December 29 Devotional (2020)

December 29, 2020
Christmastide

Today’s Readings: Isaiah 49:1-15; Matthew 12:46-50; “If you must..” by Kerry Hillcoat


Behold, I bring you good news of a great joy, which will come
to all the people; for unto you is born this day in the city of
David, a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.   
 Luke 2:10, 11

The Invitatory

Unto us a Christ is born; 

O come, let us worship Him!

Opening Prayer

O God,

You were pleased to announce the coming of Your Son,

Our Lord Jesus Christ,

With choirs of angels who proclaimed with their song,

“Glory to God in the highest, and peace to His people on earth.”

Grant that we may so pass our time here to Your glory, 

That at Your Son’s second coming

We may rejoice before Him. [1]

🕇 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. Alleluia!

Antiphon

O Virgin Mother of God: Whom the whole world cannot contain thou didst contain in thy womb.

The Hymn

“What child is this?”

by William Dix

Instrumental only

Lyrics

What child is this, who laid to rest, 

On Mary’s lap is sleeping? 

Whom angels greet with anthems sweet, 

While shepherds watch are keeping? 

This, this is Christ the King, 

Whom shepherds guard and angels sing: 

Haste, haste to bring him laud, 

The babe, the son of Mary. 

Why lies he in such mean estate 

Where ox and ass are feeding? 

Good Christian, fear: for sinners here 

The silent Word is pleading. 

This, this is Christ the King, 

Whom shepherds guard and angels sing: 

Haste, haste to bring him laud, 

The babe, the son of Mary. 

So bring him incense, gold and myrrh, 

Come, peasant, king, to own him; 

The King of kings salvation brings, 

Let loving hearts enthrone him. 

This, this is Christ the King, 

Whom shepherds guard and angels sing: 

Haste, haste to bring him laud, 

The babe, the son of Mary. [2]

Antiphon

The Word was made flesh.

And dwelt among us. Alleluia.

“Forgetful Elephant” 
By Connor Reed Crank 
(source)

Morning Reading: Isaiah 49:1-15

God like a nursing mother

1 Listen to me, O coastlands,

and give attention, you peoples from afar.

The LORD called me from the womb,

from the body of my mother he named my name.

2 He made my mouth like a sharp sword;

in the shadow of his hand he hid me;

he made me a polished arrow;

in his quiver he hid me away.

3 And he said to me, “You are my servant,

Israel, in whom I will be glorified.”a

4 But I said, “I have labored in vain;

I have spent my strength for nothing and vanity;

yet surely my right is with the LORD,

and my recompense with my God.”

5 And now the LORD says,

he who formed me from the womb to be his servant,

to bring Jacob back to him;

and that Israel might be gathered to him—

for I am honored in the eyes of the LORD,

and my God has become my strength—

6 he says:

“It is too light a thing that you should be my servant

to raise up the tribes of Jacob

and to bring back the preserved of Israel;

I will make you as a light for the nations,

that my salvation may reach to the end of the earth.”

7 Thus says the LORD,

the Redeemer of Israel and his Holy One,

to one deeply despised, abhorred by the nation,

the servant of rulers:

“Kings shall see and arise;

princes, and they shall prostrate themselves;

because of the LORD, who is faithful,

the Holy One of Israel, who has chosen you.”

8 Thus says the LORD:

“In a time of favor I have answered you;

in a day of salvation I have helped you;

I will keep you and give you

as a covenant to the people,

to establish the land,

to apportion the desolate heritages,

9 saying to the prisoners, ‘Come out,’

to those who are in darkness, ‘Appear.’

They shall feed along the ways;

on all bare heights shall be their pasture;

10 they shall not hunger or thirst,

neither scorching wind nor sun shall strike them,

for he who has pity on them will lead them,

and by springs of water will guide them.

11 And I will make all my mountains a road,

and my highways shall be raised up.

12 Behold, these shall come from afar,

and behold, these from the north and from the west,b

and these from the land of Syene.”c

13 Sing for joy, O heavens, and exult, O earth;

break forth, O mountains, into singing!

For the LORD has comforted his people

and will have compassion on his afflicted.

14 But Zion said, “The LORD has forsaken me;

my Lord has forgotten me.”

15 “Can a woman forget her nursing child,

that she should have no compassion on the son of her womb?

Even these may forget,

yet I will not forget you.

