Isaiah 7: 10-16
God promises a sign for King Ahaz, who is looking to Assyria for assistance with the threats of neighbouring Damascus and Samaria, that a virgin will give birth and call the child “Immanuel”, and that the enemy nations will be desolate before the child knows good from evil.
Psalm 80: 1-7, 17-19
A prayer for God to forgive and restore God’s people, and to send and empower the One God raises up to keep God’s people from turning away from God.
Romans 1: 1-7
Paul celebrates Christ who is of both human and divine descent and who has called the apostles – and all of God’s people – to belong to Jesus and to spread the Good News.
Matthew 1: 18-25
Mary discovers herself to be pregnant while betrothed to Joseph, but Joseph is informed in a dream that the Child is of God, and must be named Jesus. These events are proclaimed to be the fulfilment of Isaiah’s prophecy of the virgin who conceives and gives birth to Immanuel.
(Bible reading summaries by John van de Laar, Sacredise)

By the Well A preacher’s guide to the lectionary
Singing from the Lectionary

Loving God,
some of us are like Zechariah,
not believing that you would choose to bless us,
some of us are like Mary,
surprised and humbled by the gift of new life,
some of us are like Joseph,
needing reassurance and faith for the way ahead,
some of us are like Elizabeth,
supporting others as they begin the journey,
some of us are like the shepherds,
unsure whether your presence is real or a dream,
some are like the angels,
eager to tell others your good news,
some are like the inn keeper
not yet realising how special you really are,
some are like the wise men,
kneeling in wonder and worship.
Wherever we are in our journey of faith,
remind us that your plans lie before us,
help us to grow tall in your love and light,
so that we may stand strong and gentle for you in our world.
(Source: Craig Mitchell, “Christmas,” in Advent, Christmas and Epiphany: Resources 2016, Adelaide: Centre for Music, Liturgy and the Arts).

A prayer of confession and petition

The response is: Restore us, O God: let your face shine,
that we may be saved. (Psalm 80:3)
In a few days’ time
we will be celebrating
the birth of Christ,
so let us restore our souls, and refresh our spirits.
Restore us, O God, let your face shine that we may be saved.
Though we are complicit
in the frenzy of consumerism,
the unreality of expectations,
the tension of gift giving,
and the pressure to attend gatherings:
Restore us, O God, let your face shine that we may be saved.
Though we would like
to be more Christ-centred
in our daily lives,
we know we can turn to God, and be restored. So, we ask:
Restore us, O God, let your face shine that we may be saved. Amen.
(Source: Ann Siddall, Stillpoint Centre)

(see also Singing from the Lectionary)
Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus 
(new inclusive lyrics)
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.
Healing, Strength, and Consolation, Hope of all the Earth thou art;
Dear Desire of all Creation, Joy of every longing heart.

Born Creation to deliver, born in us, as praises ring;
Born to live in us forever, let us now the kin-dom bring.
By thine own eternal Spirit, fill our hearts with thee alone;
By thy love and by thy comfort, lead us to thy glorious home.
(Source: Tallessyn Grenfell-Lee)

O Come O Come Emmanuel (Susan Wickham)

Love Divine, All Loves Excelling (new inclusive lyrics)
Love divine, all loves excelling, joy of heaven that fills the Earth;
Fix in us thy humble dwelling; in thy Love we find new birth!
Jesus thou art all compassion; pure, unbounded love thou art;
Visit us with thy salvation, filling every trembling heart.

Breathe, O breathe thy loving Spirit into every troubled breast!
Let us all in thee inherit; let us find that second rest.
Take away our bent to sinning; Alpha and Omega be;
End of faith, as its Beginning, set our hearts at liberty.

Come, O Healer, to deliver, let the whole Earth life receive;
Let us join in Love’s endeavor, living out what we believe.
Ever singing, ever blessing, with the Earth and skies above,
Work for justice without ceasing, sheltered in thy perfect love.

Finish, then, thy new creation; lives of justice, let us lead.
Let us see thy great salvation: Earth renewed and healed and freed!
Let us tell our wondrous story, far abroad or face to face;
Sing of hope and sing of glory; tell of wonder, love, and grace.
(Source: Tallessyn Grenfell-Lee)

O Come, O Come, Emmanuel (new inclusive lyrics)
O come, O come, Emmanuel,
And ransom captive Israel,
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Promised One appear.

Rejoice! Rejoice!
Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.
(or, Emmanuel shall come to heal and make all things well.)

O come, thou Wisdom, set us free,
And order all things peacefully;
To us the path of knowledge show,
And teach us in her ways to go.

O come, O come, great Holy One of might,
Who to thy tribes on Sinai’s height
In ancient times once gave a law,
A word of justice, liberty, and awe.

O come, thou Root of Jesse’s tree,
An ensign of thy people be;
Before thee rulers silent fall;
All creatures on thy mercy call.

O come, Thou Key of David, come,
And open wide our heavenly home;
Make safe the way that leads to thee,
And close the path to misery.

O come, thou Day-spring, come and cheer
Our spirits by thine advent here;
Replace the holy clouds of night,
Reveal a Dawn of heavenly light.

O come, Desire of nations, bind
In one the hearts of humankind;
Bid thou our sad divisions cease,
And usher in a Reign of Peace.

O come, Thou Healer, come and free
Creation from all tyranny;
From depths of pain the whole Earth save,
And lead us out from every grave.
(Source: Tallessyn Grenfell-Lee)

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Rev Sandy Boyce is a Uniting Church in Australia Minister (Deacon). This blog may be a help to people planning worship services.
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