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1:76 And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High; for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways…

– Luke 1:76


We’ve spent time this Advent thinking about preparing for the coming of Christ. John the Baptist’s clarion cry is, “Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his paths!” Once again, we ask, “How do we prepare?”

I’m certain that all of us have spent time preparing for Christmas — shopping, decorating, cooking, cleaning, sending cards and attending parties. Add to this list all the things that many of us need to do to prepare for Christmas in our congregations — choir rehearsals, caroling, the Christmas pageant, etc. All this busyness can leave us bushed!

However, I suggest that there is something right about these preparations. Certainly, we can all get too busy, spend too much money and fill our calendars with too many things. But there is an “Advent instinct” which recognizes that we do all these things in order to celebrate something much bigger than these things — the most profound Mystery of all history. God became a man. The eternal Word of God became human flesh and blood and lived among us (John 1). Giving Christmas gifts is simply a faint shadow of remembering the Greatest Gift ever given.

Christmas is the good news that we are not alone in the darkness which shrouds this world.  There is a Light that pierces the darkness. There is a joy that is deeper than our sadness. If this is true (and I believe it is), then let’s sing, decorate and party. But don’t stop there! On this holy night, let us worship, bow down and receive anew the God who wraps Himself in human flesh and offers Himself to us as sheer Gift.

All our preparations for Christmas are not in vain if they are motivated by an Advent instinct.   The instinct which recognizes the holy Mystery of the Incarnation.  I wish you all a very Merry Christmas filled with mystery, wonder and joy.

Prayer: Almighty God, tonight we celebrate the Mystery of the advent of Your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. Send now His Holy Spirit into our hearts. Enable us to receive Him always with joy and thanksgiving. Let the Light of this holy night shine into the darkness of our lives and into the darkness of this whole world. In the blessed name of the Father, the + Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Advent Action: It’s Christmas Eve. Take some time prayerfully to read and reflect upon John 1.

 

Devotion written by the Rev. Dr. Eric Riesen

Watch a video recording of the devotional daily: facebook.com/thenalc

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 a challenging year 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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