Morning Lesson 

He will never forget about you

“The one called Israel in v. 3 is to bring Israel back to the Lord; this means the Servant is not the nation of Israel, but One representing the nation for its restoration… The Servant is to effect a salvation benefitting not only the ‘preserved of Israel’ but extending ‘to the end of the earth.’ The Servant is to be a light for the nations (Lk 2:30-32; Jn 8:12, 9:5).” [3]

“Further description of the Servant-Savior is provided by the Lord. The Servant will not only administer the ‘sword’ of God’s Law but also the salvation delivered for you through the Gospel. Shine upon us, O Light for the nations, and extend to all people the promise of salvation. Amen.” [4]

Verses 1-7 of this morning’s reading are especially important, as this passage “lays the groundwork for the New Testament mission to the Gentiles. In Luke 2:32, Simeon advances this idea of Jesus being a’light . . . to the Gentiles.’ It shows that God has always been concerned with every child of Adam and Eve, not just that small nation descended from Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.” [5]

Like the people of God, do you ever feel as though God has forgotten you? Like God has left you in Babylon? Rest assured that God, like a loving mother, could never, would never forget about you.

O GOD, sometimes I think you have forgotten me;

sometimes my faith becomes very small.

Please remind me that you have not abandoned me,

for your faithfulness never changes.

Help me to wait with patience

and to trust that all time is in your hand.

– Elizabeth J. Canham (Finding Your Voice in the Psalms) [6]

Morning Prayer

A Morning Resolve I will try this day to live a simple, sincere, and serene life, repelling promptly every thought of discontent, anxiety, discouragement, impurity, and self-seeking; cultivating cheerfulness, magnanimity, charity, and the habit of holy silence; exercising economy in expenditure, generosity in giving, carefulness in conversation, diligence in appointed service, fidelity to every trust, and a childlike faith in God. Amen. In particular I will try to be faithful in those habits of prayer, work, study, physical exercise, eating, and sleep which I believe the Holy Spirit has shown me to be right. And as I cannot in my own strength do this, nor even with a hope of success attempt it, I look to thee, O Lord God my Father, in Jesus my Savior, and ask for the gift of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

A Prayer inspired by Thomas of Canterbury, who the Anglican Church remembers on December 29th

O Almighty God, by whose grace and power thy holy martyr Thomas Triumphed over suffering and was faithful even unto death: Grant us, who now remember him with thanksgiving, to be so faithful in our witness to thee in this world, that we may receive with him the crown of life; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.



The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.
John 1:14

The Invitatory

Unto us a Christ is born; 

O come, let us worship Him!

Antiphon

Whom saw ye, O shepherds? Speak, tell us who hath appeared upon earth: We beheld the Child, the Saviour, the Lord with the choir of angels. Alleluia.

“Shine On”
By Drew Noel Marin
(source)

Midday Reading: 

“If you must…”

By Kerry Hillcoat

If you must be heard, let it be like the babbling brook, 

      laughing over the rocks. 

If you must be seen, let it be like sunlight 

      giving warmth and comfort to all. 

If you must be acknowledged, let it be as the eyes 

      behold the skies in all their glory. 

If you must lead, let it be like the wind 

      and all its unshackled direction. 

If you must learn, let it be like breathing, 

      the natural flow of in and out, 

      and done without thinking. 

If you must teach, let it be like the water, 

      deep and flowing, 

      for your words are like pebbles in a pond, 

      the ripples they cause spread out in all directions, 

      and what you give out eventually returns. 

If you must know, let it be flowing and growing. 

And above all, if you must: 

      shine! [8]

Midday Prayer 

Heavenly Father, send your Holy Spirit into our hearts, to direct and rule us according to your will, to comfort us in all our afflictions, to defend us from all error, and to lead us into all truth; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. [9]


Behold, the dwelling of God is with mankind. He will dwell
with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself will
be with them, and be their God.    
Revelation 21:3

The Invitatory

Unto us a Christ is born; 

O come, let us worship Him!

Antiphon 

Blessed is the womb that bore Thee, O Christ: and the paps which gave suck to the Lord and Saviour of the world. Alleluia.

“Family Time”
(source)

Evening Reading: Matthew 12:46-50

Jesus’ true family

46 While he was still speaking to the people, behold, his mother and his brothers stood outside, asking to speak to him. 48 But he replied to the man who told him, “Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?” 49 And stretching out his hand toward his disciples, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! 50 For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.”

Evening Lesson

Our spiritual family

“Christ’s relatives have not yet understood His identity and mission. He points to a spiritual family based on obedience to the will on My Father (v. 50). In Jewish usage, brother can indicate any number of relations. Abrams called his nephew Lot ‘brother’ (Gn 14:14); Boaz spoke of his cousin Elimelech as his ‘brother’ (Ru 4:3); and Job called his cousin Amasa his ‘brother’ (2 Sam 20:9). Christ Himself had no blood brothers, for Mary had but one son: Jesus. The brothers mentioned here were either stepbrothers, sons of Joseph by a previous marriage, or cousins. Indeed, Jesus commits His mother to the care of John at the Cross (Jn 19:25-27), which would have been unthinkable if Mary had had other children to care for her.” [10]

“Jesus was not denying His responsibility to His earthly family. On the contrary, He criticized the religious leaders for not following the Old Testament command to honor their parents (Matt 15:1-9). He provided for His mother’s security as He hung on the cross (John 19:25-27). His mother and brothers were present in the upper room at Pentecost (Acts 1:14). Instead, Jesus was pointing out that spiritual relationships are as binding as physical ones, and He was paving the way for a new community of believers (the universal Church), our spiritual family.” [11]

