Thursday after Christmas 1

Psalmody: Psalm 111:1–6, 10

1 Praise the LORD! I will give thanks to the
LORD with my | whole heart,*
         in the company of the upright, in the congre- | gation.

2 Great are the works | of the LORD,*
         studied by all who de- | light in them.

3 Full of splendor and majesty | is his work,*
         and his righteousness endures for- | ever.

4 He has caused his wondrous works
to be re- | membered;*
         the LORD is gracious and | merciful.

5 He provides food for those who | fear him;*
         he remembers his covenant for- | ever.

6 He has shown his people the power | of his works,*
         in giving them the inheritance
         of the | nations.

10 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of
wisdom; all those who practice it have a
good under- | standing.*
         His praise endures for- | ever!

Old Testament Reading: Isaiah 60:1–22

The Future Glory of Israel
1Arise, shine, for your light has come,
         and the glory of the LORD has risen upon you.

2For behold, darkness shall cover the earth,
         and thick darkness the peoples;

but the LORD will arise upon you,
         and his glory will be seen upon you.

3And nations shall come to your light,
         and kings to the brightness of your rising.

4Lift up your eyes all around, and see;
         they all gather together, they come to you;

your sons shall come from afar,
         and your daughters shall be carried on the hip.

5Then you shall see and be radiant;
         your heart shall thrill and exult,

because the abundance of the sea shall be turned to you,
         the wealth of the nations shall come to you.

6A multitude of camels shall cover you,
         the young camels of Midian and Ephah;
         all those from Sheba shall come.

They shall bring gold and frankincense,
         and shall bring good news, the praises of the LORD.

7All the flocks of Kedar shall be gathered to you;
         the rams of Nebaioth shall minister to you;

they shall come up with acceptance on my altar,
         and I will beautify my beautiful house.

8Who are these that fly like a cloud,
         and like doves to their windows?

9For the coastlands shall hope for me,
         the ships of Tarshish first,

to bring your children from afar,
         their silver and gold with them,

for the name of the LORD your God,
         and for the Holy One of Israel,
         because he has made you beautiful.

10Foreigners shall build up your walls,
         and their kings shall minister to you;

for in my wrath I struck you,
         but in my favor I have had mercy on you.

11Your gates shall be open continually;
         day and night they shall not be shut,

that people may bring to you the wealth of the nations,
         with their kings led in procession.

12For the nation and kingdom
         that will not serve you shall perish;
         those nations shall be utterly laid waste.

13The glory of Lebanon shall come to you,
         the cypress, the plane, and the pine,

to beautify the place of my sanctuary,
         and I will make the place of my feet glorious.

14The sons of those who afflicted you
         shall come bending low to you,

and all who despised you
         shall bow down at your feet;

they shall call you the City of the LORD,
         the Zion of the Holy One of Israel.

15Whereas you have been forsaken and hated,
         with no one passing through,

I will make you majestic forever,
         a joy from age to age.

16You shall suck the milk of nations;
         you shall nurse at the breast of kings;

and you shall know that I, the LORD, am your Savior
         and your Redeemer, the Mighty One of Jacob.

17Instead of bronze I will bring gold,
         and instead of iron I will bring silver;

instead of wood, bronze,
         instead of stones, iron.

I will make your overseers peace
         and your taskmasters righteousness.

18Violence shall no more be heard in your land,
         devastation or destruction within your borders;

you shall call your walls Salvation,
         and your gates Praise.

19The sun shall be no more
         your light by day,

nor for brightness shall the moon
         give you light;

but the LORD will be your everlasting light,
         and your God will be your glory.

20Your sun shall no more go down,
         nor your moon withdraw itself;

for the LORD will be your everlasting light,
         and your days of mourning
         shall be ended.

21Your people shall all be righteous;
         they shall possess the land forever,

the branch of my planting,
         the work of my hands,
         that I might be glorified.

22The least one shall become a clan,
         and the smallest one a mighty nation;

I am the LORD;
         in its time I will hasten it.

New Testament Reading: Luke 1:39–56

Mary Visits Elizabeth
39In those days Mary arose and went with haste into the hill country, to a town in Judah, 40and she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. 41And when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the baby leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit, 42and she exclaimed with a loud cry, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! 43And why is this granted to me that the mother of my Lord should come to me? 44For behold, when the sound of your greeting came to my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. 45And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord.”

Mary’s Song of Praise: The Magnificat
46And Mary said,

“My soul magnifies the Lord,
          47and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,

48for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant.
         For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed;

49for he who is mighty has done great things for me,
         and holy is his name.

50And his mercy is for those who fear him
         from generation to generation.

51He has shown strength with his arm;
         he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts;

52he has brought down the mighty from their thrones
         and exalted those of humble estate;

53he has filled the hungry with good things,
         and the rich he has sent away empty.

54He has helped his servant Israel,
         in remembrance of his mercy,

55as he spoke to our fathers,
         to Abraham and to his offspring forever.”

56And Mary remained with her about three months and returned to her home.

Writing

There is nothing which is hid from God, but our very secrets are near to Him. Let us therefore do things as those who have Him dwelling in us, that we may be His temples and He may be in us as our God, which indeed He is. And He will manifest Himself before our faces. Wherefore we justly love Him.…

Why are we not all prudent, since we have received the knowledge of God, which is Jesus Christ? Why do we foolishly perish, not recognizing the gift which the Lord has truly sent? …

For our God, Jesus Christ, was, according to the appointment of God, conceived in the womb of Mary, of the seed of David, but by the Holy Spirit. He was born and baptized, that by His passion He might purify the water.

Now the virginity of Mary was hidden from the prince of this world, as was also her offspring, and the death of the Lord; three mysteries of renown, which were worked in silence by God. How, then, was He manifested to the world? A star shone forth in heaven above all the other stars, the light of which was inexpressible, while its novelty struck men with astonishment. And all the rest of the stars, with the sun and moon, formed a chorus to this star, and its light was exceedingly great above them all. And there was agitation felt as to the origins of this new spectacle, so unlike everything else. Hence every kind of magic was destroyed, and every kind of wickedness disappeared; ignorance was removed, and the old kingdom abolished, God Himself being manifested in human form for the renewal of eternal life. And what had been prepared by God began. Henceforth all things were in a state of tumult, because He mediated the abolition of death.

    —Ignatius of Antioch

Hymnody

My soul rejoices,
My spirit voices—
Sing the greatness of the Lord!
For God my Savior
Has shown me favor—
Sing the greatness of the Lord!
With praise and blessing,
Join in confessing
God, who is solely
Mighty and holy—
O sing the greatness of God the Lord!
His mercy surely
Shall rest securely
On all who fear Him,
Love and revere Him—
O sing the greatness of God the Lord!
    —My Soul Rejoices (LSB 933:1)

Prayer of the Day

Eternal God, we commit to Your mercy and forgiveness the year now ending and commend to Your blessing and love the times yet to come. In the new year, abide among us with Your Holy Spirit that we may always trust in the saving name of our Lord Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

By Rev. Michael Mayer

Lutheran Pastor of two small Lutheran Churches in rural SW Ontario.