Luke 1:39-48, 56; 2:22-38 (NIV)

39 At that time Mary got ready and hurried to a town in the hill country of Judea, 40 where she entered Zechariah’s home and greeted Elizabeth. 41 When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. 42 In a loud voice she exclaimed: “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear! 43 But why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? 44 As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. 45 Blessed is she who has believed that what the Lord has said to her will be accomplished!”46 And Mary said: “My soul glorifies the Lord 47 and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, 48 for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant. From now on all generations will call me blessed,

56 Mary stayed with Elizabeth for about three months and then returned home.

22 When the time of their purification according to the Law of Moses had been completed, Joseph and Mary took him to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord 23 (as it is written in the Law of the Lord, “Every firstborn male is to be consecrated to the Lord” ), 24 and to offer a sacrifice in keeping with what is said in the Law of the Lord: “a pair of doves or two young pigeons.” 25 Now there was a man in Jerusalem called Simeon, who was righteous and devout. He was waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. 26 It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. 27 Moved by the Spirit, he went into the temple courts. When the parents brought in the child Jesus to do for him what the custom of the Law required, 28 Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying: 29 “Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you now dismiss your servant in peace. 30 For my eyes have seen your salvation, 31 which you have prepared in the sight of all people, 32 a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel.” 33 The child’s father and mother marveled at what was said about him. 34 Then Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, his mother: “This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, 35 so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your own soul too.” 36 There was also a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was very old; she had lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, 37 and then was a widow until she was eighty-four. She never left the temple but worshiped night and day, fasting and praying. 38 Coming up to them at that very moment, she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem.

Luke 1:48-49 (NIV)

48 for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant. From now on all generations will call me blessed, 49 for the Mighty One has done great things for me– holy is his name.

DEVOTION – Linda Jeffrey (Kentucky)

As a window, I struggle after the holidays.  The family has been together, and I have stayed up too late and entertained too much.  Now I have to go back to work, and the aura of festivity is overtaken by Kentucky’s gray skies.  Yet when I read through the Christmas stories again, I find my spirit renewed.

In particular, I am struck by the bravery and joy of the women of the Christmas narrative.  Upright and devout, Elizabeth had spent a lifetime longing for a child, perhaps wondering if God had forgotten her.  Mary, a young girl full of the excitement of new birth and the dedication of her firstborn son, was taken aback by Simeon’s declaration that a sword would pierce her heart.  Anna the prophetess, whose marriage ended in her husband’s death after only seven years, had spent the rest of her life serving God in the temple at Jerusalem.  And one day, when she was very old, she saw Jesus.

These women were the first to really know – firsthand – about the birth of a Savior.  These women declared God’s goodness and authority though each had endured the agony of unfulfilled dreams.  What examples they are for us in this season!  They overcame personal sorrows and received the best gift of all.

THOUGHT FOR THE DAY: God sends hope into our unfulfilled dreams.

PRAYER: Heavenly Father, this holiday season, draw near to those who are lonely and fill them with your kindness.  In our Savior’s name.  Amen.