4th Sunday in Advent: 19 Dec 2021 – Micah 5:2-5; Psalm 80:1-7; Luke 1:39-56 ~ Rejoice in God your Savior!

4th Sunday in Advent: 19 Dec 2021
Anglican Church in North America
[Lectionary Year C]

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

Opening:

Stir up your power, O Lord, and with great might come among
us; and as we are sorely hindered by our sins from running the
race that is set before us, let your bountiful grace and mercy
speedily help and deliver us; through Jesus Christ our Lord, to
whom, with you and the Holy Spirit, be honor and glory, now
and for ever. Amen.

Mary responded (to Elizabeth),
“Oh, how my soul praises the Lord.
   How my spirit rejoices in God my Savior!
   For he took notice of his lowly servant girl,
and from now on all generations will call me blessed.
  For the Mighty One is holy,
and he has done great things for me.”

(Luke 1:46-49)

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O Little Town Of BethlehemNat King Cole

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OT Reading: Micah 5:2-5 (NLT)

A Ruler from Bethlehem

5:2 But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah,
are only a small village among all the people of Judah.
Yet a ruler of Israel,
whose origins are in the distant past,
will come from you on my behalf.
3 The people of Israel will be abandoned to their enemies
until the woman in labor gives birth.
Then at last his fellow countrymen
will return from exile to their own land.
4 And he will stand to lead his flock with the Lord’s strength,
in the majesty of the name of the Lord his God.
Then his people will live there undisturbed,
for he will be highly honored around the world.
5 And he will be the source of peace.

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Psalm: Psalm 80 Hear, O Shepherd of Israel  | Kirk Dearman
[Simple Believer]

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Gospel Reading: Luke 1:39-56 (NLT)

Mary Visits Elizabeth

1:39 A few days later Mary hurried to the hill country of Judea, to the town 40 where Zechariah lived. She entered the house and greeted Elizabeth. 41 At the sound of Mary’s greeting, Elizabeth’s child leaped within her, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit.

42 Elizabeth gave a glad cry and exclaimed to Mary, “God has blessed you above all women, and your child is blessed. 43 Why am I so honored, that the mother of my Lord should visit me? 44 When I heard your greeting, the baby in my womb jumped for joy. 45 You are blessed because you believed that the Lord would do what he said.”

The Magnificat: Mary’s Song of Praise

1:46 Mary responded,

“Oh, how my soul praises the Lord.
47 How my spirit rejoices in God my Savior!
48 For he took notice of his lowly servant girl,
and from now on all generations will call me blessed.
49 For the Mighty One is holy,
and he has done great things for me.
50 He shows mercy from generation to generation
to all who fear him.
51 His mighty arm has done tremendous things!
He has scattered the proud and haughty ones.
52 He has brought down princes from their thrones
and exalted the humble.
53 He has filled the hungry with good things
and sent the rich away with empty hands.
54 He has helped his servant Israel
and remembered to be merciful.
55 For he made this promise to our ancestors,
to Abraham and his children forever.”

56 Mary stayed with Elizabeth about three months and then went back to her own home.

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Magnificat Primi Toni – Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina
VOCES8 sings the ‘Magnificat Primi Toni’ by Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina in the VOCES8 Centre in London.

TEXT and TRANSLATION:

1. Magnificat, anima mea, Dominum
My soul doth magnify the Lord

2. et exultavit spiritus meus in Deo, salutari meo.
and my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour.

3. Quia respexit humilitatem ancillæ suæ: ecce enim ex hoc beatam me dicent omnes generationes.
For he hath regarded: the lowliness of his handmaiden: for behold, from henceforth: all generations shall call me blessed.

4. Quia fecit mihi magna, qui potens est, et sanctum nomen eius,
For he that is mighty hath magnified me: and holy is his Name,

5. et misericordia eius a progenie in progenies timentibus eum.
and his mercy is on them that fear him: throughout all generations.

6. Fecit potentiam in brachio suo, dispersit superbos mente cordis sui.
He hath showed strength with his arm: he hath scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts.

