1:57 Now the time came for Elizabeth to give birth, and she bore a son. 58 And her neighbors and relatives heard that the Lord had shown great mercy to her, and they rejoiced with her. 59 And on the eighth day they came to circumcise the child. And they would have called him Zechariah after his father, 60 but his mother answered, “No; he shall be called John.” 61 And they said to her, “None of your relatives is called by this name.” 62 And they made signs to his father, inquiring what he wanted him to be called. 63 And he asked for a writing tablet and wrote, ”His name is John.” And they all wondered. 64 And immediately his mouth was opened and his tongue loosed, and he spoke, blessing God. 65 And fear came on all their neighbors. And all these things were talked about through all the hill country of Judea, 66 and all who heard them laid them up in their hearts, saying, “What then will this child be?” For the hand of the Lord was with him. 67 And his father Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesied, saying, 68 ”Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for he has visited and redeemed his people.”
– Luke 1:57-68
The final verse of today’s text is the first verse in what is often referred to as the Benedictus. From the Latin word meaning “blessed,” the Benedictus is a word of blessing offered to God. More specifically, the words of the text form what we speak about as the Benedictus Dominus Deus: “Blessed be the Lord God.”
In this case, the Benedictus is a word of blessing to the Lord God offered by Zechariah, the father of John the Baptist. It comes at a time, in Zechariah’s life, in which such a word of blessing was the natural result of what had just happened.
If you remember the story, earlier in this opening chapter of Luke’s Gospel, while Zechariah was on duty in the Temple as a priest, an angel of the Lord appeared to him with some surprising news. He and his wife, Elizabeth, who were both old and who had been unable to have children, were told that God had heard their prayer. A child would be born. He would go before the Lord to prepare His way. And his name was to be John.
When Zechariah heard the news, he began to question the angel. “How can I be sure? I am an old man and my wife is well along in years?”
The angel replied, “I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I have been sent to speak to you and tell you this good news. And now you will be silent and not able to speak until the day this happens, because you did not believe my words, which will come true at their appointed time.”
And so it was that Elizabeth became pregnant and nine months later gave birth to a son. And so it was that the father, Zechariah, was unable to speak, just as the angel had declared … until that day when it was time to give the child a name. Before he was to be circumcised, the child’s name was to be made known. As was the custom of the Jewish people, everyone thought that the child would be named Zechariah, after his father.
But that was not the name they were told by the angel to give. The angel had said that his name was to be John. And so, that is what Elizabeth said. And when asked, that is also what his father Zechariah wrote. And from that moment on, “his mouth was opened, and his tongue set free, and he began to speak, in a Benedictus, praising God.”
For Zechariah, who was chosen by God to be the father of the forerunner of Jesus, a song of praise was a natural response. God’s word had been fulfilled. His promise to Zechariah and Elizabeth had come to pass. What better way to say thanks, than to offer his words and his life in a song of praise.
Two thousand years have come and gone since Zechariah first heard the angel’s words in the Temple. Since that time, also, John the Baptist was born, his ministry pointed to Jesus, and you and I, through the life, death and resurrection of Christ have been blessed.
What better way for us to respond than to offer our own word of thanks and praise to God. And what better response to make than to open our own mouths and to use our own tongues and to let the world know, just like Zechariah did, what God has done for us in Jesus.
May this day be one in which we declare our own words of Benedictus Dominus Deus, “Blessed be the Lord God,” to the God who has saved us and blessed us eternally in His Son.
Prayer: Benedictus Dominus Deus: “Blessed be the Lord God,” who has planned and promised and fulfilled His saving work for us in Jesus. Amen.
Advent Action: Spend time in prayer, thanking God for the abundance of His mercy, for the gracious love shown to us in Jesus, and for the blessings He has poured upon us and fulfilled for us in Christ.
Devotion written by the Rev. Dr. Daniel Selbo
Watch a video recording of the devotional daily: facebook.com/thenalc
Genesis 1:1 (Listen)
The Creation of the World
1:1 In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.
2 Thessalonians 1:5–12 (Listen)
The Judgment at Christ’s Coming
5 This is evidence of the righteous judgment of God, that you may be considered worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are also suffering—6 since indeed God considers it just to repay with affliction those who afflict you, 7 and to grant relief to you who are afflicted as well as to us, when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels 8 in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. 9 They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might, 10 when he comes on that day to be glorified in his saints, and to be marveled at among all who have believed, because our testimony to you was believed. 11 To this end we always pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of his calling and may fulfill every resolve for good and every work of faith by his power, 12 so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Luke 1:57–68 (Listen)
The Birth of John the Baptist
57 Now the time came for Elizabeth to give birth, and she bore a son. 58 And her neighbors and relatives heard that the Lord had shown great mercy to her, and they rejoiced with her. 59 And on the eighth day they came to circumcise the child. And they would have called him Zechariah after his father, 60 but his mother answered, “No; he shall be called John.” 61 And they said to her, “None of your relatives is called by this name.” 62 And they made signs to his father, inquiring what he wanted him to be called. 63 And he asked for a writing tablet and wrote, “His name is John.” And they all wondered. 64 And immediately his mouth was opened and his tongue loosed, and he spoke, blessing God. 65 And fear came on all their neighbors. And all these things were talked about through all the hill country of Judea, 66 and all who heard them laid them up in their hearts, saying, “What then will this child be?” For the hand of the Lord was with him.
