December 25, 2019 Christmas Day, Year A
As on the first day of creation, on this Christmas Day the Word illumines the world, shining forth to bring all things into being. Today we celebrate the incarnate Word, God becoming flesh to live among us in the person of Jesus Christ then and now. Emboldened by the good news of Christ’s birth, along with the shepherds, Mary and Joseph, and all witnesses to the light of Christ, we declare to the world that we have indeed seen and been transformed by the arrival of “the salvation of our God.” O come, let us adore!
Prayer of the Day
All-powerful and unseen God, the coming of your light into our world has brightened weary hearts with peace. Call us out of darkness, and empower us to proclaim the birth of your Son, Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
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.
10Go through, go through the gates, prepare the way for the people; build up, build up the highway, clear it of stones, lift up an ensign over the peoples. 11The Lord has proclaimed to the end of the earth: Say to daughter Zion, “See, your salvation comes; his reward is with him, and his recompense before him.” 12They shall be called, “The Holy People, The Redeemed of the Lord“; and you shall be called, “Sought Out, A City Not Forsaken.”
Psalm: Psalm 97
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 2:1-20
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.
Sunday, December 29, 2019 First Sunday of Christmas, Year A
As we celebrate the Twelve Days of Christmas, our gospel today confronts us with the death of innocent children at the hands of Herod. The birth of Christ does not remove the power of evil from our world, but its light gives us hope as we walk with all the “holy innocents” of past generations and today who have suffered unjustly. In our gathering around word and meal, God continues to redeem us, lift us up, and carry us as in days of old.
Prayer of the Day
O Lord God, you know that we cannot place our trust in our own powers. As you protected the infant Jesus, so defend us and all the needy from harm and adversity, 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: Isaiah 63:7-9
God does not delegate divine intervention to a messenger or angel. God’s own presence brings salvation. The prophet and all who read these words join in celebrating God’s gracious deeds. God trusts that God’s people will not act falsely.
7I will recount the gracious deeds of the Lord, the praiseworthy acts of the Lord, because of all that the Lord has done for us, and the great favor to the house of Israel that he has shown them according to his mercy, according to the abundance of his steadfast love. 8For he said, “Surely they are my people, children who will not deal falsely”; and he became their savior 9in all their distress. It was no messenger or angel but his presence that saved them; in his love and in his pity he redeemed them; he lifted them up and carried them all the days of old.
Psalm: Psalm 148
The splendor of the Lord is over earth and heaven. (Ps. 148:13)
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: Hebrews 2:10-18
Through Jesus’ suffering and death, the trail to eternal salvation has been blazed for us. We do not fear death, because he has conquered the power of death. Thus Christ, our merciful and faithful high priest, has the final say over the destiny of our lives.
10It was fitting that God, for whom and through whom all things exist, in bringing many children to glory, should make the pioneer of their salvation perfect through sufferings. 11For the one who sanctifies and those who are sanctified all have one Father. For this reason Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers and sisters, 12saying, “I will proclaim your name to my brothers and sisters, in the midst of the congregation I will praise you.” 13And again, “I will put my trust in him.” And again, “Here am I and the children whom God has given me.”
14Since, therefore, the children share flesh and blood, he himself likewise shared the same things, so that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, 15and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by the fear of death. 16For it is clear that he did not come to help angels, but the descendants of Abraham. 17Therefore he had to become like his brothers and sisters in every respect, so that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make a sacrifice of atonement for the sins of the people. 18Because he himself was tested by what he suffered, he is able to help those who are being tested.
Gospel: Matthew 2:13-23
In a dream, Joseph is warned to flee to Egypt to protect the infant Jesus from the jealousy of Herod.
13Now after [the wise men] had left, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Get up, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you; for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him.” 14Then Joseph got up, took the child and his mother by night, and went to Egypt, 15and remained there until the death of Herod. This was to fulfill what had been spoken by the Lord through the prophet, “Out of Egypt I have called my son.”
16When Herod saw that he had been tricked by the wise men, he was infuriated, and he sent and killed all the children in and around Bethlehem who were two years old or under, according to the time that he had learned from the wise men. 17Then was fulfilled what had been spoken through the prophet Jeremiah: 18“A voice was heard in Ramah, wailing and loud lamentation, Rachel weeping for her children; she refused to be consoled, because they are no more.”
19When Herod died, an angel of the Lord suddenly appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt and said, 20“Get up, take the child and his mother, and go to the land of Israel, for those who were seeking the child’s life are dead.” 21Then Joseph got up, took the child and his mother, and went to the land of Israel. 22But when he heard that Archelaus was ruling over Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there. And after being warned in a dream, he went away to the district of Galilee. 23There he made his home in a town called Nazareth, so that what had been spoken through the prophets might be fulfilled, “He will be called a Nazorean.”