Readings: Isaiah 31:1-9, 33:17-22; Psalm 132, 114; Revelation 21:22-22:11, 18-20; Luke 1:39-66
We depart from the assigned daily lectionary reading today, to hear the Good News of Jesus’ birth proclaimed in Luke. The assigned reading is Luke 1:39-66, the Visitation, Magnificat and birth of John. Surely, John, who was always pointing to Christ, would prefer we focus on Jesus, this Christmas Eve.
And, well, we should have all our attention on Jesus! This most holy night, when, hopefully, the preparations are complete, it is time to pause for the Word of God, for meditation on this great mystery, and for worship and prayer. Whether you are able to gather with your congregation in church, must observe Christmas at home with family or alone, the message is the same. The angel of the Lord appears and proclaims, in the words of Martin Luther’s beloved hymn, “From heav’n above to earth I come, To bring good news to ev’ryone! Glad tidings of great joy I bring, To all the world, and gladly sing!”
The message is: “To you is born, this day…a Savior, who is Christ the Lord!” Let us dance for joy! Let us gladly sing! Let us go, tell it on the mountain — and shout it in the streets! Let’s tell our children and neighbors, the sick and the lonely, Christ, the Savior, is born!
Prayer: Almighty God, You made this night shine with the brightness of the true Light. Grant that we may walk in the light of Jesus’ presence, day by day. In His name. Amen.
Christmas Eve Action: If you are able, celebrate the birth of the Christ child in person, with your congregation. If not, find a Christmas service online or on TV. One way or the other, join in worshiping Christ, the newborn King!
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.
READING THE WORD OF GOD GUIDE
7:10 The Lord again spoke to Ahaz: 11“Ask for a confirming sign from the Lord your God. You can even ask for something miraculous.” 12But Ahaz responded, “I don’t want to ask; I don’t want to put the Lord to a test.” 13So Isaiah replied, “Pay attention, family of David. Do you consider it too insignificant to try the patience of men? Is that why you are also trying the patience of my God? 14For this reason the Lord himself will give you a confirming sign. Look, this young woman is about to conceive and will give birth to a son. You, young woman, will name him Immanuel. (NET Bible)
110:1 A psalm of David.
Here is the Lord’s proclamation to my lord:
“Sit down at my right hand until I make your enemies your footstool.”
2The Lord extends your dominion from Zion.
Rule in the midst of your enemies.
3Your people willingly follow you when you go into battle.
On the holy hills at sunrise the dew of your youth belongs to you.
4The Lord makes this promise on oath and will not revoke it:
“You are an eternal priest after the pattern of Melchizedek.”(NET Bible)
1 John 4:7–16
4:7 Dear friends, let us love one another, because love is from God, and everyone who loves has been fathered by God and knows God. 8The person who does not love does not know God because God is love. 9By this the love of God is revealed in us: that God has sent his one and only Son into the world so that we may live through him. 10In this is love: not that we have loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins.
11Dear friends, if God so loved us, then we also ought to love one another. 12No one has seen God at any time. If we love one another, God resides in us, and his love is perfected in us. 13By this we know that we reside in God and he in us: in that he has given us of his Spirit. 14And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent the Son to be the Savior of the world.
15If anyone confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God resides in him and he in God. 16And we have come to know and to believe the love that God has in us. God is love, and the one who resides in love resides in God, and God resides in him. (NET Bible)
1:18 Now the birth of Jesus Christ happened this way. While his mother Mary was engaged to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit. 19Because Joseph, her husband to be, was a righteous man, and because he did not want to disgrace her, he intended to divorce her privately. 20When he had contemplated this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife because the child conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21She will give birth to a son and you will name him Jesus because he will save his people from their sins.” 22This all happened so that what was spoken by the Lord through the prophet would be fulfilled: 23“Look! The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will name him Emmanuel,” which means “God with us.” 24When Joseph awoke from sleep he did what the angel of the Lord told him. He took his wife, 25but did not have marital relations with her until she gave birth to a son, whom he named Jesus.(NET Bible)
–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.