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December 24 Devotional

Come to Stillness: Take a few minutes to allow your mind and heart to be still before God.

Opening Prayer: Lord Jesus Christ,
Thou Son of the Most High, Prince of Peace, be born into our world. Wherever there is war in this world, wherever there is pain, wherever there is loneliness, wherever there is no hope, come, thou long-expected one, with healing in thy wings.

Holy Child, whom the shepherds and the kings and the dumb beasts adored, be born again. Wherever there is boredom, wherever there is fear of failure, wherever there is temptation too strong to resist, wherever there is bitterness of heart, come, thou blessed one, with healing in thy wings.

Saviour, be born in each of us who raises his face to thy face, not knowing fully who he is or who thou art, knowing only that thy love is beyond his knowing and that no other has the power to make him whole. Come, Lord Jesus, to each who longs for thee even though he has forgotten thy name. Come quickly. Amen. (The Hungering Dark by Frederick Buechner)

Scripture Reading for the Day: Isaiah 9:1-7

Reading for Reflection: The only worry children have about Christmas is whether or not they can possibly wait for it to arrive. Perhaps this is because only kids seem to understand the secret of Christmas: It isn’t really about giving; it is about receiving.

According to the Gospels, the only person giving at Christmas is God. Everyone else is simply receiving this silent, holy miracle that breaks into the night. Much later a few wise men show up with gifts, but their giving is only as an act of worship in response to what God has given us.

Christmas is a poignant illustration of a dynamic we live with every day of our lives: we spend most of our lives trying to make things happen for ourselves and for the people we love. But life is not reduced to what you give or know or achieve. Nor is it reduced to your mistakes, your failures, or your sin. Life isn’t even defined by whom you love. Rather, it is defined by the God who loves you. In other words, you are not the central character—not even of your own life’s story. This is not meant to demean you; it is meant to set you free. (Sacred Thirst by M. Craig Barnes)

Reflection and Listening: silent and written

Hymn for the Day

Prayer: for the church, for others, for myself

Tim N. is involved in evangelism and discipleship in a Creative Access country, prayerfully communicating God’s Word to individuals and families and asking God to give them His salvation through Jesus Christ. He is also meeting with believers who are younger in their faith for Bible study, mutual encouragement, and prayer. Pray today for Tim’s non-believing friends, neighbors and students at the language school that the truth of God’s Word would find good soil in their hearts and they would believe in God’s finished work of salvation in Christ.

Echo Resources is a ministry to ministers. ER’s vision is for ministers to live in deeper intimacy with Christ, family and community, and to thus have greater effect for God’s Kingdom. Pray today for Buddy Odom as he leads this ministry.

Closing Prayer: Gracious, loving and merciful God, on this Christmas Eve, as the light of your Word penetrates our hearts, as we are reminded of the gift of life and faith, as the glories of the heavenly hosts are echoed in our church, we open ourselves up to your Spirit and give you thanks. We are grateful, Lord Jesus, that your story has become our story, and we celebrate your birth.

Continue, we pray, to instill in us a profound sense of your abiding presence, and help us to take to heart the wonder of your love, that we may walk in your ways and delight in your will.

Help us, Lord God, to be the faithful, gracious, loving, giving and forgiving people you would have us be. - Rev. Dr. Sean B. Murray