Advent and incarnation meditation, from John Calvin —
The case was certainly desperate, if the Godhead itself did not descend to us, it being impossible for us to ascend. Thus the Son of God behooved to become our Emmanuel, the God with us; and in such a way, that by mutual union his divinity and our nature might be combined; otherwise, neither was the proximity near enough, nor the affinity strong enough, to give us hope that God would dwell with us; so great was the repugnance between our pollution and the spotless purity of God.
Had man remained free from all taint, he was of too humble a condition to penetrate to God without a Mediator. What, then, must it have been, when by fatal ruin he was plunged into death and hell, defiled by so many stains, made loathsome by corruption; in fine, overwhelmed with every curse? It is not without cause, therefore, that Paul, when he would set forth Christ as the Mediator, distinctly declares him to be man. There is, says he, “one Mediator between God and man, the man Christ Jesus,” (1 Timothy 2: 5). He might have called him God, or at least, omitting to call him God he might also have omitted to call him man; but because the Spirit, speaking by his mouth, knew our infirmity, he opportunely provides for it by the most appropriate remedy, setting the Son of God familiarly before us as one of ourselves.
That no one, therefore, may feel perplexed where to seek the Mediator, or by what means to reach him, the Spirit, by calling him man, reminds us that he is near, nay, contiguous to us, inasmuch as he is our flesh. And, indeed, he intimates the same thing in another place, where he explains at greater length that he is not a high priest who “cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin,” (Hebrews 4: 15). The Institutes of the Christian Religion II.12.1
Prayers for the week…
As people of the world: Pray for people all over the world who are in prison for their religious beliefs. Pray that religious freedom would exist in all countries for all religious expression. The sword should not promote or attack religion.
- As neighbors and citizens: Pray for widows and widowers who find themselves celebrating Christmas without the one they loved in the bonds of marriage. Discover a few of these folks among your neighbors or re-discover them among your church pews — and give them some extra love and attention during the holidays. If you have children, take them along on a visit to see these folks for a few minutes of holiday cheer (and caroling, if you can pull that off too!).
- Pray pro-life prayers. Even as Herod sent soldiers into Bethlehem to destroy all the boys under the age of 2, causing a lamentation and great cry to go up, we weep over the evil taking of life in all its forms. Even so, come Lord Jesus. Come, and set all things right.
Pray for the Reformed University Fellowship (RUF) ministry taking place at the University of Arkansas — led by Trey Bundrick:
Trey Bundrick grew up in Huntsville, Ala., before attending Ole Miss where he was converted under the ministry of Reformed University Fellowship. He interned with RUF at the University of Alabama for three years, and then went to Reformed Theological Seminary in Charlotte, graduating with his M.Div. in May of 2012. He and his wife Mary Grace met during his time at RTS and got married in December of 2010. They recently moved to Fayetteville, Ark., to take over the RUF work at the University of Arkansas. He enjoys reading, rock climbing, cycling and, most recently, riding his motorcycle.
Using the 2013 “watchlist” produced by Open Doors, we pray for the persecuted Christians of a different country each week.
Teachers/parents, consider this a great way to introduce geography into the weekly lessons. Show students where the nation is, then pray for Christians in that place.
This week we pray for the Christians of Uganda, which ranks No. 47 on the watchlist.
Although Uganda has an 85 percent Christian majority, Muslims are spread over the whole country. They live in pockets, and in these areas extremists present a serious threat to the church. Local authorities add pressure by not assisting Christians properly, barring them from public office or denying them promotion. There has been a strong push by Muslim leaders to ensure that the majority of lawyers in Uganda are Muslims and have entrenched Islamic family courts (kadhi courts) in the constitution.
- For Muslim-background believers who are most pressurized in Muslim-majority areas
- For the future: the increase in Muslim youth receiving radical teachings is an indicator that in the next five to 10 years Christians may face severe persecution
- That Open Doors’ leadership training seminars will strengthen the church.
Prayer for the nation – focusing this week on Texas. Don’t mess with Texas … but do pray for the citizens of this state. Pray for her churches to be Gospel light.
- Prayers for the PCUSA: Pray for the presbyteries of the Synod of Lakes and Praries: Central Nebraska, Dakota, Des Moines, East Iowa, Homestead, John Knox, Milwaukee, Minnesota Valleys, Missouri River valley, North Central Iowa, Northern Plains, Northern Waters, Prospect Hill, South Dakota, Twin Cities Area and Winnebago.
- Prayers for the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA): the churches of the Georgia Foothills Presbytery.
- Prayers for ECO: A Covenant Order of Evangelical Presbyterians.
- Prayers for The Fellowship of Presbyterians.