Readings: Psalm 41, Mark 2:1-12
Readings: Deuteronomy 6:1-18, Matthew 4:1-11
HEBREW BIBLE: EXODUS 24:12-18
The leader says: The Hebrew Bible reading is from the book of Exodus.
The Lord said to Moses, “Come up to me on the mountain and wait there. I’ll give you the stone tablets with the instructions and the commandments that I’ve written in order to teach them.”
So Moses and his assistant Joshua got up, and Moses went up God’s mountain. Moses had said to the elders, “Wait for us here until we come back to you. Aaron and Hur will be here with you. Whoever has a legal dispute may go to them.”
Then Moses went up the mountain, and the cloud covered the mountain. The Lord’s glorious presence settled on Mount Sinai, and the cloud covered it for six days. On the seventh day the Lord called to Moses from the cloud. To the Israelites, the Lord’s glorious presence looked like a blazing fire on top of the mountain. Moses entered the cloud and went up the mountain. Moses stayed on the mountain for forty days and forty nights.
The leader says: The Word of the Lord.
All respond: Thanks be to God.
PSALM: PSALM 2
The leader says: Our psalm reading is number two, and is read responsively.
The leader says: Why do the nations rant? Why do the people rave uselessly?
All respond: The earth’s rulers take their stand;
the leaders scheme together
against the Lord and
against his anointed one.
The leader says: “Come!” they say.
“We will tear off their ropes and throw off their chains!”
All respond: The one who rules in heaven laughs;
my Lord makes fun of them.
The leader says: But then God speaks to them angrily;
then he terrifies them with his fury:
All respond: “I hereby appoint my king on Zion,
my holy mountain!”
The leader says: I will announce the Lord’s decision:
All respond: He said to me, “You are my son,
today I have become your father.
The leader says: Just ask me,
and I will make the nations your possession;
the far corners of the earth will be your property.
All respond: You will smash them with an iron rod;
you will shatter them like a pottery jar.”
The leader says: So kings, wise up!
Be warned, you rulers of the earth!
All respond: Serve the Lord reverently—
trembling, kiss his feet
or else he will become angry,
and your way will be destroyed
because his anger ignites in an instant.
But all who take refuge in the Lord are truly happy!
THE GOOD NEWS: Matthew 17:1-9
Six days later, Jesus took with him Peter and James and his brother John and led them up a high mountain, by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became dazzling white. Suddenly there appeared to them Moses and Elijah, talking with him.
Then Peter said to Jesus, "Lord, it is good for us to be here; if you wish, I will make three dwellings here, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah."
While he was still speaking, suddenly a bright cloud overshadowed them, and from the cloud a voice said, "This is my Son, the Beloved; with him I am well pleased; listen to him!"
When the disciples heard this, they fell to the ground and were overcome by fear. But Jesus came and touched them, saying, "Get up and do not be afraid." And when they looked up, they saw no one except Jesus himself alone.
As they were coming down the mountain, Jesus ordered them, "Tell no one about the vision until after the Son of Man has been raised from the dead."
L: In you, O Lord, I find my refuge;
do not let me be put to shame.
All: Turn your ear to my cry and rescue me.
Be a rock of refuge for me, a strong fortress to protect me.
L: You are my true rock and my fortress;
for the glory of your name, O God, lead me and guide me,
protect me from the trap that is hidden for me,
for you are my refuge.
All: Into your hand I commit my spirit;
you have redeemed me, O Lord, my faithful God.
L: I will proclaim and rejoice in your steadfast love,
because you have seen my suffering;
you have taken heed of my struggles,
and you have set my feet in a wide space, free of terror.
All: Be gracious to me, O Lord, for I am in pain;
my eye and soul and body waste away from grief.
L: My life is full of sorrow,
and my years full of sighing;
my strength fails from my sadness,
and my bones waste away.
All: But I trust in you, O Lord; I say, “You are my God.”
Now let your face shine upon your servant;
save me in your steadfast love.
L: Do not let me be put to shame, O Lord,
for I call on you.
All: How abundant is the goodness
that you have kept for those who live in awe of you,
for those who take refuge in you!
In the shelter of your presence you protect them;
you hold them safe from cruel mouths.
L: Blessed be the Lord,
who has shown wondrous, steadfast love.
All: I had said in my fear,
“I have been chased far from your sight.”
But you heard my pleas
when I cried out to you for help.
L: Love the Lord, all you faithful!
