Archive for the ‘December 17’ Category

Devotion for December 17 (LCMS Daily Lectionary)   7 comments

Above:  The Great Day of His Wrath, by John Martin

The Violent Origin of Paradise

DECEMBER 17, 2020


Blessed Lord, who caused all holy scriptures to be written for our learning:

Grant us so to hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them,

that we may embrace and ever hold fast the blessed hope of everlasting life,

which you have given us in our Savior Jesus Christ;

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

The Book of Common Prayer (1979), page 236


The Assigned Readings:

Isaiah 33:1-24

Psalm 122 (Morning)

Psalms 40 and 67 (Evening)

Revelation 5:1-14


Revelation 5 continues the scene in the previous chapter.  The twenty-four elders are in Heaven, in the immediate presence of God.  Then John of Patmos sees a scroll with seven seals.  Only Jesus, the sacrificial lamb, is worthy to break the seven seals and to judge the earth, notably the Roman Empire.

Scholars of the Bible have interpreted the violent imagery of Revelation in various ways.  Some see a contradiction between the Jesus of the Gospels and the avenging Christ of Revelation.  This, I think, is an overstated case.  In the Bible we read of God establishing the new, holy order on Earth.  The founding of paradise begins with purging violence; the Day of the Lord is bad news for the wicked.  The end of exploitation does not mean comfort for the one exploiting.

If God is gracious to suffering people, the end of their suffering comes frequently via unpleasant fates for those who inflict said suffering.  Let us not embrace an illusion; good news for the death camp survivors was bad news for Nazis.  And we do not weep for Nazis; nor should we.

Judgment and mercy coexist within God; this message emerges from a multitude of Biblical texts.  So be it.







Before a Bible Study   Leave a comment

Above:  An Old Family Bible

Image Source = David Ball


God of glory,

as we prepare to study the Bible,

may we approach the texts with our minds open,

our intellects engaged,

and our spirits receptive to your leading,

so that we will understand them correctly

and derive from them the appropriate lessons.

Then may we act on those lessons.

For the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ,








Posted October 7, 2011 by neatnik2009 in 2020-2021, December 1, December 10, December 11, December 12, December 13, December 14, December 15, December 16, December 17, December 18, December 19, December 2, December 20, December 21, December 22, December 23, December 24: Christmas Eve, December 25: First Day of Christmas, December 26: Second Day of Christmas/St. Stephen, December 27: Third Day of Christmas/St. John the Evangelist, December 28: Fourth Day of Christmas/Holy Innocents, December 29: Fifth Day of Christmas, December 3, December 30: Sixth Day of Christmas, December 31: Seventh Day of Christmas/New Year's Eve, December 4, December 5, December 6, December 7, December 8, December 9, February 1, February 10, February 11, February 12, February 13, February 14, February 15, February 16, February 17, February 18, February 19, February 2, February 20, February 21, February 22, February 23, February 24, February 25, February 26, February 27, February 28, February 29, February 3, February 4, February 5, February 6, February 7, February 8, February 9, January 10, January 11, January 12, January 13, January 14, January 15, January 16, January 17, January 18, January 19, January 1: Eighth Day of Christmas/Holy Name of Jesus/New Year's Day, January 20, January 21, January 22, January 23, January 24, January 25, January 26, January 27, January 28, January 29, January 2: Ninth Day of Christmas, January 30, January 31, January 3: Tenth Day of Christmas, January 4: Eleventh Day of Christmas, January 5: Twelfth Day of Christmas, January 6: Epiphany, January 7, January 8, January 9, March 1, March 2, March 3, March 4, March 5, March 6, March 7, March 8, March 9, November 27, November 28, November 29, November 30

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A Prayer of Thanksgiving for Christmas   Leave a comment

Adoration of the Shepherds (1609), by Caravaggio

Active God of grace, we laud and magnify your wondrous Name.

Christmas Day is nearly upon us again.

This annual reminder of your gracious love

fills us with awe and wonder

as we consider the ultimate purpose of the Messiah.

May we therefore thank you with our



and deeds,

for your glory and the benefit of others.

In your Name we pray.






A Prayer for Those Suffering from Holiday Grief   Leave a comment

Christmas Tree

Image Source = DRO4


Loving God,

the annual celebration of your incarnation in the form of Jesus approaches.

This should be a happy and blessed occasion.

Yet many people grieve the absence of one or more friends or family members

whom distance,



or death separate from them.

Bestow upon those who grieve

the consolation of your Holy Spirit,

that they may rejoice in your love and mercy.

We pray in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ,

fully human and fully divine.  Amen.

Kenneth Randolph Taylor

December 7, 2009

O Blessed Mother   4 comments

Madonna and Child, St. John’s Anglican Church, Ashfield, New Wouth Wales, Australia

O Blessed Mother,

How did you feel when

You learned you were pregnant

Outside of wedlock?


O Blessed Mother,

How did you feel when

The anonymous, thronging crowds

Ignored you in your hour of need in Bethlehem?


