Thursday morning December 17

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Opening response

Lord, open our lips
and our mouth will proclaim your praise.
Reveal among us the light of your presence
that we may behold your power and glory.

Prayer of thanksgiving

Blessed are you, Sovereign God of all,
to you be praise and glory forever.
In your tender compassion
the dawn from on high is breaking upon us
to dispel the lingering shadows of night.
As we look for your coming among us this day,
open our eyes to behold your presence
and strengthen our hands to do your will,
that the world may rejoice and give you praise.
Blessed be God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
Blessed be God forever.


Being of Beings, God of Love

Charles Wesley
Being of beings, God of love,
To thee our hearts we raise;
Thy all-sustaining power we prove,
And gladly sing thy praise.

Thine, wholly thine, we pant to be;
Our sacrifice receive!
Made, and preserved, and saved by thee,
To thee ourselves we give.

Heavenward our every wish aspires
For all thy mercy’s store,
The sole return thy love requires,
Is that we ask for more.

For more we ask; we open then
Our hearts to embrace thy will,
Turn and revive us, Lord again,
With all thy fullness fill.

Come, Holy Ghost, the Savior’s love
Shed in our hearts abroad:
So shall we ever live and move,
And be with Christ in God.

Confession of sin

O King enthroned on high,
filling the earth with your glory:
holy is your name,
Lord God almighty.

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

In our sinfulness we cry to you
to take our guilt away,
and to cleanse our lips to speak your word,
through Jesus Christ our Lord.

May the God of all healing and forgiveness
draw us to himself,
and cleanse us from all our sins
that we may behold the glory of his Son,
the Word made flesh,
Jesus Christ our Lord.

The Word of God

Psalm 76

The Lord has made fast his throne for judgment.

God is known in Judah;
    his name is great in Israel.
His dwelling place became Salem;
    his habitation was Zion.
It was there that he broke the fiery shafts of the bow,
    the shield, the sword—even the battle itself!
You are ablaze with light,
    mightier than the mountains that give food.
The bravehearted lie plundered.
    They sank into deep lethargy.
    All the strong troops
    couldn’t even lift their hands!
At your rebuke, Jacob’s God,
    both chariot and horse were stopped dead-still.
You! You are awesome!
    Who can stand before you when you are angry?
You have announced judgment from heaven.
    The earth grew afraid and fell silent
    when God rose up to establish justice,
    when God rose up to save all of the earth’s poor.
Even human rage will turn to your praise
    when you dress yourself
    with whatever remains of your wrath.
Make promises to the Lord your God and keep them!
    Let all around him bring gifts to the awesome one.
He breaks the spirit of princes.
    He is terrifying to all the kings of the earth.

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.

The Lord has made fast his throne for judgment.

Psalm prayer

Majestic and gracious God,
more awesome than the agents of war,
more powerful than the wrath of nations,
restrain the violence of the peoples
and draw the despised of the earth
into the joyful life of your kingdom,
where you live and reign forever and ever.

Psalm 97

You, Lord, are the Most High over all the earth.

The Lord rules! Let the earth rejoice!
    Let all the islands celebrate!
Clouds and thick darkness surround God.
    His throne is built on righteousness and justice.
Fire proceeds before him,
    burning up his enemies on every side.
His lightning lights up the world;
    the earth sees it and trembles!
The mountains melt like wax before the Lord,
    before the Lord of the whole world!
Heaven has proclaimed God’s righteousness,
    and all nations have seen his glory.
All those who worship images,
    those who are proud of idols,
    are put to shame.
    All gods bow down to the Lord!
Zion has heard and celebrates,
    the towns of Judah rejoice,
    because of your acts of justice, Lord,
    because you, Lord, are the Most High
        over all the earth,
    because you are so superior to all other gods.
Those of you who love the Lord, hate evil!
    God guards the lives of his faithful ones,
    delivering them from the power of the wicked.
Light is planted like seed for the righteous person;
    joy too for those whose heart is right.
Rejoice in the Lord, righteous ones!
    Give thanks to his holy name!

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.

You, Lord, are the Most High over all the earth.

Psalm prayer

Most high and holy God,
enthroned in fire and light,
burn away the dross of our lives
and kindle in us the fire of your love,
that our lives may reveal the light and life
we find in your Son, our Lord Jesus Christ.

Old Testament reading
Zephaniah 1:1-2:3

The Lord’s word that came to Zephaniah, Cushi’s son, Gedaliah’s grandson, Amariah’s great-grandson, and Hezekiah’s great-great-grandson in the days of Judah’s King Josiah, Amon’s son.

I will wipe out everything from the earth, says the Lord.
        I will destroy humanity and the beasts;
        I will destroy the birds in the sky and the fish in the sea.
        I will make the wicked into a heap of ruins;
        I will eliminate humanity from the earth, says the Lord.

I will stretch out my hand against Judah
        and against all the inhabitants of Jerusalem.
I will eliminate what’s left of Baal from this place
        and the names of the priests of foreign gods,
        those bowing down to the forces of heaven on the rooftops,
            those swearing by the Lord along with those swearing by Milcom,
        those turning away from the Lord,
            those who don’t seek the Lord and don’t pursue him.

Hush before the Lord God,
        for the day of the Lord is near!
        The Lord has established a sacrifice;
            he has made holy those he has summoned.
On the day of the Lord’s sacrifice,
        I will punish the princes, the king’s sons,
            and all those wearing foreign clothes.
I will punish the one leaping on the threshold on that day,
            those filling the house of their master with violence and deceit.
On that day—says the Lord—
        an outcry will resound from the Fish Gate,
        wailing from the second quarter,
        a loud crash from the hills.
The ones who grind the grain will wail;
        all the merchants will be silenced.
        I will eliminate all those weighing out silver.
At that time, I will search Jerusalem with lamps;
        I will punish the men growing fat on the sediment in their wine,
            those saying to themselves, The Lord won’t do good or evil.
        Their wealth will be looted and their houses destroyed.
        They will rebuild houses, but not live in them;
        they will plant vineyards, but not drink the wine.
The great day of the Lord is near;
        it is near and coming very quickly.
The sound of the day of the Lord is bitter.
        A warrior screams there.
That day is a day of fury,
        a day of distress and anxiety,
        a day of desolation and devastation,
        a day of darkness and gloominess,
        a day of clouds and deep darkness,
        a day for blowing the trumpet and alarm against their invincible cities
            and against their high towers.
I will make humanity suffer;
            they will walk like the blind
            because they sinned against the Lord.
        Their blood will be poured out like dust
        and their intestines like manure.
Moreover, their silver and their gold won’t be able to deliver them
        on the day of the Lord’s fury.
His jealousy will devour the entire land with fire;
        he will make an end,
            a truly horrible one,
        for all the inhabitants of the land.

Gather together and assemble yourselves, shameless nation,
        before the decision is made—the day vanishes like chaff—
            before the burning anger of the Lord comes against you,
            before the day of the Lord’s anger comes against you.
Seek the Lord, all you humble of the land who practice his justice;
        seek righteousness;
        seek humility.
        Maybe you will be hidden on the day of the Lord’s anger.

Silence may be kept.

New Testament reading
Matthew 17:22-27

When the disciples came together in Galilee, Jesus said to them, “The Human One is about to be delivered over into human hands. They will kill him. But he will be raised on the third day.” And they were heartbroken.

When they came to Capernaum, the people who collected the half-shekel temple tax came to Peter and said, “Doesn’t your teacher pay the temple tax?”

“Yes,” he said.

But when they came into the house, Jesus spoke to Peter first.“What do you think, Simon? From whom do earthly kings collect taxes, from their children or from strangers?”

“From strangers,” he said.

Jesus said to him, “Then the children don’t have to pay. But just so we don’t offend them, go to the lake, throw out a fishing line and hook, and take the first fish you catch. When you open its mouth, you will find a shekel coin. Take it and pay the tax for both of us.”

Silence may be kept.

Gospel canticle
The Benedictus (The Song of Zechariah)

Like the sun in the morning sky, 
the Savior of the world will dawn; 
like rain upon the meadows, 
the Christ will come down upon us.

Bless the Lord God of Israel
because he has come to help and has delivered his people.
He has raised up a mighty savior for us in his servant David’s house,
just as he said through the mouths of his holy prophets long ago.
He has brought salvation from our enemies
and from the power of all those who hate us.
He has shown the mercy promised to our ancestors,
and remembered his holy covenant,
the solemn pledge he made to our ancestor Abraham.
He has granted that we would be rescued
from the power of our enemies
so that we could serve him without fear,
in holiness and righteousness in God’s eyes,
for as long as we live.
You, child, will be called a prophet of the Most High,
for you will go before the Lord to prepare his way.
You will tell his people how to be saved
through the forgiveness of their sins.
Because of our God’s deep compassion,
the dawn from heaven will break upon us,
to give light to those who are sitting in darkness
and in the shadow of death,
to guide us on the path of peace.”

Luke 1:68-79

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.

Like the sun in the morning sky, 
the Savior of the world will dawn; 
like rain upon the meadows, 
the Christ will come down upon us.

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.


Intercession and thanksgiving

Prayers are offered
for the day and its tasks
for the world and its needs
for the Church and her life


Father, by your Spirit
Bring in your kingdom.

Silence may be kept.

Collect of the day

O Lord Jesus Christ,
who at your first coming sent your messenger
to prepare your way before you:
grant that the ministers and stewards of your mysteries
may likewise so prepare and make ready your way
by turning the hearts of the disobedient to the wisdom of the just,
that at your second coming to judge the world
we may be found an acceptable people in your sight;
for you are alive and reign with the Father
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.