Daily Reading & Meditation

Sunday (December 21): "The Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and of his kingdom there will be no end"

Scripture: Luke 1:26-38

26 In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, 27 to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin's name was Mary. 28 And he came to her and said, "Hail, O favored one, the Lord is with you!" 29 But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and considered in her mind what sort of greeting this might be. 30 And the angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. 31 And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. 32 He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there will be no end." 34 And Mary said to the angel, "How shall this be, since I have no husband?" 35 And the angel said to her, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God. 36 And behold, your kinswoman Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son; and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren. 37 For with God nothing will be impossible."38 And Mary said, "Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word." And the angel departed from her.

Old Testament Reading: 2 Samuel 7:1-5,8-12,14,16

1 Now when the king dwelt in his house, and the LORD had given him rest from all his enemies round about, 2 the king said to Nathan the prophet, "See now, I dwell in a house of cedar, but the ark of God dwells in a tent." 3 And Nathan said to the king, "Go, do all that is in your heart; for the LORD is with you." 4 But that same night the word of the LORD came to Nathan, 5 "Go and tell my servant David, `Thus says the LORD: Would you build me a house to dwell in? 8 Now therefore thus you shall say to my servant David, `Thus says the LORD of hosts, I took you from the pasture, from following the sheep, that you should be prince over my people Israel; 9 and I have been with you wherever you went, and have cut off all your enemies from before you; and I will make for you a great name, like the name of the great ones of the earth. 10 And I will appoint a place for my people Israel, and will plant them, that they may dwell in their own place, and be disturbed no more; and violent men shall afflict them no more, as formerly, 11 from the time that I appointed judges over my people Israel; and I will give you rest from all your enemies. Moreover the LORD declares to you that the LORD will make you a house. 12 When your days are fulfilled and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring after you, who shall come forth from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. 14 I will be his father, and he shall be my son. 16 And your house and your kingdom shall be made sure for ever before me; your throne shall be established for ever.'"

Meditation: Do you know the steadfast love of the Lord? God's love endures forever because he is a covenant-making God who keeps his promises (Psalm 89:2-4). God showed special favor to David when he anointed him to be king of Israel. After David had established peace in the land and wanted to build a house for God, God reassured him that he would build David a house, not made of stone but of flesh, that would last forever (2 Samuel 7:12,16). This royal house would be no ordinary dynasty because God himself promised to raise up an heir to David's house, another "man after God's own heart" - a Savior and King who would bring healing, pardon, and lasting peace for his people.

A new era of grace and salvation begins with the miraculous conception and birth of Jesus
We begin to see the fulfillment of this prophecy and the unfolding of God's plan of redemption in the events leading up to the Incarnation, the birth of the Messiah King. The new era of salvation begins with the miraculous conception of Jesus in the womb of Mary. This child to be born is conceived by the gracious action of the Holy Spirit upon Mary, who finds favor with God (Luke 1:28). As Eve was the mother of all humanity doomed to sin, now Mary becomes the mother of the new Adam who will father a new humanity by his grace (Romans 5:12-21).

This child to be conceived in her womb is the fulfillment of all God's promises. He will be "great" and "Son of the Most High" and "King" and his name shall be called "Jesus" (Luke 1:31-32), which means "the Lord saves." "He will save his people from their sins" (Matthew 1:21). The angel repeats to Mary, the daughter of the house of David, the promise made to King David: "The Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there will be no end" (2 Samuel 7:12-16, Isaiah 9:6-7, Luke 1:32-33).

Mary believed God's word and gave her unqualified "yes" to God's will
How does Mary respond to the word of God delivered by the angel Gabriel? She knows she is hearing something beyond human capability. It will surely take a miracle which surpasses all that God has done previously. Her question, "how shall this be, since I have no husband" is not prompted by doubt or skepticism, but by wonderment! She is a true hearer of the Word and she immediately responds with faith and trust. Mary's prompt response of "yes" to the divine message is a model of faith for all believers. Mary believed God's promises even when they seemed impossible. She was full of grace because she trusted that what God said was true and would be fulfilled. She was willing and eager to do God's will, even if it seemed difficult or costly. Mary is the “mother of God” because God becomes incarnate when he takes on flesh in her womb. Jesus, whom the Father sent from heaven, is true God and true man.

God gives us the grace to say "yes" to his will and to his transforming work in our lives
When we pray the ancient Nicene Creed (325 AD) we state our confession of faith in this great mystery: "For us and for our salvation he came down from heaven; by the power of the Holy Spirit he became incarnate of the Virgin Mary, and was made man." God gives us grace and he expects us to respond with the same willingness, obedience, and heartfelt trust as Mary did. When God commands he also gives the help, strength, and means to respond. We can either yield to his grace or resist and go our own way. Do you believe in God's promises and do you yield to his grace?

"Heavenly Father, you offer us abundant grace, mercy, and forgiveness through your Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ. Help me to live a grace-filled life as Mary did by believing in your promises and by giving you my unqualified "yes" to your will and plan for my life."

Psalm 89:1-5,27-29

1 I will sing of your steadfast love, O LORD, forever; with my mouth I will proclaim your faithfulness to all generations.
2 I declare that your steadfast love is established forever; your faithfulness is as firm as the heavens.
3 You said, "I have made a covenant with my chosen one, I have sworn to my servant David:
4 'I will establish your descendants forever, and build your throne for all generations.'" Selah
5 Let the heavens praise your wonders, O LORD, your faithfulness in the assembly of the holy ones.
27 I will make him the firstborn, the highest of the kings of the earth.
28 Forever I will keep my steadfast love for him, and my covenant with him will stand firm.
29 I will establish his line forever, and his throne as long as the heavens endure.

Daily Quote from the early church fathers: Mary marvels and trembles at the Lord's presence within her, by Peter Chrysologous, 380-450 A.D.

"'The Lord is with you.' Why is the Lord with you? Because he is coming to you not merely to pay a visit, but he is coming down into you in a new mystery, that of being born. Fittingly did the angel add, 'You are blessed among women.' Through the curse she incurred, Eve brought pains upon the wombs of women in childbirth. Now, in this very matter of motherhood, Mary, through the blessing she received, rejoices, is honored, is exalted. Now too womankind has become truly the mother of those who live through grace, just as previously by nature are subject to death...

"She soon realized that she was receiving within herself the heavenly judge, there in that same place where with lingering gaze she had just seen the harbinger from heaven. It was by a soothing motion and holy affection that God transformed the virgin into a mother for himself and made his handmaid into a parent. Nevertheless her bosom was disturbed, her mind recoiled, and her whole state became one of trembling when God, whom the whole of creation does not contain, placed his whole Self inside her bosom and made himself a man." (excerpt from Sermon 140)


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author Don Schwager © 2014 Servants of the Word

Scripture quotations from Common Bible: Revised Standard Version of the Bible, copyright 1973, and Ignatius Edition of the Revised Standard Version of the Bible, copyright 2006, by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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