O Blessed Mother,

How did you feel when

You experienced birth pangs,

As well as the stresses of parenthood?


O Blessed Mother,

How did you feel when

Your eldest son confused you,

Then seemed to reject you?


O Blessed Mother,

How did you feel when

You watched your eldest son die?


O Blessed Mother,

How did you feel when

You buried your eldest son?


O Blessed Mother,

How did you feel when

You discovered your resurrected son?


O Blessed Mother,

How did you feel when

You ascended and became

Queen of Heaven?


O Blessed Mother,

Strong and humble,

Faithful and human,

Intercede for us.


Kenneth Randolph Taylor

May 30, 1997

Advent Devotion for December 17   11 comments

Above: The Jesse Tree Window at Chartres Cathedral, Chartres, France

Jesus, Our Sovereign with a Mixed Heritage

DECEMBER 17, 2020



Gather round me and listen, you sons of Jacob;

listen to Israel your father.

Judah, your brothers will praise you;

your hand will be on the neck of your enemies.

Your father’s sons will bow to you in homage.

Judah, a lion’s whelp,

you have returned from the kill, my son;

you crouch and stretch like a lion,

like a lion no one dares rouse.

The sceptre will not pass from Judah,

nor the staff from heaven his feet,

until he receives what is his due

and the obedience of the nations is his….


God, endow the king with our own justice,

his royal person with your righteousness,

that he may govern your people rightly

and deal justly with your oppressed ones.

May hills and mountains provide your people

with prosperity in righteousness.

May he give judgment for the oppressed among the people

and help to the needy;

may he crush the oppressor.

May he fear you as long as the sun endures,

and as the moon throughout the ages.

May he be like rain falling on early crops,

like showers watering the earth.

In his days may righteousness flourish,

prosperity abound until the moon is no more.


The genealogy of Jesus Christ, son of David, son of Abraham.

Abraham was the father of Isaac, Isaac of Jacob, Jacob of Judah and his brothers, Judah of Perez and Zarah (their mother was Tamar), Perez of Hezron, Hezron of Ram, Ram of Amminadab, Amminadab or Nahshon, Nahshon of Salmon, Salmon of Boaz (his mother was Rahab), Boaz of Obed (his mother was Ruth), Obed of Jesse; and Jesse was the father of King David.

David was the father of Solomon (his mother had been the wife of Uriah), Solomon of Rehoboam, Rehoboam of Abijah, Abijah of Asa, Asa of Jehoshaphat, Jehoshaphat of Joram, Joran of Uzziah, Uzziah of Jotham, Jotham of Ahaz, Ahaz of Hezekiah, Hezekiah of Manasseh, Manasseh of Amon, Amon of Josiah; and Josiah was the father of Jeconiah and his brothers at the time of the deportation to Babylon.

After the deportation Jeconiah was the father of Shealtiel, Shealtiel of Zerubbabel, Zerubbabel of Abiud, Abiud of Eliakim, Eliakim of Azor, Azor of Zadok, Zadok of Achim, Achim of Eliud, Eliud of Eleazar, Eleazar of Matthan, Matthan of Jacob, Jacob of Joseph, the husband of Mary, who gave birth to Jesus called Messiah.

There were thus fourteen generations in all from Abraham to David, fourteen from David until the deportation to Babylon, and fourteen from the deportation until the Messiah.


Purify our conscience, Almighty God, by your daily visitation, that your Son Jesus Christ, at his coming, may find in us a mansion prepared for himself; who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.


At this juncture the Episcopal Church’s Advent lectionary begins its final phase:  readings grouped according to date.  The final countdown to Christmas Day commences.

The Book of Genesis begins with mythical tales of divine creation then continues with stories of human procreation–hence genealogies.  Creation is the theme running through the early chapters of that book.  Matthew, the most Jewish of the canonical Gospels, opens with a genealogy of Jesus.  This is no accident, but a profoundly significant fact.  It indicates the dawn of a new age in history.  Along the way, one reads about kings (both good and bad), whose names establish Jesus’ credentials as a member of the House of David.  And one reads about Bathsheba (who cheated on her husband, Uriah, with King David), Ruth (a foreigner), Rahab (a prostitute), and Tamar (a young widow who pretended to be a sacred prostitute so she could trick Judah, her father-in-law, to impregnate her).

What are we supposed to make of all this?

Jesus, our Lord and Savior, the incarnate Son of God, was descended genetically from upright men and women, shady characters, kings, commoners, adulterers, at least one adulteress, a prostitute, a Gentile, and a widow who had to resort to deception to become pregnant and establish security for herself in a patriarchal society without a social safety net.  Jesus’ pedigree was not entirely socially respectable.  And that fact was ultimately irrelevant to his greatness.  He was much more than the sum of his ancestry.

So I invite everyone to look upon others for what is inside them, not for their origins.



