Home > Reading > Daily Reading – December 22, 2023

Revelation 5:8–12 (Listen)

And when he had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each holding a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. And they sang a new song, saying,

  “Worthy are you to take the scroll
    and to open its seals,
  for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God
    from every tribe and language and people and nation,
10   and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God,
    and they shall reign on the earth.”

11 Then I looked, and I heard around the throne and the living creatures and the elders the voice of many angels, numbering myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands, 12 saying with a loud voice,

  “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain,
  to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might
  and honor and glory and blessing!”

Matthew 25:14 (Listen)

The Parable of the Talents

14 “For it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted to them his property.

Matthew 25:19 (Listen)

19 Now after a long time the master of those servants came and settled accounts with them.

Matthew 25:22 (Listen)

22 And he also who had the two talents came forward, saying, ‘Master, you delivered to me two talents; here, I have made two talents more.’


Friday of the Third Week in Advent

Nearing the end of Advent, we expect choirs of angels singing in exultation—though usually “bending near the earth” over Bethlehem rather than gathered around the heavenly throne. But here they are! “”Myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands”” of voices echoing the apostolic strains, praising the Lamb whose blood ransomed, or purchased, “people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation.”
In keeping with the parable of the talents, this is the great investment: that “God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law” (Galatians 4:4–5) by “his holy and precious blood, his innocent sufferings and death” (Small Catechism 2:4). In Baptism, the Holy Spirit has placed all the fullness of Christ Himself into the mangers of our hearts. And whenever we receive Him in Word and Sacrament, the holy Child of Bethlehem, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world, is “born in us today.”
Christ invests Himself with His Word, and it does not return empty. It builds faith and provokes further investment—the joy of His victory and the wonder of His love—to accrue interest through our engagement with others. We’re not predisposed to this “holy financing.”” As sinners, we’d rather cover this treasure up with other things that, in the end, are worth about as much as the dirt the third servant in the parable used to bury his master’s money. But Christ Himself is with us: calling us to repent, and forgiving and sending us out in joy—the same joy the shepherds knew when the multitude of the heavenly host filled the night with praise for God’s great investment, born in a stable: the Risen Lord who will return to settle accounts and make all things right. Glory to God in the highest!

Prayer: Come, Lord Jesus. Turn us from fearful laziness to holy industry and confidence in Your mission. You’ve invested everything in us; make us faithful in investing Your Gospel, and its fruit of mercy and kindness, in the lives of others. As we prepare now for the joy of Your birth, so prepare us in Your righteousness for Your return: when with the redeemed of every nation and ringed by hosts of angels, we celebrate the joy that will have no end. Amen.

Devotion written by the Rev. Dr. Nathan H. Yoder, STS

Zechariah 7:8–8:8 (Listen)

And the word of the LORD came to Zechariah, saying, “Thus says the LORD of hosts, Render true judgments, show kindness and mercy to one another, 10 do not oppress the widow, the fatherless, the sojourner, or the poor, and let none of you devise evil against another in your heart.” 11 But they refused to pay attention and turned a stubborn shoulder and stopped their ears that they might not hear. 12 They made their hearts diamond-hard lest they should hear the law and the words that the LORD of hosts had sent by his Spirit through the former prophets. Therefore great anger came from the LORD of hosts. 13 “As I called, and they would not hear, so they called, and I would not hear,” says the LORD of hosts, 14 “and I scattered them with a whirlwind among all the nations that they had not known. Thus the land they left was desolate, so that no one went to and fro, and the pleasant land was made desolate.”

The Coming Peace and Prosperity of Zion

8:1 And the word of the LORD of hosts came, saying, “Thus says the LORD of hosts: I am jealous for Zion with great jealousy, and I am jealous for her with great wrath. Thus says the LORD: I have returned to Zion and will dwell in the midst of Jerusalem, and Jerusalem shall be called the faithful city, and the mountain of the LORD of hosts, the holy mountain. Thus says the LORD of hosts: Old men and old women shall again sit in the streets of Jerusalem, each with staff in hand because of great age. And the streets of the city shall be full of boys and girls playing in its streets. Thus says the LORD of hosts: If it is marvelous in the sight of the remnant of this people in those days, should it also be marvelous in my sight, declares the LORD of hosts? Thus says the LORD of hosts: Behold, I will save my people from the east country and from the west country, and I will bring them to dwell in the midst of Jerusalem. And they shall be my people, and I will be their God, in faithfulness and in righteousness.”

