Readings and Psalm for Sunday, December 26, 2021, First Sunday of Christmas

On the first Sunday of Christmas we find the boy Samuel and the boy Jesus, both in the temple, both growing in wisdom and stature and in favor with God and humankind. We too have returned to the house of God “to sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs to God,” who has gifted us with a savior. As the festival continues, “let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts.” It is Christmas, still.

Prayer of the Day

Shine into our hearts the light of your wisdom, O God, and open our minds to the knowledge of your word, that in all things we may think and act according to your good will and may live continually in the light of your Son, Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

Readings and Psalm

1 Samuel 2:18-20, 26
Psalm 148
Colossians 3:12-17
Luke 2:41-52

First Reading: 1 Samuel 2:18-20, 26

18Samuel was ministering before the Lord, a boy wearing a linen ephod. 19His mother used to make for him a little robe and take it to him each year, when she went up with her husband to offer the yearly sacrifice. 20Then Eli would bless Elkanah and his wife, and say, “May the Lord repay you with children by this woman for the gift that she made to the Lord”; and then they would return to their home.
26Now the boy Samuel continued to grow both in stature and in favor with the Lord and with the people.

Psalm: Psalm 148

1Hallelujah! Praise the Lord from the heavens;
  praise God in the heights.
2Praise the Lord, all you angels;
  sing praise, all you hosts of heaven.
3Praise the Lord, sun and moon;
  sing praise, all you shining stars.
4Praise the Lord, heaven of heavens,
  and you waters above the heavens.
5Let them praise the name of the Lord,
  who commanded, and they were created,
6who made them stand fast forever and ever,
  giving them a law that shall not pass away. 
7Praise the Lord from the earth,
  you sea monsters and all deeps;
8fire and hail, snow and fog,
  tempestuous wind, doing God’s will;
9mountains and all hills,
  fruit trees and all cedars;
10wild beasts and all cattle,
  creeping things and flying birds;
11sovereigns of the earth and all peoples,
  princes and all rulers of the world;
12young men and maidens,
  old and young together. 
13Let them praise the name of the Lord,
  whose name only is exalted, whose splendor is over earth and heaven.
14The Lord has raised up strength for the people and praise for all faithful servants,
  the children of Israel, a people who are near the Lord. Hallelujah! 

Second Reading: Colossians 3:12-17

12As God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience. 13Bear with one another and, if anyone has a complaint against another, forgive each other; just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. 14Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. 15And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in the one body. And be thankful. 16Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly; teach and admonish one another in all wisdom; and with gratitude in your hearts sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs to God. 17And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

Gospel: Luke 2:41-52

41Now every year [Jesus’] parents went to Jerusalem for the festival of the Passover. 42And when he was twelve years old, they went up as usual for the festival. 43When the festival was ended and they started to return, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem, but his parents did not know it. 44Assuming that he was in the group of travelers, they went a day’s journey. Then they started to look for him among their relatives and friends. 45When they did not find him, they returned to Jerusalem to search for him. 46After three days they found him in the temple, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. 47And all who heard him were amazed at his understanding and his answers. 48When his parents saw him they were astonished; and his mother said to him, “Child, why have you treated us like this? Look, your father and I have been searching for you in great anxiety.” 49He said to them, “Why were you searching for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?” 50But they did not understand what he said to them. 51Then he went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was obedient to them. His mother treasured all these things in her heart.
52And Jesus increased in wisdom and in years, and in divine and human favor.

Readings and Psalm for December 19, 2021, Fourth Sunday of Advent

Cradle and cross are inextricably connected on the fourth Sunday of Advent. Between a lovely tribute to the little town of Bethlehem and Mary’s magnificent song of praise, the letter to the Hebrews reminds us in no uncertain terms that Christ’s advent is for “the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.” It is the kind of tension in which the church always lives as when in holy communion—with high delight—“we proclaim the Lord’s 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 binds us, that we may receive you in joy and serve you always, for you live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

Readings and Psalms

Micah 5:2-5a
Psalm: Luke 1:46b-55
Hebrews 10:5-10
Luke 1:39-55

First Reading: Micah 5:2-5a

2But you, O Bethlehem of Ephrathah,
  who are one of the little clans of Judah,
 from you shall come forth for me
  one who is to rule in Israel,
 whose origin is from of old,
  from ancient days.
3Therefore he shall give them up until the time
  when she who is in labor has brought forth;
 then the rest of his kindred shall return
  to the people of Israel.
4And he shall stand and feed his flock in the strength of the Lord,
  in the majesty of the name of the Lord his God.
 And they shall live secure, for now he shall be great
  to the ends of the earth;
5aand he shall be the one of peace.