7. Deposuit potentes de sede et exaltavit humiles;
He hath put down the mighty from their seat, and hath exalted the humble and meek;

8. esurientes implevit bonis et divites dimisit inanes.
he hath filled the hungry with good things: and the rich he hath sent empty away.

9. Suscepit Israel puerum suum recordatus misericordiæ suæ,
He remembering his mercy hath holpen his servant Israel,

10. sicut locutus est ad patres nostros, Abraham et semini eius in sæcula.
as he promised to our forefathers, Abraham and his seed, for ever.

11. Gloria Patri, et Filio, et Spiritui Sancto:
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost:

12. sicut erat in principio, et nunc, et semper, et in sæcula sæculorum. Amen.
as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.

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Prayer:

Intercessions for The Fourth Sunday in Adventthisischurch.com

As we share in Mary and Elizabeth’s joy at the coming of our Saviour, let us be quiet and still in the presence of God.

+ Heavenly Father, we can only wonder at the way you work with us. We want you to know that we are ready to be used by you. We understand that we must work actively to answer our own prayers and to respond to the challenges of our world and our place within that world.

Let it be to us: according to your will.

+ We call to mind before you those people we would love to know you and we ask you to prepare their hearts to recognize you. We ask you to reassure and encourage us all in our assemblies, giving us insights into the real needs of our communities.

Let it be to us: according to your will.

+ As we look at the world around us, we are often filled with disillusion, hopelessness and despair. We ask you to give us courage to continue working with you even during the dark and difficult times. We ask you to come into the daily relationships which we so often take for granted. Help us to value one another and respond to one another with love.

Let it be to us: according to your will.

+ We call to mind those people all over the world who are struggling with poverty, illness, grief or despair. We ask you to look after them, give them the sense of your caring presence to uphold and sustain them and show us the way to help support them.

Let it be to us: according to your will.

+ We remember those who have died and thank you for the good you have worked in their lives. Comfort those who grieve and mourn the loss of loved ones with the certain hope of resurrection through our Savior Jesus Christ, the prince of peace, and King of glory.

Let it be to me: according to your will.

Lord of hope, as we approach the festival of Christmas, we praise and thank you for the way you surprise us with joy, and show us the extraordinary and the wonderful in the ordinary things of life.

Merciful Father, accept these prayers for the sake of your Son, our Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen

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Benediction: 

Heavenly Father, who chose the Blessed Virgin Mary to be the mother of the promised savior: fill us your servants with your grace, that in all things we may embrace your holy will and with her rejoice in your salvation; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

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

Fourth Sunday of Advent – 23 Dec – Luke 1:39-56 ~ Blessed because you believed.

Fourth Sunday of Advent

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

Opening Prayer

Who are we, Lord God, that you should come to us? Yet you have visited your people and redeemed us in your Son. As we prepare to celebrate his birth, make our hearts leap for joy at the sound of your Word, and move us by your Spirit to bless your wonderful works. We ask 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. Amen.
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“Canticle of Magnificat” (Lk 1:46-55) – Song of Mary sung in Latin by the Daughters of Mary

[46] And Mary said: My soul * doth magnify the Lord: [47] and my spirit hath rejoiced * in God, my Savior.

[48] Because He hath regarded the humility of His handmaid: * for behold from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed, [49] because He that is Mighty hath done great things to me; * and Holy is His Name. [50] And His Mercy is from generation unto generations, * to them that fear Him. [51] He hath shewed might in His arm: * He hath scattered the proud in the conceit of their heart. [52] He hath put down the mighty from their seat, * and hath exalted the humble. [53] He hath filled the hungry with good things: * and the rich He hath sent empty away. [54] He hath received Israel, His servant, * being mindful of His Mercy: [55] as He spoke to our fathers, * to Abraham and to his seed for ever.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, * and to the Holy Spirit; as it was in the beginning, is now, * and will be forever. Amen.
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Gospel Reading: Luke 1:39-56 (NLT)

A few days later Mary hurried to the hill country of Judea, to the town where Zechariah lived. She entered the house and greeted Elizabeth. At the sound of Mary’s greeting, Elizabeth’s child leaped within her, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit.

