Almighty God, you have given us your only-begotten Son to take our nature and be born of the Virgin Mary. Grant that we, having been redeemed and made your children by grace, may daily be renewed by your Holy Spirit; through our Lord Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen. (Book of Common Prayer, 1549)
God of majesty may your Spirit help us to know that in the midst of all that assails us your promise of light and presence through Jesus Christ remains constant and unchanging. Strengthen our faith, bring us your peace, and send us to share both with others. We ask this through your Son, Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord; who reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God now and forever. Amen.
Thoughts on the Readings
The Common Thread
God has clothed us with salvation because he has covered us with himself (Rom 13:14; Gal 3:27). Robed in his righteousness, the Church is given a new name (Rev 3:12-13), the name given to a bride in marriage—his name. For he is our bridegroom and redeemer (Ruth 3:9). We who were once under the condemnation of the law, now live under our redeemer’s wings, adopted into the family of God. Our bridegroom redeemer is the salvation of the whole world, a light to reveal God to the nations.
First Reading - Isaiah 61:10-62:3
See how the land produces its fruit in due season? (Lev 26:4). The faithfulness of the earth is a gift from God. Yet, if the earth is dependable, God is far more faithful. His faithfulness extends beyond the needs of the flesh. He has dressed us in the clothing of salvation, so that we may walk with God in eternity (Rev 3:5). God will make it happen, for he is faithful.
Psalm - Psalm 111:1-10
Praise the Lord for his works: food, land, and redemption to name a few mentioned in our Psalm. Having sent redemption to his people (Psa 111:9), one must agree with Luther when he stated, “the ‘great works of the Lord’ are the church of the faithful” (Works, vol. 11, p374). The Lord’s great works are remembered among the Israel of God (Gal 6:16); he is praised in the congregation. To clarify Luther, it is not the people who are great; it is the merciful God of their redeeming who is wondrous to behold.
Second Reading - Galatians 4:4-7
At just the right time, God sent sent his Son into the world. God the Son was born of a woman; in other words, God became man. In the fullness of time God became fully man—and yet God. He was also born under the law. There were no special circumstances for the Christ. He lived as all live, so that he might redeem all.
Just as Jesus was sent from the Father, the Spirit proceeded from the Father and the Son. The Holy Spirit is sent into the hearts of gentile believers so that they may speak with or pray to the Father, calling him Abba or Papa, as adopted children. Their adoption into the family of God gives them the right inheritance. They will now receive every good gift previously reserved for the children of Abraham.
Gospel - Luke 2:22-40
The consolation of Israel (Luke 2:25) is an intriguing phrase. Though it does not occur elsewhere in Scripture, the theme certainly does. It is generally connected to the comforting of Israel by returning from captivity in a foreign land. Simeon applies it to the Messiah. Simeon believed the ultimate consolation had come to Israel in the Christ child. The coming of the Lord is the consolation of God’s people. Encourage one another with Simeon’s realization and be at peace (1 Thes 4:18).
Bible Reading Plan for 2018
Download this print ready PDF and distribute to the congregation to encourage daily time in God's Word in 2018.
The fuller reflection, "The Fixed Point," includes an additional Scripture graphic for your use and a quotation from Calvin's Commentary on Hebrews.
This life is a reform of your mind; it is not a remaking of truth to fit your troubled wits. Your direction is what must change. Turn the boat and set your prow to a shore farther than self. Do not fear the course change since that far shore is Christ himself. Fix your eyes upon him and do not waver. No doubt the winds will blow; waves will toss; the heavens will darken. Yet fix your eyes on Christ—not the wind, not the water, not the sky—and the elements will seem as the calm to your peace filled spirit. Test this and see if it is true: when you are troubled, your eyes have wandered from the Shore. Yet the Way is steady, remaining a fixed point, guiding you to his peace on the sea of life, always guiding you home.