diligent submission and obedience

image Joseph and Mary traveling the Bethlehem
 
We look to the example of Joseph and Mary 
    who responded to the decree of Caesar Augustus to be taxed,
    obediently placing themselves in subjection under him.
You are our sovereign Lord, the true Augustus Caesar, 
    the one whose kingdom increases and has the power to bless us.
May we diligently come to the place where we can truly pray:
 
“O my God, you only are my Creator and Lord!  
I cast myself down to be entirely subject to your holy will,
    with all that is within me or pertains to me.
Here is my heart, my soul, my body, my spirit.
Here is all I have and am; 
    I cast it all down and offer it as a sacrifice to you, O Lord,
    to make it genuinely submissive to you.
If before now I have resigned this to the world, 
    or if now I have walked according to my own will, oh, not any more, 
    for from now on all that I am is to be subject to your will.
Renew this decision day by day more and more,
    and make me willing and able to follow you in all things, and to be obedient.”
 
Jakob Denner, 1659-1746, German Mennonite pastor and author
 
____________________
 
 
In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) And everyone went to their own town to register.

So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child.
 

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to prepare for your coming

Image by StockSnap from Pixabay  
 
Christ our Advent hope,
bare brown trees,
etched dark across a winter sky,
leaves fallen, rustling,
ground hard and cold,
remind us to prepare for your coming;
remind us to prepare for the time
when the soles of your feet will touch the ground,
when you will become one of us
to be one with us.
 
Karen McIlhappa, 1938 – 2002, Scottish minister of the Iona Community
 
________________________
 
 
And it shall be said,
“Build up, build up, prepare the way,
    remove every obstruction from my people’s way.”
For thus says the One who is high and lifted up,
    who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy:
“I dwell in the high and holy place,
    and also with him who is of a contrite and lowly spirit,
to revive the spirit of the lowly,
    and to revive the heart of the contrite.

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Come, Lord Jesus

Photo by Tim Umphreys on Unsplash  
 
Lord Jesus,
Master of both the light and the darkness,
    send Your Holy Spirit upon our preparations for Christmas.
We who have so much to do seek quiet spaces to hear
    Your voice each day.
We who are anxious over many things look forward to
    Your coming among us.
We who are blessed in so many ways long for
    the complete joy of Your kingdom.
We whose hearts are heavy seek
    the joy of Your presence.
We are Your people, walking in darkness,
    yet seeking the light.
To You we say, ‘Come Lord Jesus!”
Amen
 
Joel Mason
 
__________________________
 
 
He who testifies to these things says, 
    “Surely I am coming soon.” 
Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!
 

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enlighten the blindness of our minds

Photo by Emma on Unsplash  
 
You who send forth the light, 
    create the morning, 
    and make the sun rise on the good and the evil,
enlighten the blindness of our minds 
    with the knowledge of the truth:
Lift up the light of your countenance upon us,
    that in your light we may see light,
    and, at the end, be in the light of grace
    and in the light of glory.
 
Lancelot Andrewes, 1555-1626, English bishop, oversaw the KJV translation
 
_______________________
 
 
Arise, shine, for your light has come,
    and the glory of the Lord rises upon you.
See, darkness covers the earth
    and thick darkness is over the peoples,
but the Lord rises upon you
    and his glory appears over you.
Nations will come to your light,
    and kings to the brightness of your dawn.
 

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watchful for your coming

Photo by Joshua Earle on Unsplash  
 
Righteous one,
to you alone
we lift our souls;
in you alone
we place our trust;
for you alone
we wait all day long.
For you are the God
of our salvation,
abounding in mercy
and steadfast love.
Help us remain alert and watchful
for the coming of your promised one—
the one who comes with power and glory,
the one drawing near
to bring our salvation. 
Amen.
 
Adapted from The Abingdon Worship Annual 2009 © 2008 Abingdon Press
 
______________________
 
 
Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will fulfill the promise I made to the house of Israel and the house of Judah. In those days and at that time I will cause a righteous Branch to spring up for David, and he shall execute justice and righteousness in the land.  In those days Judah will be saved, and Jerusalem will dwell securely. And this is the name by which it will be called: ‘The Lord is our righteousness.’

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