So exactly what are we to make of Jesus’ rejection of His mothers and brothers for His hearers? “This same account is recorded in Mark 3:20–35. Verses 20–21 of Mark’s passage give us an important understanding of what His family was doing there. “Then He went home, and the crowd gathered again, so that they could not even eat. And when His family heard it, they went out to seize Him, for they were saying, ‘He is out of His mind.’” At this point in time, some of Jesus’ brothers did not believe in Him, so He distanced Himself from them for this time, and embraced those who believed. Later, many of these brothers became leaders in the Church. James was a leader of the Church in Jerusalem (Acts 15:12–21) and wrote the New Testament letter called James. Jesus’ brother Judas wrote the letter called Jude.” [12]

Vespers Prayer 

Lord, I know You carry a torch for me,

and I am fearfully and wonderfully made.

Deep in the darkest night, You  love me

in all my uniqueness,

and You are the keeper of my dreams.

When my thoughts come too fast

and trouble me,

soothe me into rest,

When I get caught in the loop,

gently get me free again.

You ease the weight of my being.

You even know just when

to interrupt

this night-time conversation,

and say, 

‘Hush, enough now,

let’s talk about it in the morning…’

Even in the dark of night,

You leave a light on for me,

and are always watching over me.

Lamplighter! lover, friend,

You are the keeper of my dreams.

 be ours this night. [13]

Antipon

Be glad, O ye righteous, and rejoice in the Lord.

And be joyful, all ye that are true of heart.

The Concluding Prayers of the Church

Into your hands, O Lord, I commend my spirit;

      For you have redeemed me, O Lord, O God of truth.

Keep us, O Lord, as the apple of your eye;

      Hide us under the shadow of your wings.

Lord, have mercy.

Christ, have mercy.

Lord, have mercy.

Amen. [14]


Devotionals compiled/written by S.P. Rogers

Citations:

[1] Stratman, P. (2001). Christmas. In Prayers from the Ancient Celtic Church (Kindle ed., p. 74). Rossway.

[2] Tickle, P. (2006). Christmas. In The divine hours: Prayers for Autumn and Wintertime (Kindle ed., vol. 2, p. 459). New York, NY: Image Books.

[3] House, C. P. (2009). Isaiah. In HOLY BIBLE: The lutheran study bible (p. 1170). St. Louis, MO: Concordia Publishing HSE.

[4] Ibid. 3

[5] Palmer, W. (2017). Isaiah 49:1-7. In Books of the Bible Study Questions: Isaiah (PDF ed., pp. 9-10). St. Louis, MO: Concordia Publishing House. Retrieved at: https://communication.cph.org/hubfs/581702_601%20Isaiah%20Bible%20Study%20Questions%20201707140836.pdf?hsCtaTracking=7809844c-dfd9-4d91-9e59-c4a8eac6f826%7C63de2b15-5bde-4eec-8fcf-4781c6305826

[6] From page 56 of Finding Your Voice in the Psalms: An Invitation to Honest Prayer by Elizabeth J. Canham. Copyright © 2013 by Elizabeth J. Canham. All rights reserved. Retrieved at: https://upperroombooks.com/a-prayer-for-gods-presence/?cn-reloaded=1

[7] Forward Movement. (2013). Daily Prayers. In Prayers for All Occasions (Kindle ed., pp. 147). Cincinnati, OH: Forward Movement.

[8] The Northumbria Community. (2015). Daily Prayer. In Celtic Daily Prayer (Kindle ed., p. 22972). London: HarperCollins.

[9] Episcopal Church. (1979). Daily Office: Order for Noonday. 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.

[10] Academic Community of St. Athanasius Academy of Orthodox Theology (2008). Matthew. In The Orthodox study Bible (p. 1321-1322). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson.

[11] Tyndale House Publishers. (2012). Matthew. In Chronological life application study Bible (p. 1344). Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Pub.

[12] Palmer, W. (2019). Isaiah 49:1-7. In Books of the Bible Study Questions: Matthew (PDF ed., pp. 20). St. Louis, MO: Concordia Publishing House. Retrieved at: https://communication.cph.org/hubfs/_cph/2019/01/publicity-book-of-the-bible-study-questions/581902_601%20Matthew.pdf?hsCtaTracking=db3dd156-3dfb-46bb-9a82-50cbe2e83965%7C75a13134-f789-4815-a1b9-a36a241fe96a

[13] Lucas, D. (2020). Night Prayer. Retrieved December 21, 2020, from https://www.anordinaryoffice.co.uk/night-prayer


[14] Episcopal Church. (1979). Daily Office: Order for Compline. 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.132). New York, NY: Church Publishing Incorporated.

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