Fourth Sunday of Advent
The Season of Advent ends next Saturday, so the celebration of the birth of Christ is now quite close. Let us prepare for that great event by worshiping God who was made flesh to bring us to glory.
+ In the Name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Eternal God, in the psalms of David, in the words of the prophets, in the dream of Joseph your promise is spoken. At last, in the womb of the Virgin Mary your Word takes flesh.
Teach us to welcome Jesus, the promised Emmanuel, and to preach the good news of his coming, that every age may know him as the source of redemption and grace.
Grant this through him whose coming is certain, whose day draws near: your Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God for ever and ever.
“Immanuel” – Songs Of Praise
A Reading from the Old Testament: Isaiah 7:10-14 (NLT)
[Isaiah’s prophecy of the events we celebrate at Christmas — words repeated in today’s Gospel.]
Later, the Lord sent this message to King Ahaz: “Ask the Lord your God for a sign of confirmation, Ahaz. Make it as difficult as you want—as high as heaven or as deep as the place of the dead.”
But the king refused. “No,” he said, “I will not test the Lord like that.”
Then Isaiah said, “Listen well, you royal family of David! Isn’t it enough to exhaust human patience? Must you exhaust the patience of my God as well? All right then, the Lord himself will give you the sign. Look! The virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son and will call him Immanuel (which means ‘God is with us’).
A Reading from the Psalms: Psalm 24 (NLT)
The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it. The world and all its people belong to him. For he laid the earth’s foundation on the seas and built it on the ocean depths.
Who may climb the mountain of the Lord? Who may stand in his holy place?
Only those whose hands and hearts are pure, who do not worship idols and never tell lies. They will receive the Lord’s blessing and have a right relationship with God their savior. Such people may seek you and worship in your presence, O God of Jacob.
“Psalm 24” – Keith & Kristyn Getty
A Reading from the Letters: Romans 1:1-7 (NLT)
[Paul begins his letter to the Romans by summing up the message of Advent and Christmas.]
This letter is from Paul, a slave of Christ Jesus, chosen by God to be an apostle and sent out to preach his Good News. God promised this Good News long ago through his prophets in the holy Scriptures. The Good News is about his Son. In his earthly life he was born into King David’s family line, and he was shown to be the Son of God when he was raised from the dead by the power of the Holy Spirit. He is Jesus Christ our Lord. Through Christ, God has given us the privilege and authority as apostles to tell Gentiles everywhere what God has done for them, so that they will believe and obey him, bringing glory to his name.
And you are included among those Gentiles who have been called to belong to Jesus Christ. I am writing to all of you in Rome who are loved by God and are called to be his own holy people.
May God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ give you grace and peace.
A Reading from the Gospels: Matthew 1:18-24 (NLT)
[Matthew recalls some events that happened before the birth of Jesus.]
This is how Jesus the Messiah was born. His mother, Mary, was engaged to be married to Joseph. But before the marriage took place, while she was still a virgin, she became pregnant through the power of the Holy Spirit. Joseph, to whom she was engaged, was a righteous man and did not want to disgrace her publicly, so he decided to break the engagement quietly.
As he considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream. “Joseph, son of David,” the angel said, “do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife. For the child within her was conceived by the Holy Spirit. And she will have a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”
All of this occurred to fulfill the Lord’s message through his prophet:
“Look! The virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel, which means ‘God is with us.’”
When Joseph woke up, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded and took Mary as his wife.
“O Come O Come Emmanuel” – Enya
Sovereign Lord, King of Glory: in Jesus Christ you made your home among us – to save us from our sins and to teach us how to live. Hear, now, the prayers of your people as we await your glorious return.
+ For church leaders around the world as they prepare for the celebration of Christmas – that they may be filled with wonder and joy…. Lord, hear us.
+ For believers everywhere – that our hearts may be open to receive you anew and to live as faithful citizens of your Kingdom…. Lord, hear us.
+ For believers in war torn regions of the world – that the promise of your certain return may fill them with hope and courage…. Lord, hear us.
+ For the suffering people of Aleppo and Syria – that they may not be forgotten during this holiday season…. Lord, hear us.
+ For peace and reconciliation where there is hatred and war – that Christmas may bring a respite to people of good will…. Lord, hear us.
+ For those who are bereaved and lonely – that they may be supported and included in our gatherings and celebrations…. Lord, hear us.
+ For those who have gone before us in faith – that they may share in Christ’s resurrection from the dead…. Lord, hear us.
Sovereign God, yours is the earth and all its fullness: reign over us and bless us by responding to our prayers on behalf of your people, through Christ our Lord. Amen.
“Immanuel” – Joshua Aaron
“Glory to God in highest heaven, and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased.” – Luke 2:14
+ In the Name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen