Readings and Psalm for December 18, 2022, Fourth Sunday of Advent

Sunday Isaiah prophesies that a young woman will bear a son and name him Emmanuel. The gospel is Matthew’s account of the annunciation and birth of the one named Emmanuel, God-with-us. During these final days of Advent we pray, “O come, O come, Emmanuel,” a beloved hymn based on the O Antiphons, ancient prayers appointed for the seven days preceding Christmas. On this final Sunday of Advent we prepare to celebrate the birth of the one born to save us from the power of sin and death.

Prayer of the Day

Stir up your power, Lord Christ, and come. With your abundant grace and might, free us from the sin that hinders our faith, that eagerly we may receive your promises, for you live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

Readings and Psalm

Isaiah 7:10-16
Psalm 80:1-7, 17-19
Romans 1:1-7
Matthew 1:18-25

First Reading: Isaiah 7:10-16

10The Lord spoke to Ahaz, saying, 11Ask a sign of the Lord your God; let it be deep as Sheol or high as heaven. 12But Ahaz said, I will not ask, and I will not put the Lord to the test. 13Then Isaiah said: “Hear then, O house of David! Is it too little for you to weary mortals, that you weary my God also? 14Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Look, the young woman is with child and shall bear a son, and shall name him Immanuel. 15He shall eat curds and honey by the time he knows how to refuse the evil and choose the good. 16For before the child knows how to refuse the evil and choose the good, the land before whose two kings you are in dread will be deserted.”

Psalm: Psalm 80:1-7, 17-19

1Hear, O Shepherd of Israel, leading Joseph like a flock;
  shine forth, you that are enthroned upon the cherubim.
2In the presence of Ephraim, Benjamin, and Manasseh,
  stir up your strength and come to help us.
3Restore us, O God;
  let your face shine upon us, and we shall be saved.
4O Lord God of hosts,
  how long will your anger fume when your people pray?
5You have fed them with the bread of tears;
  you have given them bowls of tears to drink.
6You have made us the derision of our neighbors,
  and our enemies laugh us to scorn.
7Restore us, O God of hosts;
  let your face shine upon us, and we shall be saved.
17Let your hand be upon the one at your right hand,
  the one you have made so strong for yourself.
18And so will we never turn away from you;
  give us life, that we may call upon your name.
19Restore us, O Lord God of hosts;
  let your face shine upon us, and we shall be saved.

Second Reading: Romans 1:1-7

1Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God, 2which he promised beforehand through his prophets in the holy scriptures, 3the gospel concerning his Son, who was descended from David according to the flesh 4and was declared to be Son of God with power according to the spirit of holiness by resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord, 5through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith among all the Gentiles for the sake of his name, 6including yourselves who are called to belong to Jesus Christ,
7To all God’s beloved in Rome, who are called to be saints:
  Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Gospel: Matthew 1:18-25

18Now the birth of Jesus the Messiah took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been engaged to Joseph, but before they lived together, she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. 19Her husband Joseph, being a righteous man and unwilling to expose her to public disgrace, planned to dismiss her quietly. 20But just when he had resolved to do this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife, for the child conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21She will bear a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” 22All this took place to fulfill what had been spoken by the Lord through the prophet:
23“Look, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son,
  and they shall name him Emmanuel,”
which means, “God is with us.”24When Joseph awoke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him; he took her as his wife, 25but had no marital relations with her until she had borne a son; and he named him Jesus.

Introduction and prayer from sundaysandseasons.com, Copyright © 2022 Augsburg Fortress. All rights reserved. Used by permission under Augsburg Fortress Liturgies Annual License #SAS022632. New Revised Standard Version Bible, Copyright © 1989, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. Revised Common Lectionary, Copyright © 1992 Consultation on Common Texts, admin Augsburg Fortress. Used by permission.

Readings for December 11, 2022, Third Sunday of Advent

A note of joyful expectation marks Sunday’s worship. Isaiah announces that the desert shall rejoice and blossom, and Jesus points to the unexpected and transforming signs of God’s reign. We wait with patience for the coming of the Lord, even as we rejoice at his presence among us this day: in word and holy supper, in church and in our homes, in silent reflection and in works of justice and love. We pray that God would open our eyes and ears to the wonders of Christ’s advent among us.

Prayer of the Day

Stir up the wills of all who look to you, Lord God, and strengthen our faith in your coming, that, transformed by grace, we may walk in your way; through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

Readings and Psalms

Isaiah 35:1-10
Psalm: Luke 1:46b-55
James 5:7-10
Matthew 11:2-11

First Reading: Isaiah 35:1-10

1The wilderness and the dry land shall be glad,
  the desert shall rejoice and blossom;
 like the crocus 2it shall blossom abundantly,
  and rejoice with joy and singing.
 The glory of Lebanon shall be given to it,
  the majesty of Carmel and Sharon.
 They shall see the glory of the Lord,
  the majesty of our God.

