December 14 Devotional (2020)

December 14, 2020
Third Week of Advent

Today’s Readings: Psalm 125; 1 Kings 18:1-19; Ephesians 6:10-20


O God, make speed to save us.
O Lord, make haste to help us. 

The Invitatory

The Lord is now near, O come, let us adore Him!

Come let us praise the Lord with joy: let us joyfully sing to God our Saviour. Let us come before his presence with thanksgiving; and make a joyful noise to him with psalms.

🕇 Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Alleluia! [2]

Opening Prayer

Rise up, O Lord, come to our help! Redeem us for the sake of your name! (Psalm 44:26) Be pleased to help us, through the invocation of your name by your people; you reign forever and ever. Amen. [3]

(Antiphonary of Bangor, 7th century)

The Hymn by C. NOEL

At the name of Jesus every knee will bow, 

Every tongue confess him King of glory now 

‘Tis the Father’s pleasure, we should call him Lord, 

Who from the beginning was the mighty Word. 

In your hearts enthrone him; there, let him subdue 

All that is not holy, all that is not true; 

May your voice entreat him in temptation’s hour; 

Let his will enfold you in its light and power. 

Brothers, this Lord Jesus shall return again, 

With his Father’s glory, o’er the earth to reign; 

He is God the Savior; He is Christ the Lord, 

Ever to be worshipped, always blessed, adored. [4]

Antiphon

Behold the Lord shall come, the Prince of the kings of the earth: blessed are they that are ready to go out to meet him.

[5]
“Prayer before the meal” 
By Vincent van Gogh 
(source)

Morning Reading: Psalm 125

Prayer for blessing

A Song of Ascents.

Those who trust in the Lord are like Mount Zion,

    which cannot be moved, but abides forever.

2 As the mountains surround Jerusalem,

    so the Lord surrounds his people,

    from this time forth and forevermore.

3 For the scepter of wickedness shall not rest

    on the land allotted to the righteous,

lest the righteous stretch out

    their hands to do wrong.

4 Do good, O Lord, to those who are good,

    and to those who are upright in their hearts!

5 But those who turn aside to their crooked ways

    the Lord will lead away with evildoers!

    Peace be upon Israel!

Morning Prayer

Collect of the week

Stir up your power, O Lord, and with great might come among us; and, because we are sorely hindered by our sins, let your bountiful grace and mercy speedily help and deliver us; through Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom, with you and the Holy Spirit, be honor and glory, now and for ever. Amen. [6]


A prayer inspired by St. John of the Cross, who the Church remembers on December 14th

O God, by whose grace thy servant John of the Cross, enkindled With the fire of thy love, became a burning and shining light in thy Church: Grant that we also may be aflame with the spirit of love and discipline, and may ever walk before thee as children of light; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who with thee, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, liveth and reigneth, one God, now and for ever. Amen.


O God, make speed to save us.
O Lord, make haste to help us.

The Invitatory

The Lord is now near, O come let us adore Him!

The Lord, the Almighty, cometh out of Zion to save His people.

O come let us adore Him! 

🕇 Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Alleluia! [8]

Antiphon

When the Son of Man cometh: shall He find faith on the earth?

Behold, the fullness of the time is come: wherein God has sent forth His Son into the World.

[9]
“Elijah denouncing King Ahab” 
By Don Lawrence 
(source)

Midday Reading: 1 Kings 18:1-19

Elijah Confronts Ahab

1 After many days the word of the LORD came to Elijah, in the third year, saying, “Go, show yourself to Ahab, and I will send rain upon the earth.” 2 So Elijah went to show himself to Ahab. Now the famine was severe in Samaria. 3 And Ahab called Obadiah, who was over the household. (Now Obadiah feared the LORD greatly, 4 and when Jezebel cut off the prophets of the LORD, Obadiah took a hundred prophets and hid them by fifties in a cave and fed them with bread and water.) 5 And Ahab said to Obadiah, “Go through the land to all the springs of water and to all the valleys. Perhaps we may find grass and save the horses and mules alive, and not lose some of the animals.” 6 So they divided the land between them to pass through it. Ahab went in one direction by himself, and Obadiah went in another direction by himself.

