Advent Devotion for December 6
In lighting the candle, the candle lighter says: “Where is the Messiah supposed to be born?”
SCRIPTURE: Micah 5:2-5
1 But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah,
are only a small village among all the people of Judah.
2 Yet a ruler of Israel,
whose origins are in the distant past,
will come from you on my behalf.
3 The people of Israel will be abandoned to their enemies
until the woman in labor gives birth.
Then at last his fellow countrymen
will return from exile to their own land.
4 And he will stand to lead his flock with the Lord’s strength,
in the majesty of the name of the Lord his God.
Then his people will live there undisturbed,
for he will be highly honored around the world.
5 And he will be the source of peace.
SCRIPTURE: Matthew 2:1-6
2 Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the reign of King Herod. About that time some wise men from eastern lands arrived in Jerusalem, asking, 2 “Where is the newborn king of the Jews? We saw his star as it rose, and we have come to worship him.”
3 King Herod was deeply disturbed when he heard this, as was everyone in Jerusalem. 4 He called a meeting of the leading priests and teachers of religious law and asked, “Where is the Messiah supposed to be born?”
5 “In Bethlehem in Judea,” they said, “for this is what the prophet wrote:
6 ‘And you, O Bethlehem in the land of Judah,
are not least among the ruling cities of Judah,
for a ruler will come from you
who will be the shepherd for my people Israel.’”
MUSIC: O Little Town of Bethlehem - St. Paul’s Cathedral Choir (YouTube)
SOME THOUGHTS: These Scriptures are among the more familiar prophecies. Like Isaiah, Micah lived about 700 years before Christ. In describing what was about to happen, he also declared what lay ahead in the future. Bethlehem, though small, was a most significant village because, among other things, King David was born in Bethlehem, a city of kings. Judah was the tribe through whom the Shepherd of God’s people, the Messiah, would come. Furthermore, the Ruler’s origins would come from “the distant past.” In some places in Scripture, Jesus is referred to as “The Ancient of Days.” Can you imagine someone in the year 1316 AD predicting the name of the town you would be born in, name your relatives, as well as predicting what you would be doing as your occupation? Such is the case here. “The house of bread,” the meaning of the Hebrew name, Bethlehem, was significant because born in that little village was the One who is the “Bread of Life.” What strikes me in this whole passage regarding Bethlehem is that King Herod had the information regarding the birthplace of the Messiah, but it was not until someone else pointed it out that he became concerned. I have to think of today’s world where the Scriptures tell us so clearly who the “Bread of Life” is and what is going to happen, yet the world is sadly oblivious. The season of Advent is the reminder, the proclaimer, that the Day of Judgment will surely come. Let us remind those around us of the whole story and significance of the Nativity. The birth of Jesus only scratches the surface.
PRAYER: Almighty God, give us grace that we may cast away the works of darkness, and put upon us the armor of light, now in the time of this mortal life in which thy Son Jesus Christ came to visit us in great humility; that in the last day, when he shall come again in his glorious majesty to judge both the quick and the dead, we may rise to the life immortal, through him who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, now and ever. Amen. — Book of Common Prayer, 1928