This Week’s Theme
The Shepherd of Israel
When the Magi came from the east to Jerusalem in search of the Christ child, they met with Herod to inquire where he could be found. In asking the chief priests and scribes of the people where Christ was to be born, they recited the Scriptures from Micah 5.2: “And you, O Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for from you shall come a ruler who will shepherd my people Israel.” The Messiah would be born in Bethlehem, coming forth to accomplish the Father’s will and purpose, and appointed to be God’s ruler of the people, called to shepherd God’s people Israel. Jesus of Nazareth is indeed this shepherd of Israel, the ruler of God, destined to reign over his Kingdom as Lord and King forever.
Preparing Our Hearts
Invocation: Our Prayer of Acclamation
Almighty and everlasting God, the Brightness of faithful souls, Who hast consecrated this solemnity by the first-fruits of the chosen Gentiles; fill the world with Thy glory, and show Thyself by the radiance of Thy light to the nations that are subject unto Thee; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
~ Gregorian Sacramentary (Bright, p. 29)
Call to Worship
Blessed are you, O God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. And blessed is your Kingdom, both now and forever, amen.
Praising Our God
Te Deum Laudamus
You are God: we praise you; you are the Lord; we acclaim you; you are the eternal Father: All creation worships you. To you all angels, all the powers of heaven, Cherubim and Seraphim, sing in endless praise: Holy, holy, holy Lord, God of power and might, heaven and earth are full of your glory.
The glorious company of apostles praise you. The noble fellowship of prophets praise you. The white-robed army of martyrs praise you. Throughout the world the holy Church acclaims you; Father, of majesty unbounded, your true and only Son, worthy of all worship, and the Holy Spirit, advocate and guide.
You, Christ, are the king of glory, the eternal Son of the Father. When you became man to set us free you did not shun the Virgin’s womb. You overcame the sting of death and opened the kingdom of heaven to all believers. You are seated at God’s right hand in glory. We believe that you will come and be our judge. Come then, Lord, and help your people, bought with the price of your own blood, and bring us with your saints to glory everlasting.
Praise and Thanksgiving (songs and prayers)
Glory be to the Father,
And to the Son and to the Holy Spirit:
As it was in the beginning,
Is now, and ever shall be,
World without end. Amen, amen.
Listening to His Voice
Chronological Reading for the Day
Thursday: Exod. 25-28
Lectionary Readings for the Day
Psalm: Ps. 72.1-7, 10-14
OT: Isa. 60.1-6
Gospel: Matt. 2.1-12
NT: Eph. 3.1-12
Reflection: Silence and/or Journaling
Responding in Faith
The Apostles’ Creed
I believe in God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth; and in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead, and buried; he descended into hell; the third day he arose again from the dead; he ascended into heaven and sits on the right hand of God the Father Almighty; from thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic* church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Amen.
*In the Apostles’ and Nicene Creeds, the term catholic refers to the Church’s universality, through all ages and times, of all languages and peoples. It refers to no particular tradition or denominational expression (e.g., as in Roman Catholic).
Prayers of Confession
Let us now confess our sins to God and receive mercy and grace to help in our time of need.
Assurance of Pardon
Having faithfully confessed and renounced your sin, Christ also has been faithful to forgive your sins and to purify you from all unrighteousness. It is certain, that there is One who has spoken to the Father in your defense, Jesus Christ, the Righteous One who is the atoning sacrifice for our sins and for the sins of the whole world. His grace and peace are with you now. Amen.
Petitions and Supplications, Ending with The Lord’s Prayer
Our Father which 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 debts, as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.
~ Matthew 6.9-13 (KJV)
Doxology (and/or closing song)
Praise God from whom all blessings flow;
Praise Him all creatures here below;
Praise Him above ye heavenly host;
Praise Father, Son and Holy Ghost. Amen.
Departing to Serve
Today, if ye will hear his voice; harden not your hearts. Give us, O Lord, the open ear and hearts responsive to thy Word, that we may hear what thou wilt speak. And having the light of thy Word, let us give light to all whom we meet upon the way; for we shall not pass this way again. Hear our prayer, and bless our meditation; for the sake of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
~ James Ferguson (Ferguson and Wallis, p. 47)
Affirmation for the Day
May I, as a member of your flock, follow you wherever you lead me.
Pray without Ceasing – Flash Prayer for the Day
Lord Jesus, our Ruler and Shepherd, come and reign in my heart, leading me into your gracious will.
For Your Weekly Journey
Let God Arise! Seasonal Focus
The Light Has Shone, Isaiah 9.1-4
Packer, Knowing God