7 And as Obadiah was on the way, behold, Elijah met him. And Obadiah recognized him and fell on his face and said, “Is it you, my lord Elijah?” 8 And he answered him, “It is I. Go, tell your lord, ‘Behold, Elijah is here.’” 9 And he said, “How have I sinned, that you would give your servant into the hand of Ahab, to kill me? 10 As the LORD your God lives, there is no nation or kingdom where my lord has not sent to seek you. And when they would say, ‘He is not here,’ he would take an oath of the kingdom or nation, that they had not found you. 11 And now you say, ‘Go, tell your lord, “Behold, Elijah is here.”’ 12 And as soon as I have gone from you, the Spirit of the LORD will carry you I know not where. And so, when I come and tell Ahab and he cannot find you, he will kill me, although I your servant have feared the LORD from my youth. 13 Has it not been told my lord what I did when Jezebel killed the prophets of the LORD, how I hid a hundred men of the LORD’s prophets by fifties in a cave and fed them with bread and water? 14 And now you say, ‘Go, tell your lord, “Behold, Elijah is here”’; and he will kill me.” 15 And Elijah said, “As the LORD of hosts lives, before whom I stand, I will surely show myself to him today.” 16 So Obadiah went to meet Ahab, and told him. And Ahab went to meet Elijah.

17 When Ahab saw Elijah, Ahab said to him, “Is it you, you troubler of Israel?” 18 And he answered, “I have not troubled Israel, but you have, and your father’s house, because you have abandoned the commandments of the LORD and followed the Baals. 19 Now therefore send and gather all Israel to me at Mount Carmel, and the 450 prophets of Baal and the 400 prophets of Asherah, who eat at Jezebel’s table.”

Midday Lesson

The Bravery of Elijah

About 1 Kings:

In the Western Church, 1 Kings and 2 Kings are preceded by 1 Samuel and 2 Samuel. However, in the Eastern Church, 1 Samuel and 2 Samual are named “The First Book of the Kingdoms” and “The Second Book of the Kingdoms.” This means that what you and I in the West refer to as “1 Kings” and “2 Kings,” others in the East refer to as “The Third Book of the Kingdoms” and “The Fourth Book of the Kingdoms.” 

“The Books of 1-4 Kingsdoms were one book in Hebrew. The LXX [the Septuagint, the earliest extant Koine Greek translation of books from the Hebrew Bible] separated them into four books, because of the large volume of material in the text. (The Greek text is longer because Greek includes all the vowels in each word, while the Hebrew language does not.)” [10]

Today’s Old Testament reading is from 1 Kings (3 Kingdoms). In the Baba Bathra, a Talmudic tract, Jeremiah is clearly stated to be the author of 1 Kings. “In this ancient record [the Baba Bathra], an entry for the Books of the Kings identifies the author as the prophet Jeremiah. This is in keeping with general Talmudic vision of prophetic authorship for all of the Old Testament.” [11]

1 Kings was written about 600 BC, though more material was added approximately 50 years later. The major concern of 1 Kings and 2 Kings (3 Kingdoms and 4 Kingdoms) “is to record what happened in the Southern Kingdom of Judah. Events in the Northern Kingdom [Israel] were important only as they related to the Southern Kingdom.” [12]

On today’s reading:

In verses 1 and 12 (shown below), we find the Holy Trinity. (Underlined for emphasis.)

Verse 1 says,  “After many days the word of the LORD came to Elijah, 

                        in the third year, saying, “Go, show yourself to Ahab, 

                        and I will send rain upon the earth.”

Verse 12 says, “And as soon as I have gone from you, 

                         the Spirit of the LORD will carry you…”

‘The word’ [v. 1] is the Son of God, and ‘the Spirit’ [v. 12] is the Holy Spirit. ‘The Lord’ [vv. 1, 12] is the Father, for ‘the Word’ is the Word [the Son] of the Father, and ‘the Spirit’ is the Spirit of the Father. Moreover, ‘the Word’ is a Person, as indicated by the pronoun ‘I’ [v. 1], for ‘the Word’ says, ‘I will send rain on the earth’; and this statement indicates ‘the Word’s’ divinity. Then too, ‘the Spirit’ is a Person, which is indicated by the phrase, ‘shall cary you’.” [13] Thus, in our reading we find the three Persons of the One Godhead: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. 

So Elijah went [v. 2], for he obeyed the Word [the Son]. Also, after ‘the Word became flesh’ (Jn 1:14), Elijah appeared with Him on the Mount of Transfiguration (Mt 17:3).” [14]

“The beginning point of wisdom in any person is the fear of the Lord (Ps 111:10; Pr 1:7). Obadiah feared the Lord from his youth, and he learned to fear the Lord greatly. Thus, he was well experienced in the Lord, and he feared the Lord more than he feared Ahad and Jezebel, which is shown by his hiding a hundred of the Lord’s prophets (v. 4).” [15]

“Obadiah’s fear of the Lord is also shown by his deep respect for the prophet Elijah.” [16]

In verses, 12-14, “Obadiah is not showing cowardice when he says, ‘But he will kill me.’ For he risked his life when he hid the hundred prophets of the Lord. Rather, his statement shows we should not put ourselves in harm’s way needlessly. This was also true of the Lord Jesus: ‘After these things Jesus walked in Galilee; for He did not want to walk in Judea, because the Jews sought to kill Him.’ (Jn 7:1)”. [17]