Third Week of Advent: Thursday   9 comments

Above: Westminster Abbey (as in the Westminster Confession of Faith and accompanying Catechisms)

God’s Purpose for Us



Isaiah 54:1-10 (Revised English Bible):

Sing, barren woman who never bore a child;

break into a shout of joy, you that have never been in labour;

for the deserted wife will have more children

than she who lives with her husband,

says the LORD.

Enlarge the space for your dwelling,

extend the curtains of your tent to the full;

let out its ropes and drive the tent-pegs home;

for you will spread from your confines right and left,

your descendants will dispossess nations

and will people cities now desolate.

Fear not, you will not be put to shame;

do not be downcast, you will not suffer disgrace.

It is time to forget the shame of your younger days

and remember no more the reproach of your widowhood;

for your husband is your Maker;

his name is the LORD of Hosts.

He who is called God of all the earth,

the Holy One of Israel, is your redeemer.

The LORD has acknowledged you a wife again,

once deserted and heart-broken;

your God regards you as a wife still young,

though you were once cast off.

For a passing moment I forsook you,

but with a tender affection I shall bring you home again.

In an upsurge of anger I hid my face from you for a moment;

but now have I pitied you with never-failing love,

says the LORD, your Redeemer.

For this to me is like the days of Noah;

as I swore that the waters of Noah’s flood

should never again pour over the earth,

so now I swear to you

never again to be angry with you or rebuke you.

Though the mountains may move and the hills shake,

my love will be immovable and never fall,

and my covenant promising peace will not be shaken,

says the LORD in his pity for you.

Psalm 30 (Revised English Bible):

I shall exalt you, LORD;

you have lifted me up

and have not let my enemies be jubilant over me.

LORD my God, I cried to you and you healed me.

You have brought me up, LORD, from Sheol,

and saved my life as I was sinking into the abyss.

Sing a psalm to the LORD, all you his loyal servants;

give thanks to his holy name.

In his anger is distress, in his favour there is life.

Tears may linger at nightfall,

but rejoicing comes in the morning.

I felt secure and said,

I can never be shaken.

LORD, by your favour you made my mountain strong;

when you hid your face, I was struck with dismay.

To you, LORD, I called

and pleaded with you for mercy:

What profit is there in my death,

in my going down to the pit?

Can the dust praise you?

Can it proclaim your truth?

Hear, LORD, and be gracious to me;

LORD, be my helper.

You have turned my laments into dancing;

you have stripped off my sackcloth and clothed me with joy,

that I may sing psalms to you without ceasing.

LORD my God, I shall praise you for ever.

Luke 7:24-30 (Revised English Bible):

After John’s messengers had left, Jesus began to speak about him to the crowds:

What did you go into the wilderness to see?  A reed swaying in the wind?  No?  Then what did you go out to see?  A man dressed in finery?  Grand clothes and luxury are to be found in palaces.  But what did you go out to see?  A prophet?  Yes indeed, and far more than a prophet.  He is the man of whom scripture says,

“Here is my herald, whom I send ahead of you,

and he will prepare your way before you.”

I tell you, among all who have been born, no one has been greater than John; yet the least in the kingdom of God is greater than he is.

When they heard him, all the people, including the tax-collectors, acknowledged the goodness of God, for they had accepted John’s baptism; but the Pharisees and lawyers, who had refused his baptism, rejected God’s purpose for themselves.

The Collect:

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.


What is the chief and highest end of man?

“Man’s chief and highest end is to glorify God, and fully to enjoy him forever.”

–The Westminster Larger Catechism (1646), Question #1, from The Book of Confessions of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)

The above quote summarizes the greatest human destiny well.  Each of us is on this planet to fill positive roles, thereby leaving our environs and those in them better than we found them, for the glory of God and the benefit of others.  And, along the way, we are called to enjoy God.

Once I heard a proposal for how to live spiritually.  It held that we are supposed to engage in a daring dance with God, laying aside dourness and rigid orthodoxies.  This image appeals to me, for I an neither dour nor rigidly orthodox.  The most important aspect of the metaphor is that God be the dancing partner.  And I suspect that the dance is not necessarily respectable ballroom dancing.  Maybe it is the Charleston, tango, or lambada.  Let the dance begin, or continue.

Yet many of our fellow human beings do not choose a positive path.  They opt for a life of violence and hatred.  From time to time, when I house and pet sit (for I have opted to live without cable television), I watch MSNBC programs about prisons.  I see profiles of some people who lead truly vile lives.  As a law-abiding citizen I am glad that authorities keep them away from people such as me.  I know also that these individuals did not have to become who they did and come to live where they do.  And I realize that they do not live beyond the reach of grace, for grace is available everywhere.

We humans make choices.  Often we must lie in the beds we have made.  This fact, however, does not mean that we have to keep making these beds.  Also, history contains stories of people whom God has converted from violent lives to peaceful, righteous ones.  There is always hope through God.

May we embrace this hope and glorify and enjoy God forever.


Written on June 1, 2010

Posted September 15, 2010 by neatnik2009 in 2020-2021, December 17, Episcopal Church Lectionary

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