Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Evening Prayer for the Christmas Season

christmas evening prayer
From Christmas to Epiphany

Introductory Responses

Jesus Christ is the light of the world.
A light no darkness can extinguish.

Evening Prayer continues with the Thanksgiving for the Light or the Psalm.

Thanksgiving for the Light

Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.
It is right to give our thanks and praise.

Blessed are you, Lord our God, the Source of our life and David’s sovereign.  You have made our gladness greater and increased our joy by sending to dwell among us the Wonderful Counsellor, the Prince of Peace.  Born of Mary, proclaimed to the shepherds, and acknowledged to the ends of the earth, your unconquered Sun of righteousness destroys our darkness and establishes us in freedom.  All glory in the highest be to you, through Christ, the Son of your favour, in the anointing love of his Spirit, this night and for ever and ever.  Amen.

Evening Prayer continues with the Psalm.

The Psalm

The Psalm of the Day or one of the following may be used.

Sundays in Christmas                        Psalm 18.1-3, 6, 9-11, 16-19
1 I love you, O Lord my strength, *
            O Lord my stronghold, my crag and my haven.
2 My God, my rock in whom I put my trust, *
            my shield, the horn of my salvation and my refuge;
            you are worthy of praise.
3 I will call upon the Lord, *
            and so shall I be saved from my enemies.
9 Lord, you parted the heavens and came down *
            with a storm cloud under your feet.
10 You mounted on cherubim and flew; *
            you swooped on the wings of the wind.
11 You wrapped darkness about you; *
            you made dark waters and thick clouds your pavilion.
16 You reached down from on high and grasped me; *
            you drew me out of great waters.
17 You delivered me from my strong enemies
and from those who hated me; *
            for they were too mighty for me.
18 They confronted me in the day of my disaster; *
            but you, O Lord, were my support.
19 You brought me out into an open place; *
            you rescued me because you delighted in me.

Praise to you, God of our salvation; you come to our help and set us free.  May your strength be our shield and your word be our lamp, that we may serve you with pure hearts and find victory.  Amen.

Mondays in Christmas                       Psalm 21.1-7
1 The king rejoices in your strength, O Lord; *
            how greatly he exults in your victory!
2 You have given him his heart’s desire; *
            you have not denied him the request of his lips.
3 For you meet him with blessings of prosperity, *
            and set a crown of fine gold upon his head.
4 He asked you for life, and you gave it to him; *
            length of days, for ever and ever.
5 His honour is great, because of your victory; *
            splendour and majesty have you bestowed upon him.
6 For you will give him everlasting felicity *
            and will make him glad with the joy of your presence.
7 For the king puts his trust in the Lord; *
            because of the loving-kindness of the Most High, he will not fall.

Giver of life and source of all blessings, may the leaders of the nations serve your people with justice and protect them from violence, hardship and exploitation.  Amen.

Tuesdays in Christmas                       Psalm 22.23-31
23 Praise the Lord, you that fear God; *
            stand in awe of God, O offspring of Israel;
            all you of Jacob’s line, give glory.
24 For God does not despise nor abhor the poor in their poverty;
neither does God turn away from them; *
            when they cry to God, they are heard.
25 My praise is of God in the great assembly; *
            I will perform my vows in the presence of those who worship God.
26 The poor shall eat and be satisfied,
and those who seek the Lord shall give praise: *
            “May your heart live for ever!”
27 All the ends of the earth shall remember and turn to the Lord, *
            and all the families of the nations shall bow before God.
28 For sovereignty belongs to the Lord, *
            who rules over the nations.
29 To God alone all who sleep in the earth bow down in worship; *
            all who go down to the dust fall before God.
30 My soul shall live for God;
my descendants shall serve God; *
            they shall be known as the Lord’s for ever.
31 They shall come and make known to a people yet unborn *
            the saving deeds that God has done.

O God our God, do not hide your face from those who cry out to you.  Feed the hungry, strengthen the weak, and break the chains of the oppressed, so that your people may rejoice in your saving deeds.  Amen.

