December 9 Devotional (2020)

Featured Image: “The Angel Appearing to Zacharias” (1799–1800), by William Blake (source)


December 9, 2020
Second Week of Advent

Today’s readings: Malachi 2:10-3:1; Luke 1:5-17; Essay: “Who was John the Baptist?”


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. Alleluia!

Opening Prayer

God, our God, 

to you we must awaken at the light. 

As you arouse us from sleep, 

free our souls also from the slumber of our spirits, 

that we may be contrite in our beds 

and mindful of our duty to you; 

you reign forever and ever. Amen. [3]

The Hymn

“Hark! a thrilling voice is sounding”

(1982 Hymnal #59)

1 Hark! a thrilling voice is sounding.

“Christ is nigh,” it seems to say;

“Cast away the works of darkness,

O ye children of the day.”

2 Wakened by the solemn warning,

from earth’s bondage let us rise;

Christ, our sun, all sloth dispelling,

shines upon the morning skies.

3 Lo! the Lamb, so long expected,

comes with pardon down from heaven;

let us haste, with tears of sorrow,

one and all to be forgiven;

4 so when next he comes with glory,

and the world is wrapped in fear,

may he with his mercy shield us,

and with words of love draw near.

5 Honor, glory, might, and blessing

to the Father and the Son,

with the everlasting Spirit,

while unending ages run. [4]

Antiphon

Behold, I send my messenger:

which shall prepare Thy way before Thee. 

Alleluia!

[5]
“John the Baptist Preaching” 
By Mattia Preti (1661) 
(source)

Morning Reading: Malachi 2:10—3:1

The coming messenger

10 Have we not all one Father? Has not one God created us? Why then are we faithless to one another, profaning the covenant of our fathers? 11 Judah has been faithless, and abomination has been committed in Israel and in Jerusalem. For Judah has profaned the sanctuary of the LORD, which he loves, and has married the daughter of a foreign god. 12 May the LORD cut off from the tents of Jacob any descendant of the man who does this, who brings an offering to the LORD of hosts!

13 And this second thing you do. You cover the LORD’s altar with tears, with weeping and groaning because he no longer regards the offering or accepts it with favor from your hand. 14 But you say, “Why does he not?” Because the LORD was witness between you and the wife of your youth, to whom you have been faithless, though she is your companion and your wife by covenant. 15 Did he not make them one, with a portion of the Spirit in their union?f And what was the one God seeking? Godly offspring. So guard yourselves in your spirit, and let none of you be faithless to the wife of your youth. 16 “For the man who does not love his wife but divorces her,j says the LORD, the God of Israel, covers his garment with violence, says the LORD of hosts. So guard yourselves in your spirit, and do not be faithless.”

17 You have wearied the LORD with your words. But you say, “How have we wearied him?” By saying, “Everyone who does evil is good in the sight of the LORD, and he delights in them.” Or by asking, “Where is the God of justice?”

1 “Behold, I send my messenger, and he will prepare the way before me. And the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple; and the messenger of the covenant in whom you delight, behold, he is coming, says the LORD of hosts. 

Morning Lesson

John the Baptist is prophesied

Verse 10 says, “Have we not all one Father? Has not one God created us? Why then are we faithless to one another, profaning the covenant of our fathers?” “Christians call God Father because Jesus Christ, the eternally begotten Son of God, revealed Him as Father (Mt 3:17; 6:9), and He has made us the children of God (Jn 1:12).” [6]

The “sons of Israel [verses 10-12] profaned the holy things of the Lord. Too often they followed foreign gods through intermarriage with pagan women, which was prohibited (see Ex 34:11-16; Dt 7:1-4). St. Paul echoes this truth in saying, ‘Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers’ (2Co 6:14).” [7]

“The people weary the Lord [v. 17], [by accusing] Him of blessing evil doers and withholding justice. The truth is that their own evil acts cause their troubles.” [8]

John the Baptist is prophesied in Malachi 3:1, “Behold, I send my messenger, and he will prepare the way before me. And the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple; and the messenger of the covenant in whom you delight, behold, he is coming, says the LORD of hosts.”

Morning Prayer

O Lord Jesus Christ, who at Thy first coming didst send Thy messenger to prepare Thy way before Thee: grant that the ministers and stewards of Thy ministries may likewise so prepare and make ready Thy way, by turning the hearts of the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, that at Thy second coming to judge the world, we may be found an acceptable people in Thy sight, who livest and regnest with the Father and the Holy Spirit, ever one God, world without end. Amen. [9]


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. [10]

Early: will I seek Thee.

All the days of my life.

According to the multitude of Thy mercies: have mercy upon me, O God. [11]

🕇 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. Alleluia!

Antiphon

O Zion, thou shalt be renewed:

and shalt see thy Holy One, which is come unto thee.

[12]
“Annunciation of the Angel to Zechariah” 
by Domenico Ghirlandaio 
(1490, fresco in the Tornabuoni Chapel, Florence)
(source)

Midday Reading: Luke 1:5-17

The messenger in the temple

5 In the days of Herod, king of Judea, there was a priest named Zechariah, of the division of Abijah. And he had a wife from the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth. 6 And they were both righteous before God, walking blamelessly in all the commandments and statutes of the Lord. 7 But they had no child, because Elizabeth was barren, and both were advanced in years.