All: Be strong, and let your heart take courage,
all you who wait for the Lord.
Matthew 7:1-6, 12-20, 24-27
“Do not judge, or you may be judged. Remember that the by judgment you make you will also be judged, and the measure you give will be the measure you get back. Why do you see the speck in your neighbor’s eye, but do not notice the log in your own eye? Or how can you say to your neighbor, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ while the log is in your own eye? You say one thing, and do another. First, take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your neighbor’s eye.
“Do not give what is holy to dogs; and do not throw your pearls before swine, or they will trample them under foot and turn and maul you.
“In everything, do to others what you wish they would do to you; this is the sum of all the law and the prophets.
“Beware the wide and easy way; look for the narrow gate. The gate is narrow and the road is hard that leads to true life, and there are few who find it.
“Beware of false prophets, who come to you pretending to be gentle like sheep, but on the inside are ravenous wolves. You will know them by what they produce. Grapes don’t grow from thornbrushes, figs don’t grow from thistles. In the same way, every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is good for nothing but firewood. You will know true prophets not by how they look and act, but by their fruits.
“Everyone then who hears these words of mine and acts on them will be like a wise man who built his house on solid rock. The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall. And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not act on them will be like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it collapsed into the sand.”
HEBREW BIBLE MICAH 6:1-8
L: The Hebrew Bible reading is from the prophet Micah, and is read responsively.
L: Hear what the Lord says:
Stand up! Plead your case before the mountains,
and let the hills hear your voice.
All: Hear, you mountains, the quarrel of God;
and listen, all the layers of earth:
the Lord has a quarrel with God’s people,
and God will now content with Israel.
L: God asks, "O my people, what have I done to you?
How have I made you weary? Answer me!
All: Look: I brought you out of the land of Egypt,
and saved you from the house of slavery;
I gave you Moses, Aaron, and Miriam for leaders.
L: Remember, O my people, how there was a king named Balak
who plotted against you,
and to him I sent Balaam to answer him
and stop his schemes.
Remember this, that you may know the saving acts of the Lord."
All: With what offering shall I come before the Lord?
How should I bow myself before God most high?
Should I bring burnt offerings, calves only a year old?
Would the Lord be pleased if I brought thousands of rams,
ten thousands of rivers of oil?
What about my firstborn - is that what God wants,
The fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?
L: God has told you, O mortal, what is good;
remember, what does the Lord require of you?
All: To do justice, to love kindness,
and to walk humbly with our God.
L: The Word of the Lord. A: Thanks be to God.
HEBREW BIBLE: ISAIAH 9:1-7
The leader says: The Hebrew Bible reading is from the prophet Isaiah, and is read responsively.
L: Listen! There will be no more gloom for those who have been in anguish.
A: A long time ago, God let the lands of the tribes of Zebulun and Naphtali fall into contempt -
but now, in these new days, the Lord will glorify the road by the sea,
the land beyond the Jordan River, the Galilee of the nations.
L: The people who walked in despair have now seen a shining hope;
those who lived in deep darkness have awakened to find light and life.
A: You have multiplied the people, you have increased our joy;
we rejoice before you like we are gathering an abundant harvest.
L: For the yoke of our burden, and the rod of our oppressor,
you have broken, just as you have done before.
A: All the boots of the tramping warriors and all the garments rolled in blood shall be burned like fuel for a fire.
L: For a child has been born for us, a son given to us;
authority rests upon his shoulders;
A: and he is named Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
L: His authority shall grow continually, and there shall be endless peace for the throne of David and his kingdom.
A: He will establish and uphold justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore. The strength of the Lord of heaven will do this.
THE GOOD NEWS: MATTHEW 4:12-23
The leader says: The good news of Jesus Christ, according to the gospel of Matthew, the fourth chapter.
All respond: Glory to you, O Lord.
John the Baptist had been arrested by Herod Antipas for speaking out against him. When Jesus heard that John had been arrested, he went back to Galilee. He did not stay in his hometown of Nazareth, but went to the city of Capernaum by the sea, in the territory of the tribes of Zebulun and Naphtali, so that what had been spoken through the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled:
“Land of Zebulun, land of Naphtali,
on the road by the sea, across the Jordan,
the Galilee of the Gentiles—
the people who dwelled in despair
have now been filled with hope;
those who sat in the shadow of death
have awakened to find light and life.
Then Jesus began to proclaim, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.”
