December 24, 2023 – Fourth Sunday of Advent

Lectionary Readings   -   Gathering   -  Word  -   Eucharist   -   Sending   -   Music and Art

Lectionary Readings

2 Samuel 7:1–11, 16
The Lord will build a house for David and his descendants.

Luke 1:46b–55
My soul magnifies the Lord, who has done great things.

or Psalm 89:1–4, 19–26
I will sing of God’s steadfast love and faithfulness to David.

Romans 16:25–27
Glory to God for the mystery now revealed to all peoples!

Luke 1:26–38
The angel Gabriel appears to Mary; her child will be God’s Son.

— Gathering —

Opening Sentences

Forever is a very long time.
We will sing of God’s steadfast love forever.
Forever is a very long time.
God’s faithfulness is as firm as the heavens.
Forever is a very long time.
We will trust God forever.
Let us worship God!

Prayer of the Day

Great God,
we join our voices with David,
singing of your steadfast love and faithfulness.
We join our voices with Mary,
saying, “You have done great things.”
We offer our prayers of thanksgiving to you,
God of wisdom.
Strengthen us with the good news
that in Jesus Christ
you have been with us from the beginning
and will be with us until the end,
that we may give you glory and honor
forever and forever. Amen.

Hymn, Psalm, or Spiritual Song

Thanksgiving For Baptism

At the baptismal font:
The Lord be with you. And also with you.
Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.
It is right to give our thanks and praise.

O Lord our God, we give you thanks
for the hope and longing you instill in us
through the promise of our baptism—
a voice crying out in the wilderness,
a messenger to prepare the way,
the day of redemption drawing near.
By the power of your Holy Spirit,
poured out upon us in baptism,
keep us awake and make us ready
for the coming of your glorious realm
of righteousness, justice, and peace;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Confession and Pardon

At the baptismal font:
We have all sinned, not one of us is clean;
but there is mercy for those
who call on the name of the Lord.
Trusting in God’s grace, let us confess our sin.

An angel spoke to Mary: “Do not be afraid!”
And yet, O Lord, we find ourselves paralyzed
by fear of what we do not know.
Forgive us of our sins, O Lord,
and give us the faith of Mary to respond to your grace
with lives of grateful praise.
Let us hear the good news that she first heard:
Light is breaking. Love is coming.
The world is about to turn!

Lifting water from the font:
Every valley is lifted up; every mountain, made low.
Now the glory of the Lord is revealed,
for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.

In the name of Jesus Christ, we are forgiven!
Thanks be to God.

— Word —

Prayer for Illumination

At the lectern or pulpit:
Holy God, our hope and strength,
by the power of your Spirit
prepare the way in our hearts
for the coming of your Word,
so that we may see the glorious signs
of your promise fulfilled;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.


Before the readings:
A voice is crying in the wilderness:
Listen to the word of the Lord.
Mark 1:3; John 1:23

After the readings:
Heaven and earth will pass away
but the word of the Lord stands forever.
Thanks be to God.
Isaiah 40:8; Mark 13:31


Ascription of Praise

After the sermon:
Now to the God of all wisdom,
who strengthens us according to the gospel,
through Jesus Christ be all glory forever. Amen.
Romans 16:25–27

Hymn, Psalm, or Spiritual Song

Affirmation of Faith

Season of Advent (and Christmas)
Out of Israel, God in due time raised up Jesus.
His faith and obedience were the response
of the perfect child of God.
He was the fulfillment
of God’s promise to Israel,
the beginning of the new creation,
and the pioneer of the new humanity.
He gave history its meaning and direction
and called the church to be his servant
for the reconciliation of the world.
Adapted from the Confession of 1967, 9.19

Prayers of the People

Watching and waiting for the coming of Christ,
we pray for the promise of a new creation,
saying: Come quickly, Lord; our hope is in you.

With expectation, we pray for the church . . .
Fill our mouths with the song of your unending love.
May we never stop proclaiming your faithfulness
from one generation to another.
Come quickly, Lord; our hope is in you.

With expectation, we pray for the world . . .
Come and dwell among all the people of the world.
As you made your home with your people in ancient times,
make your home among us now.
Come quickly, Lord; our hope is in you.