Elizabeth gave a glad cry and exclaimed to Mary, “God has blessed you above all women, and your child is blessed. Why am I so honored, that the mother of my Lord should visit me? When I heard your greeting, the baby in my womb jumped for joy. You are blessed because you believed that the Lord would do what he said.”

Mary responded,

“Oh, how my soul praises the Lord. How my spirit rejoices in God my Savior!

_ For he took notice of his lowly servant girl, and from now on all generations will call me blessed.
_ For the Mighty One is holy, and he has done great things for me.
_ He shows mercy from generation to generation to all who fear him.
_ His mighty arm has done tremendous things!
_ He has scattered the proud and haughty ones.
_ He has brought down princes from their thrones and exalted the humble.
_ He has filled the hungry with good things and sent the rich away with empty hands.
_ He has helped his servant Israel and remembered to be merciful.
_ For he made this promise to our ancestors, to Abraham and his children forever.”

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Prayers of Intercession:

Mighty God: We rejoice with the blessed virgin Mary at the birth of your Son, Jesus Christ, our Savior. Pour out your Spirit on us and fill us with an abundance of faith that we might receive your blessing as well. We pray especially –

+ for all believers around the world, that their faith may be strengthened at the celebration of Christmas…
+  for all who faithfully labor in obscurity, that they may receive your blessing at the celebration of Christmas…
+ for all who are burdened by sin and shame, that they may receive mercy and pardon at the celebration of Christmas…
+ for all who are waiting for a miracle, that they may be encouraged by the wonder and mystery of Christmas…
+ for all who are waiting for justice, that they may be confident in the truth and righteousness of Christmas…
+ for all who are poor and needy, that they may receive the essentials of life through the generosity of Christmas…

Mighty God: We rejoice with the blessed virgin Mary at the birth of your Son, Jesus Christ, our Savior. Fill us with wonder and joy at his Birth, and prepare us to welcome his Return with confidence and faith, through the power of our Word and Spirit at work within us – all to your glory. Amen.
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“Magnificat” – by Kim André Arnesen (Nidaros Cathedral, Trondheim, Norway)

(Lk 1:46-55) [46] Et ait María: Magníficat * ánima mea Dóminum: [47] et exsultávit spíritus meus * in Deo, Salutári meo.

[48] Quia respéxit humilitátem ancíllæ Suæ: * ecce enim ex hoc beátam me dicent omnes generatiónes, [49] quia fecit mihi magna qui Potens est: * et Sanctum Nomen Eius. [50] Et Misericórdia Eius a progénie in progénies * timéntibus Eum. [51] Fecit poténtiam in bráchio Suo: * dispérsit supérbos mente cordis sui. [52] Depósuit poténtes de sede, * et exaltávit húmiles. [53] Esuriéntes implévit bonis: * et dívites dimísit inánes. [54] Suscépit Ísraël, púerum Suum, * recordátus Misericórdiæ Suæ: [55] sicut locútus est ad patres nostros, * Ábraham et sémini eius in sǽcula.
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Blessing

May God the almighty and merciful bless you by the light of Christ’s coming, and enrich your lives with every grace. May God make you steadfast in faith, joyful in hope, and untiring in love all the days of your life. And may God reward you with eternal life when our Redeemer comes again in glory.

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

Morning Reading: Fri, 11 May – Luke 1-2 ~ an accurate, truthful, investigative report

Morning Reading

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

Opening – (Northumbria Community)

One thing I have asked of the Lord, this is what I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life; to behold the beauty of the Lord and to seek Him in His temple.

Praise to You, Lord Jesus Christ, King of endless glory.

Reading: Luke 1-2 (NLT)

Introduction

Luke 1 (NLT)

Many people have set out to write accounts about the events that have been fulfilled among us. They used the eyewitness reports circulating among us from the early disciples. Having carefully investigated everything from the beginning, I also have decided to write an accurate account for you, most honorable Theophilus, so you can be certain of the truth of everything you were taught.

