Thursday morning December 31

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Opening response

Lord, open our lips
and our mouth will proclaim your praise.
You laid the foundation of the earth
and the heavens are the work of your hands.

Prayer of thanksgiving

Blessed are you, sovereign God,
creator of heaven and earth,
to you be praise and glory forever.
As your living Word, eternal in heaven,
assumed the frailty of our mortal flesh,
may the light of your love be born in us
to fill our hearts with joy as we sing:
Blessed be God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
Blessed be God forever.


Sing, Ye Ransomed Nations, Sing

Charles Wesley
Sing, ye ransomed nations, sing
Praises to our newborn King;
Son of Man our maker is,
Lord of Hosts and Prince of Peace.

Lo! He lays His glory by,
Emptied of his majesty!
See the God who all things made,
Humbly in a manger laid.

Let us then with angels gaze
On our newborn monarch’s face,
With the choir celestial joined,
Shout the Savior of mankind.

Son of Man, will he despise
Man’s well-meaning sacrifice?
No; with condescending grace
He accepts his creature’s praise.

Will his majesty disdain
The poor shepherd’s simple strain?
No; for Israel’s shepherd he
Loves their artless melody.

He will not refuse the song
Of the stammering infant’s tongue;
Babes he hears humanely mild,
Once himself a little child.

Let us then our Prince proclaim,
Humbly chant Immanuel’s name;
Publish at his wondrous birth
Praise in heaven and peace on earth.

Triumph in our Savior’s love,
Till he takes us up above,
All his majesty displays,
Shows us all his glorious face.

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 102

My help comes from the Lord.

Lord, hear my prayer!
    Let my cry reach you!
Don’t hide your face from me
    in my time of trouble!
Listen to me!
    Answer me quickly as I cry out!
Because my days disappear like smoke,
    my bones are burned up as if in an oven;
    my heart is smashed like dried-up grass.
    I even forget to eat my food
    because of my intense groans.
    My bones are protruding from my skin.
I’m like some wild owl—
    like some screech owl in the desert.
I lie awake all night.
    I’m all alone like a bird on a roof.
All day long my enemies make fun of me;
    those who mock me curse using my name!
I’ve been eating ashes instead of bread.
    I’ve been mixing tears into my drinks
        because of your anger and wrath,
        because you picked me up and threw me away.
My days are like a shadow soon gone.
    I’m dried up like dead grass.

But you, Lord, rule forever!
    Your fame lasts from one generation to the next!
You will stand up—
        you’ll have compassion on Zion
        because it is time to have mercy on her—
    the time set for that has now come!
Your servants cherish Zion’s stones;
    they show mercy even to her dirt.
The nations will honor the Lord’s name;
    all the earth’s rulers will honor your glory
    because the Lord will rebuild Zion;
    he will be seen there in his glory.
God will turn to the prayer of the impoverished;
    he won’t despise their prayers.

Let this be written down for the next generation
    so that people not yet created will praise the Lord:
    The Lord looked down from his holy summit,
        surveyed the earth from heaven,
        to hear the prisoners’ groans,
        to set free those condemned to death,
        that the Lord’s name may be declared in Zion
        and his praise declared in Jerusalem,
        when all people are gathered together—
        all kingdoms—to serve the Lord.

God broke my strength in midstride,
    cutting my days short.
I said, “My God, don’t take me away in the prime of life—
    your years go on from one generation to the next!
You laid the earth’s foundations long ago;
    the skies are your handiwork.
These things will pass away, but you will last.
    All of these things will wear out like clothing;
    you change them like clothes, and they pass on.
But you are the one!
    Your years never end!
Let your servants’ children live safe;
    let your servants’ descendants live secure in your presence.”

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.

My help comes from the Lord.

Psalm prayer

Have pity on our frailty, O God,
and in the hour of our death
cast us not away as clothing that is worn,
for you are our eternal refuge;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Old Testament reading
Jonah 3-4

The Lord’s word came to Jonah a second time: “Get up and go to Nineveh, that great city, and declare against it the proclamation that I am commanding you.” And Jonah got up and went to Nineveh, according to the Lord’s word. (Now Nineveh was indeed an enormous city, a three days’ walk across.)

