Wednesday evening December 23

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Opening response

O God, make speed to save us.
O Lord, make haste to help us.
Reveal among us the light of your presence
that we may behold your power and glory.

Prayer of thanksgiving

Blessed are you, Sovereign God,
creator of light and darkness,
to you be glory and praise forever.
As evening falls, you renew your promise
to reveal among us the light of your presence.
May your word be a lantern to our feet
and a light upon our path
that we may behold your coming among us.
Strengthen us in our stumbling weakness
and free our tongues to sing your praise.
Blessed be God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
Blessed be God forever.


O Thou Whom We Adore

Charles Wesley
O thou whom we adore!
To bless our earth again,
Assume thine own almighty power,
And over the nations reign.

The world’s desire and hope,
All power to thee is given;
Now set the last great empire up,
Eternal Lord of heaven!

A gracious Savior, thou,
Wilt all thy creatures bless;
And every knee to thee shall bow,
And every tongue confess.

According to thy word;
Now be thy grace revealed;
And with the knowledge of the Lord,
Let all the earth be filled.

Confession of sin

Seek the Lord when he can still be found;
call him while he is yet near.
Let the wicked abandon their ways
and the sinful their schemes.
Let them return to the Lord so that he may have mercy on them,
to our God, because he is generous with forgiveness.

cf Isaiah 55

A time of silence and self-examination may be kept.

Lord God,
we have sinned against you;
we have committed evil in your sight.
We are sorry and repent.
Have mercy on us according to your faithful love.
Wash us completely clean of our guilt; purify us from our sin.
Put a new, faithful spirit deep inside us,
and return the joy of your salvation to us
through Jesus Christ our Lord.

cf Psalm 51

May the Father of all mercies
cleanse us from our sins,
and restore us in his image
to the praise and glory of his name,
through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Bless the Lord,
because he has listened to our request for mercy.
Therefore our hearts will rejoice
and we will thank him with our song.

cf Psalm 28:7,9

The Word of God

Psalm 89:1-37

Truly the Lord is our shield.

I will sing of the Lord’s loyal love forever.
    I will proclaim your faithfulness
    with my own mouth
    from one generation to the next.
That’s why I say,
    “Your loyal love is rightly built—forever!
    You establish your faithfulness in heaven.”
You said, “I made a covenant with my chosen one;
    I promised my servant David:
    ‘I will establish your offspring forever;
    I will build up your throne from one generation to the next.’”

Heaven thanks you for your wondrous acts, Lord—
    for your faithfulness too—
    in the assembly of the holy ones.
Is there any in the sky who could compare to the Lord?
    Who among the gods is equal to the Lord?
God is respected in the council of the holy ones;
    God is awesome and revered more than all those around him.
Who is like you, Lord God of heavenly forces?
    Mighty Lord, your faithfulness surrounds you!
You rule over the surging sea:
    When its waves rise up,
    it’s you who makes them still.
It’s you who crushed Rahab like a dead body;
    you scattered your enemies with your strong arm.
Heaven is yours! The earth too!
    The world and all that fills it—
    you made all of it! North and south—you created them!
    The mountains Tabor and Hermon
    shout praises to your name.
You have a powerful arm;
    your hand is strong;
    your strong hand is raised high!
Your throne is built on righteousness and justice;
    loyal love and faithfulness stand in front of you.

The people who know the celebratory shout are truly happy!
    They walk in the light of your presence, Lord!
They rejoice in your name all day long
    and are uplifted by your righteousness
    because you are the splendor of their strength.
By your favor you make us strong
    because our shield is the Lord’s own;
    our king belongs to the holy one of Israel!