The Birth of John the Baptist Foretold

When Herod was king of Judea, there was a Jewish priest named Zechariah. He was a member of the priestly order of Abijah, and his wife, Elizabeth, was also from the priestly line of Aaron. Zechariah and Elizabeth were righteous in God’s eyes, careful to obey all of the Lord’s commandments and regulations. They had no children because Elizabeth was unable to conceive, and they were both very old.

One day Zechariah was serving God in the Temple, for his order was on duty that week. As was the custom of the priests, he was chosen by lot to enter the sanctuary of the Lord and burn incense. While the incense was being burned, a great crowd stood outside, praying.

While Zechariah was in the sanctuary, an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing to the right of the incense altar. Zechariah was shaken and overwhelmed with fear when he saw him. But the angel said, “Don’t be afraid, Zechariah! God has heard your prayer. Your wife, Elizabeth, will give you a son, and you are to name him John. You will have great joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth, for he will be great in the eyes of the Lord. He must never touch wine or other alcoholic drinks. He will be filled with the Holy Spirit, even before his birth. And he will turn many Israelites to the Lord their God. He will be a man with the spirit and power of Elijah. He will prepare the people for the coming of the Lord. He will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, and he will cause those who are rebellious to accept the wisdom of the godly.”

Zechariah said to the angel, “How can I be sure this will happen? I’m an old man now, and my wife is also well along in years.”

Then the angel said, “I am Gabriel! I stand in the very presence of God. It was he who sent me to bring you this good news! But now, since you didn’t believe what I said, you will be silent and unable to speak until the child is born. For my words will certainly be fulfilled at the proper time.”

Meanwhile, the people were waiting for Zechariah to come out of the sanctuary, wondering why he was taking so long. When he finally did come out, he couldn’t speak to them. Then they realized from his gestures and his silence that he must have seen a vision in the sanctuary.

When Zechariah’s week of service in the Temple was over, he returned home. Soon afterward his wife, Elizabeth, became pregnant and went into seclusion for five months. “How kind the Lord is!” she exclaimed. “He has taken away my disgrace of having no children.”

The Birth of Jesus Foretold

In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a village in Galilee, to a virgin named Mary. She was engaged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of King David. Gabriel appeared to her and said, “Greetings, favored woman! The Lord is with you!”

Confused and disturbed, Mary tried to think what the angel could mean. “Don’t be afraid, Mary,” the angel told her, “for you have found favor with God! You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you will name him Jesus. He will be very great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his ancestor David. And he will reign over Israel forever; his Kingdom will never end!”

Mary asked the angel, “But how can this happen? I am a virgin.”

The angel replied, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the baby to be born will be holy, and he will be called the Son of God. What’s more, your relative Elizabeth has become pregnant in her old age! People used to say she was barren, but she has conceived a son and is now in her sixth month. For the word of God will never fail.”

Mary responded, “I am the Lord’s servant. May everything you have said about me come true.” And then the angel left her.

Mary Visits Elizabeth

A few days later Mary hurried to the hill country of Judea, to the town where Zechariah lived. She entered the house and greeted Elizabeth. At the sound of Mary’s greeting, Elizabeth’s child leaped within her, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit.

Elizabeth gave a glad cry and exclaimed to Mary, “God has blessed you above all women, and your child is blessed. Why am I so honored, that the mother of my Lord should visit me? When I heard your greeting, the baby in my womb jumped for joy. You are blessed because you believed that the Lord would do what he said.”

The Magnificat: Mary’s Song of Praise

Mary responded,

“Oh, how my soul praises the Lord. How my spirit rejoices in God my Savior! For he took notice of his lowly servant girl, and from now on all generations will call me blessed. For the Mighty One is holy, and he has done great things for me.

  • He shows mercy from generation to generation to all who fear him.
  • His mighty arm has done tremendous things!
  • He has scattered the proud and haughty ones.
  • He has brought down princes from their thrones and exalted the humble.
  • He has filled the hungry with good things and sent the rich away with empty hands.
  • He has helped his servant Israel and remembered to be merciful.

For he made this promise to our ancestors, to Abraham and his children forever.”