3Strengthen the weak hands,
  and make firm the feeble knees.
4Say to those who are of a fearful heart,
  “Be strong, do not fear!
 Here is your God.
  He will come with vengeance,
 with terrible recompense.
  He will come and save you.”

5Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened,
  and the ears of the deaf unstopped;
6then the lame shall leap like a deer,
  and the tongue of the speechless sing for joy.
 For waters shall break forth in the wilderness,
  and streams in the desert;
7the burning sand shall become a pool,
  and the thirsty ground springs of water;
 the haunt of jackals shall become a swamp,
  the grass shall become reeds and rushes.

8A highway shall be there,
  and it shall be called the Holy Way;
 the unclean shall not travel on it,
  but it shall be for God’s people;
  no traveler, not even fools, shall go astray.
9No lion shall be there,
  nor shall any ravenous beast come up on it;
 they shall not be found there,
  but the redeemed shall walk there.
10And the ransomed of the Lord shall return,
  and come to Zion with singing;
 everlasting joy shall be upon their heads;
  they shall obtain joy and gladness,
  and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.

Psalm: Luke 1:46b-55

46bMy soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord,
  47my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
48for you, Lord, have looked with favor on your lowly servant.
  From this day all generations will call me blessed:
49you, the Almighty, have done great things for me
  and holy is your name.
50You have mercy on those who fear you,
  from generation to generation.
51You have shown strength with your arm
  and scattered the proud in their conceit,
52casting down the mighty from their thrones
  and lifting up the lowly.
53You have filled the hungry with good things
  and sent the rich away empty.
54You have come to the aid of your servant Israel,
  to remember the promise of mercy,
55the promise made to our forebears,
  to Abraham and his children forever. 

Second Reading: James 5:7-10

7Be patient, therefore, beloved, until the coming of the Lord. The farmer waits for the precious crop from the earth, being patient with it until it receives the early and the late rains. 8You also must be patient. Strengthen your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is near. 9Beloved, do not grumble against one another, so that you may not be judged. See, the Judge is standing at the doors! 10As an example of suffering and patience, beloved, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord.

Gospel: Matthew 11:2-11

2When John heard in prison what the Messiah was doing, he sent word by his disciples 3and said to him, “Are you the one who is to come, or are we to wait for another?” 4Jesus answered them, “Go and tell John what you hear and see: 5the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor have good news brought to them. 6And blessed is anyone who takes no offense at me.”
7As they went away, Jesus began to speak to the crowds about John: “What did you go out into the wilderness to look at? A reed shaken by the wind? 8What then did you go out to see? Someone dressed in soft robes? Look, those who wear soft robes are in royal palaces. 9What then did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. 10This is the one about whom it is written,
 ‘See, I am sending my messenger ahead of you,
  who will prepare your way before you.’
11Truly I tell you, among those born of women no one has arisen greater than John the Baptist; yet the least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.”

Introduction and prayer copyright © 2022 Augsburg Fortress. All rights reserved. Used by permission under Augsburg Fortress Liturgies Annual License #SAS022632. New Revised Standard Version Bible, Copyright © 1989, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.  Revised Common Lectionary, Copyright © 1992 Consultation on Common Texts, admin Augsburg Fortress. Used by permission.

Amnesty International Write for Rights 2022

Write for Rights is Amnesty International’s largest annual Human Rights campaign, held throughout December to mark International Human Rights Day on December 10th.   During this season of Advent and throughout the year, many people wait in despair and without hope, often unjustly imprisoned.  These people are Prisoners of Conscience.  Jesus was a Prisoner of Conscience as he so often spoke out for Human Rights.  As people of God, we have an opportunity and a responsibility to be a voice for those who have no voice by writing letters on their behalf.  Through the power of collective action, these letters convince government officials to free people unjustly imprisoned and to end other abuses.   For the past 12 years, during the Advent Season, our Social Ministry Committee has sponsored a letter-writing campaign for members of the congregation to write letters on behalf of, and personally to prisoners of conscience.   These are letters of mercy (solidarity to the individual) and justice (to government officials for the release of the person).

To those who picked up a packet, thank you!  Wendy Manganiello will have more letter packets to share on Sunday, December 11.  If you have questions or would like copies, please contact Wendy. 

Thank you for taking your time during Advent to write and send these letters.  They do make a difference!

Join us, Thursdays, December 1, 8, 15, and 22, 2022 for a Soup and Bread Supper at 6 p.m., followed by Holden Evening Prayer, 7 -7:30 p.m.

Join us for a meal at 6 p.m. and then for Holden Evening Prayer from 7:00 – 7:30 p.m.  We will sing, rest, relax, pray, breathe, and dwell in the Word. 

Please consider signing up to contribute to our shared meal of soup, bread, and salad.  You can sign up here or in the Narthex.

We hope you’ll join us!

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