With expectation, we pray for this community . . .
By your power at work in us, use us
to bring healing and freedom, liberation and comfort,
and to share the good news that you walk in our streets.
Come quickly, Lord; our hope is in you.

With expectation, we pray for loved ones . . .
Remember those who are hurting or searching.
Even when they feel that all is lost
hold their desires and dreams in your heart.
Come quickly, Lord; our hope is in you.

God our hope, as the promised day approaches,
fill us with the joy of your Holy Spirit
and strengthen us to serve you faithfully;
through Christ, who is coming to reign. Amen.

— Eucharist —

Invitation to Offering

At the communion table:
All things in heaven and earth belong to God,
who is coming in glory to reveal a new creation.
Therefore, let us offer our lives to the Lord.
2 Peter 3:8–15

Prayer of Dedication

At the communion table:
God Most High, receive the gifts of our lives
as an offering of gratitude for your grace.
Overshadow us with your Holy Spirit
and let it be with us according to your word,
for nothing is impossible with you. Amen.
Luke 1:35–38; 1 Corinthians 1:4

Great Thanksgiving

The Lord be with you. And also with you.
Lift up your hearts. We lift them to the Lord.
Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.
It is right to give our thanks and praise.

Blessed are you, O Lord our God:
Since the time when you brought your people Israel out of Egypt,
you have been our shepherd, leading us and traveling among us.
Now, as you promised, you have established for us an eternal home.
Therefore we praise you, joining the song
of the universal church and the heavenly choir:
A Sanctus (“Holy, holy, holy”) is sung.

Blessed is Jesus Christ, our Savior:
Born in a humble home, to a virgin named Mary,
Jesus came to rule over the house of Jacob forever;
for with you, O God, nothing is impossible.
The words of institution are included here.
Remembering your goodness and grace,
we offer ourselves to you with gratitude
as we share this joyful feast.
A Memorial Acclamation (e.g., “Christ has died”) is sung.

Pour out your Holy Spirit upon us
and upon this bread and cup;
make us one in the body and blood
of Jesus Christ our Lord.
Strengthen us by the power of the gospel of Jesus Christ
so that we may be obedient to your commandments
and proclaim the mystery of our faith to all the nations.
Through the Lord Jesus Christ,
in the unity of the Spirit,
we bless you, God of glory,
now and forever.
An Amen is sung.

Lord’s Prayer

Breaking the Bread

Communion of the People

Hymn, Psalm, or Spiritual Song

Prayer after Communion

At the communion table:
God our hope, we give you thanks
that you have given us this foretaste
of the justice, righteousness, and peace
of your promised new creation.
Strengthen us with this heavenly food
as we seek to serve your holy realm.
Lead us to live in joyful expectation
of the coming again in glory
of Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord. Amen.

— Sending —

Hymn, Psalm, or Spiritual Song


Blessing and Charge

At the doors of the church:
May the God of peace make you holy
and the power of the Spirit sustain you
until the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Alleluia!
1 Thessalonians 5:16–24

Prepare the way of the Lord! Amen.
Isaiah 40:3; Mark 1:3

Annunciation to Mary

by Fra Angelico, 1440

Additional Materials

Congregational Song


  • Christmas Is Coming (G) Music by John Bell CH4 282
  • Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence (E) PICARDY GTG 347
  • Now the Heavens Start to Whisper (G) JEFFERSON GTG 94
  • The Angel Gabriel from Heaven Came (G) GABRIEL’S MESSAGE ELW 265, PH 16


  • Blest Be the God of Israel (O) MERLE’S TUNE GTG 109
  • My Soul Gives Glory to My God (G) MORNING SONG GTG 99
  • No Wind at the Window (G) COLUMCILLE GTG 101
  • To a Maid Whose Name Was Mary (G) ANNUNCIATION GTG 98


  • Of the Father’s Love Begotten (EG) DIVINUM MYSTERIUM GTG 108
  • Lo, How a Rose E’er Blooming (OG) ES IST EIN’ ROS’ GTG 129
  • Glory to God (Gloria, gloria) (E) GLORIA (Taizé) GTG 583
  • Put Peace into Each Other’s Hands (EG) ST. COLUMBA CH4 659 Fred Pratt Kaan Words © 1989 Hope Publishing Company


