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Posts Tagged ‘Nativity’

He answered and said, Lo, I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire, and they have no hurt; and the form of the fourth is like the Son of GOD. – (Daniel 3: 25)

Lord God, heavenly Father, You rescued Daniel from the lions’ den and the three young men from the fiery furnace through the miraculous intervention of an angel. Save us now through the presence of Jesus, the Lion of Judah, who has conquered all our enemies through His blood and taken away all our sins as the Lamb of God, who now reigns from His heavenly throne with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

Daniel the prophet and the Three Young Men—Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego—were among the leaders of the people of Judah who were taken into captivity in Babylon. Even in that foreign land they remained faithful to the one true God in their piety, prayer, and life. On account of such steadfast faithfulness in the face of pagan idolatry, the Three Young Men were thrown into a fiery furnace, from which they were saved by the Lord and emerged unharmed (Daniel 3). Similarly, Daniel was thrown into a pit of lions, from which he also was saved (Daniel 6). Blessed in all their endeavors by the Lord—and in spite of the hostility of some—Daniel and the Three Young Men were promoted to positions of leadership among the Babylonians (Dan 2:48–493:306:28). To Daniel in particular the Lord revealed the interpretation of dreams and signs that were given to King Nebuchadnezzar and King Belshazzar (Daniel 2, 4, 5). To Daniel himself the Lord gave visions of the end times. Source: Treasury of Daily Prayer

Reflection:  The response of rulers to Daniel and his three companions was either to slap them on the back in thanks or slap them into prison in rage.  The reason behind both responses was they did not “go with the flow”.  In the opening chapters, we find out they did not eat the King’s food, that is, they kept kosher. Later, they did not bow to the king’s false god.  In other words, Daniel and the 3 young men obeyed in faith the Commandments as in the 1st Commandment: You shall have no other gods before you.  I do not think they so kept the Commandments in order to be saved but they were called and saved to do so.  Recently I read someone has come out with a “Christian diet” shamelessly using “Daniel’s diet”:  Daniel and his three friends did not so refrain because of their waistlines!  Also us as Christians are so saved by the Lord to delight  in His commandments. As we are called to follow in the Way who is Jesus Christ, He calls us to be different than the world.  We can not bow to the gods of this world:  mammon, Caesar, self.  We live in a “selfie” world. These verses from the Sermon on the Mount, St. Matthew 5: 13, is the Lord’s vocation to His people to so live:

“You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet.

G. K. Chesterton was so right when he wrote this on  the Matthew Gospel verse above:

Christ did not tell his apostles that they were only the excellent people, or the only excellent people, but that they were the exceptional people; the permanently incongruous and incompatible people; and the text about the salt of the earth is really as sharp and shrewd and tart as the taste of salt. It is because they were the exceptional people, that they must not lose their exceptional quality. “If salt lose its savour, wherewith shall it be salted?” … If the world grows too worldly, it can be rebuked by the Church; but if the Church grows too worldly, it cannot be adequately rebuked for worldliness by the world.

Our Lord’s  dire warning is clear: go with the flow and we are no more.  Salt does it’s thing because it is different from that which it seasons and preserves. Advent is filled with people who did not go with the flow:  John the Baptist, Elizabeth and Zechariah, Simeon, Anna, Joseph and Mary.   They all knew, in varying degree, the fiery furnace and the Son of God, with no dross to be burned away came into the furnace with us, our own dross of trespasses to be burned.   Not going with the peer groups of the world is hard and this is why we are encouraged this day by Daniel and the Three Young Men.

Post-Script:  In an apocryphal song, the three young men sang in the fiery furnace the following, adapted for liturgical usage.  In the Lutheran Church it is sung during Easter Vigil when all creation waits for the last revelation of all God’s children in Jesus Christ (Romans 8:19).  Even if we do not praise the Lord, His creation does! (see Psalm 148)

All you works of the Lord, bless the Lord; Praise Him and magnify Him forever!

You angels of the Lord, bless the Lord; You heavens, bless the Lord; Praise Him and magnify Him forever!

You sun and moon, bless the Lord; You stars of heaven, bless the Lord; You showers and dews, bless the Lord; Praise Him and magnify Him forever!

You winds of God, bless the Lord; You fire and heat, bless the Lord; You winter and summer, bless the Lord; Praise Him and magnify Him forever!

You dews and frost, bless the Lord; You frost and cold, bless the Lord; You ice and snow, bless the Lord; Praise Him and magnify Him forever!

You nights and days, bless the Lord; You light and darkness, bless the Lord; You lightning and clouds, bless the Lord; Praise Him and magnify Him forever!

