4th Sunday in Advent
+ In the name the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen
Advent is drawing to a close; only four more days left to prepare for the birth of Christ. On this Sunday, we’re invited to follow Mary’s example and imitate her faith.
Here in our midst, O God of mystery, You disclose the secret hidden for countless ages. For You we wait, for You we listen.
Upon hearing Your voice may we, like Mary, embrace Your will and become a dwelling fit for Your Word.
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.
Once in royal David’s city stood a lowly cattle shed, where a mother laid her baby in a manger for his bed: Mary was that mother mild; Jesus Christ, her little child.
He came down to earth from heaven who is God and Lord of all, and his shelter was a stable, and his cradle was a stall; with the poor and meek and lowly, lived on earth our Savior holy.
Jesus is our childhood’s pattern; day by day like us he grew; he was little, weak and helpless; tears and smiles like us he knew; and he feels for all our sadness, and he shares in all our gladness.
And our eyes at last shall see him, through his own redeeming love; for that child so dear and gentle is our Lord in heaven above; and he leads his children on to the place where he is gone.
A Reading from the Old testament: 2 Samuel 7:1-5, 8-12, 14, 16 (NLT)
When King David was settled in his palace and the Lord had given him rest from all the surrounding enemies, the king summoned Nathan the prophet. “Look,” David said, “I am living in a beautiful cedar palace, but the Ark of God is out there in a tent!”
Nathan replied to the king, “Go ahead and do whatever you have in mind, for the Lord is with you.”
But that same night the Lord said to Nathan,
“Go and tell my servant David, ‘This is what the Lord has declared: Are you the one to build a house for me to live in?
“Now go and say to my servant David, ‘This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies has declared: I took you from tending sheep in the pasture and selected you to be the leader of my people Israel. I have been with you wherever you have gone, and I have destroyed all your enemies before your eyes. Now I will make your name as famous as anyone who has ever lived on the earth! And I will provide a homeland for my people Israel, planting them in a secure place where they will never be disturbed. Evil nations won’t oppress them as they’ve done in the past, starting from the time I appointed judges to rule my people Israel. And I will give you rest from all your enemies.
“‘Furthermore, the Lord declares that he will make a house for you — a dynasty of kings! For when you die and are buried with your ancestors, I will raise up one of your descendants, your own offspring, and I will make his kingdom strong.
“I will be his father, and he will be my son. If he sins, I will correct and discipline him with the rod, like any father would do.
“Your house and your kingdom will continue before me for all time, and your throne will be secure forever.’”
A Reading from the Psalms: Psalm 89:2-5, 27-29 (NLT)
Your unfailing love will last forever. Your faithfulness is as enduring as the heavens.
The Lord said, “I have made a covenant with David, my chosen servant. I have sworn this oath to him: ‘I will establish your descendants as kings forever; they will sit on your throne from now until eternity.’”
All heaven will praise your great wonders, Lord; myriads of angels will praise you for your faithfulness.
I will make him my firstborn son, the mightiest king on earth. I will love him and be kind to him forever; my covenant with him will never end. I will preserve an heir for him; his throne will be as endless as the days of heaven.
A Reading from the Letters: Romans 16:25-27 (NLT)
Now all glory to God, who is able to make you strong, just as my Good News says. This message about Jesus Christ has revealed his plan for you Gentiles, a plan kept secret from the beginning of time. But now as the prophets foretold and as the eternal God has commanded, this message is made known to all Gentiles everywhere, so that they too might believe and obey him. All glory to the only wise God, through Jesus Christ, forever. Amen.
A Reading from the Gospels: Luke 1:26-38 (NLT)
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.
Lord God: Your love for us endures forever. In humble confidence, we present our needs to You. Lord, hear us.
+ For all who profess their faith in Christ – that with open hearts we may welcome our Saviour…. Lord, hear us.
+ For the Jewish people, descendants of the great King David – that God’s promises to them may be fulfilled…. Lord, hear us.
+ For the members of all religions – that they may grow in tolerance and respect for each other…. Lord, hear us.
+ For people in our faith communities who lack courage – that they may be inspired by Mary’s trust in You…. Lord, hear us.
+ For our relatives and friends coming home for Christmas – that they may travel safely and find peace and rest…. Lord, hear us.
+ For people who suffered grief or illness this past year – that their friends may love and support them in times of loneliness…. Lord, hear us.
+ For those who have gone before us in faith, and for all those who have died through acts of violence since last Christmas – that they may receive a welcome in heaven…. Lord, hear us.
O God, Your love for Your people endures forever: hear our prayers and send us Your help, through Christ our Lord. Amen.
O Light Everlasting, O Love never failing. Illumine our darkness and draw us to Thee. May we from Thy spirit receive inspiration As children together Thy wisdom may see. Make known to all nations Thy peace and salvation, And help us O Father, Thy temple to be.
We rejoice at the coming of the Saviour in our flesh, and we await His return again in glory. May God the almighty and merciful bless You by the light of Christ’s coming, and enrich Your lives with every grace.
+ In the Name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen