2 In those days a decree went out from Emperor Augustus that all the world should be registered. 2 This was the first registration and was taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria. 3 All went to their own towns to be registered. 4 Joseph 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. 5 He went to be registered with Mary, to whom he was engaged and who was expecting a child. 6 While they were there, the time came for her to deliver her child. 7 And 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 inn.
The Shepherds and the Angels: Luke 2:8-20 NRSV
8 In that region there were shepherds living in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9 Then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for see—I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: 11 to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord. 12 This will be a sign for you: you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger.” 13 And 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!”
15 When 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.” 16 So they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the child lying in the manger. 17 When they saw this, they made known what had been told them about this child; 18 and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds told them. 19 But Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart. 20 The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.
Daily Questions& Prayers
Sunday: Luke 2:1-4
What are some advantages of your hometown? Disadvantages? Where do you think God is at work in your hometown?
Dear God, I thank you for the town that I call home. Bless and keep all of the towns that are close to my heart, and help me to be a good member of the community. Amen.
Monday: Luke 2:5-7
What would it be like to have a baby in a barn? What do you think that it means that Jesus was born, not just to humans, but also to the animals? What do you think that it means that Jesus, the King of Kings, was born in the opposite of a palace?
Dear Jesus, I am thankful that you were born on earth, and that you came to all creation. Help me to remember your humble birth in the midst of all of the holiday joy. Amen.
Tuesday: Luke 2:8-9
Why do you think that the angels came to visit the shepherds to tell them about the birth of Jesus, before anyone else? Who in our time do you think that the angel would have come to?
Dear Lord, I thank you that you are not afraid to bring the message of your love all the way to the edges of society. Help me to be brave in proclaiming your message. Amen.
Wednesday: Luke 2:10-12
What is the best news that you have ever received? Who gave you the news? What was your reaction? How do you think the shepherds felt?
Dear Jesus, I thank you for being the good news of great joy of Christmas. Make my words and deeds reflect your joy, from the inside out. Amen.
Thursday: Luke 2:13-15
Shepherds did not usually make midnight trips to town. Why do you suppose that they left their responsibilities that night? What kind of good news would be enough for you to drop everything and go?
(Spend a bit of time being quiet, and listening for God’s voice) Dear God, when you call me, help me to drop everything and go. Amen.
Friday: Luke 2:16-18
Tell about a time when you talked to someone else about Jesus. Who else could you tell today?
Dear Jesus, I thank you for being born as a real human being. Help me to not keep this miracle to myself, but to share it with those whom you have prepared. Amen.
Saturday: Luke 2:19-20
The shepherds just can’t get enough of Jesus! What is something wonderful that you want to experience again and again? How can you invite God into that experience?
Dear God, thank you for wonderful experiences in my life. Help me to treasure them, and to meet you there. Amen.
But just when he had resolved to do this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife, for the child conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. (Matthew 1:20 NRSV)
The Birth of Jesus the Messiah (Matthew 1:18-25 NRSV)
18 Now the birth of Jesus the Messiah took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been engaged to Joseph, but before they lived together, she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. 19 Her husband Joseph, being a righteous man and unwilling to expose her to public disgrace, planned to dismiss her quietly. 20 But just when he had resolved to do this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife, for the child conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 She will bear a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” 22 All this took place to fulfill what had been spoken by the Lord through the prophet:
23 “Look, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel,”
which means, “God is with us.” 24 When Joseph awoke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him; he took her as his wife, 25 but had no marital relations with her until she had borne a son; and he named him Jesus.
Daily Questions& Prayers
Sunday: Matthew 1:18
What are the promises that people make to one another when they get engaged to be married? What would it be like to think that your significant other was lying to you about something very important?
Dear Lord, help me to keep the promises that I make, and make me faithful in all my relationships. Amen.
Monday: Matthew 1:19
What do you think that you would have done in Joseph’s situation? What are some ways that you can do what is right, but also what is merciful?