Revelation 5:6–14 (Listen)

And between the throne and the four living creatures and among the elders I saw a Lamb standing, as though it had been slain, with seven horns and with seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth. And he went and took the scroll from the right hand of him who was seated on the throne. And when he had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each holding a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. And they sang a new song, saying,

  “Worthy are you to take the scroll
    and to open its seals,
  for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God
    from every tribe and language and people and nation,
10   and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God,
    and they shall reign on the earth.”

11 Then I looked, and I heard around the throne and the living creatures and the elders the voice of many angels, numbering myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands, 12 saying with a loud voice,

  “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain,
  to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might
  and honor and glory and blessing!”

13 And I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all that is in them, saying,

  “To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb
  be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!”

14 And the four living creatures said, “Amen!” and the elders fell down and worshiped.

Matthew 25:14–30 (Listen)

The Parable of the Talents

14 “For it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted to them his property. 15 To one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability. Then he went away. 16 He who had received the five talents went at once and traded with them, and he made five talents more. 17 So also he who had the two talents made two talents more. 18 But he who had received the one talent went and dug in the ground and hid his master’s money. 19 Now after a long time the master of those servants came and settled accounts with them. 20 And he who had received the five talents came forward, bringing five talents more, saying, ‘Master, you delivered to me five talents; here, I have made five talents more.’ 21 His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’ 22 And he also who had the two talents came forward, saying, ‘Master, you delivered to me two talents; here, I have made two talents more.’ 23 His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’ 24 He also who had received the one talent came forward, saying, ‘Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you scattered no seed, 25 so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here, you have what is yours.’ 26 But his master answered him, ‘You wicked and slothful servant! You knew that I reap where I have not sown and gather where I scattered no seed? 27 Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and at my coming I should have received what was my own with interest. 28 So take the talent from him and give it to him who has the ten talents. 29 For to everyone who has will more be given, and he will have an abundance. But from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. 30 And cast the worthless servant into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’


Morning Psalms

Psalm 102 (Listen)

Do Not Hide Your Face from Me

A Prayer of one afflicted, when he is faint and pours out his complaint before the LORD.

102:1   Hear my prayer, O LORD;
  let my cry come to you!
  Do not hide your face from me
    in the day of my distress!
  Incline your ear to me;
    answer me speedily in the day when I call!
  For my days pass away like smoke,
    and my bones burn like a furnace.
  My heart is struck down like grass and has withered;
    I forget to eat my bread.
  Because of my loud groaning
    my bones cling to my flesh.
  I am like a desert owl of the wilderness,
    like an owl of the waste places;
  I lie awake;
    I am like a lonely sparrow on the housetop.
  All the day my enemies taunt me;
    those who deride me use my name for a curse.
  For I eat ashes like bread
    and mingle tears with my drink,
10   because of your indignation and anger;
    for you have taken me up and thrown me down.
11   My days are like an evening shadow;
    I wither away like grass.
12   But you, O LORD, are enthroned forever;
    you are remembered throughout all generations.
13   You will arise and have pity on Zion;
    it is the time to favor her;
    the appointed time has come.
14   For your servants hold her stones dear
    and have pity on her dust.
15   Nations will fear the name of the LORD,
    and all the kings of the earth will fear your glory.
16   For the LORD builds up Zion;
    he appears in his glory;
17   he regards the prayer of the destitute
    and does not despise their prayer.
18   Let this be recorded for a generation to come,
    so that a people yet to be created may praise the LORD:
19   that he looked down from his holy height;
    from heaven the LORD looked at the earth,
20   to hear the groans of the prisoners,
    to set free those who were doomed to die,
21   that they may declare in Zion the name of the LORD,
    and in Jerusalem his praise,
22   when peoples gather together,
    and kingdoms, to worship the LORD.
23   He has broken my strength in midcourse;
    he has shortened my days.
24   “O my God,” I say, “take me not away
    in the midst of my days—
  you whose years endure
    throughout all generations!”
25   Of old you laid the foundation of the earth,
    and the heavens are the work of your hands.
26   They will perish, but you will remain;
    they will all wear out like a garment.
  You will change them like a robe, and they will pass away,
27     but you are the same, and your years have no end.
28   The children of your servants shall dwell secure;
    their offspring shall be established before you.