“Both Elijah and Obadiah were brave in the Lord. Elijah had no fear of appearing in the presence of Ahab, because he always stood in the presence of the One greater than Ahab, namely, ‘the Lord of hosts.’” [18] Of Elijah, St. Athanasius the Great wrote, “For he was always eager to make himself fit to appear before God with a pure heart, and to submit to His will, and His will alone.” [19]

“Obadiah as well had no fear of telling Ahab that Elijah wanted to see him. Their courage is one of the four general virtues that produce all other virtues.” [20]

Elijah and Ahab obviously present two contradictory judgements [verses 17-18]. Which one was actually troubling Israel? It was time to settle things. For which is the true God in the eyes of Israel, the Lord or Baal? Was Elijah the true prophet, or were the 850 prophets of Baal? The answers would soon become evident” when Elijah faced off against the prophets of Baal on Mount Carmel (vv. 20-40). [21]

Midday Prayer 

Worshiping, we pray in Christ’s name. 

Let it be hallowed in us. Father, 

in your tranquil world above, 

may your kingdom come, 

reveal your nourishing light. 

Let your clear will be done on earth and in heaven. 

What is needed for life today, 

the substance of holy bread, 

provide to us soon. 

Forgive countless debts of our wicked errors, 

no different than we pardon our debtors. 

Oh, keep temptation of the devil far away, 

and likewise raise us up from evil to light at your right hand. [22] 

(The Lord’s Prayer paraphrase from the Book of Cerne, 9th Century, p. 83 a 9th Century Anglo-Saxon)


O God, make speed to save us.
O Lord, make haste to help us.

The Invitatory

The Lord is now near, O come, let us adore Him!

Thou art beautiful above the sons of men: grace is poured abroad in Thy lips. Let people confess to Thee, O God, forever.

🕇 Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Alleluia! [2]

Antiphon 

With joy ye shall pour water: out of the wells of salvation.

The Lord shall come forth from His holy place: He shall come to save His people.

[25]
“Courage” 
By Marcin Mikołajczak 
(source)

Evening Reading: Ephesians 6:10-20

The armor of God against the powers

10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. 14 Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. 16 In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; 17 and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, 18 praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end, keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, 19 and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak.

Evening Lesson

Courage and Prayer

About Ephesians:

“There are significant parallels between Ephesians and Colossians. The advanced Christology and ecclesiology, the apparent absence of Jewish-Gentile tensions, and, finally, the unusual vocabulary unique to these two epistles among the Pauline letters prompt many interpreters to assert that Ephesians and Colossians were written in an era after the death of Paul. If that is the case, the disciple who wrote these letters was familiar with Pauline theology and style and adapted Paul’s message to new times and circumstances.” [26]

However, the epistle claims itself to have been written by Paul (1:1) and, at the end of the letter, “the author indicates that he sends the letter with Tychicus (6:21), the name of Paul’s messenger of Colossians as well (Col 4:7).” [27]

Thus, the church generally recognizes Paul as the author of this epistle. If Paul did in fact author Ephesians, he probably did so “from Rome during his imprisonment in AD 61-63, as recorded in Acts 28:16-31.” [28]

“Some of the early manuscripts do not have ‘in Ephesus’ in verse 1. Further, the content of Ephasians is general, which gives it the character of a book rather than a letter. It includes no personal greetings, although  it is addressed to a city where Paul spent two and a half years in the mid-fifties AD (Acts 19:8, 10; 20:17, 31). It is probable then that this letter was intended not just for the Ephesians, but also for circulating among the churches of western Asia Minor that Paul had founded from Ephesus during his third missionary journey. It is possible that Ephesisians is the ‘letter to the Laodiceans’ mentioned in Colossians 4:16.” [29]

“Ephesians displays a well-developed theology of the church. Most of the surely authentic epistles of Paul are addressed to specific congregations in various important locations in the Greco-Roman world. Ephesians envisions not a single congregation but the universal church seen as a spiritual reality entrusted with the worldwide mission of Christ. Here the word “church” (ekklesia) acquires that new meaning of universal reality.” [30]

On today’s reading:

In our reading from Ephesians, we find a general exhortation toward courage and prayer. “Drawing upon the imagery and ideas of Is 11:5; 59:16–17; and Wis 5:17–23, Paul describes the Christian in terms of the dress and equipment of Roman soldiers. He observes, however, that the Christian’s readiness for combat is not directed against human beings but against the spiritual powers of evil (Eph 6:10–17; cf. Eph 1:21; 2:2; 3:10). Unique importance is placed upon prayer (Eph 6:18–20).” [31]

“All who stand for good must wage a constant battle with the forces of evil. For the demons still have power in this world until Christ comes again in glory. Christians fight back with God’s arms, that is, His uncreated divine energy, given to us and actively used by us. The Christian has ‘put on’ at baptism all the qualities listed as armor in vv. 14-17.” [32]

Stand therefore, and fasten the belt of truth around your waist, and put on the breastplate of righteousness. As shoes for your feet put on whatever will make you ready to proclaim the gospel of peace. With all of these, take the shield of faith, with which you will be able to quench all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

“These qualities must be exercised in the conflict of growth: no struggle, no deification.” [33]

“Just as important as spiritual armor is a Christian’s readiness and alertness: diligent prayer and watchfulness in submission to the Holy Spirit.” [34]

Vespers Prayer 

Almighty God, give us grace to cast away the works of darkness, and put on the armor of light, now in the time of this mortal life in which your Son Jesus Christ came to visit us in great humility; that in the last day, when he shall come again in his glorious majesty to judge both the living and the dead, we may rise to the life immortal; through him who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen. [35]

The Small Verse

Into your hands I commend my spirit for you have redeemed me, O God of my life. Glory be to the Father, and to the Son and to the comforting Spirit.

(Traditional [36])

The Concluding Prayers of the Church

Save me, O Lord, while I am awake and keep me while I sleep, that I may wake in Christ and rest in peace. 

(adapted from THE SHORT BREVIARY)


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] Bellarmine, G. (2020). December 14 Matins. In The Roman Breviary in English, in Order, Every Day for October, November, December 2020 (Kindle ed., p. 3683). Christian Books Today.

[3] Stratman, P. (2001). For Those in Destress. In Prayers from the Ancient Celtic Church (Kindle ed., p. 54). Rossway.

[4] Tickle, P. (2006). Advent. In The divine hours: Prayers for Autumn and Wintertime (Kindle ed., vol. 2, p. 362). New York, NY: Image Books.

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

[6] Episcopal Church. (1979). Collects: Seasons of the Year. 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. 212). New York, NY: Church Publishing Incorporated.

[7] 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.

[8] Bellarmine, G. (2020). December 17 Lauds. In The Roman Breviary in English, in Order, Every Day for October, November, December 2020 (Kindle ed., p. 3835). Christian Books Today.

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

[10] Academic Community of St. Athanasius Academy of Orthodox Theology (2008). 3 Kingdoms. In The Orthodox study Bible (p. 417). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson.

[11] Ibid. 10

[12] Ibid. 10

[13] Ibid. 10, P. 453

[14] Ibid. 10, P. 453

[15] Ibid. 10, P. 453

[16] Ibid. 10, P. 453

[17] Ibid. 10, P. 453

[18] Ibid. 10, P. 453

[19] St. Athanasius the Great. (n.d.). Life of St. Anthony. Retrieved December 01, 2020, from https://www.newadvent.org/fathers/2811.htm

[20] Academic Community of St. Athanasius Academy of Orthodox Theology (2008). 3 Kingdoms. In The Orthodox study Bible (p. 453). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson.

[21] Ibid. 20

[22] Stratman, P. (2001). The Divine Service. In Prayers from the Ancient Celtic Church (Kindle ed., p. 63). Rossway.

[23] 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.

[24] Bellarmine, G. (2020). December 16 Matins. In The Roman Breviary in English, in Order, Every Day for October, November, December 2020 (Kindle ed., p. 3777). Christian Books Today.

[25] 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.110). New York, NY: J. Pott &.

[26] Senior, D., Collins, J. J., & Getty-Sullivan, M. A. (2016). Ephesians. 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. 1008). Oxford: Oxford University Press.

[27] Ibid. 26, P. 1013

[28] Academic Community of St. Athanasius Academy of Orthodox Theology (2008). Ephesians. In The Orthodox study Bible (p. 1625). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson.

[29] Ibid. 28, P. 1626

[30] Senior, D., Collins, J. J., & Getty-Sullivan, M. A. (2016). Ephesians. 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. 1007). Oxford: Oxford University Press.

[31] Ibid. 30, P. 5034

[32] Academic Community of St. Athanasius Academy of Orthodox Theology (2008). Ephesians. In The Orthodox study Bible (p. 1639). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson.

[33] Ibid. 32

[34] Ibid. 32

[35] Episcopal Church. (1979). Collects: First Sunday of Advent. 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. 159). New York, NY: Church Publishing Incorporated.

[36] Tickle, P. (2006). November. In The divine hours: Prayers for Autumn and Wintertime (Kindle ed., vol. 2, p. 352). New York, NY: Image Books.

[37] Ibid. 36, P. 367

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