Home > Reading > Daily Reading – December 15, 2020

Readings: Isaiah 9:2-7; Psalm 85; 2 Peter 1:12-21; Luke 22:54-69

Once again, this lectionary reading from the week of our Lord’s Passion sounds discordant as our focus is on Advent and preparation for Christmas. The account of Peter’s betrayal/denial of Jesus, not once, but three times, together with the Lord’s beating and mocking at the hands of His enemies, leaves a bitter taste as we are hungering for the Good News of the birth of the baby in Bethlehem.

And yet, isn’t that the reality of our Christian faith? We are not people of Christmas, only. Our faith isn’t only for times of joy and happiness, peace and light. As soon as Jesus came into the world, Herod and his soldiers sought Jesus to put Him to death and was willing to slaughter all the innocent young male children under the age of two, just to get to the Son of God. We know Jesus was born to be the Savior of the world, and that redemption was to be won for us by His crucifixion and death. We are people of Christmas and Good Friday and Easter! We journey through Advent knowing our destination is not finally Bethlehem and the stable and manger, but Golgotha, the cross and the tomb on Easter morning.

This is the Good News that God became human in Jesus, His Son, to be with us in joy and sorrow, pain and peace, times of challenge and struggle, as well as times of blessing and grace. This is the Good News that Jesus, our Savior, is with us in death and life.

Prayer: Lord Jesus Christ, be with me always, in all times in my life. Amen.

Advent Action: Read the rest of Luke’s account of Holy Week, chapters 23-24.

Advent is a time of preparation! As John the Forerunner called people to “prepare the way of the Lord,” this Advent many Christians will look for additional opportunities to prepare inwardly while also preparing outwardly. As we prepare our homes and churches for celebrating Christmas, most hope to have additional time to read Scripture, pray, worship and meditate, and we look for quiet time to prepare our hearts and lives for the many ways the Lord comes to us.

These devotions are for home and personal devotion, in addition to communal Advent worship. Our prayer is that they provide the reader with a brief, accessible devotional to deepen the Advent journey. They are written for those who may regularly spend in-depth time in Scripture and prayer but are also prepared in the hope that those who do not have a practice of daily devotions may find them a useful tool in developing a holy habit that may continue on long after Christmas.

This Advent daily devotional booklet, appropriately titled, Prepare the Way of the Lord, is based on the two-year daily lectionary provided in the Lutheran Book of Worship, Year I. This series of daily lessons is intended for Advent prior to odd-numbered years. The daily lectionary appoints three lessons for each day, and a seasonal psalm. For the purposes of this booklet, one reading has been chosen as the basis for each day’s reflection. The entire reading is usually provided, although there has been some verses left out due to space available. When the biblical text is longer, we have provided that entire text with a shorter devotion because the Word of God is more powerful than our humble reflections.

The Rev. Dr. Dan Selbo, bishop of the North American Lutheran Church (NALC), has prepared a bit longer devotion for each of the Sundays in Advent, along with a devotion for Christmas Day. The Rev. Dr. David Wendel, NALC assistant to the bishop for ministry and ecumenism, has prepared the brief weekday and Christmas Eve devotions.

The prayer following each devotion may be seen as a “prayer starter,” encouraging your thoughts to go deeper into prayer, or you may find them sufficient as printed. After each prayer is an Advent Action, encouraging an appropriate and thoughtful simple response to the reading and reflection.

For your information, these devotions are available in a variety of formats at thenalc.org/advent.

We would like to consider these devotions a conversation. Email the authors if you would like to comment or share a thought, [email protected] or [email protected].


Zech. 4

4:1 The angelic messenger who had been speaking with me then returned and woke me, as a person is wakened from sleep. 2He asked me, “What do you see?” I replied, “I see a menorah of pure gold with a receptacle at the top. There are seven lamps at the top, with seven pipes going to the lamps. 3There are also two olive trees beside it, one on the right of the receptacle and the other on the left.” 4Then I asked the messenger who spoke with me, “What are these, sir?” 5He replied, “Don’t you know what these are?” So I responded, “No, sir.” 6Therefore he told me, “This is the Lord’s message to Zerubbabel: ‘Not by strength and not by power, but by my Spirit,’ says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies.

7“What are you, you great mountain? Because of Zerubbabel you will become a level plain! And he will bring forth the temple capstone with shoutings of ‘Grace! Grace!’ because of this.” 8Moreover, the Lord’s message came to me as follows: 9“The hands of Zerubbabel have laid the foundations of this temple, and his hands will complete it. Then you will know that the Lord of Heaven’s Armies has sent me to you. 10For who dares make light of small beginnings? These seven eyes will joyfully look on the tin tablet in Zerubbabel’s hand. These are the eyes of the Lord, which constantly range across the whole earth.”

11Next I asked the messenger, “What are these two olive trees on the right and the left of the menorah?” 12Before he could reply I asked again, “What are these two extensions of the olive trees, which are emptying out the golden oil through the two golden pipes?” 13He replied, “Don’t you know what these are?” And I said, “No, sir.” 14So he said, “These are the two anointed ones who stand by the Lord of the whole earth.”

(NET Bible)

Ps. 136

136:1 Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good,

for his loyal love endures.

2Give thanks to the God of gods,

for his loyal love endures.

3Give thanks to the Lord of lords,

for his loyal love endures.

4To the one who performs magnificent, amazing deeds all by himself,

for his loyal love endures.

5To the one who used wisdom to make the heavens,

for his loyal love endures.

6To the one who spread out the earth over the water,

for his loyal love endures.