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: Hebrews 10:5-10

5Consequently, when Christ came into the world, he said,
 “Sacrifices and offerings you have not desired,
  but a body you have prepared for me;
6in burnt offerings and sin offerings
  you have taken no pleasure.
7Then I said, ‘See, God, I have come to do your will, O God’
  (in the scroll of the book it is written of me).”
8When he said above, “You have neither desired nor taken pleasure in sacrifices and offerings and burnt offerings and sin offerings” (these are offered according to the law), 9then he added, “See, I have come to do your will.” He abolishes the first in order to establish the second. 10And it is by God’s will that we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.

Gospel: Luke 1:39-45

39In those days Mary set out and went with haste to a Judean town in the hill country, 40where she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. 41When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the child leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit 42and exclaimed with a loud cry, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. 43And why has this happened to me, that the mother of my Lord comes to me? 44For as soon as I heard the sound of your greeting, the child in my womb leaped for joy. 45And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her by the Lord.”

Readings and Psalm for Sunday, December 12, 2021, Third Sunday of Advent

Christ’s presence in our midst in the wonder of the holy supper is cause for singing. The nearness of the God in prayer, in every circumstance, is cause for rejoicing. The coming of one “more powerful” than John, even with a winnowing fork in hand, is good news—and cause for exultation—for us who are being saved. Great joy is the tone for the third Sunday of Advent.

Prayer of the Day

Stir up the wills of your faithful people, Lord God, and open our ears to the preaching of John, that, rejoicing in your salvation, we may bring forth the fruits of repentance; through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

First Reading: Zephaniah 3:14-20

14Sing aloud, O daughter Zion;
  shout, O Israel!
 Rejoice and exult with all your heart,
  O daughter Jerusalem!
15The Lord has taken away the judgments against you,
  he has turned away your enemies.
 The king of Israel, the Lord, is in your midst;
  you shall fear disaster no more.
16On that day it shall be said to Jerusalem:
 Do not fear, O Zion;
  do not let your hands grow weak.
17The Lord, your God, is in your midst,
  a warrior who gives victory;
 he will rejoice over you with gladness,
  he will renew you in his love;
 he will exult over you with loud singing
  18as on a day of festival.
 I will remove disaster from you,
  so that you will not bear reproach for it.
19I will deal with all your oppressors
  at that time.
 And I will save the lame
  and gather the outcast,
 and I will change their shame into praise
  and renown in all the earth.
20At that time I will bring you home,
  at the time when I gather you;
 for I will make you renowned and praised
  among all the peoples of the earth,
 when I restore your fortunes
  before your eyes, says the Lord.

Psalm: Isaiah 12:2-6

2Surely God is my salvation; I will trust, and will not be afraid,
 for the Lord God is my strength and my might, and has become my salvation.
3With joy you will draw water
from the wells of salvation. 
4And you will say in that day: Give thanks to the Lord, call on God’s name;
 make known the deeds of the Lord among the nations; proclaim that this name is exalted.
5Sing praises to the Lord, for he has done gloriously;
let this be known in all the earth.
6Shout aloud and sing for joy, O royal Zion,
 for great in your midst is the Holy One of Israel. 

Second Reading: Philippians 4:4-7

4Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. 5Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near. 6Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Gospel: Luke 3:7-18

7John said to the crowds that came out to be baptized by him, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? 8Bear fruits worthy of repentance. Do not begin to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our ancestor’; for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children to Abraham. 9Even now the ax is lying at the root of the trees; every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.”
10And the crowds asked him, “What then should we do?” 11In reply he said to them, “Whoever has two coats must share with anyone who has none; and whoever has food must do likewise.” 12Even tax collectors came to be baptized, and they asked him, “Teacher, what should we do?” 13He said to them, “Collect no more than the amount prescribed for you.” 14Soldiers also asked him, “And we, what should we do?” He said to them, “Do not extort money from anyone by threats or false accusation, and be satisfied with your wages.”
15As the people were filled with expectation, and all were questioning in their hearts concerning John, whether he might be the Messiah, 16John answered all of them by saying, “I baptize you with water; but one who is more powerful than I is coming; I am not worthy to untie the thong of his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. 17His winnowing fork is in his hand, to clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his granary; but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.”
18So, with many other exhortations, he proclaimed the good news to the people.

Readings and Psalm for December 5, 2021, Second Sunday of Advent

Forerunners and messengers advance the advent of our God. While John the baptizer’s voice in the wilderness may be the principal focus of the day, Malachi’s prophecy could as easily herald the coming Christ as forerunner of the Lord of hosts. Finally all the baptized are called to participate in the sharing of the gospel. In so doing we prepare the way for the coming of Jesus and assist all people in capturing a vision of the “salvation of God.”