Mary stayed with Elizabeth about three months and then went back to her own home.
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Magnificat – Zoe Group


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The Birth of John the Baptist

When it was time for Elizabeth’s baby to be born, she gave birth to a son. And when her neighbors and relatives heard that the Lord had been very merciful to her, everyone rejoiced with her.

When the baby was eight days old, they all came for the circumcision ceremony. They wanted to name him Zechariah, after his father. But Elizabeth said, “No! His name is John!”

“What?” they exclaimed. “There is no one in all your family by that name.” So they used gestures to ask the baby’s father what he wanted to name him. He motioned for a writing tablet, and to everyone’s surprise he wrote, “His name is John.” Instantly Zechariah could speak again, and he began praising God.

Awe fell upon the whole neighborhood, and the news of what had happened spread throughout the Judean hills. Everyone who heard about it reflected on these events and asked, “What will this child turn out to be?” For the hand of the Lord was surely upon him in a special way.

Zechariah’s Prophecy

Then his father, Zechariah, was filled with the Holy Spirit and gave this prophecy:

“Praise the Lord, the God of Israel, because he has visited and redeemed his people. He has sent us a mighty Savior from the royal line of his servant David, just as he promised through his holy prophets long ago. Now we will be saved from our enemies and from all who hate us. He has been merciful to our ancestors by remembering his sacred covenant—the covenant he swore with an oath to our ancestor Abraham. We have been rescued from our enemies so we can serve God without fear, in holiness and righteousness for as long as we live.

“And you, my little son, will be called the prophet of the Most High, because you will prepare the way for the Lord. You will tell his people how to find salvation through forgiveness of their sins. Because of God’s tender mercy, the morning light from heaven is about to break upon us, to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, and to guide us to the path of peace.”

John grew up and became strong in spirit. And he lived in the wilderness until he began his public ministry to Israel.

The Birth of Jesus

Luke 2 (NLT)

At that time the Roman emperor, Augustus, decreed that a census should be taken throughout the Roman Empire. (This was the first census taken when Quirinius was governor of Syria.) All returned to their own ancestral towns to register for this census. And because Joseph was a descendant of King David, he had to go to Bethlehem in Judea, David’s ancient home. He traveled there from the village of Nazareth in Galilee. He took with him Mary, to whom he was engaged, who was now expecting a child.

And while they were there, the time came for her baby to be born. She gave birth to her firstborn son. She wrapped him snugly in strips of cloth and laid him in a manger, because there was no lodging available for them.

The Shepherds and Angels

That night there were shepherds staying in the fields nearby, guarding their flocks of sheep. Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord’s glory surrounded them. They were terrified, but the angel reassured them. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David! And you will recognize him by this sign: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in strips of cloth, lying in a manger.”

Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others—the armies of heaven—praising God and saying,

“Glory to God in highest heaven, and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased.”

When the angels had returned to heaven, the shepherds said to each other, “Let’s go to Bethlehem! Let’s see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”

They hurried to the village and found Mary and Joseph. And there was the baby, lying in the manger. After seeing him, the shepherds told everyone what had happened and what the angel had said to them about this child. All who heard the shepherds’ story were astonished, but Mary kept all these things in her heart and thought about them often. The shepherds went back to their flocks, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen. It was just as the angel had told them.

Jesus Is Presented in the Temple

Eight days later, when the baby was circumcised, he was named Jesus, the name given him by the angel even before he was conceived.

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.”

The Prophecy of Simeon

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.”

The Prophecy of Anna

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.

Jesus Speaks with the Teachers

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.

His parents didn’t know what to think. “Son,” his mother said to him, “why have you done this to us? Your father and I have been frantic, searching for you everywhere.”

“But why did you need to search?” he asked. “Didn’t you know that I must be in my Father’s house?” But they didn’t understand what he meant.

Then he returned to Nazareth with them and was obedient to them. And his mother stored all these things in her heart.