  • In the Bleak Midwinter (G) CRANHAM GTG 144
  • It Came Upon the Midnight Clear (E) CAROL GTG 123
  • Heaven Shall Not Wait (G) HEAVEN SHALL NOT WAIT GTG 773
  • O Come, O Come, Emmanuel (O) VENI EMMANEUL GTG 88

Psalms and Canticles

Psalm 89:1-4, 19-26

  • Your Steadfast Love, O Lord []; SGP 125
  • Forever We Will Sing [GENEVAN 89]; PAS 89D
  • Lord, I Will Sing Your Love Forever; PSA 81
  • Your Love, O Lord, Forever I Will Sing; HTP2 15
  • Forever I Will Sing the Goodness of the Lord; PAS 89B

Luke 1:46b-55

  • My Soul Gives Glory [MORNING SONG/ CONSOLATION]; GTG 99, PAS 1042
  • My Soul Cries Out with a Joyful Shout [STAR OF THE COUNTY DOWN]; GTG 100, LUYH 69, PAS 75B, SSS 68 (with Spanish translation)
  • Holy Is Your Name [WILD MOUNTAIN THYME]; PAS 1020
  • Tell Out, My Soul [WOODLANDS]; LUYH 364
  • My Heart Sings Out [CAROL (Willis)]; OLOF 696
  • My Soul Rejoices in the Lord; PAS 1022
  • My Soul Proclaims; PFTS1 66

Organ Music

  • “The Angel Gabriel from Heaven Came,” Six Advent Improvisations, Paul Manz, MSM (ME)
  • “Gloria in Excelsis Deo,” Easy Organ Library, vol. 50, Roger C. Wilson, LOR (ME)
  • “Lo, How a Rose E’er Blooming,” Easy Organ Library, vol. 68, John A. Stallsmith, LOR (E)
  • “Meditation on a Medieval Hymn-Tune,” The Marilyn Mason Music Library, vol. 1, Charles Callahan, MSM (ME)

Anthems for Adult Choirs

  • “When Angels Sing,” Mark Miller, WAL, SATB, pno (E)
  • “Gabriel’s Message,” arr. Gail Lund, Cypress Music, SATB, pno (E)
  • “Climb to the Top of the Highest Mountain,” Carolyn Jennings, KJO, SATB, org (M)
  • “Song of Mary,” Richard Shephard, OUP, SATB, org, br quin (M)
  • “Gabriel’s Message,” arr. Tim Clements, Peters Edition, SSAATTBB, acap (A)
  • “Magnificat and Nunc Dimitis,” Gerald Near, AUR, SATB, org (A)

Handbell Music

  • “The Angel Gabriel from Heaven Came,” Fred Gramann, 3‑7 oct, opt hc and Silver Melody Bells, CGA, CGB902, Level 3
  • “The Angel Gabriel from Heaven Came,” Joel Raney, opt hc, perc, synth, HOPE, 2575, Level 3+
  • “Te Deum,” H. D. Wagner, 4‑7 oct, opt hc, RRM, BL5027, Level 4


  • Annunciation to Mary, Father George Saget (VDL)
  • Annunciation to Mary, Fra Angelico (VDL)
  • Annunciation, Henry Ossawa Tanner (VDL)
  • Gabriel and Mary, Jan Richardson (JR)

Anne E. Emmons
Birth Triptych
Egg tempera, mineral pigment on board with gold leaf

A woman is forever changed in conception and pregnancy: the Body she knew becomes the Body of new life, opening to bring life into the world. This triptych references the artistic tradition of the icon as an image of God in every person. The paintings began as gestural studies of my young daughter in labor. As I chose colors for painting the series, I researched Rublev’s Trinity icon and became aware of the similarity between my gestural drawings and those of the figures in the icon. In the final work I used the colors used by Rublev in each figure, placing them in relationship to reflect stages of childbearing: changing with the life within; completely yielding one’s body and attention to another life; and finally releasing the new person in birth.

Anne E. Emmons