Wednesdays in Christmas                  Psalm 45.1-2, 6-8, 17
1 My heart is stirring with a noble song;
let me recite what I have fashioned for my sovereign; *
            my tongue shall be the pen of a skilled writer.
2 You are the fairest of mortals; *
            grace flows from your lips,
            because God has blessed you for ever.
6 Your throne, O God, endures for ever and ever, *
            a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of your dominion;
7 you love righteousness and hate iniquity. *
            Therefore God, your God, has anointed you
            with the oil of gladness above your companions.
8 All your garments are fragrant with myrrh, aloes, and cassia, *
            and the music of strings from ivory palaces makes you glad.
17 I will make your name to be remembered
from one generation to another; *
            therefore nations will praise you for ever and ever.”

Gracious God, your love unites heaven and earth in a new festival of gladness.  Lift our spirits to learn the way of joy that leads us to your banquet hall, where all is golden with praise.  Amen.

Thursdays in Christmas                     Psalm 132.1-5, 8, 11, 13-18
1 Lord, remember David, *
            and all the hardships he endured.
2 How he swore an oath to the Lord *
            and vowed a vow to the Mighty One of Jacob.
3 “I will not come under the roof of my house, *
            nor climb up into my bed;
4 I will not allow my eyes to sleep, *
            nor let my eyelids slumber;
5 until I find a place for the Lord, *
            a dwelling for the Mighty One of Jacob.”
8 Arise, O Lord, into your resting-place, *
            you and the ark of your strength.
11 You, O Lord, have sworn an oath to David;
in truth, you will not break it: *
            “A son, the fruit of your body
            will I set upon your throne.
13 For you, O Lord, have chosen Zion, *
            and have desired it for your habitation:
14 “This shall be my resting-place for ever; *
            here will I dwell, for I delight in it.
15 I will surely bless its provisions, *
            and satisfy its poor with bread.
16 I will clothe its priests with salvation, *
            and its faithful people will rejoice and sing.
17 There will I make the horn of David flourish; *
            I have prepared a lamp for my anointed.
18 As for his enemies, I will clothe them with shame; *
            but as for him, his crown will shine.”

Gracious God, feed us with the bread of life that we may grow to recognize in every human heart a sign of your presence and an opportunity to serve you.  Amen.

Fridays in Christmas                          Psalm 102.1-3, 12-13, 16, 25-27
1 Lord, hear my prayer, and let my cry come before you; *
            hide not your face from me in the day of my trouble.
2 Incline your ear to me; *
            when I call, make haste to answer me,
3 for my days drift away like smoke, *
            and my bones are hot as burning coals.
12 But you, O Lord, endure for ever, *
            and your name from age to age.
13 You will have compassion on Zion,
for it is time to have mercy upon it; *
            indeed, the appointed time has come.
16 For you, O Lord, will build up Zion, *
            and your glory will appear.
25 In the beginning, O Lord, you laid the foundations of the earth, *
            and the heavens are the work of your hands.
26 They shall perish, but you will endure;
they all shall wear out like a garment; *
            as clothing you will change them,
            and they shall be changed;
27 but you are always the same, *
            and your years will never end.

God of unchanging mercy, look with compassion upon all who suffer:  the sick and the friendless, the homeless and the captive, the weary and the depressed.  Be present to them in the power of your healing love and give them health, comfort and hope.  Amen.

Saturdays in Christmas                     Psalm 84
1 How dear to me is your dwelling, O Lord of hosts! *
            My soul has a desire and longing for the courts of the Lord;
            my heart and my flesh rejoice in the living God.
2 The sparrow has found her a house
and the swallow a nest where she may lay your young; *
            by the side of your altars, O Lord of hosts,
            my Sovereign and my God.
3 Happy are they who dwell in your house! *
            They will always be praising you.
4 Happy are the people whose strength is in you, *
            whose hearts are set on the pilgrims’ way!
5 Those who go through the desolate valley will find it a place of springs, *
            for the early rains have covered it with pools of water.
6 They will climb from height to height, *
            and you, the God of gods, will reveal yourself in Zion.
7 Lord God of hosts, hear my prayer; *
            hearken, O God of Jacob.
8 Behold our defender, O God; *
            and look upon the face of your anointed.
9 For one day in your courts is better than a thousand in my own room, *
            and to stand at the threshold of the house of my God
            than to dwell in the tents of the wicked.
10 For you, Lord God, are both sun and shield; *
            you will give grace and glory;
11 no good thing with the Lord withhold *
            from those who walk with integrity.
12 O Lord of hosts, *
            happy are they who put their trust in you!