8 Now while he was serving as priest before God when his division was on duty, 9 according to the custom of the priesthood, he was chosen by lot to enter the temple of the Lord and burn incense. 10 And the whole multitude of the people were praying outside at the hour of incense. 11 And there appeared to him an angel of the Lord standing on the right side of the altar of incense. 12 And Zechariah was troubled when he saw him, and fear fell upon him. 13 But the angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zechariah, for your prayer has been heard, and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John. 14 And you will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth, 15 for he will be great before the Lord. And he must not drink wine or strong drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother’s womb. 16 And he will turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God, 17 and he will go before him in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready for the Lord a people prepared.”

Midday Lesson

The Annunciation to Zechariah

Herod the Great “ruled Judea from 37-4 BC. He was a great builder but a cruel leader. Luke mentions herod to pinpoint the historical date of the birth of Jesus Christ. An ancient prophecy of Jacob indicated the Messiah would come when a king ruled who was not from the tribe of Judah (Gn 49:10). As Herod was a non-Jew calling himself the king of Judea, the coming of Christ was surely at hand.” [13]

“Zacharias and Elizabeth are righteous before God, not merely in outward appearance, but to the core of their being. The holiness of John the Baptist came in part through the faith and piety of his parents.” [14]

“To be barren was a public reproach (v. 25), but like Sarah [Abram’s wife] (Gn 16:1), Rebekah [Isaac’s wife] (Gn 25:21), Rachel [wife of Jacob] (Gn 29:31), Hannah [wife of Elkanah] (1Sam 1:2), and Anna, the mother of the Virgin Mary, Elizabeth’s temporary barrenness was in fulfillment of God’s plan for the salvation of His people.” [15]

“Each was assigned to a division (see 1Ch 23:3-11; 28:13). There were 24 divisions in all, each serving a week at a time in rotation. The responsibilities in the division were decided by lot; Zacharias is here assigned the duties of the high priest. This event takes place at the time of the Atonement, when the high priest would enter the temple and make offerings for the sins of the people.” [16]

“Angels minister continually at the altar of the Lord, though usually unseen. Those priests of pure heart, such as Zacharias, are occasionally chosen by God to witness this angelic liturgy (see also Is 6; Rev 7:9-17).” [17]

“As high priest, Zacharias prayed not for a son, but for the atonement of the sins of Israel (Heb 9:7). Gabriel’s (v. 19) announcement reveals both that Zacharias’ prayer for atonement will be answered and that Elizabeth will conceive a son [John the Baptist]. This atonement will be announced by John, who will identify Chhrist as ‘the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world’ (Jn 1:29).” [18] 

Later, in verse 20, Zacharias is made to be temporarily mute as punishment for his lack of faith [disbelief] in Gabriel’s announcement, ‘yet this also serves as proof  that Gabriel’s announcement (v. 19) is true. The silencing of the high priest… reveals a deeper mystery. The Messiah was expected to fulfill three crucial roles held by people in the OT: prophet, priest, and king. Only Jesus Christ can be said to have fulfilled all three offices perfectly. He is the true Prophet (Dt 18:15-18), the true King (23:3; Is 9:6; Mic 5:1), and the true High Priest (Ps 110:4; Heb 4:14). In preparation for Christ’s coming, God had silenced the prophets for many years, and also permitted an illegitimate usurper [Herod the Great, v. 5] to occupy the position of king of Judea. Here, in the last days before Christ’s coming, the high priest is also silenced. With these three roles vacant, illegitimate, and silent, all is ready for the Son of God to be revealed as Prophet, King, and Priest.” [19]

He will also be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother’s womb: See v. 41.” [20]

Elijah is expected to reappear from heaven as the forerunner of the second coming of the Lord (Mal 4:5). John the Baptist fulfills the spirit of Elijah as he is the forerunner of the Lord’s first coming (see Mt 11:14).” [21]

Midday Prayer 

(“Focusing on different aspects of faith each day of the week helps to keep our daily prayer life alive. In the Anglican tradition, certain commemorations are set aside for each day of the week. You may incorporate these commemorations into Morning or Evening Prayer or simply use them on their own.” [22])

Wednesday: The Saints 

Almighty God, by your Holy Spirit you have made us one with your saints in heaven and on earth: Grant that in our earthly pilgrimage we may always be supported by this fellowship of love and prayer, and know ourselves to be surrounded by their witness to your power and mercy; through Jesus Christ our Lord who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

We pray for our family and friends especially [names], for deacons, for all who minister to those in need, for all in trouble, for the sick, and for the dying. [23]


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. [24]

All the days of my life: the Lord was ready to save me. [25]

🕇 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. Alleluia!

The Small Verse 

“John came baptizing in the wilderness and preaching a baptism of repentance for the remission of sins.” 