Jesus grew in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and all the people.
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Blessing – (Northumbrian Community)

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

Daily Reading: 07 June – The Living Word; Gabriel’s Message – Luke 1 ~ you will name him Jesus

Tuesday of the Tenth Week in Ordinary Time

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

But when the right time came, God sent his Son, born of a woman, subject to the law. God sent him to buy freedom for us who were slaves to the law, so that he could adopt us as his very own children. – Galatians 4:4-5 (NLT)

E100:11.b – The Living Word

Gabriel’s Message – Luke 1 (NLT)

Introduction

Luke 1 Many people have set out to write accounts about the events that have been fulfilled among us. 2 They used the eyewitness reports circulating among us from the early disciples. 3 Having carefully investigated everything from the beginning, I also have decided to write an accurate account for you, most honorable Theophilus, 4 so you can be certain of the truth of everything you were taught.

The Birth of John the Baptist Foretold

5 When Herod was king of Judea, there was a Jewish priest named Zechariah. He was a member of the priestly order of Abijah, and his wife, Elizabeth, was also from the priestly line of Aaron. 6 Zechariah and Elizabeth were righteous in God’s eyes, careful to obey all of the Lord’s commandments and regulations. 7 They had no children because Elizabeth was unable to conceive, and they were both very old.

8 One day Zechariah was serving God in the Temple, for his order was on duty that week. 9 As was the custom of the priests, he was chosen by lot to enter the sanctuary of the Lord and burn incense. 10 While the incense was being burned, a great crowd stood outside, praying.

Archangel Gabriel struck Zechariah mute Alexander Ivanov, 1824; Russian Federation
Archangel Gabriel struck Zechariah mute
Alexander Ivanov, 1824;
Russian Federation

11 While Zechariah was in the sanctuary, an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing to the right of the incense altar. 12 Zechariah was shaken and overwhelmed with fear when he saw him. 13 But the angel said, “Don’t be afraid, Zechariah! God has heard your prayer. Your wife, Elizabeth, will give you a son, and you are to name him John. 14 You will have great joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth, 15 for he will be great in the eyes of the Lord. He must never touch wine or other alcoholic drinks. He will be filled with the Holy Spirit, even before his birth. 16 And he will turn many Israelites to the Lord their God. 17 He will be a man with the spirit and power of Elijah. He will prepare the people for the coming of the Lord. He will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, and he will cause those who are rebellious to accept the wisdom of the godly.”

18 Zechariah said to the angel, “How can I be sure this will happen? I’m an old man now, and my wife is also well along in years.”

19 Then the angel said, “I am Gabriel! I stand in the very presence of God. It was he who sent me to bring you this good news! 20 But now, since you didn’t believe what I said, you will be silent and unable to speak until the child is born. For my words will certainly be fulfilled at the proper time.”

21 Meanwhile, the people were waiting for Zechariah to come out of the sanctuary, wondering why he was taking so long. 22 When he finally did come out, he couldn’t speak to them. Then they realized from his gestures and his silence that he must have seen a vision in the sanctuary.

23 When Zechariah’s week of service in the Temple was over, he returned home. 24 Soon afterward his wife, Elizabeth, became pregnant and went into seclusion for five months. 25 “How kind the Lord is!” she exclaimed. “He has taken away my disgrace of having no children.”

The Birth of Jesus Foretold

26 In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a village in Galilee, 27 to a virgin named Mary. She was engaged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of King David. 28 Gabriel appeared to her and said, “Greetings, favored woman! The Lord is with you!”

angelvisitingmary
Angel Gabriel visiting Mary

29 Confused and disturbed, Mary tried to think what the angel could mean. 30 “Don’t be afraid, Mary,” the angel told her, “for you have found favor with God! 31 You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you will name him Jesus. 32 He will be very great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his ancestor David. 33 And he will reign over Israel forever; his Kingdom will never end!”

34 Mary asked the angel, “But how can this happen? I am a virgin.”

35 The angel replied, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the baby to be born will be holy, and he will be called the Son of God. 36 What’s more, your relative Elizabeth has become pregnant in her old age! People used to say she was barren, but she has conceived a son and is now in her sixth month. 37 For the word of God will never fail.”

38 Mary responded, “I am the Lord’s servant. May everything you have said about me come true.” And then the angel left her.

Mary Visits Elizabeth

39 A few days later Mary hurried to the hill country of Judea, to the town 40 where Zechariah lived. She entered the house and greeted Elizabeth. 41 At the sound of Mary’s greeting, Elizabeth’s child leaped within her, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit.