Once you spoke in a vision
    to your faithful servants:
I placed a crown on a strong man.
    I raised up someone specially chosen from the people.
I discovered my servant David.
    I anointed him with my holy oil.
My hand will sustain him—
    yes, my arm will strengthen him!
No enemy will oppress him;
    no wicked person will make him suffer.
I will crush all his foes in front of him.
    I will strike down all those who hate him.
My faithfulness and my loyal love will be with him.
    He will be strengthened by my name.
I will set his hand on the sea.
    I will set his strong hand on the rivers.
He will cry out to me:
    “You are my father,
    my God, the rock of my salvation.”
Yes, I’ll make him the one born first—
    I’ll make him the high king of all earth’s kings.
I will always guard my loyal love toward him.
    My covenant with him will last forever.
I will establish his dynasty for all time.
    His throne will last as long as heaven does.
But if his children ever abandon my Instruction,
    stop following my rules—
        if they treat my statutes like dirt,
        stop keeping my commandments—
    then I will punish their sin with a stick,
        and I will punish their wrongdoing with a severe beating.
But even then I won’t withdraw my loyal love from him.
    I won’t betray my faithfulness.
    I won’t break my covenant.
    I won’t renege on what crossed my lips.
By my own holiness I’ve sworn one thing:
    I will not lie to David.
    His dynasty will last forever.
    His throne will be like the sun, always before me.
    It will be securely established forever;
    like the moon, a faithful witness in the sky.  

Glory 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.

Truly the Lord is our shield.

Psalm prayer

As we sing of your love, O Lord,
anoint us with the Spirit’s seal,
that we may praise your faithfulness
and proclaim your truth from age to age;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Old Testament reading
Isaiah 55

All of you who are thirsty, come to the water!
Whoever has no money, come, buy food and eat!
Without money, at no cost, buy wine and milk!
Why spend money for what isn’t food,
    and your earnings for what doesn’t satisfy?
Listen carefully to me and eat what is good;
    enjoy the richest of feasts.
Listen and come to me;
    listen, and you will live.
I will make an everlasting covenant with you,
    my faithful loyalty to David.
Look, I made him a witness to the peoples,
    a prince and commander of peoples.
Look, you will call a nation you don’t know,
    a nation you don’t know will run to you
    because of the Lord your God,
    the holy one of Israel, who has glorified you.

Seek the Lord when he can still be found;
    call him while he is yet near.
Let the wicked abandon their ways
    and the sinful their schemes.
Let them return to the Lord so that he may have mercy on them,
    to our God, because he is generous with forgiveness.
My plans aren’t your plans,
nor are your ways my ways, says the Lord.
Just as the heavens are higher than the earth,
    so are my ways higher than your ways,
    and my plans than your plans.
Just as the rain and the snow come down from the sky
        and don’t return there without watering the earth,
        making it conceive and yield plants
        and providing seed to the sower and food to the eater,
    so is my word that comes from my mouth;
        it does not return to me empty.
        Instead, it does what I want,
        and accomplishes what I intend.

Yes, you will go out with celebration,
    and you will be brought back in peace.
Even the mountains and the hills will burst into song before you;
    all the trees of the field will clap their hands.
In place of the thorn the cypress will grow;
    in place of the nettle the myrtle will grow.
This will attest to the Lord’s stature,
        an enduring reminder that won’t be removed.

Silence may be kept.

New Testament reading
2 Peter 2:4-22

God didn’t spare the angels when they sinned but cast them into the lowest level of the underworld and committed them to chains of darkness, keeping them there until the judgment. And he didn’t spare the ancient world when he brought a flood on the world of ungodly people, even though he protected Noah, a preacher of righteousness, along with seven others. God condemned the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah to total destruction, reducing them to ashes as a warning to ungodly people. And he rescued righteous Lot, who was made miserable by the unrestrained immorality of unruly people. (While that righteous man lived among them he felt deep distress every day on account of the immoral actions he saw and heard.) These things show that the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from their trials, and how to keep the unrighteous for punishment on the Judgment Day. This is especially true for those who follow after the corrupt cravings of the sinful nature and defy the Lord’s authority.