Prayer of the Day

Stir up our hearts, Lord God, to prepare the way of your only Son. By his coming give to all the people of the world knowledge of your salvation; 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 Psalm

Malachi 3:1-4
Luke 1:68-79
Philippians 1:3-11
Luke 3:1-6

First Reading: Malachi 3:1-4

1See, I am sending my messenger to prepare the way before me, and the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple. The messenger of the covenant in whom you delight—indeed, he is coming, says the Lord of hosts. 2But who can endure the day of his coming, and who can stand when he appears?
  For he is like a refiner’s fire and like fullers’ soap; 3he will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver, and he will purify the descendants of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, until they present offerings to the Lord in righteousness. 4Then the offering of Judah and Jerusalem will be pleasing to the Lord as in the days of old and as in former years.

Psalm: Luke 1:68-79

68Blessed are you, Lord, the God of Israel,
  you have come to your people and set them free.
69You have raised up for us a mighty Savior,
  born of the house of your servant David. 
70Through your holy prophets, you promised of old to save us from our enemies,
  71from the hands of all who hate us,
72to show mercy to our forebears,
  and to remember your holy covenant.
73This was the oath you swore to our father Abraham:
  74to set us free from the hands of our enemies,
free to worship you without fear,
  75holy and righteous before you, all the days of our life. 
76And you, child, shall be called the prophet of the Most High,
  for you will go before the Lord to prepare the way,
77to give God’s people knowledge of salvation
  by the forgiveness of their sins.
78In the tender compassion of our God
  the dawn from on high shall break upon us,
79to shine on those who dwell in darkness and in the shadow of death,
  and to guide our feet into the way of peace. 

Second Reading: Philippians 1:3-11

3I thank my God every time I remember you, 4constantly praying with joy in every one of my prayers for all of you, 5because of your sharing in the gospel from the first day until now. 6I am confident of this, that the one who began a good work among you will bring it to completion by the day of Jesus Christ. 7It is right for me to think this way about all of you, because you hold me in your heart, for all of you share in God’s grace with me, both in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel. 8For God is my witness, how I long for all of you with the compassion of Christ Jesus. 9And this is my prayer, that your love may overflow more and more with knowledge and full insight 10to help you to determine what is best, so that in the day of Christ you may be pure and blameless, 11having produced the harvest of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ for the glory and praise of God.

Gospel: Luke 3:1-6

1In the fifteenth year of the reign of Emperor Tiberius, when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, and Herod was ruler of Galilee, and his brother Philip ruler of the region of Ituraea and Trachonitis, and Lysanias ruler of Abilene, 2during the high priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John son of Zechariah in the wilderness. 3He went into all the region around the Jordan, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins, 4as it is written in the book of the words of the prophet Isaiah,
 “The voice of one crying out in the wilderness:
 ‘Prepare the way of the Lord,
  make his paths straight.
5Every valley shall be filled,
  and every mountain and hill shall be made low,
 and the crooked shall be made straight,
  and the rough ways made smooth;
6and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.’ ”

Readings and Psalm for November 28, 2021, First Sunday of Advent

Advent is about the “coming days.” God’s people have always lived in great expectation, but that expectation finds specific, repeated enunciation in the texts appointed for these four weeks. The ancients anticipated a “righteous Branch to spring up for David.” The Thessalonians awaited “the coming of our Lord Jesus with all the saints.” Jesus’ contemporaries hoped for the time “to stand before the Son of Man.” With them we eagerly await the coming days: another Christmas celebration, a second coming, and the advent of Christ in word and supper.

Prayer of the Day

Stir up your power, Lord Christ, and come. By your merciful protection alert us to the threatening dangers of our sins, and redeem us for your life of justice, for you live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

Readings and Psalm

Jeremiah 33:14-16
Psalm 25:1-10
1 Thessalonians 3:9-13
Luke 21:25-36

First Reading: Jeremiah 33:14-16

14The days are surely coming, says the Lord, when I will fulfill the promise I made to the house of Israel and the house of Judah. 15In those days and at that time I will cause a righteous Branch to spring up for David; and he shall execute justice and righteousness in the land. 16In those days Judah will be saved and Jerusalem will live in safety. And this is the name by which it will be called: “The Lord is our righteousness.”

Psalm: Psalm 25:1-10

1To you, O Lord,
  I lift up my soul.
2My God, I put my trust in you; let me not be put to shame,
  nor let my enemies triumph over me.
3Let none who look to you be put to shame;
  rather let those be put to shame who are treacherous.
4Show me your ways, O Lord,
  and teach me your paths. 
5Lead me in your truth and teach me,
  for you are the God of my salvation; in you have I trusted all the day long.
6Remember, O Lord, your compassion and love,
  for they are from everlasting. 
7Remember not the sins of my youth and my transgressions;
  remember me according to your steadfast love and for the sake of your goodness, O Lord.
8You are gracious and upright, O Lord;
  therefore you teach sinners in your way.
9You lead the lowly in justice
  and teach the lowly your way.
10All your paths, O Lord, are steadfast love and faithfulness
  to those who keep your covenant and your testimonies. 

