Saturday, December 24, 2016 Nativity of Our Lord I: Christmas Eve Introduction
On a long winter evening we gather to proclaim the coming of the light. Isaiah announces that the people who walked in darkness have seen a great light. Paul reminds us that the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all. In the familiar account of Christ’s birth, the evening sky is bright with the heavenly host singing, “Glory to God in the highest.” Amid our broken world we proclaim that the prince of peace is born among us. God comes to us in human flesh—in Christ’s body and blood—so that we may be bearers of divine light to all the world.
First Reading: Isaiah 9:2-7
This poem promises deliverance from Assyrian oppression, a hope based on the birth of a royal child with a name full of promise. While Judah’s king will practice justice and righteousness, the real basis for faith lies in God’s passion for the people: The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this!
Psalm: Psalm 96
Let the heavens rejoice and the earth be glad. (Ps. 96:11)
Second Reading: Titus 2:11-14
The appearance of God’s grace in Jesus Christ brings salvation for all humanity. Consequently, in the present we live wisely and justly while also anticipating the hope of our Savior’s final appearance.
Gospel: Luke 2:1-14 [15-20]
God’s greatest gift comes as a baby in a manger. Angels announce the “good news of great joy” and proclaim God’s blessing of peace.
Sunday, December 25, 2016 Nativity of Our Lord III: Christmas Day Introduction
On this Christmas morning, the people of God gather to celebrate the birth of the Word made flesh, Christ our Lord. Luke recounts the familiar story of shepherds and angels; John’s gospel tells of the Word that dwells among us, full of grace and truth. The meaning of Christmas is made clear: the light shines in the darkness. It is in the liturgy that we encounter the Word made flesh—in the people of God gathered together as the body of Christ, and in the meal around the holy table. We go forth to be bearers of light as we proclaim this good news to all the ends of the earth.
First Reading: Isaiah 52:7-10
A messenger races home to Jerusalem with the marvelous words: “Your God reigns!” In comforting the people, God proves to be the best brother or sister (redeemer) they have ever known. Everyone will witness the victory (salvation) of God.
Psalm: Psalm 98
All the ends of the earth have seen the victory of our God. (Ps. 98:3)
Second Reading: Hebrews 1:1-4 [5-12]
This letter opens with a lofty declaration of Jesus’ preeminent status as the Son through whom God created the world and through whom our sins are cleansed. God speaks to us now through the Son, who is exalted even above the angels.
Gospel: John 1:1-14
The prologue to the Gospel of John describes Jesus as the Word of God made flesh, the one who reveals God to be “full of grace and truth.”