As he walked by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea—for they were fishermen. And Jesus said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of people.” Immediately they dropped their nets and followed him. As he went from there, he saw two other brothers, James son of Zebedee and his brother John, in the boat with their father, mending their nets, and he called them. Immediately they left the boat and their father, and followed him.
Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the good news of the kingdom, and curing every disease and every sickness among the people.
HEBREW BIBLE ISAIAH 42:1-9
L: The Hebrew Bible reading is from the prophet Isaiah, and is read
L: The Lord says,
“Here is my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen, in whom I delight;
I have put my spirit on him; he will bring justice to the nations.
He will not cry or shout, or force his voice to be heard;
All: Even a bruised reed he will not break,
even a flickering candle he will not blow out;
he will faithfully bring forth justice.
He will not end his work till he establishes justice on earth.
L: Thus says God the Lord—
who created the heavens and stretched them out,
who spread out the earth and all that is in it,
who gives breath and life to every person—
All: God the Lord has called you in righteousness;
God will take you by the hand and keep you;
God will give you as a covenant to the people,
a light to the nations,
to protect those who are in need, to free the prisoners,
to liberate those who sit in darkness.
L: I am the Lord, that is my name;
I will give my glory to no one else.
A: Look! what is in the past is past;
God has now declared something new.
L: The Word of the Lord. A: Thanks be to God.
✠ THE GOOD NEWS Matthew 3:1-17
L: The good news of Jesus Christ,
according to the gospel of Matthew, the third chapter.
A: Glory to you, O Lord.
John the Baptizer appeared in the wilderness of Judea, proclaiming, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.” (John is the one the prophet Isaiah spoke of when he said, “The voice of one crying out in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make God’s paths straight.’”)
Now John wore clothing made of camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and his food was locusts and wild honey. The people of Jerusalem, all Judea, and the whole region along the Jordan River would go out to see him, and they were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins.
But when he saw many of the religious leaders coming for baptism, he said to them, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bear fruit that shows you have repented. Do not think you can just say to yourselves, ‘We are safe, for Abraham is our ancestor’; I tell you, God could take these muddy stones and create children of Abraham. Right now the ax is lying at the root of the trees; every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.
“I baptize you with water for repentance, but the one who will replace me is more powerful than I am; I am not worthy to carry his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His pitchfork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor; he will gather the worthy wheat into the granary, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.”
Then Jesus came from Galilee to John at the Jordan, to be baptized by him. John wanted to stop this, and said, “I need to be baptized by you, and you come to me?” But Jesus answered him, “Let it be so now; in this way we fulfill all righteousness.” Then John agreed. And when Jesus had been baptized, as he came up from the water, suddenly the heavens split open, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and landing on him. And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son,
the Beloved, with whom I am well pleased.”
L: This is the gospel, the good news of our Lord.
A: Praise to you, O Christ. (You may be seated.)
Arise, shine; for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you.
For darkness shall cover the earth, and deep gloom shall fall on all people;
but the Lord will arise upon you, and God’s glory will appear over you.
Nations shall come to your light, and kings to the brilliance of your dawn.
Lift up your eyes and see; the people gather and come to you;
your sons shall come from far away, and your daughters shall be carried on their nurses’ arms.
Then you shall see and be radiant; your heart shall thrill and rejoice,
because the abundance of the sea shall be brought to you, the wealth of the nations shall come to you.
A multitude of camels shall converge on you, camels from the far-off lands of Egypt and Midian.
They shall bring gold and frankincense, and shall proclaim the praise of the Lord.
In the time of King Herod the Great, after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, asking, “Where is the child who has been born king of the Jews? For we observed his star at its rising, and have come to worship him.” When King Herod heard this, he was frightened, and all of Jerusalem with him. Herod called together all the chief priests and scribes, and he asked them where the Messiah was to be born.
They told him, “In Bethlehem of Judea; for so it has been written by the prophet:
‘And you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
for from you shall come a ruler who is to shepherd my people Israel.’”Then Herod secretly called for the wise men and learned from them the exact time when the star had appeared. Then he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, “Go and search diligently for the child; and when you have found him, bring me word so that I may also go and worship him.”
When they had heard the king, they set out; and there, ahead of them, went the star that they had seen at its rising, until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw that the star had stopped, they were overwhelmed with joy. On entering the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother; and they knelt down and worshipped him. Then, opening their treasure chests, they offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they left for their own country by another road.
At that time, says the Lord, I will be the God of all the families of Israel,
and they shall be my people.
