Daily Reading & Meditation

Monday (December 22): Joyful Expectation of the Messiah

Scripture: Luke 1:46-56

46 And Mary said, "My soul magnifies the Lord, 47 and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, 48 for he has regarded the low estate of his handmaiden. For behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed; 49 for he who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is his name. 50 And his mercy is on those who fear him from generation to generation. 51 He has shown strength with his arm, he has scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts, 52 he has put down the mighty from their thrones, and exalted those of low degree; 53 he has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he has sent empty away. 54 He has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy, 55 as he spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and to his posterity for ever." 56 And Mary remained with her about three months, and returned to her home.

Old Testament Reading: 1 Samuel 1:24-28

24 And when she [Hannah] had weaned him, she took him up with her, along with a three-year-old bull, an ephah of flour, and a skin of wine; and she  brought him to the house of the LORD at Shiloh; and the child was young. 25 Then they slew the bull, and they brought the child to Eli. 26 And she said, "Oh, my lord! As you live, my lord, I am the woman who was standing here in your presence, praying to the LORD. 27 For this child I prayed; and the LORD has granted me my petition which I made to him. 28 Therefore I have lent him to the LORD; as long as he lives, he is lent to the LORD."  And they worshiped the LORD there.

Meditation: Do you know the mercy and favor of the Lord? Those who hunger for the Lord will not be disappointed. The Lord himself will fill them with the fruits of his peace, joy, and righteousness. We see God's boundless love manifested in the promise of a Redeemer. As the events leading to the birth of our Savior unfold we see all the prophecies, promises and prayers of the Old Testament being fulfilled because "God so loved the world that he gave us his only Son" (John 3:16).

The Gospel of Luke reveals the presence and power of the Holy Spirit in Mary's life. When Elizabeth and Mary greeted one another they were filled with the Holy Spirit and with a joyful anticipation of the fulfillment of God's promise to give a Savior. John the Baptist, even before the birth of the Messiah, pointed to his coming and leapt for joy in the womb of his mother as the Holy Spirit revealed to him the presence of the King to be born. The Holy Spirit is God's gift to us to enable us to know and experience the indwelling presence of God and the power of his kingdom. The Holy Spirit is the way in which God reigns within each of us.

Mary accepted her mission with uncompromising faith and obedience. She acted with unwavering trust and faith because she believed that God would fulfill the word he had spoken. Her great hymn of praise echoes the song of Hannah (see 1 Samuel 2:1-10) and proclaims the favor of the Lord: God exalts the lowly and he fills the hungry with good things. Hannah like Mary had been without child and God in a marvelous way gave her a son, named Samuel, whom she dedicated at an early age to the service of the Lord (1 Samuel 1:24ff.)  Mary, too, would lose her son to a servant ministry that would take him to the cross. Christmas is a time for renewing our faith and hope in God and in his promises and for deepening our love for God and for neighbor. Do you seek the Lord Jesus and the power of his Holy Spirit so that you may be renewed in faith, hope, and love?

"Lord Jesus, help me to earnestly seek you with humility and confidence. Increase my faith in your promises, strengthen within me the hope of heaven and eternal life, and set my heart on fire with burning love for you and for your kingdom. May I always praise and magnify your great mercy and glory."

Psalm 89:2-5, 27, 29

2 For your steadfast love was established for ever, your faithfulness is firm as the heavens.
3 You have said, "I have made a covenant with my chosen one, I have sworn to David my servant:
4 `I will establish your descendants for ever, 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 And I will make him the first-born, the highest of the kings of the earth.
29 I will establish his line for ever and his throne as the days of the heavens.

Daily Quote from the early church fathers: Mary preaches the new kingdom, by Ephrem the Syrian (306-373 AD)

"[Mary] revealed to Elizabeth what the angel spoke to her in secret, and that he called her blessed because she believed in the realization of the prophecy and the teaching that she heard (Luke 146-55). Then Mary gently brought forth the fruit of what she heard from the angel and Elizabeth: 'My soul bless the Lord.' Elizabeth had said, 'Blessed is she who has believed,' and Mary replied, 'From henceforth all generations will call me blessed.' It was then that Mary began to preach the new kingdom. 'She returned home after three months,' so that the Lord whom she was carrying would not begin service before his servant. She returned to her husband to clarify the matter, for if she had become pregnant through human fruit, it would have been appropriate for her to flee from her husband." (excerpt from COMMENTARY ON TATIANíS DIATESSARON 1.28)


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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.

Citation references for quotes from the writings of the early church fathers.  

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