Sunday, January 2, 2022

The Sunday Bible Readings and Prayers for Sunday, January 2, 2022 — Second Sunday after Christmas


The Sunday Bible Readings and Prayers
Sunday, January 2, 2022
Second Sunday after Christmas
Jeremiah 31:7-14; Psalm 147:12-20;
Ephesians 1:3-14; John 1:[1-9] 10-18
with commentaries from Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary on the Bible

The Light Shines
In the beginning was the word, the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

Introduction & Theme
Well, you made it. You survived. Advent is officially in the books. The Christmas musicals have been performed. The children have been corralled and dressed up like shepherds and donkeys. The Christmas Eve sermon has been preached and candles have been lifted. Take a deep breath.

Yet, liturgically, we are still in the Christmas season. All of your creative Christmas ideas have been preached, but we continue to celebrate the birth of Christ. What can we say about Jesus’s birth that we have not said already?

We arrive at the Gospel of John’s first chapter, the prologue. The prologue is a beautiful poem about the Word becoming flesh and making a home among us. There is so much content in this passage that the text almost preaches itself.

The birth of Christ in the Gospel of John is uniquely different from the other two Gospel birth narratives found in Matthew and Luke. John is not a narrative with shepherds or magi, rather, it is a poem expressing Christ being with God in the beginning.

The Gospel of John illustrates the birth of Jesus unusually. Instead of a narrative of Jesus being born, John writes of Jesus Christ as the “Word” and being with God in the beginning. John explicitly recognizes Jesus is outside of time and space, but instead was with God when nothing existed.

Opening Prayer

O Christ, pass through the doors of heaven into our presence. You were not created by the Most High to recline upon the clouds in the company of angels. You were fashioned to make your home among the creatures of God. God has chosen the place where you shall erect your tent. There we shall meet you. And where you go we shall go, and where you lodge we shall lodge. Your people shall be our people; your God, our God.

God of our hopes, Christ of our faith, Spirit in our hearts, we worship you with joy and gladness. Your goodness knows no limits of generation or gender, of condition or citizenship. You are kind to all, and we worship you in all sincerity; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Call to Confession

All-glorious God, we have faith in Jesus Christ, and love towards your people, yet we are not without blemish in your sight, not full of love, wisdom, and other spiritual blessings you still have available for us. Our love is not as inclusive as yours, and there is much we need to learn. Give us clearer vision of all that we are meant to be, so that by becoming fulfilled, we may increase the glory that is properly revealed in Jesus Christ, your beloved. Amen.

Assurance of Pardon

Friends, hear the Good News! The liberator has come to free us from all proud pretenses. The Christ has come in Jesus of Nazareth to show us the undeserved favor of God. In Jesus Christ, we are forgiven.

Today’s Verse-of-the-Day:
Psalm 90:12

Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.
Time flies, life is uncertain, and God judges sin. It is important, therefore, to value the moments and days He has given us. We cannot know what tomorrow will bring (Proverbs 27:1), so we ought to dedicate today and every day to the Lord. We must live sensibly and with a purpose, yet do so one day at a time.

Today’s Lectionary Readings:
From the Prophetic Books of Major Prophets
Jeremiah 31:7-14
Joy as God’s scattered flock gathers

7 This is what the Lord says:

  “Sing with joy for Jacob;
     shout for the foremost of the nations.
  Make your praises heard, and say,
     ‘Lord, save your people,
     the remnant of Israel.’
8 See, I will bring them from the land of the north
     and gather them from the ends of the earth.
  Among them will be the blind and the lame,
     expectant mothers and women in labor;
     a great throng will return.
9 They will come with weeping;
     they will pray as I bring them back.
  I will lead them beside streams of water
     on a level path where they will not stumble,
  because I am Israel’s father,
     and Ephraim is my firstborn son.

10 “Hear the word of the Lord, you nations;
      proclaim it in distant coastlands:
   ‘He who scattered Israel will gather them
      and will watch over his flock like a shepherd.’
11 For the Lord will deliver Jacob
      and redeem them from the hand of those stronger than they.
12 They will come and shout for joy on the heights of Zion;
      they will rejoice in the bounty of the Lord—
   the grain, the new wine and the olive oil,
      the young of the flocks and herds.
   They will be like a well-watered garden,
    and they will sorrow no more.
13 Then young women will dance and be glad,
      young men and old as well.
   I will turn their mourning into gladness;
      I will give them comfort and joy instead of sorrow.
14 I will satisfy the priests with abundance,
      and my people will be filled with my bounty,”
   declares the Lord.