Second Reading: 1 Thessalonians 3:9-13

9How can we thank God enough for you in return for all the joy that we feel before our God because of you? 10Night and day we pray most earnestly that we may see you face to face and restore whatever is lacking in your faith.
11Now may our God and Father himself and our Lord Jesus direct our way to you. 12And may the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all, just as we abound in love for you. 13And may he so strengthen your hearts in holiness that you may be blameless before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his saints.

Gospel: Luke 21:25-36

 [Jesus said:] 25“There will be signs in the sun, the moon, and the stars, and on the earth distress among nations confused by the roaring of the sea and the waves. 26People will faint from fear and foreboding of what is coming upon the world, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. 27Then they will see ‘the Son of Man coming in a cloud’ with power and great glory. 28Now when these things begin to take place, stand up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.”
29Then he told them a parable: “Look at the fig tree and all the trees; 30as soon as they sprout leaves you can see for yourselves and know that summer is already near. 31So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that the kingdom of God is near. 32Truly I tell you, this generation will not pass away until all things have taken place. 33Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.
34“Be on guard so that your hearts are not weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and the worries of this life, and that day does not catch you unexpectedly, 35like a trap. For it will come upon all who live on the face of the whole earth. 36Be alert at all times, praying that you may have the strength to escape all these things that will take place, and to stand before the Son of Man.”

Readings and Psalm for Sunday, November 21, 2021, Christ the King Sunday

Even after Israel had experienced the vagaries of kings, the people still longed for a true king to set things right. He would have the king’s title of Anointed One (Messiah); he would be the “one like a human being” (Son of Man) given dominion in Daniel’s vision. Jesus is given these titles, even though he is nothing like an earthly king. His authority comes from the truth to which he bears witness, and those who recognize the truth voluntarily listen to him. We look forward to the day he is given dominion, knowing his victory will be the nonviolent victory of love.

Prayer of the Day

Almighty and ever-living God, you anointed your beloved Son to be priest and sovereign forever. Grant that all the people of the earth, now divided by the power of sin, may be united by the glorious and gentle rule of Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

Readings and Psalm

Daniel 7:9-10, 13-14
Psalm 93
Revelation 1:4b-8
John 18:33-37

First Reading: Daniel 7:9-10, 13-14

9As I watched,
 thrones were set in place,
  and an Ancient One took his throne,
 his clothing was white as snow,
  and the hair of his head like pure wool;
 his throne was fiery flames,
  and its wheels were burning fire.
10A stream of fire issued
  and flowed out from his presence.
 A thousand thousands served him,
  and ten thousand times ten thousand stood attending him.
 The court sat in judgment,
  and the books were opened.
13As I watched in the night visions,
 I saw one like a human being
  coming with the clouds of heaven.
 And he came to the Ancient One
  and was presented before him.
14To him was given dominion
  and glory and kingship,
 that all peoples, nations, and languages
  should serve him.
 His dominion is an everlasting dominion
  that shall not pass away,
 and his kingship is one
  that shall never be destroyed.

Psalm: Psalm 93

1The Lord is king, robed in majesty; the Lord is robed in majesty and armed with strength.
 The Lord has made the world so sure that it cannot be moved.
2Ever since the world began, your throne has been established;
you are from everlasting. 
3The waters have lifted up, O Lord, the waters have lifted up their voice;
 the waters have lifted up their pounding waves.
4Mightier than the sound of many waters, mightier than the breakers of the sea,
mightier is the Lord who dwells on high.
5Your testimonies are very sure,
 and holiness befits your house, O Lord, forever and forevermore. 

Second Reading: Revelation 1:4b-8

4bGrace to you and peace from him who is and who was and who is to come, and from the seven spirits who are before his throne, 5and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth.
  To him who loves us and freed us from our sins by his blood, 6and made us to be a kingdom, priests serving his God and Father, to him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.
7Look! He is coming with the clouds;
  every eye will see him,
 even those who pierced him;
  and on his account all the tribes of the earth will wail.
So it is to be. Amen.
8“I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.

Gospel: John 18:33-37

33Pilate entered the headquarters again, summoned Jesus, and asked him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” 34Jesus answered, “Do you ask this on your own, or did others tell you about me?” 35Pilate replied, “I am not a Jew, am I? Your own nation and the chief priests have handed you over to me. What have you done?” 36Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not from this world. If my kingdom were from this world, my followers would be fighting to keep me from being handed over to the Jews. But as it is, my kingdom is not from here.” 37Pilate asked him, “So you are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. For this I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice.”