These reckless, brash people aren’t afraid to insult the glorious ones, yet angels, who are stronger and more powerful, don’t use insults when pronouncing the Lord’s judgment on them. These false teachers are like irrational animals, mere creatures of instinct, born to be captured and destroyed. They slander what they don’t understand and, like animals, they will be destroyed. In this way, they will receive payment for their wrongdoing.

They even enjoy unruly parties in broad daylight. They are blots and blemishes, taking delight in their seductive pleasures while feasting with you. They are always looking for someone with whom to commit adultery. They are always on the lookout for opportunities to sin. They ensnare people whose faith is weak. They have hearts trained in greed. They are under God’s curse. Leaving the straight path, they have gone off course, following the way of Balaam son of Bosor, who loved the payment of doing wrong. But Balaam was rebuked for his wrongdoing. A donkey, which has no voice, spoke with a human voice and put a stop to the prophet’s madness.

These false teachers are springs without water, mists driven by the wind. The underworld has been reserved for them. With empty, self-important speech, they use sinful cravings and unrestrained immorality to ensnare people who have only just escaped life with those who have wandered from the truth. These false teachers promise freedom, but they themselves are slaves of immorality; whatever overpowers you, enslaves you. If people escape the moral filth of this world through the knowledge of our Lord and savior Jesus Christ, then get tangled up in it again and are overcome by it, they are worse off than they were before. It would be better for them never to have known the way of righteousness than, having come to know it, to turn back from the holy commandment entrusted to them. They demonstrate the truth of the proverb: “A dog returns to its own vomit, and a washed sow wallows in the mud.”

Silence may be kept.

Gospel canticle
The Magnificat (The Song of Mary)

O Emmanuel, our king and our lawgiver,
the hope of the nations and their Savior:
Come and save us, O Lord our God.

With all my heart I glorify the Lord!
In the depths of who I am I rejoice in God my savior.
He has looked with favor on the low status of his servant.
Look! From now on, everyone will consider me highly favored
because the mighty one has done great things for me.
Holy is his name.
He shows mercy to everyone,
from one generation to the next,
who honors him as God.
He has shown strength with his arm.
He has scattered those with arrogant thoughts and proud inclinations.
He has pulled the powerful down from their thrones
and lifted up the lowly.
He has filled the hungry with good things
and sent the rich away empty-handed.
He has come to the aid of his servant Israel,
remembering his mercy, 
just as he promised to our ancestors, 
to Abraham and to Abraham’s descendants forever.

Luke 1:46-55

Glory 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.

O Emmanuel, our king and our lawgiver,
the hope of the nations and their Savior:
Come and save us, O Lord our God.

Brief silence

The Apostle’s Creed

Let us unite in this historic confession of the Christian faith:

I believe in God, the Father Almighty,
creator of heaven and earth.

I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord,
who was conceived by the Holy Spirit,
born of the Virgin Mary,
suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, died, and was buried;
he descended to the dead.
On the third day he rose again;
he ascended into heaven,
is seated at the right hand of the Father,
and will come again to judge the living and the dead.

I believe in the Holy Spirit,
the holy catholic church,
the communion of saints,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body,
and the life everlasting. Amen.


Thanksgiving and intercession

Thanksgiving may be made for the day.
Intercessions are offered
for peace
for individuals and their needs


Father, hear our prayer,
through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Silence may be kept.

Collect of the day

God our redeemer,
who prepared the Blessed Virgin Mary
to be the mother of your Son:
grant that, as she looked for his coming as our savior,
so we may be ready to greet him
when he comes again as our judge;
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and forever.  

The Lord’s Prayer

Awaiting his coming in glory,
as our Savior taught us, so we pray

Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins
as we forgive those who sin against us.
Lead us not into temptation
but deliver us from evil.
For the kingdom, the power,
and the glory are yours
now and forever.


May the Lord, when he comes,
find us watching and waiting.