(Mark 1:4)
“John the Baptist”
(source)

Evening Reading

Who was John the Baptist? 

“John the Baptist play[ed] a crucial role in the history of salvation. Chosen before his birth to be the herald and forerunner of the Messiah (Lk 1:13-17), he knew his Lord from the beginning. Luke [wrote] of John’s miraculous conception (Lk 1:24). He then record[ed] that when the Virgin Mary visited Elizabeth, who was then six months pregnant with John the Baptist, the baby [John] leaped at the sound of Mary’s voice (Lk 1:41).” [26]

“Jesus taught that John the Baptist fulfilled the prophecy of the return of Elijah (Mt 11:14), who was to precede the Messiah as ‘the voice of one crying in the wilderness: Prepare the way of the LORD.; (Mt 3:3; Mk 1:3; Lk 3:4; Jn 1:23).” [27]

“Shortly before Jesus began His public ministry, John went out to the wilderness in Jordan to prepare the way for the Messiah. He carried out his prophetic role with a brotherhood of disciples characterized by repentance in expectation of the Kingdom, baptism for the forgiveness of sins, bearing the fruit of righteousness, and spiritual discipline. John himself lived by an ascetic rule of poverty and fasting; in fact, he may have been a lifelong Nazirite (see Lk 1:15; Nm 6). His eyes were set not on the body and its desires, but on Christ the Lord, and his influence was widespread (see Mk 11:32; Lk 7:29; Acts 18:25; 19:1-7).” [28]

“John prophesied Messiah was coming, One immesurably greater than himself, ‘whose sandal strap I am not worthy to stoop down and loose’ (Mk 1:7). This One would baptize not just with water but with the Holy Spirit (Mk 1:8). When Jesus appeared before him to be baptized, John was humbled, realizing he was in need of being baptized by Jesus (Mt 3:14). But Jesus knew what was fitting ‘to fulfill all righteousness’ (Mt 3:15), and John obeyed.” [29]

“John’s work was crucial to Jesus’s ministry. Jesus considered John’s testimony important – not because Jesus, the Son of God, needed to be validated by any human witness, but because the people’s acceptance of John as a godly man prepared them to accept Jesus as well (Jn 5:33-35). Jesus’ first disciples came from John’s brotherhood (Jn 1:35-39), and the vacancy in the apostolic college left by Judas’ betrayal was filled by one who had been John’s follower (Acts 1:22).” [30]

“John the Baptist died a martyr for Christ (Mk 6:24-29).” [31]

Vespers Prayer 

Almighty God, by whose providence your servant John the Baptist Was wonderfully born, and sent to prepare the way of your Son our Savior by preaching repentance: Make us so to follow his teaching and holy life, that we may truly repent according to his preaching; and, following his example, constantly speak the truth, boldly rebuke vice, and patiently suffer for the truth’s sake; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen. [32]

The Concluding Prayer of the Church

O God, you shine your light on the deep darkness of night. Shine your light on our deep darkness, and guard our hearts in the way of your commandments, Lord; for you live and reign with your Son and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen. [33]


Devotionals compiled and 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] Stratman, P. (2001). Morning Prayers. In Prayers from the Ancient Celtic Church (Kindle ed., p. 15). Rossway.

[4] Monk, W. H. (n.d.). The Hymnal 1982: According to the use of the Episcopal Church 59. Hark! a thrilling voice is sounding. Retrieved November 29, 2020, from https://hymnary.org/hymn/EH1982/59

[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. 107). New York, NY: J. Pott &.

[6] Academic Community of St. Athanasius Academy of Orthodox Theology (2008). Malachi. In The Orthodox study Bible (p. 1088). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson.

[7] Ibid. 6

[8] Ibid. 6

[9] 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. 107-108). New York, NY: J. Pott &.

[10] 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.

[11] 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 &.

[12] 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. 107). New York, NY: J. Pott &.

[13] Academic Community of St. Athanasius Academy of Orthodox Theology (2008). Luke. In The Orthodox study Bible (p. 1391). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson.

[14] Ibid. 13

[15] Ibid. 13

[16] Ibid. 13

[17] Ibid. 13

[18] Ibid. 13

[19] Ibid. 13

[20] Ibid. 13

[21] Ibid, 13

[22] Kitch, A. E. (2004). Prayers for Days of the Week. In The Anglican family prayer book (Kindle ed., pp. 222). Harrisburg, PA: Morehouse Pub.

[23] Ibid. 22, P. 230-235

[24] 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.

[25] 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 &. 

[26] Academic Community of St. Athanasius Academy of Orthodox Theology (2008). John the Baptist. In The Orthodox study Bible (p. 1361). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson.

[27] Ibid. 26

[28] Ibid. 26

[29] Ibid. 26

[30] Ibid. 26

[31] Ibid. 26

[32] Kiefer, J. (n.d.). The Birth of John the Baptist. Retrieved November 29, 2020, from http://justus.anglican.org/resources/bio/191.html[33] Stratman, P. (2001). Evening Prayers. In Prayers from the Ancient Celtic Church (Kindle ed., p. 18). Rossway.

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