Christmas Day, December 25, 2008
Readings for the early hours of the day:
Isaiah 62: 11 - 12
See, the Lord proclaims to the ends of the earth: Say to daughter Zion, your savior comes! Here is his reward with him, his recompense before him. They shall be called the Holy people, the redeemed of the Lord, and you shall be called "frequented," a city that is not forsaken.
Psalms 97: 1, 6, 11 - 12
The Lord is king; let the earth rejoice; let the many isles be glad.
The heavens proclaim his justice, and all peoples see his glory.
Light dawns for the just; and gladness, for the upright of heart. Be glad in the Lord, you just, and give thanks to his holy name.
Titus 3: 4 - 7
But when the kindness and love of God our savior appeared, he saved us; not because of any rightness deeds we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through baptism of new birth and renewal by the Holy Spirit. This Spirit he lavished on us through Jesus Christ our savior, that we might be justified by his grace and become heirs, in hope, of eternal life.
Luke 2: 15 - 20
When the angels had returned to heaven, the shepherds said to one another: "Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this event which the Lord has made known to us." They went in haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in the manger; once they saw, they understood what had been told them concerning this child. All who heard of it were astonished at the report given them by the shepherds. Mary treasured all these things and reflected on them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, in accord with what had been told them.
Readings for later in the day:
Isaiah 52: 7 - 10
How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings glad tidings, announcing salvation, and saying to Zion, "Your God is King!"
Hark! Your watchmen raise a cry, together they shout for joy, for they see directly, before their eyes, the Lord restoring Zion. Break out in song, O ruins of Jerusalem! For the Lord comforts his people, he redeems Jerusalem. The Lord has bared his holy arm in the sight of all the nations; all the ends of the earth will behold the salvation of our God.
Psalms 98: 1 - 6
Sing to the Lord a new song, for he has done wondrous deeds; his right hand has won victory for him, his holy arm. The Lord has made his salvation known: in the sight of the nations he has revealed his justice. He has remembered his kindness and his faithfulness toward the house of Israel. All the ends of the earth have seen the salvation by our God. Sing joyfully to the Lord, all you lands; break in to song; sing praise. Sing praise to the Lord with the harp, with the harp and melodious song. With the trumpets and the sound of the horn sing joyfully before the King, the Lord. Let the sea and what fills it resound, the world and those who dwell in it; Let the rivers clap their hands the mountains shout with them for joy. Before the Lord, for he comes, for he comes to rule the earth; he will rule the world with justice and the peoples with equity.
Hebrews 1: 1 - 6
In times past, God spoke in fragmentary and varied ways to our fathers through the prophets; in this, the final age, he has spoken to us through his Son, whom he has made heir of all things and through whom he first created the universe. This Son is the reflection of the Father's glory, the exact representation of the Father's being and he sustains all things by his powerful word. When he had cleansed us from our sins, he took his seat at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven, as far superior to the angels as the name he has inherited is superior to theirs. To which of the angels did God ever say, "You are my son, today I have begotten you"? or again, "I will be his father, and he shall be my son"? and again, when he leads his first-born into the world, he says, "Let all the angels of God worship him."
John 1: 1 - 18
In the beginnig was the Word; the Word was in God's presence, and the Word was God. He was present to God in the beginning. Through him all things came into being, and apart from him nothing came to be. Whatever came to be in him, found life, life for the light of men. The light shines on in the darkness, a darkness that did not overcome it.
There was a man named John sent by God, who came as a witness to testify to the light, so that through him all men might believe - but only to testify to the light, for he himself was not the light. The real light which gives light to every man was coming into the world. He was in the world, and through him the world was made, yet the world did not know who he was. To his own he came, yet his own did not accept him. Any who did accept him he empowered to become children of God.
These are they who believe in his name - who were begotten not by blood, nor by carnal desire, nor by man's willing it, but by God. The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us, and we have seen his glory; the glory of an only Son coming from the Father, filled with enduring love. John testified to him by proclaiming: "This is he of whom I said, 'The one who comes after me ranks ahead of me, for he was before me.'" Of his fullness we have all had a share - love following upon love. For while the law was given through Moses, this enduring love came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God. It is God the only Son, ever at the Father's side, who has revealed him.