Dear God, help me to know the right thing to do in sticky situations. Help me to show mercy to others, as you show mercy to me. Amen.
Tuesday: Matthew 1:20
What do you dream about? Do you listen to your dreams? Has God ever sent you a message through a dream? What was that experience like?
Dear Jesus, you are with me when I am awake and when I am asleep. Grant me peaceful rest, and an open mind to hear your voice. Amen.
Wednesday: Matthew 1:21
The name Jesus means “God saves.” Why do you think that this is an important name for the Son of God to have? How does Jesus save us from our sins?
(Take a few moments to think about the ways in which you have sinned and want forgiveness)
Dear Jesus, I ask you to forgive me completely, and to save me from my sins. Amen.
Thursday: Matthew 1:22-23
What does it mean that “God is with us” in the person of Jesus? At what times and in what places do you know that God is present in your life?
Dear God, I thank you that you are present in my life, in the good times, in the bad times, and everywhere in between. Help me to know that this is really true in my life. Amen.
Friday: Matthew 1:24
Tell your favorite story of a wedding. What do you think that it means that Joseph and Mary are making a lifetime commitment at this point in the story?
Dear God, I thank you for Joseph and Mary, and the commitment that they made to one another in uncertain times. Help me to reach out in love towards others. Amen.
Saturday: Matthew 1:25
In Bible times, when a father named a child, he was claiming it as his own. What do you think of Joseph for claiming Jesus as his son on earth? Who do you claim as your own? Who claims you?
Dear Jesus, I thank you for claiming me as your own in the waters of baptism. Help me to walk as a child of your light, now and always. Amen.
39 In those days Mary set out and went with haste to a Judean town in the hill country, 40 where she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. 41 When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the child leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit 42 and exclaimed with a loud cry, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. 43 And why has this happened to me, that the mother of my Lord comes to me? 44 For as soon as I heard the sound of your greeting, the child in my womb leaped for joy. 45 And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her by the Lord.”
The Birth of John the Baptist (Luke 1:57-66 NRSV)
57 Now the time came for Elizabeth to give birth, and she bore a son. 58 Her neighbors and relatives heard that the Lord had shown his great mercy to her, and they rejoiced with her.59 On the eighth day they came to circumcise the child, and they were going to name him Zechariah after his father. 60 But his mother said, “No; he is to be called John.” 61 They said to her, “None of your relatives has this name.” 62 Then they began motioning to his father to find out what name he wanted to give him. 63 He asked for a writing tablet and wrote, “His name is John.” And all of them were amazed. 64 Immediately his mouth was opened and his tongue freed, and he began to speak, praising God. 65 Fear came over all their neighbors, and all these things were talked about throughout the entire hill country of Judea. 66 All who heard them pondered them and said, “What then will this child become?” For, indeed, the hand of the Lord was with him.
Daily Questions& Prayers
Sunday: Luke 1:39-40
Tell a story about a time when you went on a trip. What was the journey like? Who did you visit and why?
Dear God, please bless me when I travel. Bless all those who are on the road, or rail, or in the air today, that they may arrive at their destinations safely. Amen.
Monday: Luke 1:41-42
Have you ever gotten to feel a baby move in someone’s stomach? What did it feel like? What do you think it means that John recognized Mary, even in the womb?
Dear God, watch over all of those who are pregnant today. Keep them and their children safe, and make it a joyful time of wonder. Amen.
Tuesday: Luke 1:43-45
When is a time when you were received as a guest? What made it comfortable to be a guest? Uncomfortable? In what ways can you work on being hospitable?
Dear God, as I prepare to be a guest and a host this season, help me to remember to take the time to prepare for your coming. Take the “bah!” out of my “humbug.” Amen.
Wednesday: Luke 1:57-58
What do you think it would have been like to have been present at the birth of John? Do you know the story of your birth? What are your stories about children being born?
