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First Sunday after Christmas • Year B

December 31, 2023 • Sample Page

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Prayer of the Day

Historical Collect

Almighty God, you have given us your only-begotten Son to take our nature and be born of the Virgin Mary. Grant that we, having been redeemed and made your children by grace, may daily be renewed by your Holy Spirit; through our Lord Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen. (Book of Common Prayer, 1549)

Thematic Collect

God of majesty may your Spirit help us to know that in the midst of all that assails us your promise of light and presence through Jesus Christ remains constant and unchanging. Strengthen our faith, bring us your peace, and send us to share both with others. We ask this through your Son, Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord; who reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God now and forever. Amen.

Thoughts on the Readings

The Common Thread

God has clothed us with salvation because he has covered us with himself (Rom 13:14; Gal 3:27). Robed in his righteousness, the Church is given a new name (Rev 3:12-13), the name given to a bride in marriage—his name. For he is our bridegroom and redeemer (Ruth 3:9). We who were once under the condemnation of the law, now live under our redeemer’s wings, adopted into the family of God. Our bridegroom redeemer is the salvation of the whole world, a light to reveal God to the nations. 

First Reading - Isaiah 61:10–62:3

See how the land produces its fruit in due season? (Lev 26:4) The faithfulness of the earth is a gift from God. Yet, if the earth is dependable, God is far more faithful. His faithfulness extends beyond the needs of the flesh. He has dressed us in the clothing of salvation, so that we may walk with God in eternity (Rev 3:5). God will make it happen, for he is faithful.

Psalm - Psalm 111:1–10

Praise the Lord for his works: food, land, and redemption to name a few mentioned in our Psalm. Having sent redemption to his people (Psa 111:9), one must agree with Luther when he stated, “the ‘great works of the Lord’ are the church of the faithful” (Works, vol. 11, p374). The Lord’s great works are remembered among the Israel of God (Gal 6:16); he is praised in the congregation. To clarify Luther, it is not the people who are great; it is the merciful God of their redeeming who is wondrous to behold. 

Second Reading - Galatians 4:4–7

At just the right time, God sent sent his Son into the world. God the Son was born of a woman; in other words, God became man. In the fullness of time God became fully man—and yet God. He was also born under the law. There were no special circumstances for the Christ. He lived as all live, so that he might redeem all.

Just as Jesus was sent from the Father, the Spirit proceeded from the Father and the Son. The Holy Spirit is sent into the hearts of gentile believers so that they may speak with or pray to the Father, calling him Abba or Papa, as adopted children. Their adoption into the family of God gives them the right inheritance. They will now receive every good gift previously reserved for the children of Abraham.

Gospel - Luke 2:22–40

The consolation of Israel (Luke 2:25) is an intriguing phrase. Though it does not occur elsewhere in Scripture, the theme certainly does. It is generally connected to the comforting of Israel by returning from captivity in a foreign land. Simeon applies it to the Messiah. Simeon believed the ultimate consolation had come to Israel in the Christ child. The coming of the Lord is the consolation of God’s people. Encourage one another with Simeon’s realization and be at peace (1 Thes 4:18).

Links to Worship Resources for this Service
Cross Talk

Weekly Online Text-Study
Led by:  Pastor Julie Smith
(Using the Sola Lectionary)
Tuesdays at 3:00pm Central

Sign-up for Cross Talk HERE

Table Talks

Weekly Online Devotional
Written by Pastor Tim Swenson
(Available as a Bulletin Insert or
as a pastor's "Sermon Starter")

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