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December 26 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: Luke 2:21-35

Reading for Reflection: “And a sword will pierce your own soul too.” Luke 2:35

Surely as Simeon spoke these words to Joseph and Mary, telling them all of the incredible things about their newborn baby, our Savior, this couldn’t just have slipped by unnoticed. Can you imagine how disturbing these words must have been? Can you imagine how disturbing they would be now if someone uttered them to you this very day? “What do you mean a sword will pierce my soul too? What in the world does that look like? And how will it happen? How incredibly painful that sounds. It would be painful enough for a sword to pierce my body, but piercing my soul sounds even worse, like another whole level of pain and suffering altogether.” Just ask those who have experienced it. They know it all too well.

And too. What do you mean by too? Is my newborn baby’s soul going to be pierced by a sword as well? Please, just pierce me and leave this precious little one’s soul in one piece. To have the heart and soul of the one we love pierced is more than I can bear; way worse than if it merely happened to me. But, then again, nobody knows that more than the Father, the One from whom all Fatherhood derives its name. If our souls can be pierced by tragedy, or loss, or desolation, imagine His very own... pierced to the core. Why on earth would God allow his own heart to be pierced? Or even more, his own Son’s? Something beautiful and life-giving must happen in the midst of the piercing: his, Joseph’s, Mary’s, and even ours. But that certainly doesn’t take away the depths of the pain.

So, as excited as Mary and Joseph must’ve been with angels and shepherds and stars, and wise men and gifts and prophesies and such, somehow this one little line must’ve stopped them in their tracks. Surely this strange and awful phrase must’ve lingered in the backs of their minds and disrupted them, at least a little. So as we celebrate the gifts of these twelve days of Christmas, and the incredible Gift given both to us and for us, let us recognize, and embrace - as did Mary and Joseph - the notion that maybe, just maybe, this terribly disrupting little word is somehow meant for us as well.

Reflection and Listening: silent and written

Hymn for the Day

Prayer: for the church, for others, for myself

B. and H. and their two children currently reside in Asia. Pray today for their family as they get settled in a new city where they are working with migrant workers. Pray today for their family as they reach out to new friends to share with them the joy of Christmas.

Family Promise of Knoxville serves families that come into their program “situationally” homeless – something has happened in their lives (job loss, medical conditions, financial problems, or other tough circumstances) to cause them to be homeless. It is not a choice they have made consciously or easily. This organization has created an interfaith network involving 16 “host” congregations and 26 “support” congregations. Pray for the homeless families that Family Promise will reach this month that they may understand the love of Jesus during this Christmas season.

Closing Prayer: Lord, now let Your servant depart in peace as You have promised: for with our own eyes we have seen the Saviour, the One You prepared for all the world to see, the Light to enlighten all the earth, and to bring glory to Your people for evermore. Amen. (Daily Prayer by Robert Benson)