Sunday, December 25, 2023
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The psalmist calls on the natural world, celestial bodies, fire and earth, creatures, and all humanity, to praise God. The voices of Simeon and 84-year-old Anna join the chorus today, recognizing what God is doing in Jesus. Simeon’s song is often sung after communion, for we have seen God’s salvation in the assembled community and have held Jesus in our hands in the bread. Then, like the prophet Anna, we tell of Jesus to all who look for the healing of the world.
Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay .jpg
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First Reading: Isaiah 62:6-12
The prophet invites the people to give God no rest until God reestablishes Jerusalem. In turn, they will receive names full of promise: The Holy People, The Redeemed of the Lord, A City Not Forsaken.
6Upon your walls, O Jerusalem,
I have posted sentinels;
all day and all night
they shall never be silent.
You who remind the Lord,
take no rest,
7and give him no rest
until he establishes Jerusalem
and makes it renowned throughout the earth.
8The Lord has sworn by his right hand
and by his mighty arm:
I will not again give your grain
to be food for your enemies,
and foreigners shall not drink the wine
for which you have labored;
9but those who garner it shall eat it
and praise the Lord,
and those who gather it shall drink it
in my holy courts.
Light dawns for the righteous, and joy for the honest of heart. (Ps. 97:11)
1The Lord reigns; let the earth rejoice;
let the multitude of the isles be glad.
2Clouds and darkness surround the Lord,
righteousness and justice are the foundations of God’s throne.
3Fire goes before the Lord,
burning up enemies on every side.
4Lightnings light up the world;
the earth sees and trembles.
5The mountains melt like wax
before the Lord of all the earth.
6The heavens declare your righteousness, O Lord,
and all the peoples see your glory.
7Confounded be all who worship carved images and delight in false gods!
Bow down before the Lord, all you gods.
8Zion hears and is glad, and the cities of Judah rejoice,
because of your judgments, O Lord.
9For you are the Lord, most high over all the earth;
you are exalted far above all gods.
10You who love the Lord, hate evil!
God guards the lives of the saints and rescues them from the hand | of the wicked.
11Light dawns | for the righteous,
and joy for the honest of heart.
12Rejoice in the Lord, you righteous,
and give thanks to God’s holy name.
Second Reading: Titus 3:4-7
God saves us not because of what we do. Rather, God is a God of mercy and salvation who graciously cleanses us in baptism and renews our lives through the Holy Spirit.
4When the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, 5he saved us, not because of any works of righteousness that we had done, but according to his mercy, through the water of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit. 6This Spirit he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.
Gospel: Luke 2:[1-7] 8-20
The world’s deep night is shattered by the light of God’s new day. The glory of God is revealed to poor shepherds, who share the good news with others.
[1In those days a decree went out from Emperor Augustus that all the world should be registered. 2This was the first registration and was taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria. 3All went to their own towns to be registered. 4Joseph also went from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to the city of David called Bethlehem, because he was descended from the house and family of David. 5He went to be registered with Mary, to whom he was engaged and who was expecting a child. 6While they were there, the time came for her to deliver her child. 7And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in bands of cloth, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.]
8In that region there were shepherds living in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9Then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for see—I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: 11to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord. 12This will be a sign for you: you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger.” 13And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying,
14“Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and on earth peace among those whom he favors!”
15When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go now to Bethlehem and see this thing that has taken place, which the Lord has made known to us.” 16So they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the child lying in the manger. 17When they saw this, they made known what had been told them about this child; 18and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds told them. 19But Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart. 20The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.
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