Jonah started into the city, walking one day, and he cried out, “Just forty days more and Nineveh will be overthrown!” And the people of Nineveh believed God. They proclaimed a fast and put on mourning clothes, from the greatest of them to the least significant.

When word of it reached the king of Nineveh, he got up from his throne, stripped himself of his robe, covered himself with mourning clothes, and sat in ashes. Then he announced, “In Nineveh, by decree of the king and his officials: Neither human nor animal, cattle nor flock, will taste anything! No grazing and no drinking water! Let humans and animals alike put on mourning clothes, and let them call upon God forcefully! And let all persons stop their evil behavior and the violence that’s under their control!” He thought, Who knows? God may see this and turn from his wrath, so that we might not perish.

God saw what they were doing—that they had ceased their evil behavior. So God stopped planning to destroy them, and he didn’t do it.

But Jonah thought this was utterly wrong, and he became angry. He prayed to the Lord, “Come on, Lord! Wasn’t this precisely my point when I was back in my own land? This is why I fled to Tarshish earlier! I know that you are a merciful and compassionate God, very patient, full of faithful love, and willing not to destroy. At this point, Lord, you may as well take my life from me, because it would be better for me to die than to live.”

The Lord responded, “Is your anger a good thing?” But Jonah went out from the city and sat down east of the city. There he made himself a hut and sat under it, in the shade, to see what would happen to the city.

Then the Lord God provided a shrub, and it grew up over Jonah, providing shade for his head and saving him from his misery. Jonah was very happy about the shrub. But God provided a worm the next day at dawn, and it attacked the shrub so that it died. Then as the sun rose God provided a dry east wind, and the sun beat down on Jonah’s head so that he became faint. He begged that he might die, saying, “It’s better for me to die than to live.”

God said to Jonah, “Is your anger about the shrub a good thing?”

Jonah said, “Yes, my anger is good—even to the point of death!”

But the Lord said, “You ‘pitied’ the shrub, for which you didn’t work and which you didn’t raise; it grew in a night and perished in a night. Yet for my part, can’t I pity Nineveh, that great city, in which there are more than one hundred twenty thousand people who can’t tell their right hand from their left, and also many animals?”

Silence may be kept.

New Testament reading
Colossians 1:24-2:7

Now I’m happy to be suffering for you. I’m completing what is missing from Christ’s sufferings with my own body. I’m doing this for the sake of his body, which is the church. I became a servant of the church by God’s commission, which was given to me for you, in order to complete God’s word. I’m completing it with a secret plan that has been hidden for ages and generations but which has now been revealed to his holy people. God wanted to make the glorious riches of this secret plan known among the Gentiles, which is Christ living in you, the hope of glory. This is what we preach as we warn and teach every person with all wisdom so that we might present each one mature in Christ. I work hard and struggle for this goal with his energy, which works in me powerfully.

I want you to know how much I struggle for you, for those in Laodicea, and for all who haven’t known me personally. My goal is that their hearts would be encouraged and united together in love so that they might have all the riches of assurance that come with understanding, so that they might have the knowledge of the secret plan of God, namely Christ. All the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are hidden in him. I’m telling you this so that no one deceives you with convincing arguments, because even though I am absent physically, I’m with you in spirit. I’m happy to see the discipline and stability of your faith in Christ.

So live in Christ Jesus the Lord in the same way as you received him. Be rooted and built up in him, be established in faith, and overflow with thanksgiving just as you were taught.

Silence may be kept.

Gospel canticle
The Benedictus (The Song of Zechariah)

To us is born a Savior, who is Christ the Lord,
and all the heavenly hosts now sing,
Glory to God in the highest.

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.

To us is born a Savior, who is Christ the Lord,
and all the heavenly hosts now sing,
Glory to God in the highest.

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,
who wonderfully created us in your own image
and yet more wonderfully restored us
through your Son Jesus Christ:
grant that, as he came to share in our humanity,
so we may share the life of his divinity;
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and forever. 

The Lord’s Prayer

Rejoicing in the presence of God here among us,
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 God, who has called us out of darkness
into his marvelous light,
bless us and fill us with peace.