Friday morning December 18

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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.


Spirit of Grace and Health and Power

John Wesley
Spirit of grace, and health and power,
Fountain of light and love below,
Abroad thy healing influence shower,
On all thy servants let it flow;

Inflame our hearts with perfect love,
In us the work of faith fulfill;
So not heaven’s host shall swifter move
Than we on earth to do thy will.

Father, ’tis thine each day to yield
Thy children’s wants a fresh supply,
Thou clothest the lilies of the field,
And hearest the young ravens cry.

On thee we cast our care; we live
Through thee, who knowest our every need;
O feed us with thy grace, and give
Our souls this day the living bread!

Confession of sin

Let us confess our sins against God and our neighbor. 

Silence may be kept.

Most merciful God, 
we confess that we have sinned against you
in thought, word, and deed, 
by what we have done, 
and by what we have left undone. 
We have not loved you with our whole heart; 
we have not loved our neighbors as ourselves. 
We are truly sorry and we humbly repent. 
For the sake of your Son Jesus Christ, 
have mercy on us and forgive us; 
that we may delight in your will, 
and walk in your ways, 
to the glory of your name. Amen.

Almighty God have mercy on us, forgive us all our sins
through our Lord Jesus Christ, strengthen us in all
goodness, and by the power of the Holy Spirit keep us in
eternal life. 

The Word of God

Psalm 77

You are the God who works wonders; you have demonstrated your strength among all peoples.

I cry out loud to God—
    out loud to God so that he can hear me!
During the day when I’m in trouble I look for my Lord.
    At night my hands are still outstretched and don’t grow numb;
        my whole being refuses to be comforted.
I remember God and I moan.
    I complain, and my spirit grows tired. 
You’ve kept my eyelids from closing.
    I’m so upset I can’t even speak.
I think about days long past;
    I remember years that seem an eternity in the past.
I meditate with my heart at night;
    I complain, and my spirit keeps searching:
“Will my Lord reject me forever?
    Will he never be pleased again?
Has his faithful love come to a complete end?
    Is his promise over for future generations?
Has God forgotten how to be gracious?
    Has he angrily stopped up his compassion?” 
It’s my misfortune, I thought,
    that the strong hand of the Most High is different now.
But I will remember the Lord’s deeds;
    yes, I will remember your wondrous acts from times long past.
I will meditate on all your works;
    I will ponder your deeds.
God, your way is holiness!
    Who is as great a god as you, God?
You are the God who works wonders;
    you have demonstrated your strength among all peoples.
With your mighty arm you redeemed your people;
    redeemed the children of Jacob and Joseph. 
The waters saw you, God—
    the waters saw you and reeled!
        Even the deep depths shook!
The clouds poured water,
    the skies cracked thunder;
        your arrows were flying all around!
The crash of your thunder was in the swirling storm;
    lightning lit up the whole world;
        the earth shook and quaked.
Your way went straight through the sea;
    your pathways went right through the mighty waters.
        But your footprints left no trace!
You led your people like sheep
    under the care of Moses and Aaron.

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 are the God who works wonders; you have demonstrated your strength among all peoples.

Psalm prayer

God our shepherd,
you led us and saved us in times of old;
do not forget your people in their troubles,
but raise up your power
to sustain the poor and helpless;
for the honor of Jesus Christ our Lord.

Psalm 98

The Lord has made his salvation widely known.

Sing to the Lord a new song
    because he has done wonderful things!
His own strong hand and his own holy arm
    have won the victory!
The Lord has made his salvation widely known;
    he has revealed his righteousness
    in the eyes of all the nations.
God has remembered his loyal love
    and faithfulness to the house of Israel;
    every corner of the earth has seen our God’s salvation.
Shout triumphantly to the Lord, all the earth!
    Be happy!
    Rejoice out loud!
    Sing your praises!
Sing your praises to the Lord with the lyre—
    with the lyre and the sound of music.
With trumpets and a horn blast,
    shout triumphantly before the Lord, the king!
Let the sea and everything in it roar;
    the world and all its inhabitants too.
Let all the rivers clap their hands;
    let the mountains rejoice out loud altogether before the Lord
    because he is coming to establish justice on the earth!
He will establish justice in the world rightly;
    he will establish justice among all people fairly.

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 his salvation widely known.

Psalm prayer

Lord God, just and true,
you make your salvation known in the sight of the nations;
tune the song of our hearts to the music of creation
as you come among us to judge the earth;
through our Savior Jesus Christ.

Old Testament reading
Zephaniah 3:1-13

Doom, obstinate one,
        the defiled one,
        the violent city.
She listened to no voice;
        she accepted no discipline.
She didn’t trust in the Lord,
        nor did she draw near to her God.
The princes in her midst are roaring lions.
        Her judges are wolves of the evening;
        they leave nothing for the morning.
Her prophets are reckless, men of treachery.
        Her priests pollute that which is holy;
        they do violence to the Instruction.
The Lord is righteous in her midst.
He does nothing unjust.
        Morning by morning he renders justice,
        but the unrighteous one knows no shame.
I will cut off nations;
        their towers will be destroyed;
        I will devastate their streets.
            No one will pass through.
        Their cities will be laid waste.
            There will be no person, no inhabitant left.
I said, “Surely, she will fear me;
            she will take instruction
        so that her habitation won’t be cut off
            because of everything I did to her.”
However, they rose early to corrupt their deeds.
Therefore, wait for me, says the Lord,
        wait for the day when I rise up as a witness,
        when I decide to gather nations,
                to collect kingdoms,
            to pour out my indignation upon them,
                all the heat of my anger.
        In the fire of my jealousy,
            all the earth will be devoured.

Then I will change the speech of the peoples into pure speech,
        that all of them will call on the name of the Lord
        and will serve him as one.
From beyond the rivers of Cush,
        my daughter, my dispersed ones, will bring me offerings.
On that day, you won’t be ashamed of all your deeds
        with which you sinned against me;
            then I will remove from your midst those boasting with pride.
No longer will you be haughty on my holy mountain,
    but I will cause a humble and powerless people to remain in your midst;
        they will seek refuge in the name of the Lord.
The few remaining from Israel won’t commit injustice;
        they won’t tell lies;
        a deceitful tongue won’t be found on their lips.
            They will graze and lie down;
                no one will make them afraid.

Silence may be kept.

New Testament reading
Matthew 18:1-20

At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?”

Then he called a little child over to sit among the disciples, and said, “I assure you that if you don’t turn your lives around and become like this little child, you will definitely not enter the kingdom of heaven. Those who humble themselves like this little child will be the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me.

“As for whoever causes these little ones who believe in me to trip and fall into sin, it would be better for them to have a huge stone hung around their necks and be drowned in the bottom of the lake. How terrible it is for the world because of the things that cause people to trip and fall into sin! Such things have to happen, but how terrible it is for the person who causes those things to happen! If your hand or your foot causes you to fall into sin, chop it off and throw it away. It’s better to enter into life crippled or lame than to be thrown into the eternal fire with two hands or two feet. If your eye causes you to fall into sin, tear it out and throw it away. It’s better to enter into life with one eye than to be cast into a burning hell with two eyes.

“Be careful that you don’t look down on one of these little ones. I say to you that their angels in heaven are always looking into the face of my Father who is in heaven. What do you think? If someone had one hundred sheep and one of them wandered off, wouldn’t he leave the ninety-nine on the hillsides and go in search for the one that wandered off? If he finds it, I assure you that he is happier about having that one sheep than about the ninety-nine who didn’t wander off. In the same way, my Father who is in heaven doesn’t want to lose one of these little ones.

“If your brother or sister sins against you, go and correct them when you are alone together. If they listen to you, then you’ve won over your brother or sister. But if they won’t listen, take with you one or two others so that every word may be established by the mouth of two or three witnesses. But if they still won’t pay attention, report it to the church. If they won’t pay attention even to the church, treat them as you would a Gentile and tax collector. I assure you that whatever you fasten on earth will be fastened in heaven. And whatever you loosen on earth will be loosened in heaven. Again I assure you that if two of you agree on earth about anything you ask, then my Father who is in heaven will do it for you. For where two or three are gathered in my name, I’m there with them.”

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


Lord of life
In your mercy, hear us.

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.