Sunday, December 19, 2021

The Sunday Bible Readings and Prayers for Sunday, December 19, 2021


The Sunday Bible Readings and Prayers
Sunday, December 19, 2021
Fourth Sunday of Advent
Micah 5:2-5a; Luke 1:46b-55; Hebrews 10:5-10; Luke 1:39-45
with commentaries from Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary on the Bible

The Candle of Love
Today, as we remember Mary, the one chosen to bear our Savior, we light the candle of LOVE. Because of her love for God, Mary was faithful to serve as she was called. And through Mary, God would deliver the divine and perfect love of our Redeemer.

O God, your love came crashing into our world on that first Christmas in order to permeate our lives. Lead us to experience the depth of your love and to allow that love to overflow to others.

Introduction & Theme

When we join with Mary in singing the Magnificat, we’re not just singing another carol to pass the time till Christmas arrives—we’re celebrating the impending arrival of the one who turns the world upside down! From the tiny hamlet of Bethlehem comes the greatest gift ever. From the barren womb of Elizabeth comes the radical prophet and baptizer. From the mouth of a young, unmarried girl comes words of unswerving commitment, and a song of praise for the fulfillment of God’s promises. For a church that has been lulled into complacency by too many warm, familiar Christmas rituals, these Advent readings offer shocking witness that the kingdom of God is indeed at hand.

Opening Prayer
(Micah 5, Luke 1)

Holy God, your prophet Micah foretold with faith that a new ruler would come forth from Bethlehem—today we celebrate the fulfillment of your promise; your daughter Elizabeth proclaimed with faith that her cousin was to be the mother of her Lord—today we celebrate the fulfillment of your promise; your servant Mary proclaimed with faith that she would be called blessed by all generations—today we celebrate the fulfillment of your promise. Make us bold enough to proclaim with faith—the coming of your kingdom, the coming of your justice, the coming of your peace. May we sing out the good news of your salvation, trusting in fulfillment of your promises. All this we pray in the name of the one who comes. Amen.

Call to Confession
(Micah 5, Luke 1)

Loving God, even in the midst of this season of goodwill, there is much to confess. In spite of holiday cheer, stress and anxiety rule our lives. We miss the reason for the season, focusing instead on Christmas parties, long to-do lists, and trying to get the shopping done. We fail to think about your reordered world—a world where the lowly are lifted up and the hungry are filled with good things. Help us adjust our Christmas priorities, that we might join with you, O God, in preparing a world that welcomes the one who brings us peace.

Assurance of Pardon

The ancient promises of God are fulfilled. God does not forget us. God’s mercy extends from generation to generation. Let our souls rejoice in God!

Today’s Verse-of-the-Day:
Luke 1:76-78

And you, my child, will be called a prophet of the Most High; for you will go on before the Lord to prepare the way for him, to give his people the knowledge of salvation through the forgiveness of their sins, because of the tender mercy of our God, by which the rising sun will come to us from heaven
Zacharias was referring to the prophecy of Malachi 4:2, “You
who revere my name, the sun of righteousness will rise.” This of course, was speaking about the Messiah. By first listing God’s covenants to David and Abraham (Luke 1:69, 73), and then referring to the last thing the Lord said in Malachi, Zacharias was confirming that God had indeed kept every aspect of His promise to send the Savior. The good news that Israel had been longing to hear had finally arrived.

Today’s Lectionary Readings:
From the Prophetic Books of Minor prophets
Micah 5:2-5a
From Bethlehem Comes a Ruler

2 “But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah,
     though you are small among the clans of Judah,
  out of you will come for me
     one who will be ruler over Israel,
  whose origins are from of old,
     from ancient times.”

3 Therefore Israel will be abandoned
     until the time when she who is in labor bears a son,
  and the rest of his brothers return
     to join the Israelites.

4 He will stand and shepherd his flock
     in the strength of the Lord,
     in the majesty of the name of the Lord his God.
  And they will live securely, for then his greatness
     will reach to the ends of the earth.

5 And he will be our peace
     when the Assyrians invade our land
     and march through our fortresses.


Here is foretold that Bethlehem should be his birthplace. Hence it was universally known among the Jews, Matthew 2:5. Christ's government shall be very happy for his subjects; they shall be safe and easy. Under the shadow of protection from the Assyrians, is a promise of protection to the gospel church and all believers, from the designs and attempts of the powers of darkness. Christ is our Peace as a Priest, making atonement for sin, and reconciling us to God; and he is our Peace as a King, conquering our enemies: hence our souls may dwell at ease in him. Christ will find instruments to protect and deliver. Those that threaten ruin to the church of God, soon bring ruin on themselves. This may include the past powerful effects of the preached gospel, its future spread, and the ruin of all antichristian powers. This is, perhaps, the most important single prophecy in the Old Testament: it respects the personal character of the Messiah, and the discoveries of himself to the world. It distinguishes his human birth from his existing from eternity; it foretells the rejection of the Israelites and Jews for a season, their final restoration, and the universal peace to prevail through the whole earth in the latter days. In the mean time let us trust our Shepherd's care and power.

From the Gospels
Luke 1:46b-55
My Soul Magnifies the Lord

46b “My soul glorifies the Lord
47    and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
48 for he has been mindful
      of the humble state of his servant.
   From now on all generations will call me blessed,
49    for the Mighty One has done great things for me—
      holy is his name.
50 His mercy extends to those who fear him,
      from generation to generation.
51 He has performed mighty deeds with his arm;
      he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts.
52 He has brought down rulers from their thrones
      but has lifted up the humble.
53 He has filled the hungry with good things
      but has sent the rich away empty.
54 He has helped his servant Israel,
      remembering to be merciful
55 to Abraham and his descendants forever,
      just as he promised our ancestors.”


