Emmanuel. God with us. Jesus. God is my salvation. God came to be with us, to be one of us, in order to save us. A sacrilegious idea, according to many! But God has never conformed His plans to our ideas of what is right. We are incapable of saving ourselves, so God came down to do it for us:

The LORD… saw that there was no one, He was appalled that there was no one to intervene; so His own arm worked salvation for Him, and His own righteousness sustained Him. Isaiah 59:16

As we read this week, the LORD has bared His holy arm before the eyes of all the nations, and all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of our God. This baby Jesus is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of His nature, and He upholds the universe by the word of His power.

The glory of God came to fill a humble manger, and then a cross – and we have seen his glory. We cannot comprehend the mystery of the incarnation, how God could come and dwell with us. We do not have to understand – our part is only to repent and believe.

For this is what the high and lofty One says – he who lives forever, whose name is holy: I live in a high and holy place, but also with him who is contrite and lowly in spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly and to revive the heart of the contrite. Isaiah 57:15

The Old Testament lesson is from the book of Isaiah, chapter 52, verses 6-10:

Therefore my people shall know my name. Therefore in that day they shall know that it is I who speak; here I am.”

How beautiful upon the mountains
    are the feet of him who brings good news,
who publishes peace, who brings good news of happiness,
    who publishes salvation,
    who says to Zion, “Your God reigns.”
The voice of your watchmen—they lift up their voice;
    together they sing for joy;
for eye to eye they see
    the return of the Lord to Zion.
Break forth together into singing,
    you waste places of Jerusalem,
for the Lord has comforted his people;
    he has redeemed Jerusalem.
The Lord has bared his holy arm
    before the eyes of all the nations,
and all the ends of the earth shall see
    the salvation of our God.

The Epistle lesson is from Hebrews, chapter 1, verses 1-12:

Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, having become as much superior to angels as the name he has inherited is more excellent than theirs.

For to which of the angels did God ever say,

“You are my Son,
    today I have begotten you”?

Or again,

“I will be to him a father,
    and he shall be to me a son”?

And again, when he brings the firstborn into the world, he says,

“Let all God’s angels worship him.”

Of the angels he says,

“He makes his angels winds,
    and his ministers a flame of fire.”

But of the Son he says,

“Your throne, O God, is forever and ever,
    the scepter of uprightness is the scepter of your kingdom.
You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness;
therefore God, your God, has anointed you
    with the oil of gladness beyond your companions.”

And,

“You, Lord, laid the foundation of the earth in the beginning,
    and the heavens are the work of your hands;
they will perish, but you remain;
    they will all wear out like a garment,
like a robe you will roll them up,
    like a garment they will be changed.
But you are the same,
    and your years will have no end.”

The Gospel for the Nativity of Our Lord is from John, chapter 1, verses 1-14:

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness, to bear witness about the light, that all might believe through him. He was not the light, but came to bear witness about the light.

The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.

Icon of Christ’s Resurrection [Pixabay license]

First Lutheran Church of Boston Devotional Readings

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