

and of the Holy Spirit. 

Amen. [29]


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 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. 123). New York, NY: Church Publishing Incorporated.

[4] Tickle, P. (2006). Advent. In The divine hours: Prayers for Autumn and Wintertime (Kindle ed., vol. 2, p. 316). New York, NY: Image Books.

[5] Senior, D., Collins, J. J., & Getty-Sullivan, M. A. (2016). Ezekiel. 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. 705). Oxford: Oxford University Press.

[6] Ibid. 5, P. 706

[7] Ibid. 5, P. 706

[8] Tyndale House Publishers. (2012). Ezekiel. In Chronological life application study Bible (p. 1112). Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Pub.

[9] Stratman, P. (2001). Loricas. In Prayers from the Ancient Celtic Church (Kindle ed., p. 1). Rossway.

[10] Ibid. 9, P. 5

[11] Kiefer, J. (n.d.). Clement of Alexandria, Teacher and Apologist. Retrieved November 25, 2020, from http://justus.anglican.org/resources/bio/298.html

[12] 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.

[13] 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 &.

[14] Academic Community of St. Athanasius Academy of Orthodox Theology (2008). Mark. In The Orthodox study Bible (p. 1359). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson.

[15] Ibid. 14

[16] Ibid. 14

[17] Academic Community of St. Athanasius Academy of Orthodox Theology (2008). Matthew. In The Orthodox study Bible (p. 1340-1341). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson.

[18] Forward Movement. (2013). Prayers for All Occasions. In Prayers for All Occasions (Kindle ed., pp. 1092). Cincinnati, OH: Forward Movement.

[19] 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.

[20] 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 &. 

[21] McKenzie, T. (2014). The Church Calendar. In The anglican way: A guidebook (Kindle ed., pp. 84-85). Nashville, TN: Colony Catherine.

[22] Ibid. 21

[23] bid. 21

[24] bid. 21

[25] bid. 21

[26] bid. 21

[27] bid. 21

[28] 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. 99). New York, NY: Church Publishing Incorporated.
[29] The Northumbria Community. (2015). Daily Prayer: Compline. In Celtic Daily Prayer (Kindle ed., p. 92351-92368). London: HarperCollins.

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