Week 6: Second Sunday after Christmas Day

Paul begins his letter to the Ephesians with a single sentence of praise – a sentence 202 words long in the Greek. We are to bless the Father for his incredible plan of salvation. We praise him for his choice to adopt us into his family as his own children. We praise him for the redemption and forgiveness we have received through the blood of Christ. We praise him because he has revealed the mystery of his salvation plan to us in the fullness of time. We praise him because we have been chosen to live for the praise of God’s glory. We praise him because we have received and been sealed with the promised Holy Spirit.

In the midst of this exuberant praise, Paul repeats a phrase three times. He explains that we have been called to live “to the praise of his grace/glory.” Father, Son, and Holy Spirit each receive glory in Paul’s song of praise. Here is the purpose of the Church: we are a redeemed people who have received life so that we may live for the praise of his glory.

Invocation: Our Prayer of Acclamation
Grant, O Lord, we beseech Thee, to Thy people an inviolable firmness of faith; that as they confess Thine Only-begotten Son, the everlasting partaker of Thy glory, to have been born in our very flesh, of the Virgin Mother, they may be delivered from present adversities, and admitted into joys that shall abide; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

~ Leonine Sacramentary, in William Bright,
Ancient Collects and Other Prayers: Selected for Devotional Use from Various Rituals, 8th ed. Oxford and London: James Parker, 1908. p. 23.

Call to Worship
Blessed are you, O God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. And blessed is your Kingdom, both now and forever, amen.

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)

Gloria Patri
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.

Chronological Reading for the Day
Sunday: Exod. 13-15

Lectionary Readings for Holy Name of Jesus
Psalm: Ps. 147.12-20
OT: Jer. 31.7-14
Gospel: John 1.1-18
NT: Eph. 1.3-14

(Click here for all readings)
Reflection: Silence and/or Journaling

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.

Benediction 
Almighty God, who didst wonderfully create man in thine own image, and didst yet more wonderfully restore him: Grant, we beseech thee, that as thy Son our Lord Jesus Christ was made in the likeness of men, so we may be made partakers of the divine nature; through the same thy Son, who, with thee and the Holy Ghost, liveth and reigneth one God world without end. Amen.

~ United States Prayer Book, in John Wallace Suter, Jr., ed.
The Book of English Collects. New York, NY: Harper, 1940. p. 6.

Pray without Ceasing – Flash Prayer for the Day
Thank you, heavenly Father, for the work of your Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. Today I live for the praise of your glory.

Weekly Reflection on the Priesthood of all Believers
First, Christian priesthood is eschatological, reflected in Israel’s corporate and professional priesthood but ultimately rooted in the church’s familial relationship to Christ, the eschatological Priest-King. Yves Congar writes: “If there is one truth everywhere proclaimed in the gospel and Paul, it is that Christ is the firstborn among a great multitude of brethren, and that he communicates to many what he has accomplished for all. . . . He is priest and sacrifice, but the faithful are priests and sacrifices with him – this is attested in more than fifteen passages of the New Testament.” By virtue of our union with Christ, we share priestly access, privilege and duties with our Head.

~ Uche Anizor and Hank Voss. Representing Christ. Electronic Edition.
Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2016. pp. 55-56.

Let God Arise! Seasonal Focus
To the Praise of His Glorious Grace, Ephesians 1.3-14

Book Reading
Carter, Guard the Good Deposit

Special Church Year Service
The Epiphany of the Lord: Thursday, January 6, 2022