Dear Jesus, have care for all who are giving birth today. Help me to rejoice at the gifts of life that you constantly give through your great mercy. Amen.
Thursday: Luke 1:59-61
What is the significance of your name? Find out what it means, or why you were named what you were named. Does it make a difference that God chose John’s name?
Dear God, I thank you for my name. Help me to remember that names are powerful, and to use them kindly with those I meet. Amen.
Friday: Luke 1:62-64
What do you think it would be like to finally be able to speak after a long time of silence? Why do you think the first words out of Zechariah’s mouth were praise of God? How do you use your speech to praise God?
O Lord, open my lips, and my mouth shall declare your praise. Help me to always use my speech in a meaningful and holy way. Amen.
Saturday: Luke 1:65-66
What do you think it means that the hand of the Lord was with baby John? Do you think that the “hand of the Lord” has ever been with you? Could this phrase be tied to the presence of God’s blessing?
Dear God, I ask for your blessing on my life today. Empower me to be a blessing to those you place in my path today. Amen.
In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, 27 to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. 28 And he came to her and said, “Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you.” 29 But she was much perplexed by his words and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. 30 The angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. 31 And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus. 32 He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his ancestor David. 33 He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.” 34 Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?” 35 The angel said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be holy; he will be called Son of God. 36 And now, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son; and this is the sixth month for her who was said to be barren. 37 For nothing will be impossible with God.” 38 Then Mary said, “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.” Then the angel departed from her.
Daily Questions& Prayers
Sunday: Luke 1:26-27
Who are some people that you are related to? Does who you are related to make a difference in how people interact with you? What reputation are you handing down to future generations?
Dear God, thank you for my family and those who have gone before me. Help my words and actions to reflect my identity as your child. Amen.
Monday: Luke 1:28-29
Have you ever had an encounter with an angel, or heard a story about someone who did? What is it like to know that God uses angels to send important messages to earth?
Dear Jesus, open my eyes, that I may see angels when you have a message to send. Help me to hear your word, and obey it. Amen.
Tuesday: Luke 1:30-31
What would it be like to find out that God wants you to be a parent to his Son? What about if it happened when you were only fourteen? What would you name a child, if you had a choice?
Dear God, I know that you have great plans for me. Guide my life, that my path and yours are the same. Amen.
Wednesday: Luke 1:32-33
What does it mean to you to know that Jesus is the king of heaven? How does Jesus’ rule differ from human rulers? In what ways does Jesus make a difference in this world?
Dear Jesus, I pray for the leaders of this world. Help them to model their life after yours, that all may be loved and at peace. Amen.
Thursday: Luke 1:34-35
Have you ever wanted to ask God a question? What does it mean to know that even Jesus’ mom had questions about God’s plan for her life? In what ways can you take your questions to God in prayer?
(bring your questions to God in prayer using your own words)
Friday: Luke 1:36-37
What are some things that you consider to be impossible? In what ways do you think God could make the impossible possible?
Dear God, I know that you make the impossible possible. Help me to believe in you. Give me the faith to know that I am safe in your hands. Amen.
Saturday: Luke 1:38
Have you ever made a big decision? What was it? How did you make it? In what ways can you say “Yes” to God?
Dear God, I know that you call me to do great things in your world. Give me the courage of Mary, that I might step out in faith on behalf of those whom you love. Amen.
What follows is our Advent to Epiphany of Our Lord hymn setting of the liturgy. You are welcome to sing through this liturgy during the week as a devotional practice. In worship, we sing the number of verses as indicated below. God bless your worship in song!
Prayer of Preparation/Lighting the Advent Wreath
Add one verse each week as the number of lit candles increases.
Sing a different two verses each week.
Hymn of Praise
Sing verse one each week.
Sing verse 3 each week.
Sing verse 2 on Communion Sundays.
Sending/Extinguish the Advent Wreath
Sing the same verses as at the beginning of worship.