First Sunday of Christmas: 31 Dec – Luke 2:22-40 ~ “I have seen your salvation!”

First Sunday of Christmas

+ In the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen!

Opening Prayer

O God, You cradle us at the beginning of life and embrace us at our journey’s end, for You love us as Your own. Bind our families together and deepen our faith, that, like the Holy Family of Nazareth, we may grow in wisdom, obedient to Your word. We ask this through Jesus Christ, Your Word made flesh, who lives and reigns with You in the unity of the Holy Spirit, in the splendor of eternal light, God for ever and ever. Amen.
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“Joy to the world” – Soundiva Classical Choir


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Gospel Reading: Luke 2:22-40 (NLT)

Then it was time for their purification offering, as required by the law of Moses after the birth of a child; so his parents took him to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord. The law of the Lord says, “If a woman’s first child is a boy, he must be dedicated to the Lord.” So they offered the sacrifice required in the law of the Lord—“either a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons.”

At that time there was a man in Jerusalem named Simeon. He was righteous and devout and was eagerly waiting for the Messiah to come and rescue Israel. The Holy Spirit was upon him and had revealed to him that he would not die until he had seen the Lord’s Messiah. That day the Spirit led him to the Temple. So when Mary and Joseph came to present the baby Jesus to the Lord as the law required, Simeon was there. He took the child in his arms and praised God, saying,

“Sovereign Lord, now let your servant die in peace, as you have promised. I have seen your salvation, which you have prepared for all people. He is a light to reveal God to the nations, and he is the glory of your people Israel!”

Jesus’ parents were amazed at what was being said about him. Then Simeon blessed them, and he said to Mary, the baby’s mother, “This child is destined to cause many in Israel to fall, and many others to rise. He has been sent as a sign from God, but many will oppose him. As a result, the deepest thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your very soul.”

Anna, a prophet, was also there in the Temple. She was the daughter of Phanuel from the tribe of Asher, and she was very old. Her husband died when they had been married only seven years. Then she lived as a widow to the age of eighty-four. She never left the Temple but stayed there day and night, worshiping God with fasting and prayer. She came along just as Simeon was talking with Mary and Joseph, and she began praising God. She talked about the child to everyone who had been waiting expectantly for God to rescue Jerusalem.

When Jesus’ parents had fulfilled all the requirements of the law of the Lord, they returned home to Nazareth in Galilee. There the child grew up healthy and strong. He was filled with wisdom, and God’s favor was on him.

Prayers of Intercession:

Lord God: You have loved us and chosen us to be members of Your extended family. Hear our prayers as we anticipate the beginning of a new year –

+ For all Your families around the world, that we may learn to say “please”, “thank you” and “I’m sorry” to each other…. Lord, hear us.
+ For all Your families in great difficulty, that we may receive the help and hope (the support) we need…. Lord, hear us.
+ For all Your grandparents that, like Simeon and Anna in the Temple, our hope in You may be fulfilled…. Lord, hear us.
+ For all the members of our families, that You may keep us safe, healthy, and strong in 2018…. Lord, hear us.
+ For all the members of our families who have died, especially those who died in 2017, that they may see Your face…. Lord, hear us.

Lord God: You remember Your covenant forever. Hear the prayers of all those who seek Your help, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen
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“”Simeon’s Song”” – Tommy Walker


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Blessing

Live as children of God, blameless and innocent, in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation – that you may shine as lights in the world, always holding fast to the Word of Life.
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+ In the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen!

Morning Prayer: Mon, 17 Oct – Psalm 119:97-104; Proverbs 2:1-6; Luke 2:40-47, 52 ~ listen and learn

+ In the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen!

Opening Sentence

I have come to seek You, O God, just as I am I come. I have come to be sought by You, just as I am I come.

I will wait for the Lord. My soul waits, and in His word do I hope.

Reading: Psalm 119:97-104 (NLT)

Oh, how I love your instructions! I think about them all day long.

Your commands make me wiser than my enemies, for they are my constant guide. Yes, I have more insight than my teachers, for I am always thinking of your laws. I am even wiser than my elders, for I have kept your commandments.

I have refused to walk on any evil path, so that I may remain obedient to your word. I haven’t turned away from your regulations, for you have taught me well. How sweet your words taste to me; they are sweeter than honey.

Your commandments give me understanding; no wonder I hate every false way of life.

Reading: Proverbs 2:1-6 (NLT)

My child, listen to what I say, and treasure my commands. Tune your ears to wisdom, and concentrate on understanding. Cry out for insight, and ask for understanding. Search for them as you would for silver; seek them like hidden treasures.

Then you will understand what it means to fear the Lord, and you will gain knowledge of God. For the Lord grants wisdom! From his mouth come knowledge and understanding.

Reading: Luke 2:40-47, 52 (NLT)

There the child grew up healthy and strong. He was filled with wisdom, and God’s favor was on him.

Boy Jesus in the Temple (Christ in the Temple), by Heinrich Hofmann
Boy Jesus in the Temple (Christ in the Temple),
by Heinrich Hofmann

Every year Jesus’ parents went to Jerusalem for the Passover festival. When Jesus was twelve years old, they attended the festival as usual. After the celebration was over, they started home to Nazareth, but Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem. His parents didn’t miss him at first, because they assumed he was among the other travelers. But when he didn’t show up that evening, they started looking for him among their relatives and friends.

When they couldn’t find him, they went back to Jerusalem to search for him there. Three days later they finally discovered him in the Temple, sitting among the religious teachers, listening to them and asking questions. All who heard him were amazed at his understanding and his answers.
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Jesus grew in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and all the people.
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Prayer (Piran – in following, sixth century)

Teach me to follow You, and I will obey Your truth. Always keep me faithful.

+ Lord of the universe, whose hands threw the constellations in all their splendor, and stars in their myriads, into the endless velvet depths of space.

+ God of creation, who fashioned earth and sky and seas, who shaped the mountains, coasts and valleys, seeking out places I could recognize as home.

+ Teach me to see You through the glories of creation. Lift my eyes above the boundaries of far horizons.

+ Ever moving onward, I will seek You, moving nearer, closer to Your beating heart.

Heavenly Father: Draw me close to You, that I might listen and learn. Give me a teachable spirit and write Your Word on my heart, that I might not lose my way. In Jesus’ name.

“Draw Me Close” – Michael W. Smith

Blessing

May the peace of the Lord Jesus Christ go with you, wherever He may send you. May He guide you through the wilderness, protect you through the storm. May He bring you home rejoicing at the wonders He has shown you. May He bring you home rejoicing once again into our doors.

+ In the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen!