Thursday morning December 24

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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.


Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus

Charles Wesley

Come, thou long expected Jesus,
born to set thy people free;
from our fears and sins release us,
let us find our rest in thee.
Israel's strength and consolation,
hope of all the earth thou art;
dear desire of every nation,
joy of every longing heart.

Born thy people to deliver,
born a child and yet a King,
born to reign in us forever,
now thy gracious kingdom bring.
By thine own eternal spirit
rule in all our hearts alone;
by thine all sufficient merit,
raise us to thy glorious throne.

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 45

Behold our defender, O God, and look upon the face of your anointed.

A marvelous word has stirred my heart
    as I mention my works to the king.
        My tongue is the pen of a skillful scribe.

You are the most handsome of men;
    grace has been poured out on your lips.
        No wonder God has blessed you forever!
Strap on your sword, great warrior,
    with your glory and grandeur.
Go and succeed in your grandeur!
    Ride out on behalf of truth, humility, and righteousness!
    Let your strong hand perform awesome deeds.
Let the peoples fall beneath you.
    May your sharp arrows pierce the hearts of the king’s enemies.
Your divine throne is eternal and everlasting.
    Your royal scepter is a scepter of justice.
You love righteousness and hate wickedness.
    No wonder God, your God, has anointed you
    with the oil of joy more than all your companions!
All your clothes have the pleasing scent of myrrh, aloes, and cinnamon.
    The music of stringed instruments coming from ivory palaces entertains you.
The royal princess is standing in your precious jewels; 
    the queen stands at your right, dressed in the gold of Ophir.

Listen, daughter; pay attention, and listen closely!
    Forget your people and your father’s house.
Let the king desire your beauty.
    Because he is your master, bow down to him now.
The city of Tyre, the wealthiest of all,
    will seek your favor with gifts, with riches of every sort
    for the royal princess, dressed in pearls,
        her robe embroidered with gold.
In robes of many colors, she is led to the king.
    Her attendants, the young women servants following her,
    are presented to you as well.
As they enter the king’s palace,
    they are led in with celebration and joy.

Your sons, great king, will succeed your fathers;
    you will appoint them as princes throughout the land.
I will perpetuate your name from one generation to the next
    so the peoples will praise you forever and always.

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.

Behold our defender, O God, and look upon the face of your anointed.

Psalm prayer

Lord our God,
bring your bride, your holy church,
with joy to the marriage feast of heaven,
and unite us with your anointed Son,
Jesus Christ our Lord.

Psalm 113

From sunrise to sunset, let the Lord’s name be praised!

Praise the Lord!
    You who serve the Lord—praise!
    Praise the Lord’s name!
Let the Lord’s name be blessed
    from now until forever from now!
From sunrise to sunset,
    let the Lord’s name be praised!
The Lord is high over all the nations;
    God’s glory is higher than the skies!
Who could possibly compare to the Lord our God?
    God rules from on high;
    he has to come down to even see heaven and earth!
God lifts up the poor from the dirt
    and raises up the needy from the garbage pile
        to seat them with leaders—
        with the leaders of his own people!
    God nests the once barren woman at home—
        now a joyful mother with children!
Praise the Lord!

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.

From sunrise to sunset, let the Lord’s name be praised!

Psalm prayer

From sunrise to sunset,
we praise your name, Lord;
may your promise to raise the poor from the dust
and turn the fortunes of the needy upside down
be fulfilled in our time also,
as it was in your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.

Old Testament reading
Malachi 3:13-4:6

You have spoken harshly about me,
says the Lord;
        but you say,
            “What have we spoken about you?”
You said,
    “Serving God is useless.
    What do we gain by keeping his obligation
            or by walking around as mourners
            before the Lord of heavenly forces?
So now we consider the arrogant fortunate.
        Moreover, those doing evil are built up;
            they test God and escape.”

Then those revering the Lord,
    each and every one, spoke among themselves.
        The Lord paid attention and listened to them.
Then a scroll of remembrance was written before the Lord
        about those revering the Lord,
            the ones meditating on his name.
On the day that I am preparing,
says the Lord of heavenly forces,
        they will be my special possession.
        I will spare them just as parents spare a child who serves them.
You will again distinguish between the righteous and the wicked,
        between those serving God and those not serving him.

Look, the day is coming,
        burning like an oven.
All the arrogant ones and all those doing evil will become straw.
    The coming day will burn them,
says the Lord of heavenly forces,
        leaving them neither root nor branch.
But the sun of righteousness will rise on those revering my name;
        healing will be in its wings
            so that you will go forth and jump about like calves in the stall.
You will crush the wicked;
        they will be like dust beneath the soles of your feet
            on the day that I am preparing,
says the Lord of heavenly forces.
Remember the Instruction from Moses, my servant,
        to whom I gave Instruction and rules for all Israel at Horeb.
Look, I am sending Elijah the prophet to you,
        before the great and terrifying day of the Lord arrives.
Turn the hearts of the parents to the children
    and the hearts of the children to their parents.
            Otherwise, I will come and strike the land with a curse.

Silence may be kept.

New Testament reading
Matthew 23:1-12

Then Jesus spoke to the crowds and his disciples, “The legal experts and the Pharisees sit on Moses’ seat. Therefore, you must take care to do everything they say. But don’t do what they do. For they tie together heavy packs that are impossible to carry. They put them on the shoulders of others, but are unwilling to lift a finger to move them. Everything they do, they do to be noticed by others. They make extra-wide prayer bands for their arms and long tassels for their clothes. They love to sit in places of honor at banquets and in the synagogues. They love to be greeted with honor in the markets and to be addressed as ‘Rabbi.’

“But you shouldn’t be called Rabbi, because you have one teacher, and all of you are brothers and sisters. Don’t call anybody on earth your father, because you have one Father, who is heavenly. Don’t be called teacher, because Christ is your one teacher. But the one who is greatest among you will be your servant. All who lift themselves up will be brought low. But all who make themselves low will be lifted up.

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

Almighty God,
you make us glad with the yearly remembrance
of the birth of your Son Jesus Christ:
grant that, as we joyfully receive him as our redeemer,
so we may with sure confidence behold him
when he shall come to be 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.