Psalm 148 (Listen)

Praise the Name of the Lord

148:1   Praise the LORD!
  Praise the LORD from the heavens;
    praise him in the heights!
  Praise him, all his angels;
    praise him, all his hosts!
  Praise him, sun and moon,
    praise him, all you shining stars!
  Praise him, you highest heavens,
    and you waters above the heavens!
  Let them praise the name of the LORD!
    For he commanded and they were created.
  And he established them forever and ever;
    he gave a decree, and it shall not pass away.
  Praise the LORD from the earth,
    you great sea creatures and all deeps,
  fire and hail, snow and mist,
    stormy wind fulfilling his word!
  Mountains and all hills,
    fruit trees and all cedars!
10   Beasts and all livestock,
    creeping things and flying birds!
11   Kings of the earth and all peoples,
    princes and all rulers of the earth!
12   Young men and maidens together,
    old men and children!
13   Let them praise the name of the LORD,
    for his name alone is exalted;
    his majesty is above earth and heaven.
14   He has raised up a horn for his people,
    praise for all his saints,
    for the people of Israel who are near to him.
  Praise the LORD!


Evening Psalms

Psalm 130 (Listen)

My Soul Waits for the Lord

A Song of Ascents.

130:1   Out of the depths I cry to you, O LORD!
    O Lord, hear my voice!
  Let your ears be attentive
    to the voice of my pleas for mercy!
  If you, O LORD, should mark iniquities,
    O Lord, who could stand?
  But with you there is forgiveness,
    that you may be feared.
  I wait for the LORD, my soul waits,
    and in his word I hope;
  my soul waits for the Lord
    more than watchmen for the morning,
    more than watchmen for the morning.
  O Israel, hope in the LORD!
    For with the LORD there is steadfast love,
    and with him is plentiful redemption.
  And he will redeem Israel
    from all his iniquities.

Psalm 16 (Listen)

You Will Not Abandon My Soul

A Miktam of David.

16:1   Preserve me, O God, for in you I take refuge.
  I say to the LORD, “You are my Lord;
    I have no good apart from you.”
  As for the saints in the land, they are the excellent ones,
    in whom is all my delight.
  The sorrows of those who run after another god shall multiply;
    their drink offerings of blood I will not pour out
    or take their names on my lips.
  The LORD is my chosen portion and my cup;
    you hold my lot.
  The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places;
    indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance.
  I bless the LORD who gives me counsel;
    in the night also my heart instructs me.
  I have set the LORD always before me;
    because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken.
  Therefore my heart is glad, and my whole being rejoices;
    my flesh also dwells secure.
10   For you will not abandon my soul to Sheol,
    or let your holy one see corruption.
11   You make known to me the path of life;
    in your presence there is fullness of joy;
    at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.

O Rex Gentium/O King of Nations

This daily prayer and Bible reading guide, Devoted to Prayer (based on Acts 2:42), was conceived and prepared by the Rev. Andrew S. Ames Fuller, director of communications for the North American Lutheran Church (NALC). After several challenging years in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, we have been provided with a unique opportunity to revitalize the ancient practice of daily prayer and Scripture reading in our homes. While the Reading the Word of God three-year lectionary provided a much-needed and refreshing calendar for our congregations to engage in Scripture reading, this calendar includes a missing component of daily devotion: prayer. This guide is to provide the average layperson and pastor with the simple tools for sorting through the busyness of their lives and reclaiming an act of daily discipleship with their Lord. The daily readings follow the Lutheran Book of Worship two-year daily lectionary, which reflect the church calendar closely. The commemorations are adapted from Philip H. Pfatteicher’s New Book of Festivals and Commemorations, a proposed common calendar of the saints that builds from the Lutheran Book of Worship, but includes saints from many of those churches in ecumenical conversation with the NALC. The introductory portion is adapted from Christ Church (Plano)’s Pray Daily. Our hope is that this calendar and guide will provide new life for congregations learning and re-learning to pray in the midst of a difficult and changing world.

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