Thus says the Lord:
The people who survived the sword found grace in the wilderness;
when Israel sought for rest, the Lord came from far away and was with him.
I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have dwelled with you faithfully.
Again I will build you, and you shall be strong, O reborn Israel!
Sing aloud with gladness for your ancestor Jacob, and raise shouts for the chief of the nations;
proclaim, give praise, and say, “Save, O Lord, your people, the remnant of the faithful.”
See, I am going to bring them from the land of the north,
and gather them from the farthest parts of the earth,
even those who cannot see and cannot walk,
those with child and those in labor, together;
as one great assembly they shall return home.
They will come weeping,
but with consolation I will lead them;
I will let them walk by brooks of water,
in an easy path in which they shall not stumble.
I will turn their mourning into joy,
I will comfort them, and trade their sorrow for gladness.
Thus says the Lord:
A voice is heard in Ramah, lamentation and bitter weeping.
Rachel is weeping for her children; she refuses to be comforted, because they are no more.
Thus says the Lord:
Keep your voice from weeping, and your eyes from tears;
they shall come back from the land of the enemy;
there is hope for your future;
your children shall come back to their own country.
After the magi had left, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Get up, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and stay there until I tell you; for Herod is about to search for the child, to try to destroy him.” Then Joseph got up, took the child and his mother by night, and went to Egypt, and remained there until the death of Herod. This was to fulfill what had been spoken by the Lord through the prophet Hosea: “Out of Egypt I have called my son.”
When Herod saw that he had been tricked by the wise men, he was infuriated, and he sent for his soldiers to kill all the children in and around Bethlehem who were two years old or under, according to the time that he had learned from the wise men. Then was fulfilled what had been spoken through the prophet Jeremiah: “A voice was heard in Ramah, wailing and loud lamentation, Rachel weeping for her children; she refused to be consoled, because they are no more.”
When Herod died, an angel of the Lord suddenly appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt and said, “Get up, take the child and his mother, and go back to the land of Israel, for those who were seeking the child’s life are dead.” Then Joseph got up, took the child and his mother, and went to the land of Israel. But when he heard that Archelaus was ruling over Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there. And after being warned in a dream, he went away to the district of Galilee, where Herod Antipas ruled. There he made his home in a town called Nazareth.
Reading from the Hebrew Bible: Isaiah 7:10-17, 10:20, 10:27, 11:1-3
Ahaz was king over Judah, and two of the kings of Israel threatened to attack Jerusalem. Ahaz’s heart was shaken to its core. And through the prophet Isaiah the Lord spoke to Ahaz, saying, “Ask for a sign from me, the Lord your God; it can be deep as the pit of death, or high as heaven.”
But Ahaz said, “No, I will not ask! I will not put the Lord to the test.”
Then Isaiah said:
Hear then, O house of David!
Is it not enough that you wear out your fellow humans,
that you tire God also?
God will chose the sign for you:
Look, there is a virgin who is pregnant and shall bear a son,
and shall name him Immanuel.
He will eat rich foods, curds and honey,
by the time he is old enough to reject evil and choose good.
For before he is old enough to reject evil and choose good,
the land of the two kings whom you dread will be laid waste.
On that day the faithful remnant of Israel
will not lean on the one who struck them,
but on the Lord, the Holy One of truth.
On that day the burden of the Assyrian oppressors
will be removed from your shoulder,
and his yoke broken from your neck.
Then a shoot shall come out from the stump of Jesse,
and a branch shall grow out of its roots.
The spirit of the Lord will rest upon him,
the spirit of wisdom and understanding,
the spirit of counsel and might,
the spirit of knowledge and awe of the Lord.
The Good News: Matthew 1:18-25
This is how the birth of Jesus, the Anointed, took place. His mother Mary was engaged to Joseph, but they did not live together. She was found to be pregnant, with a child from the Holy Spirit. Her fiancé Joseph was a righteous man, and knew she would be publicly disgraced, so he planned to break the engagement quietly. But the same night he decided to do this, in a dream he saw an angel of the Lord, who said to him:
“Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife, for the child she carries truly is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”
All this took place to fulfill what had been spoken by the Lord through the prophet:
“Look, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son,
and they shall name him Emmanuel,”
which means, “God is with us.”
When Joseph awoke, he did exactly what the angel of the Lord commanded him; he took Mary as his wife, and when she gave birth to her son, he named him Jesus.