God of pilgrims, teach us to recognize your dwelling-place in the love, generosity and support of those with whom we share our journey.  Help us to worship you in our response to those who need our care; for all the world is your temple and every human heart a sign of your presence.  Amen.

Evening Prayer continues with the Reading.

The Reading

A Reading from a daily lectionary or one of the following may be used.

Sundays in Christmas                        1 John 2.7-10
Beloved, I am writing you no new commandment, but an old commandment that you have had from the beginning; the old commandment is the word that you have heard.  Yet I am writing you a new commandment that is true in him and in you, because the darkness is passing away and the true light is already shining.  Whoever says, “I am in the light, while hating a brother or sister, is still in the darkness.  Whoever loves a brother or sister lives in the light, and in such a person there is no cause for stumbling.

Mondays in Christmas                       Titus 2.11-14             
For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all, training us to renounce impiety and worldly passions, and in the present age to live lives that are self-controlled, upright and godly, while we wait for the blessed hope and the manifestation of the glory of our great God and Saviour, Jesus Christ.  He it is who gave himself for us that he might redeem us from all iniquity and purify for himself a people of his own who are zealous for good works.

Tuesdays in Christmas                       Matthew 2.13-15
Now after the magi had left, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Get up, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you; for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him.”  Then Joseph got up, took the child and his mother by night, and went to Egypt, and remained there until the death of Herod.  This was to fulfill what had been spoken by the Lord through the prophet, :Out of Egypt I have called my son.”                

Wednesdays in Christmas                  2 Corinthians 8.9
For you know the generous act of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he become poor, so that by his poverty you might become rich.

Thursdays in Christmas                     James 3.13, 17-18
Who is wise and understanding among you?  Show by your good life that your works are done with gentleness born of wisdom.  The wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without a trace of partiality or hypocrisy.  And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace for those who make peace.

Fridays in Christmas                          Luke 6.27-31
Jesus said, “But I say to you that listen, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you.  If anyone strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also; and from anyone who takes away your coat do not withhold even your shirt.  Give to everyone who begs from you; and if anyone takes away your goods, do not ask for them again.  Do to others as you would have them do to you.”                   

Saturdays in Christmas                     John 8.12
Jesus spoke to the people, saying, “I am the light of the world.  Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life.”

After a period of silent reflection one of the following is said.

The word of the Lord.
Thanks be to God.
Here what the Spirit is saying to the church.
Thanks be to God.
Holy Word, Holy Wisdom.
Thanks be to God.

Evening Prayer continues with the Responsory or the Canticle.

The Responsory

Your salvation, O God, is near to those who fear you: *
your glory shall dwell in our land.

Your salvation, O God, is near to those who fear you: *
your glory shall dwell in our land.

I will listen to what you, Lord God, are saying,
for you are speaking peace to your faithful people
and to those who turn their heart to you. *
Your glory shall dwell in our land.

Mercy and truth have met together;
righteousness and peace have kissed each other. *
Your glory shall dwell in our land.

Truth shall spring up from the earth,
and righteousness shall look down from heaven. *
Your glory shall dwell in our land.

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. *
Your salvation, O God, is near to those who fear you: *
your glory shall dwell in our land.
Glory to God, Source of all being, eternal Word and Holy Spirit. *
Your salvation, O God, is near to those who fear you: *
your glory shall dwell in our land.

Evening Prayer continues with the Canticle.

The Canticle

God’s Plan of Salvation (Ephesians 1.3-7)
Blessed are you, the God and Father *
            of our Lord Jesus Christ,
who has blessed us in Christ *
            with all the spiritual blessings of heaven.
You chose us in Christ *
            before the world was made
to be holy and blameless, *
            and to live by his love in your presence.
You planned through Jesus Christ *
            to bring us to yourself as your children,
that we might praise the glory of your grace, *
            your free gift to us in the Beloved.
In Christ we gain redemption; *
            through his blood our sins are forgiven.
How rich is the grace of God!

Glory to God, Source of all being, eternal Word and Holy Spirit:
as it was in the beginning, is now and will be for ever.   Amen.
Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit:
as it was in the beginning, is now and will be for ever.  Amen.

Evening Prayer continues with the Affirmation of Faith or the Litany.

Affirmation of Faith

Either of the following may be said.

