for Lessons & Carols Service
61:1 The spirit of the
Lord GOD is upon me, because the LORD has anointed me; he has sent
me to bring good news to the oppressed, to bind up the
brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and release to
to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor, and the day of vengeance
of our God; to comfort all who mourn;
to provide for those who mourn in Zion-- to give them a garland
instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the
mantle of praise instead of a faint spirit. They will be called
oaks of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, to display his
They shall build up the ancient ruins, they shall raise up the
former devastations; they shall repair the ruined cities, the
devastations of many generations.
For I the LORD love justice, I hate robbery and wrongdoing; I will
faithfully give them their recompense, and I will make an
everlasting covenant with them.
Their descendants shall be known among the nations, and their
offspring among the peoples; all who see them shall acknowledge
that they are a people whom the LORD has blessed.
I will greatly rejoice in the LORD, my whole being shall exult in
my God; for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation, he
has covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom
decks himself with a garland, and as a bride adorns herself with
For as the earth brings forth its shoots, and as a garden causes
what is sown in it to spring up, so the Lord GOD will cause
righteousness and praise to spring up before all the nations.
126:1 When the LORD
restored the fortunes of Zion, we were like those who dream.
Then our mouth was filled with laughter, and our tongue with
shouts of joy; then it was said among the nations, "The LORD
has done great things for them."
The LORD has done great things for us, and we rejoiced.
Restore our fortunes, O LORD, like the watercourses in the Negeb.
May those who sow in tears reap with shouts of joy.
Those who go out weeping, bearing the seed for sowing, shall come
home with shouts of joy, carrying their sheaves.
5:16 Rejoice always,
pray without ceasing,
give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in
Christ Jesus for you.
Do not quench the Spirit.
Do not despise the words of prophets,
but test everything; hold fast to what is good;
abstain from every form of evil.
May the God of peace himself sanctify you entirely; and may your
spirit and soul and body be kept sound and blameless at the coming
of our Lord Jesus Christ.
The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do this.
1:6 There was a man
sent from God, whose name was John.
He came as a witness to testify to the light, so that all might
believe through him.
He himself was not the light, but he came to testify to the light.
This is the testimony given by John when the Jews sent priests and
Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, "Who are you?"
He confessed and did not deny it, but confessed, "I am not
And they asked him, "What then? Are you Elijah?" He
said, "I am not." "Are you the prophet?" He
Then they said to him, "Who are you? Let us have an answer
for those who sent us. What do you say about yourself?"
He said, "I am the voice of one crying out in the wilderness,
'Make straight the way of the Lord,'" as the prophet Isaiah
Now they had been sent from the Pharisees.
They asked him, "Why then are you baptizing if you are
neither the Messiah, nor Elijah, nor the prophet?"
John answered them, "I baptize with water. Among you stands
one whom you do not know,
the one who is coming after me; I am not worthy to untie the thong
of his sandal."
This took place in Bethany across the Jordan where John was
They heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden at the
time of the evening breeze, and the man and his wife hid
themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of
9 But the LORD God called to the man, and said to him, ‘Where
are you?’ 10 He said, ‘I heard the sound of you in the garden,
and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself.’
11 He said, ‘Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten
from the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?’
The man said, ‘The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave
me fruit from the tree, and I ate.’
Then the LORD God said to the woman, ‘What is this that you have
done?’ The woman said, ‘The serpent tricked me, and I ate.’
14 The LORD God said to the serpent, ‘Because you have done
this, cursed are you among all animals and among all wild
creatures; upon your belly you shall go, and dust you shall eat
all the days of your life.
I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your
offspring and hers; he will strike your head, and you will strike
The days are surely coming, says the LORD, when I will raise up
for David a righteous Branch, and he shall reign as king and deal
wisely, and shall execute justice and righteousness in the land.
In his days Judah will be saved and Israel will live in safety.
And this is the name by which he will be called: "The LORD is
For thus says the LORD of hosts: Once again, in a little while, I
will shake the heavens and the earth and the sea and the dry land;
and I will shake all the nations, so that the treasure of all
nations shall come, and I will fill this house with splendor, says
the LORD of hosts.
The silver is mine, and the gold is mine, says the LORD of hosts.
The latter splendor of this house shall be greater than the
former, says the LORD of hosts; and in this place I will give
prosperity, says the LORD of hosts.
Comfort, O comfort my people, says your God.
Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and cry to her that she has served
her term, that her penalty is paid, that she has received from the
Lord's hand double for all her sins.
A voice cries out: "In the wilderness prepare the way of the
LORD, make straight in the desert a highway for our God.
Every valley shall be lifted up, and every mountain and hill be
made low; the uneven ground shall become level, and the rough
places a plain.
Then the glory of the LORD shall be revealed, and all people shall
see it together, for the mouth of the LORD has spoken."
In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in
Galilee called Nazareth,
to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house
of David. The virgin’s name was Mary.
And he came to her and said, ‘Greetings, favored one! The Lord
is with you.’
But she was much perplexed by his words and pondered what sort of
greeting this might be.
The angel said to her, ‘Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have
found favor with God.
And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you
will name him Jesus.
He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High, and
the Lord God will give to him the throne of his ancestor David.
He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom
there will be no end.’
Mary said to the angel, ‘How can this be, since I am a virgin?’
The angel said to her, ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and
the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the
child to be born will be holy; he will be called Son of God.
Then Mary said, ‘Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be
with me according to your word.’ Then the angel departed from
The beginning of the good news of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
As it is written in the prophet Isaiah, ‘See, I am sending my
messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way;
the voice of one crying out in the wilderness: “Prepare the way
of the Lord, make his paths straight,”’
John the baptizer appeared in the wilderness, proclaiming a
baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.
And people from the whole Judean countryside and all the people of
Jerusalem were going out to him, and were baptized by him in the
river Jordan, confessing their sins.
Now John was clothed with camel’s hair, with a leather belt
around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey.
He proclaimed, ‘The one who is more powerful than I is coming
after me; I am not worthy to stoop down and untie the thong of his
I have baptized you with water; but he will baptize you with the
In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized
by John in the Jordan.
And just as he was coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens
torn apart and the Spirit descending like a dove on him.
And a voice came from heaven, ‘You are my Son, the Beloved; with
you I am well pleased.’
Now the birth of Jesus the Messiah took place in this way. When
his mother Mary had been engaged to Joseph, but before they lived
together, she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit.
Her husband Joseph, being a righteous man and unwilling to expose
her to public disgrace, planned to dismiss her quietly.
But just when he had resolved to do this, an angel of the Lord
appeared to him in a dream and said, ‘Joseph, son of David, do
not be afraid to take Mary as your wife, for the child conceived
in her is from the Holy Spirit.
will bear a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save
his people from their sins.’
All this took place to fulfill what had been spoken by the Lord
through the prophet:
‘Look, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall
name him Emmanuel,’ which means, ‘God is with us.’