Mary, animated by Elisabeth's address, and being also under the influence of the Holy Ghost, broke out into joy, admiration, and gratitude. She knew herself to be a sinner who needed a Savior, and that she could no otherwise rejoice in God than as interested in his salvation through the promised Messiah. Those who see their need of Christ, and are desirous of righteousness and life in him, he fills with good things, with the best things; and they are abundantly satisfied with the blessings he gives. He will satisfy the desires of the poor in spirit who long for spiritual blessings, while the self-sufficient shall be sent empty away.

From the Epistles
Hebrews 10:5-10
I Have Come to do Your Will

10:5 Therefore, when Christ came into the world, he said:

  “Sacrifice and offering you did not desire,
     but a body you prepared for me;
6 with burnt offerings and sin offerings
     you were not pleased.
7 Then I said, ‘Here I am—it is written about me in the scroll—
     I have come to do your will, my God.’”

8 First he said, “Sacrifices and offerings, burnt offerings and sin offerings you did not desire, nor were you pleased with them”—though they were offered in accordance with the law. 9 Then he said, “Here I am, I have come to do your will.” He sets aside the first to establish the second. 10 And by that will, we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.


The apostle having shown that the tabernacle, and ordinances of the covenant of Sinai, were only emblems and types of the gospel, concludes that the sacrifices the high priests offered continually, could not make the worshipers perfect, with respect to pardon, and the purifying of their consciences. But when "God manifested in the flesh," became the sacrifice, and his death upon the accursed tree the ransom, then the Sufferer being of infinite worth, his free-will sufferings were of infinite value. The atoning sacrifice must be one capable of consenting, and must of his own will place himself in the sinner's stead: Christ did so. The fountain of all that Christ has done for his people, is the sovereign will and grace of God. The righteousness brought in, and the sacrifice once offered by Christ, are of eternal power, and his salvation shall never be done away. They are of power to make all the comers thereunto perfect; they derive from the atoning blood, strength and motives for obedience, and inward comfort.

Today’s Gospel Reading
Luke 1:39-45
Blessed are You Among Women

Luke 1:39-45

1:39 At that time Mary got ready and hurried to a town in the hill country of Judea, 40 where she entered Zechariah’s home and greeted Elizabeth. 41 When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. 42 In a loud voice she exclaimed: “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear! 43 But why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? 44 As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. 45 Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her!”


It is very good for those who have the work of grace begun in their souls, to communicate one to another. On Mary's arrival, Elisabeth was conscious of the approach of her who was to be the mother of the great Redeemer. At the same time she was filled with the Holy Ghost, and under his influence declared that Mary and her expected child were most blessed and happy, as peculiarly honored of and dear to the Most High God.

Here end the Readings

The Nicene Creed

The Nicene Creed
  • We believe in one God, the Father almighty, maker of heaven and earth, of all things visible and invisible.
  • And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only Son of God, begotten from the Father before all ages, God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten, not made; of the same essence as the Father. Through him all things were made. For us and for our salvation he came down from heaven; he became incarnate by the Holy Spirit and the virgin Mary, and was made human. He was crucified for us under Pontius Pilate; he suffered and was buried. The third day he rose again, according to the Scriptures. He ascended to heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father. He will come again with glory to judge the living and the dead. His kingdom will never end.
  • And we believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life. He proceeds from the Father and the Son, and with the Father and the Son is worshiped and glorified. He spoke through the prophets. We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic church. We affirm one baptism for the forgiveness of sins. We look forward to the resurrection of the dead, and to life in the world to come. Amen.

The Lord’s Prayer

The Lord's Prayer
Our Father who art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive them that trespass against us; And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil:

For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen.

Holy Communion

Holy Communion
A nondenominational serving of bread and wine

Though no video can truly replace the experience of celebrating together in our places of worship, we know that where two or more are gathered, the Lord is present. This table is open to all who recognize Jesus Christ as healer and redeemer. This table is open to all who work to bring God’s Kingdom here on earth. No one is turned away because of life circumstances. No one is barred from this table. No one seeking God’s abundant grace and mercy is turned aside. We see before us the abundance that a life of faith offers as we respond to God’s everlasting mercy in prayer and deed.


God asks us if we will be God's people. Our hearts want to shout yes! Go into the world, feeling God's healing presence in your lives. Tell others about God's love. Do not be afraid! God is truly with you. Amen.

An Advent Prayer of Love
God loved us with an unstoppable love. A love so deep it cost him his Son. Jesus, the Messiah, our Savior. To draw us close to Him, to change our eternity. That night in Bethlehem, love came down. This is the heart of Christmas.

Today’s Lectionary Readings are selected from the Revised Common Lectionary Daily Readings, a three-year cyclical lectionary. We are currently in Year C. Beginning with the first Sunday of Advent in 2022, we will be in Year A. The year which ended at Advent 2021 was Year B. These readings complement the Sunday and festival readings: Thursday through Saturday readings help prepare the reader for the Sunday ahead; Monday through Wednesday readings help the reader reflect and digest what they heard in worship. Revised Common Lectionary Daily Readings, copyright © 2005 Consultation on Common Texts. The Bible texts of the Old Testament, Epistle, and Gospel lessons are from The Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide. Commentaries from Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary on the Bible.

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