Verses 1-7: When praising God for what he has done, we must call upon him for the favors his church needs and expects. When the Lord calls, we must not plead that we cannot come; for he that calls us, will help us, will strengthen us. The goodness of God shall lead them to repentance. And they shall weep for sin with more bitterness, and more tenderness, when delivered out of their captivity, than when groaning under it. If we take God for our Father, and join the church of the first-born, we shall want nothing that is good for us. These predictions doubtless refer also to a future gathering of the Israelites from all quarters of the globe. And they figuratively describe the conversion of sinners to Christ, and the plain and safe way in which they are led.

Verses 10-14: He that scattered Israel, knows where to find them. It is comfortable to observe the goodness of the Lord in the gifts of providence. But our souls are never valuable as gardens, unless watered with the dews of God's Spirit and grace. A precious promise follows, which will not have full accomplishment except in the heavenly Zion. Let them be satisfied of God's loving-kindness, and they will be satisfied with it, and desire no more to make them happy.

From the Psalter
Psalm 147:12-20
Praising God in Zion

12 Extol the Lord, Jerusalem;
      praise your God, Zion.

13 He strengthens the bars of your gates
      and blesses your people within you.
14 He grants peace to your borders
      and satisfies you with the finest of wheat.

15 He sends his command to the earth;
      his word runs swiftly.
16 He spreads the snow like wool
      and scatters the frost like ashes.
17 He hurls down his hail like pebbles.
      Who can withstand his icy blast?
18 He sends his word and melts them;
      he stirs up his breezes, and the waters flow.

19 He has revealed his word to Jacob,
      his laws and decrees to Israel.
20 He has done this for no other nation;
      they do not know his laws.

   Praise the Lord.


For the salvation and prosperity of the church.

The church, like Jerusalem of old, built up and preserved by the wisdom, power, and goodness of God, is exhorted to praise him for all the benefits and blessings vouchsafed to her; and these are represented by his favors in the course of nature. The thawing word may represent the gospel of Christ, and the thawing wind the Spirit of Christ; for the Spirit is compared to the wind, John 3:8. Converting grace softens the heart that was hard frozen, and melts it into tears of repentance, and makes good reflections to flow, which before were chilled and stopped up. The change which the thaw makes is very evident, yet how it is done no one can say. Such is the change wrought in the conversion of a soul, when God's word and Spirit are sent to melt it and restore it to itself.

From the Epistles
Ephesians 1:3-14
The will of God made known in Christ

1:3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. 4 For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love 5 he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will— 6 to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. 7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace 8 that he lavished on us. With all wisdom and understanding, 9 he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, 10 to be put into effect when the times reach their fulfillment—to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ.

11 In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, 12 in order that we, who were the first to put our hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory. 13 And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory.


An account of saving blessings, as prepared in God's eternal election, as purchased by Christ's blood. And as conveyed in effectual calling: this is applied to the believing Jews, and to the believing Gentiles.

Verses 3-8: Spiritual and heavenly blessings are the best blessings; with which we cannot be miserable, and without which we cannot but be so. This was from the choice of them in Christ, before the foundation of the world, that they should be made holy by separation from sin, being set apart to God, and sanctified by the Holy Spirit, in consequence of their election in Christ. All who are chosen to happiness as the end, are chosen to holiness as the means. In love they were predestinated, or fore-ordained, to be adopted as children of God by faith in Christ Jesus, and to be openly admitted to the privileges of that high relation to himself. The reconciled and adopted believer, the pardoned sinner, gives all the praise of his salvation to his gracious Father. His love appointed this method of redemption, spared not his own Son, and brought believers to hear and embrace this salvation. It was rich grace to provide such a surety as his own Son, and freely to deliver him up. This method of grace gives no encouragement to evil, but shows sin in all its hatefulness, and how it deserves vengeance. The believer's actions, as well as his words, declare the praises of Divine mercy.

Verses 9-14: Blessings were made known to believers, by the Lord's showing to them the mystery of his sovereign will, and the method of redemption and salvation. But these must have been for ever hidden from us, if God had not made them known by his written word, preached gospel, and Spirit of truth. Christ united the two differing parties, God and man, in his own person, and satisfied for that wrong which caused the separation. He wrought, by his Spirit, those graces of faith and love, whereby we are made one with God, and among ourselves. He dispenses all his blessings, according to his good pleasure. His Divine teaching led whom he pleased to see the glory of those truths, which others were left to blaspheme. What a gracious promise that is, which secures the gift of the Holy Ghost to those who ask him! The sanctifying and comforting influences of the Holy Spirit seal believers as the children of God, and heirs of heaven. These are the first-fruits of holy happiness. For this we were made, and for this we were redeemed; this is the great design of God in all that he has done for us; let all be ascribed unto the praise of his glory.