Let the earth bless the Lord; You mountains and hills, bless the Lord; All you green things that grow on the earth, bless the Lord; Praise Him and magnify Him forever!

You wells and springs, bless the Lord; You rivers and seas, bless the Lord; You whales and all who move in the waters, bless the Lord; Praise Him and magnify Him forever!

All you birds of the air, bless the Lord; All you beasts and cattle, bless the Lord; All you children of mortals, bless the Lord; Praise Him and magnify Him forever!

You people of God, bless the Lord; You priests of the Lord, bless the Lord; You servants of the Lord, bless the Lord; Praise Him and magnify Him forever!

You spirits and souls of the righteous, bless the Lord; You pure and humble of heart, bless the Lord; Let us bless the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, Praise Him and magnify Him forever!

Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to Holy Spirit;
As it was in the beginning, is now, and will be forever.
Amen.
 

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The Old Testament Reading for the Day: Isaiah 7:10-14

The Gospel Reading for the Day: Luke 1:26-38

In exactly nine months from today, March 25th, is Christmas.  On this day the Church rejoices that the angel Gabriel announced (and so, annunciation) that the Virgin Mary would conceive and bear a Child:  the Son of God.  When Gabriel announced this, Mary responded, Let it be according to your word.  So the Annunciation is the Incarnation. The Word became flesh.  The Feast of the Annunciation is always in Lent.  His birth is our death, our death to sin.  His resurrection is our life, our life in Him. There is more than one annunciation. We will hear again the glad announcement, even more wondrous than the first to Mary:  He is risen! We will yet again the last Annunciation:  He comes again! In the midst of death, there is life (Luther).  St. Gregory Thaumaturgus  (died circa A.D. 270-275) wrote this on the Annunciation:

Most of the holy fathers and patriarchs and prophets desired to see Him with their own eyes, but did not. Some of them by visions beheld Him in type, and darkly; others, again, were privileged to hear the divine voice through the medium of the cloud and were favored with the vision of holy angels. But only to Mary the pure virgin did the archangel Gabriel manifest himself in brilliant light, bringing her the glad address, “Hail, you who are highly favored!” And thus she received the Word, and soon, in time, through the body’s natural process, she gave birth to the dear Pearl. Come, then, you, too, dearly beloved, and let us chant the melody that has been taught us by the inspired harp of David and say, “Arise, 0 Lord, into Your rest, You, and the ark of Your sanctuary.” For the holy Virgin is truly an ark, made with gold both within and without, who has received the whole treasury of the Holy of Holies.

For the holy Virgin is truly an ark…the Ark of the Covenant, not made by human hands.  As it was written when Israel entered into the land of promise:

Behold, the ark of the covenant of the Lord of all the earth is passing over before you into the Jordan. Joshua 3:11

The Virgin Mary for nine months was the first Church for our Savior was in her womb.  The first Ark of the Covenant was eventually placed in the Temple in Jerusalem.  When the Christ is born, He becomes the true Temple, not in Jerusalem or Gerizim (see John 4: 20-24) or any man-made ‘mecca’.  In John 2, when the disciples marveled upon seeing the Temple in Jerusalem, Jesus responded that tear this Temple down and in three days I will raise it.  Others standing nearby were aghast and said it took 46 years to build it and you will rebuild in three days!  

But he was speaking about the temple of his body. 22When therefore he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this, and they believed the Scripture and the word that Jesus had spoken.

He promised that as 2 or 3 are gathered together in His Name, so He is there (Matthew 18:20).  He said, This is My Body and This is My Blood. Even the Piovano Community Room at the Rockbridge Library is where and when we are called to so meet and are so met by Him. Christ our Ark can alone keep us afloat in these tumultuous seas (see Matthew 8:27 and  Ephesians 4:13-15),  This is our Annunciation of His grace and peace for us sinners. He was announced to us when we were baptized.  The Church needs the Annunciation of the Word weekly and daily. This then so leads to the  reason of the Incarnation as so well said by St.Gregory Thaumaturgos:

Mary laid in a manger Him who sits above the cherubim and is praised by myriads of angels. In the manger set apart for irrational animals, the Word of God lay, in order that He might impart to men, who are really irrational by free choice, the true reason and understanding. In the manger from which cattle eat was laid the heavenly Bread, in order that He might provide men who live like the beasts of the earth with spiritual food.

O  Lord, as we have known the incarnation of Your Son Jesus Christ by the message of the angel to the Virgin Mary, so by the message of His cross and passion bring us to the glory of His resurrection; through the same Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.  (The Prayer of the Day)

 

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Grandma got run over by…a camel?!  I read no one was hurt.  Enjoy!

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