42 Elizabeth gave a glad cry and exclaimed to Mary, “God has blessed you above all women, and your child is blessed. 43 Why am I so honored, that the mother of my Lord should visit me? 44 When I heard your greeting, the baby in my womb jumped for joy. 45 You are blessed because you believed that the Lord would do what he said.”

The Magnificat: Mary’s Song of Praise


[The Magnificat, Canticle of Mary, Song of Mary, Latin Hymn, Daughters of Mary]

46 Mary responded,

“Oh, how my soul praises the Lord. 47 How my spirit rejoices in God my Savior! 48 For he took notice of his lowly servant girl, and from now on all generations will call me blessed. 49 For the Mighty One is holy, and he has done great things for me. 50 He shows mercy from generation to generation to all who fear him. 51 His mighty arm has done tremendous things! He has scattered the proud and haughty ones. 52 He has brought down princes from their thrones and exalted the humble. 53 He has filled the hungry with good things and sent the rich away with empty hands. 54 He has helped his servant Israel and remembered to be merciful. 55 For he made this promise to our ancestors, to Abraham and his children forever.”

56 Mary stayed with Elizabeth about three months and then went back to her own home.

The Birth of John the Baptist

57 When it was time for Elizabeth’s baby to be born, she gave birth to a son. 58 And when her neighbors and relatives heard that the Lord had been very merciful to her, everyone rejoiced with her.

59 When the baby was eight days old, they all came for the circumcision ceremony. They wanted to name him Zechariah, after his father. 60 But Elizabeth said, “No! His name is John!”

The Birth of St. John the Baptist Bartolomé-Esteban Murillo, c. 1655 The Norton Simon Museum Pasadena, CA
The Birth of St. John the Baptist
Bartolomé-Esteban Murillo, c. 1655
The Norton Simon Museum
Pasadena, CA

61 “What?” they exclaimed. “There is no one in all your family by that name.” 62 So they used gestures to ask the baby’s father what he wanted to name him. 63 He motioned for a writing tablet, and to everyone’s surprise he wrote, “His name is John.” 64 Instantly Zechariah could speak again, and he began praising God.

65 Awe fell upon the whole neighborhood, and the news of what had happened spread throughout the Judean hills. 66 Everyone who heard about it reflected on these events and asked, “What will this child turn out to be?” For the hand of the Lord was surely upon him in a special way.

Zechariah’s Prophecy

67 Then his father, Zechariah, was filled with the Holy Spirit and gave this prophecy:

68 “Praise the Lord, the God of Israel, because he has visited and redeemed his people. 69 He has sent us a mighty Savior from the royal line of his servant David, 70 just as he promised through his holy prophets long ago. 71 Now we will be saved from our enemies and from all who hate us. 72 He has been merciful to our ancestors by remembering his sacred covenant— 73 the covenant he swore with an oath to our ancestor Abraham. 74 We have been rescued from our enemies so we can serve God without fear, 75 in holiness and righteousness for as long as we live.

76 “And you, my little son, will be called the prophet of the Most High, because you will prepare the way for the Lord. 77 You will tell his people how to find salvation through forgiveness of their sins. 78 Because of God’s tender mercy, the morning light from heaven is about to break upon us, 79 to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, and to guide us to the path of peace.”

80 John grew up and became strong in spirit. And he lived in the wilderness until he began his public ministry to Israel.

“Holy is His Name” – The Magnificat, Hymn, Robert Kochis

Prayer for Holiness

Breathe in me, O Holy Spirit, that my thoughts may all be holy.
Act in me, O Holy Spirit, that my work, too, may be holy.
Draw my heart, O Holy Spirit, that I love only what is holy.
Strengthen me, O Holy Spirit, to defend all that is holy.
Guard me so, O Holy Spirit, that I may always be holy.
Amen.

Closing Sentence

And because we are his children, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, prompting us to call out, “Abba, Father.” Now you are no longer a slave but God’s own child. And since you are his child, God has made you his heir. – Galatians 4:6-7 (NLT)

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