7To the one who made the great lights,

for his loyal love endures,

8the sun to rule by day,

for his loyal love endures,

9the moon and stars to rule by night,

for his loyal love endures.

10To the one who struck down the firstborn of Egypt,

for his loyal love endures,

11and led Israel out from their midst,

for his loyal love endures,

12with a strong hand and an outstretched arm,

for his loyal love endures.

13To the one who divided the Red Sea in two,

for his loyal love endures,

14and led Israel through its midst,

for his loyal love endures,

15and tossed Pharaoh and his army into the Red Sea,

for his loyal love endures.

16To the one who led his people through the wilderness,

for his loyal love endures.

17To the one who struck down great kings,

for his loyal love endures,

18and killed powerful kings,

for his loyal love endures,

19Sihon, king of the Amorites,

for his loyal love endures,

20Og, king of Bashan,

for his loyal love endures,

21and gave their land as an inheritance,

for his loyal love endures,

22as an inheritance to Israel his servant,

for his loyal love endures.

23To the one who remembered us when we were down,

for his loyal love endures,

24and snatched us away from our enemies,

for his loyal love endures.

25To the one who gives food to all living things,

for his loyal love endures.

26Give thanks to the God of heaven,

for his loyal love endures!

(NET Bible)

Rev. 12:1–17

12:1 Then a great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, and with the moon under her feet, and on her head was a crown of twelve stars. 2She was pregnant and was screaming in labor pains, struggling to give birth. 3Then another sign appeared in heaven: a huge red dragon that had seven heads and ten horns, and on its heads were seven diadem crowns. 4Now the dragon’s tail swept away a third of the stars in heaven and hurled them to the earth. Then the dragon stood before the woman who was about to give birth, so that he might devour her child as soon as it was born. 5So the woman gave birth to a son, a male child, who is going to rule over all the nations with an iron rod. Her child was suddenly caught up to God and to his throne, 6and she fled into the wilderness where a place had been prepared for her by God, so she could be taken care of for 1,260 days.

7Then war broke out in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, and the dragon and his angels fought back. 8But the dragon was not strong enough to prevail, so there was no longer any place left in heaven for him and his angels. 9So that huge dragon—the ancient serpent, the one called the devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world—was thrown down to the earth, and his angels along with him. 10Then I heard a loud voice in heaven saying,

“The salvation and the power

and the kingdom of our God,

and the ruling authority of his Christ, have now come,

because the accuser of our brothers and sisters,

the one who accuses them day and night before our God,

has been thrown down.

11But they overcame him

by the blood of the Lamb

and by the word of their testimony,

and they did not love their lives so much that they were afraid to die.

12Therefore you heavens rejoice, and all who reside in them!

But woe to the earth and the sea

because the devil has come down to you!

He is filled with terrible anger,

for he knows that he only has a little time!”

13Now when the dragon realized that he had been thrown down to the earth, he pursued the woman who had given birth to the male child. 14But the woman was given the two wings of a giant eagle so that she could fly out into the wilderness, to the place God prepared for her, where she is taken care of—away from the presence of the serpent—for a time, times, and half a time. 15Then the serpent spouted water like a river out of his mouth after the woman in an attempt to sweep her away by a flood, 16but the earth came to her rescue; the ground opened up and swallowed the river that the dragon had spewed from his mouth. 17So the dragon became enraged at the woman and went away to make war on the rest of her children, those who keep God’s commandments and hold to the testimony about Jesus. (12:18) And the dragon stood on the sand of the seashore. (NET Bible)

[Luther writes:] “Here the Spirit plainly ascribes to Scripture that it allumines and teaches, that understanding is given alone through the words of God as through a door for, as they call it, a first principle (principium primum) with which everyone who will come to light and understanding must begin. Again: “‘Principle or head of thine words is truth’ (Ps. 119:160). There you see that truth is here ascribed only to the head of the words of God, that is, if you learned the words of God in the rst place and used them as the first principle when you judged the words of all. And what else does this whole psalm do than to condemn the foolishness of our labor and call us back to the fountain (revocet ad fontem) and teach us that we should rst of all and alone spend our labor on the Word of God and that the Spirit is ready to come voluntarily and to expel our spirit so that we pursue theology without danger? … Therefore, nothing but the divine words are to be the first principles (prima principia) for Christians, all human words, however, are conclusions which are deducted from them and must again be reducted to them and approved by them. They must first of all be well known to everyone but not sought through men nor learned by them, but men must be judged by them. If this were not true, why should Augustine and the holy Fathers, whenever they contradict each other, go back to the holy Scripture as to the first principles of truth (ad sacras literas seu prima principia veritatis) and illumine and approve by their light and trustworthiness their own that is dark and uncertain? By doing so they teach that the divine words are more understand- able and certain than the words of all men, even their own … I do not want to be honored as one who is more learned than all, but this I desire that Scripture alone rule as queen (solam Scripturam regnare), and that it is not explained through my spirit or other men’s spirit but understood by itself and in its own spirit.” (77)

–Johann Michael Reu, Luther on the Scriptures

This daily Bible reading guide, Reading the Word of God, was conceived and prepared as a result of the ongoing discussions between representatives of three church bodies: Lutheran Church—Canada (LCC), The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS) and the North American Lutheran Church (NALC). The following individuals have represented their church bodies and approved this introduction and the reading guide: LCC: President Robert Bugbee; NALC: Bishop John Bradosky, Revs. Mark Chavez, James Nestingen, and David Wendel; LCMS: Revs. Albert Collver, Joel Lehenbauer, John Pless, and Larry Vogel.

Learn More