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Welcome and Invocation
P In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.
P Out of Zion, the perfection of beauty, God shines forth.
C Our God shall come; He does not keep silence.
P Prepare the way of the Lord.
C Make His paths straight.
P The crooked places shall become straight
C and the rough places shall become level ways,
P and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.
SJ Kids Sunday School Hour
Scripture Readings: Isaiah 40:1-5, Luke 1:5-24
Old Testament Reading: Isaiah 40:1-5
(God promises that after Israel’s exile, a voice will speak comfort and prepare the way of the Lord.)
L Comfort, comfort My people, says your God. Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and cry to her that her warfare is ended, that her iniquity is pardoned, that she has received from the LORD’s hand double for all her sins. A voice cries:
P “In the wilderness prepare the way of the LORD; make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Every valley shall be lifted up, and every mountain and hill be made low; the uneven ground shall become level, and the rough places a plain.
C And the glory of the LORD shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together, for the mouth of the LORD has spoken.”
L This is the Word of the Lord.
C Thanks be to God.
Gospel Reading: Luke 1:5-24
P The Holy Gospel according to St. Luke, the 1st chapter.
C Glory to You, O Lord.
(Though Zechariah expects the Messiah, the news from the angel seems too good to believe.)
P In the days of Herod, king of Judea, there was a priest named Zechariah, of the division of Abijah. And he had a wife from the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth. And they were both righteous before God, walking blamelessly in all the commandments and statutes of the Lord. But they had no child, because Elizabeth was barren, and both were advanced in years. Now while he was serving as priest before God when his division was on duty, according to the custom of the priesthood, he was chosen by lot to enter the temple of the Lord and burn incense. And the whole multitude of the people were praying outside at the hour of incense. And there appeared to him an angel of the Lord standing on the right side of the altar of incense. And Zechariah was troubled when he saw him, and fear fell upon him. But the angel said to him,
L “Do not be afraid, Zechariah, for your prayer has been heard, and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John. And you will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth, for he will be great before the Lord. And he must not drink wine or strong drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother’s womb. And he will turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God, and he will go before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready for the Lord a people prepared.”
P And Zechariah said to the angel,
C “How shall I know this? For I am an old man, and my wife is advanced in years.”
L And the angel answered him, “I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I was sent to speak to you and to bring you this good news. And behold, you will be silent and unable to speak until the day that these things take place, because you did not believe my words, which will be fulfilled in their time.”
P And the people were waiting for Zechariah, and they were wondering at his delay in the temple. And when he came out, he was unable to speak to them, and they realized that he had seen a vision in the temple. And he kept making signs to them and remained mute. And when his time of service was ended, he went to his home. After these days his wife Elizabeth conceived, and for five months she kept herself hidden, saying, “Thus the Lord has done for me in the days when He looked on me, to take away my reproach among people.”
L This is the Word of the Lord.
C Thanks be to God.
Prayer of the Day
Prayer of the Day
P Merciful Father, You opened Elizabeth’s barren womb and blessed her with a son
C who pointed the world to the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world.
P Grant boldness to Your Church, that in these latter days, the Church would not be silent
C but proclaim Christ and Him crucified, for He is our only hope for salvation;
P through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now
C and forever, Amen.
Song of the Day: Living Hope
Sermon – The Child Who is Zechariah’s Hope
Prayer of the Church
Offertory: What Child Is This?
So bring Him incense, gold, and myrrh; Come, peasant, king, to own Him.
The King of kings salvation brings; Let loving hearts enthrone Him.
Raise, raise the song on high, The virgin sings her lullaby;
Joy, joy, for Christ is born, The babe, the son of Mary!
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St. James Lutheran Church
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Confession and Absolution
P “Comfort, comfort my people,” the Lord told Isaiah to speak to His people, and that word comes also to us. Then let us confess our sins to God, confident that we shall hear His forgiving word of comfort for the sake of Christ.
Silence for reflection on the Word of God and our sinful condition.
P Gracious heavenly Father,
C we confess that too often in our thinking we have relegated Your promises out to eternity.
In our speaking we have neglected to say anything about the news of Your grace and mercy to the people around us.
In our acting, we have considered our efforts as meriting Your attention and reward, like we’re owed something.
Though, with ancient Zechariah, we’re declared righteous by Your grace, we nonetheless share his doubts about Your readiness to bless us in our current circumstances.
Forgive us, change our thinking, and strengthen our faith in Jesus, for whom Zechariah’s son prepared the way.
P The priest Zechariah was sentenced to silence because of his doubt, but the Baby who his son, John, pointed to is both our priest –our great High Priest– and also the Sacrifice for all our sins. Hear now His word of comfort and peace that I, His servant, proclaim to you (believe and do not doubt): all your sins are forgiven in the name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit.
Benediction and Announcements
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