The Apostles’ Creed
I believe in God, the Father almighty,
creator of heaven and earth.

I believe in Jesus Christ, God’s only Son, our Lord,
who was conceived by the Holy Spirit,
born of the virgin Mary,
suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, died, and was buried;
he descended to the dead.
On the third day he rose again;
he ascended into heaven,
he is seated at the right hand of the Father,
and he will come again to judge the living 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.

Hear, O Israel
Hear, O Israel,
the Lord our God, the Lord is one.
Love the Lord your God
with all your heart,
with all your soul,
with all your mind,
and with all your strength.
This is the first and the great commandment.
The second is like it:
Love your neighbour as yourself.

There is no commandment greater than these.

Morning Prayer continues with the Litany.

The Litany

Let us pray to our Creator, saying, “Holy One, in your mercy, hear our prayer.”

Begetter of creation, you entrusted Mary and Joseph with the life of your child, Jesus.  Strengthen all families and all those who care for child in the bonds of love, peace and faith.  Holy One, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

Sustainer of the covenants, make your church a fruitful vine to all who are reborn in the living waters of baptism.  May we find ourselves continually nourished and refreshed at the table of Christ.  Holy One, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

Consoler of the afflicted, sustain the homeless and the abandoned.  Protect the widowed and the orphaned.  Comfort those who mourn the dead.  Holy One, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

Source of love, like a mother you nourish us with your grace.  Quicken in us the seed of Christ’s word so that we might reveal him to the whole human family.  Holy One, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

Free prayer may be offered and silence is kept.  After the silence the Collect of the Day or one of the following collects may be said.

Christmas I
God of all ages, in the birth of Christ your boundless love for your people shattered the power of darkness.  Be born in us with that same love and light, that our song may blend with all the choirs of heaven and earth to the glory of your holy name.  Amen.

Christmas II
Christ, our God, whom humble shepherds worshipped at a manger, you are holy and most high, merciful and might.  Startle us to wakefulness, that we may rejoice in your new and glorious dawn, and, in your holy name, act to mend this suffering world.  Amen.

Christmas III
God, you spoke and your Word became flesh, breathing a new song of joy and praise into the world.  Grant that we may bear the good news of your salvation, proclaiming your promise of peace to the ends of the earth.  Amen.

Evening Prayer continues with the Lord’s Prayer.

The Lord’s Prayer

Gathering our prayers and praises into one,
let us pray as our Saviour taught us,
Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as in heaven. 
Give us today our daily bread. 
Forgive us our sins
as we forgive those who sin against us. 
Save us from the time of trial,
and deliver us from evil. 
For the kingdom, the power,
and the glory are yours,
now and for ever.  Amen.

Evening Prayer continues with the Dismissal.

The Dismissal

Let us bless the incarnate Lord.
Thanks be to God.

Then may be said.

May Christ, who by his Incarnation gathered into one things earthly and heavenly, fill us with his joy and peace.  Amen.

Liturgical Resources Used

All scriptural passages are taken from the New Revised Standard Version (c) 1989 by The National Council of Churches.

The Psalms are taken from The Book of Alternative Services (c) 1985 by The Anglican Church of Canada.  They have been emended by the Rev’d Dr Richard Geoffrey Leggett for inclusive language and, when necessary, renumbered to conform to the versification of the New Revised Standard Version of the Bible.

The Psalm Prayers are taken from The Book of Alternative Services (c) 1985 by The Anglican Church of Canada and have been emended by the Rev’d Dr Richard Geoffrey Leggett.

The Apostles’ Creed which originally appeared in Praying Together (c) 1988 by the English Language Liturgical Consultation, is taken from Evangelical Lutheran Worship (c) by The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, p. 105.

The Litany is adapted from Intercessions for the Christian People (c) 1988, 1990 by the Liturgical Press, p. 79.

The Collects after the Litany are those for the three propers for Christmas as published in Revised Common Lectionary Prayers (c) 2002 by The Consultation on Common Texts, pp. 39, 40, 41.

The concluding Doxology is adapted from The Book of Occasional Services 2003 (c) 2004 by The Church Pension Fund, p. 23.

All other liturgical texts are taken from The Book of Alternative Services (c) 1985 by The Anglican Church of Canada with emendations by the Rev’d Dr Richard Geoffrey Leggett.