On a long winter evening we gather to proclaim the coming of the light. Isaiah announces that the people who walked in darkness have seen a great light. Paul reminds us that the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all. In the familiar account of Christ’s birth, the evening sky is bright with the heavenly host singing, “Glory to God in the highest.” Amid our broken world we proclaim that the Prince of peace is born among us. God comes to us in human flesh—in Christ’s body and blood—so that we may be bearers of divine light to all the world.
Readings and Psalm
- Isaiah 9:2-7
Light shines: a child is born for us
- Psalm 96
Let the heavens rejoice and the earth be glad. (Ps. 96:11)
- Titus 2:11-14
The grace of God has appeared
- Luke 2:1-14 [15-20]
God with us
First Reading: Isaiah 9:2-7
promises deliverance from Assyrian oppression, a hope based on the birth
of a royal child with a name full of promise. While Judah’s king will
practice justice and righteousness, the real basis for faith lies in
God’s passion for the people: The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do
this!2The people who walked in darkness
have seen a great light;
those who lived in a land of deep darkness—
on them light has shined.
3You have multiplied the nation,
you have increased its joy;
they rejoice before you
as with joy at the harvest,
as people exult when dividing plunder.
4For the yoke of their burden,
and the bar across their shoulders,
the rod of their oppressor,
you have broken as on the day of Midian.
5For all the boots of the tramping warriors
and all the garments rolled in blood
shall be burned as fuel for the fire.
6For a child has been born for us,
a son given to us;
authority rests upon his shoulders;
and he is named
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
7His authority shall grow continually,
and there shall be endless peace
for the throne of David and his kingdom.
He will establish and uphold it
with justice and with righteousness
from this time onward and forevermore.
The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this.
Psalm: Psalm 96
Let the heavens rejoice and the earth be glad. (Ps. 96:11)1Sing to the Lord| a new song;
sing to the Lord, | all the earth.
2Sing to the Lord, bless the name | of the Lord;
proclaim God’s salvation from | day to day.
3Declare God’s glory a- | mong the nations
and God’s wonders a- | mong all peoples.
4For great is the Lord and greatly | to be praised,
more to be feared | than all gods.
5As for all the gods of the nations, they | are but idols;
but you, O Lord, have | made the heavens.
6Majesty and magnificence are | in your presence;
power and splendor are in your | sanctuary.
7Ascribe to the Lord, you families | of the peoples,
ascribe to the Lord hon- | or and power.
8Ascribe to the Lord the honor due the | holy name;
bring offerings and enter the courts | of the Lord.
9Worship the Lord in the beau- | ty of holiness;
tremble before the Lord, | all the earth.
10Tell it out among the nations: “The | Lord is king!
The one who made the world so firm that it cannot be moved will judge the peo- | ples with equity.”
11Let the heavens rejoice, and let the | earth be glad;
let the sea thunder and all that is in it; let the field be joyful and all that | is therein.
12Then shall all the trees of the wood shout for joy at your com- | ing, O Lord,
for you come to | judge the earth.
13You will judge the | world with righteousness
and the peoples | with your truth.
Second Reading: Titus 2:11-14
The appearance of God’s grace in Jesus Christ brings salvation for all humanity. Consequently, in the present we live wisely and justly while also anticipating the hope of our Savior’s final appearance.11The grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all, 12training us to renounce impiety and worldly passions, and in the present age to live lives that are self-controlled, upright, and godly, 13while we wait for the blessed hope and the manifestation of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ. 14He it is who gave himself for us that he might redeem us from all iniquity and purify for himself a people of his own who are zealous for good deeds.
Gospel: Luke 2:1-14 [15-20]
gift comes as a baby in a manger. Angels announce the “good news of
great joy” and proclaim God’s blessing of peace.1In those days a decree went out from Emperor Augustus that all the world should be registered. 2This was the first registration and was taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria. 3All went to their own towns to be registered. 4Joseph
also went from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to the city of
David called Bethlehem, because he was descended from the house and
family of David. 5He went to be registered with Mary, to whom he was engaged and who was expecting a child. 6While they were there, the time came for her to deliver her child. 7And
she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in bands of cloth,
and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the
8In that region there were shepherds living in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9Then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for see—I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: 11to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord. 12This will be a sign for you: you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger.” 13And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying,
14“Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and on earth peace among those whom he favors!”
15When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go now to Bethlehem and see this thing that has taken place, which the Lord has made known to us.” 16So they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the child lying in the manger. 17When they saw this, they made known what had been told them about this child; 18and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds told them. 19But Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart. 20The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.]