Today’s Gospel Reading
John 1:[1-9] 10-18
God With Us

John 1:1-18

1:[1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was with God in the beginning. 3 Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. 4 In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

6 There was a man sent from God whose name was John. 7 He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all might believe. 8 He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light.

9 The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world.] 10 He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. 11 He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. 12 Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— 13 children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.

14 The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.

15 (John testified concerning him. He cried out, saying, “This is the one I spoke about when I said, ‘He who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.’”) 16 Out of his fullness we have all received grace in place of grace already given. 17 For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. 18 No one has ever seen God, but the one and only Son, who is himself God and is in closest relationship with the Father, has made him known.


The Divinity of Christ. (1-5) His Divine and human nature. (6-14) John the Baptist's testimony to Christ. (15-18)

Verses 1-5: The plainest reason why the Son of God is called the Word, seems to be, that as our words explain our minds to others, so was the Son of God sent in order to reveal his Father's mind to the world. What the evangelist says of Christ proves that he is God. He asserts, His existence in the beginning; His coexistence with the Father. The Word was with God. All things were made by him, and not as an instrument. Without him was not any thing made that was made, from the highest angel to the meanest worm. This shows how well qualified he was for the work of our redemption and salvation. The light of reason, as well as the life of sense, is derived from him, and depends upon him. This eternal Word, this true Light shines, but the darkness comprehends it not. Let us pray without ceasing, that our eyes may be opened to behold this Light, that we may walk in it; and thus be made wise unto salvation, by faith in Jesus Christ.

Verses 6-14: John the Baptist came to bear witness concerning Jesus. Nothing more fully shows the darkness of men's minds, than that when the Light had appeared, there needed a witness to call attention to it. Christ was the true Light; that great Light which deserves to be called so. By his Spirit and grace he enlightens all that are enlightened to salvation; and those that are not enlightened by him, perish in darkness. Christ was in the world when he took our nature upon him, and dwelt among us. The Son of the Highest was here in this lower world. He was in the world, but not of it. He came to save a lost world, because it was a world of his own making. Yet the world knew him not. When he comes as a Judge, the world shall know him. Many say that they are Christ's own, yet do not receive him, because they will not part with their sins, nor have him to reign over them. All the children of God are born again. This new birth is through the word of God as the means, 1 Peter 1:23, and by the Spirit of God as the Author. By his Divine presence Christ always was in the world. But now that the fullness of time was come, he was, after another manner, God manifested in the flesh. But observe the beams of his Divine glory, which darted through this veil of flesh. Men discover their weaknesses to those most familiar with them, but it was not so with Christ; those most intimate with him saw most of his glory. Although he was in the form of a servant, as to outward circumstances, yet, in respect of graces, his form was like the Son of God His Divine glory appeared in the holiness of his doctrine, and in his miracles. He was full of grace, fully acceptable to his Father, therefore qualified to plead for us; and full of truth, fully aware of the things he was to reveal.

Verses 15-18: As to the order of time and entrance on his work, Christ came after John, but in every other way he was before him. The expression clearly shows that Jesus had existence before he appeared on earth as man. All fullness dwells in him, from which alone fallen sinners have, and shall receive, by faith, all that renders them wise, strong, holy, useful, and happy. Our receivings by Christ are all summed up in this one word, grace; we have received "even grace," a gift so great, so rich, so invaluable; the good will of God towards us, and the good work of God in us. The law of God is holy, just, and good; and we should make the proper use of it. But we cannot derive from it pardon, righteousness, or strength. It teaches us to adorn the doctrine of God our Savior, but it cannot supply the place of that doctrine. As no mercy comes from God to sinners but through Jesus Christ, no man can come to the Father but by him; no man can know God, except as he is made known in the only begotten and beloved Son.

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
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.


O Christ, we know that the gifts of our hands are no substitute for the loyalty of our lives. As we go out today, enable us to serve your creation as we have worshiped you, with ourselves as well as our gifts.

The Word — John 1:1-14

Optional parts of the readings are set off in [square brackets].

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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