67 And his father Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesied, saying,
68 “Blessed be the Lord God of Israel,
for he has visited and redeemed his people
Psalm 24 (Listen)
The King of Glory
A Psalm of David.
24:1 The earth is the LORD’s and the fullness thereof,
the world and those who dwell therein,
2 for he has founded it upon the seas
and established it upon the rivers.
3 Who shall ascend the hill of the LORD?
And who shall stand in his holy place?
4 He who has clean hands and a pure heart,
who does not lift up his soul to what is false
and does not swear deceitfully.
5 He will receive blessing from the LORD
and righteousness from the God of his salvation.
6 Such is the generation of those who seek him,
who seek the face of the God of Jacob. Selah
7 Lift up your heads, O gates!
And be lifted up, O ancient doors,
that the King of glory may come in.
8 Who is this King of glory?
The LORD, strong and mighty,
the LORD, mighty in battle!
9 Lift up your heads, O gates!
And lift them up, O ancient doors,
that the King of glory may come in.
10 Who is this King of glory?
The LORD of hosts,
he is the King of glory! Selah
Psalm 150 (Listen)
Let Everything Praise the Lord
150:1 Praise the LORD!
Praise God in his sanctuary;
praise him in his mighty heavens!
2 Praise him for his mighty deeds;
praise him according to his excellent greatness!
3 Praise him with trumpet sound;
praise him with lute and harp!
4 Praise him with tambourine and dance;
praise him with strings and pipe!
5 Praise him with sounding cymbals;
praise him with loud clashing cymbals!
6 Let everything that has breath praise the LORD!
Praise the LORD!
Psalm 25 (Listen)
Teach Me Your Paths
25:1 To you, O LORD, I lift up my soul.
2 O my God, in you I trust;
let me not be put to shame;
let not my enemies exult over me.
3 Indeed, none who wait for you shall be put to shame;
they shall be ashamed who are wantonly treacherous.
4 Make me to know your ways, O LORD;
teach me your paths.
5 Lead me in your truth and teach me,
for you are the God of my salvation;
for you I wait all the day long.
6 Remember your mercy, O LORD, and your steadfast love,
for they have been from of old.
7 Remember not the sins of my youth or my transgressions;
according to your steadfast love remember me,
for the sake of your goodness, O LORD!
8 Good and upright is the LORD;
therefore he instructs sinners in the way.
9 He leads the humble in what is right,
and teaches the humble his way.
10 All the paths of the LORD are steadfast love and faithfulness,
for those who keep his covenant and his testimonies.
11 For your name’s sake, O LORD,
pardon my guilt, for it is great.
12 Who is the man who fears the LORD?
Him will he instruct in the way that he should choose.
13 His soul shall abide in well-being,
and his offspring shall inherit the land.
14 The friendship of the LORD is for those who fear him,
and he makes known to them his covenant.
15 My eyes are ever toward the LORD,
for he will pluck my feet out of the net.
16 Turn to me and be gracious to me,
for I am lonely and afflicted.
17 The troubles of my heart are enlarged;
bring me out of my distresses.
18 Consider my affliction and my trouble,
and forgive all my sins.
19 Consider how many are my foes,
and with what violent hatred they hate me.
20 Oh, guard my soul, and deliver me!
Let me not be put to shame, for I take refuge in you.
21 May integrity and uprightness preserve me,
for I wait for you.
22 Redeem Israel, O God,
out of all his troubles.
Psalm 110 (Listen)
Sit at My Right Hand
A Psalm of David.
110:1 The LORD says to my Lord:
“Sit at my right hand,
until I make your enemies your footstool.”
2 The LORD sends forth from Zion
your mighty scepter.
Rule in the midst of your enemies!
3 Your people will offer themselves freely
on the day of your power,
in holy garments;
from the womb of the morning,
the dew of your youth will be yours.
4 The LORD has sworn
and will not change his mind,
“You are a priest forever
after the order of Melchizedek.”
5 The Lord is at your right hand;
he will shatter kings on the day of his wrath.
6 He will execute judgment among the nations,
filling them with corpses;
he will shatter chiefs
over the wide earth.
7 He will drink from the brook by the way;
therefore he will lift up his head.
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.