12.13 Advent Devotional
Hark! The Herald Angels Sing
Hail the heaven-born Prince of Peace!
Hail the sun of righteousness!
Light and life to all he brings,
risen with healing in his wings.
Mild he lays his glory by,
born that we no more may die,
born to raise us from the earth,
born to give us second birth.
Hark! The herald angels sing,
“Glory to the newborn king!”
Scripture - Isaiah 42:1-9
Here is my servant, whom I uphold,
my chosen, in whom my soul delights;
I have put my spirit upon him;
he will bring forth justice to the nations.
2 He will not cry or lift up his voice,
or make it heard in the street;
3 a bruised reed he will not break,
and a dimly burning wick he will not quench;
he will faithfully bring forth justice.
4 He will not grow faint or be crushed
until he has established justice in the earth;
and the coastlands wait for his teaching.
5 Thus says God, the Lord,
who created the heavens and stretched them out,
who spread out the earth and what comes from it,
who gives breath to the people upon it
and spirit to those who walk in it:
6 I am the Lord, I have called you in righteousness,
I have taken you by the hand and kept you;
I have given you as a covenant to the people,[a]
a light to the nations,
7 to open the eyes that are blind,
to bring out the prisoners from the dungeon,
from the prison those who sit in darkness.
8 I am the Lord, that is my name;
my glory I give to no other,
nor my praise to idols.
9 See, the former things have come to pass,
and new things I now declare;
before they spring forth,
I tell you of them.
Devotion - The servant, a light to the nations
Christmas always brings me cherished childhood memories. Almost all the children who grew up with me in Calabar, in the Cross-River State of Nigeria, looked forward to Christmas from January because they did not want the exciting events of Christmas to ever come to an end. For some of the children, Christmas day was the only time they could enjoy the delicious dish of rice and chicken stew! Families who couldn’t afford it, were free to visit friends, neighbors and relations who would generously feed them. No invites were required! The rich shared with the poor in the spirit of Christmas.
It was at Christmas that many children received new sets of clothing to wear to church and last them all year round. So, Sunday school was colorful as the children showed off their new dresses and compared notes. On one occasion, a little boy who happened to listen to the teacher’s graphic description of the baby in the manger, screamed and burst into tears. It turned out he was scared and feared the cows might trample the baby Jesus! After the teacher explained to him the cows were friendly and the boy had grown up into a kind teacher who loved children, the boy dramatically burst into laughter and clapped his hands. We all cheered along.
We could hardly wait for the service to be over as we were excitedly waiting to watch the masquerades, dance groups and parades that filled the streets directly after church service. Everybody celebrated the birth of Christ, those who went to church and those who did not, those who were Christians and those who were not. There was neither Jew nor Gentile!
Personally, what I cherished most was singing the carols. The choir visited families on Christmas Eve to share Christmas carols. One family was so appreciative he blessed the choir with a gift of a new set of choir robes! The choir in my high school was greatly acclaimed in the community and beyond. The special arrangement of familiar carols like, “See in yonder manger lies…” was intriguing. As the notes hit the ceiling, it felt as if the Holy Ghost was descending. It was magnificent and gave me goose bumps. Within this context of celebration and outpouring of love, kindness and generosity – where there was neither Jew nor Gentile, would we not live in a glorious and heavenly community if every day was Christmas? MERRY CHRISTMAS!
Mrs. Nnenna Nduka
Bethlehem Morning, performed by Gina Hayek, composed by Morris Chapman