December 31, 2023 – First Sunday of Christmas

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

Lectionary Readings

Isaiah 61:10—62:3
The Lord will give you a new name; you will be a crown of beauty.

Psalm 148
Praise the Lord, all creation! God is exalted in heaven and earth.

Galatians 4:4–7
Through the Son and the Spirit, we may call God Abba, Father.

Luke 2:22–40
Jesus is presented in the temple; Simeon and Anna rejoice.

— Gathering —

Opening Sentences

As the land is renewed each year
and new crops sprout,
so the Lord God is restoring us.
We are transformed by God’s glory and power,
God’s revelation in a little child.
Salvation shall bring complete transformation.
The Lord God is saving us.
With our whole being we rejoice in our God.
Let us worship God!

Prayer of the Day

Great God,
we want to fulfill the law as Joseph and Mary did.
We want to sing like the prophets did.
We want to witness God’s saving love like Simeon did.
We want to tell everyone the good news like Anna did.
Lead us in the ways of righteousness,
that we might recognize your presence among us.
We give thanks that while we know
that life gives way to death,
your death restores us to life.
Deepen our faith so that,
even as we testify to your birth,
we might anticipate the eternal life
you gave in your death.
Teach us to obey and to serve;
use us anywhere and anytime.
In Jesus’ name, we pray. 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 wonder and love you offer us
through the gift of our baptism—
your Word made flesh among us,
a child and Savior born to us,
good news of great joy for all.
By the power of your Holy Spirit,
poured out upon us in baptism,
let us be born anew from above
so that we may give glory to you
and live as your beloved children;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Confession and Pardon

At the baptismal font:
Like a great light in a land of deep darkness,
the mercy of the Lord shines upon us.
Isaiah 9:2

Trusting in God’s grace, let us confess our sin.

O God,
in Christ you were born a humble child,
love-made-flesh, God-with-us.
Forgive us when we fail
to follow in your way of humility, love, and peace.
Free us to see your Light
reflecting in the faces of friends and family,
neighbors and strangers,
enemies and friends,
and make us shine forth with your love.

Lifting water from the font:
Hear the promise of the Lord:
See, your salvation has come!
You are a holy people, redeemed by God,
sought out, not forsaken.
Isaiah 62:11–12

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

— Word —

Prayer for Illumination

At the lectern or pulpit:
Gracious God, by the gift of your Holy Spirit
show us the Word made flesh—
good news of great joy for all—
so that we may sing with the angels:
glory in the highest and peace on earth;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.


Before the readings:
Treasure these words
and ponder them in your heart.
Luke 2:19

After the readings:
And the Word became flesh
and lived among us.
Thanks be to God.
John 1:14


Ascription of Praise

After the sermon:
Glory to God in the highest
and peace to God’s people on earth! Amen.
Luke 2:14

Hymn, Psalm, or Spiritual Song

Affirmation of Faith

Season of Advent (and Christmas)
God expressed love for all humankind
through Israel, whom God chose
to be a covenant people
to serve him in love and faithfulness.
When Israel was unfaithful,
God disciplined the nation with judgment
and maintained the covenant
through prophets, priests, teachers, and true believers.
These witnesses called all Israelites to a destiny
in which they would serve God faithfully
and become a light to the nations.
The same witnesses proclaimed
the coming of a new age,
and a true servant of God
in whom God’s purpose would be realized.
Adapted from the Confession of 1967, 9.18

Prayers of the People

Rejoicing in the gift of Jesus Christ our Savior,
we pray for this world that God so loves,
saying: Emmanuel, God-with-us, hear our prayer.

With gratitude for your love, we pray for the church . . .
Help us to worship and praise you with sun, moon, and stars;
wild animals and sea monsters; creatures that fly and creep—
all giving thanks together for your overflowing gifts of grace.
Emmanuel, God-with-us, hear our prayer.

With gratitude for your love, we pray for the world . . .
Bring peace and healing to the cities and countries
that have been torn apart, again and again,
by violence and despair.
Emmanuel, God-with-us, hear our prayer.

With gratitude for your love, we pray for this community . . .
Fill our lives with your compassion,
that we may be an outpouring of love for all people,
helping them to know how deeply you care for them.
Emmanuel, God-with-us, hear our prayer.

With gratitude for your love, we pray for loved ones . . .
As we have received such grace from you,
may we share that grace with others.
Even in us, let them see your face and know your care.
Emmanuel, God-with-us, hear our prayer.

Holy One, as you have come to dwell among us,
show us how to live as your faithful people,
sharing the good news of your grace with all;
through Christ, your Word made flesh. Amen.

— Eucharist —

Invitation to Offering

At the communion table:
From the fullness of God
we have all received grace upon grace.
Let us offer our lives to the Lord.
John 1:16

Prayer of Dedication

At the communion table:
To you, O God of all glory,
we offer the gifts of our lives
as a way of bearing witness
to the gift of your Word made flesh.
Use the humble things we offer
as signs of your grace and truth
so that all may know your glory;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
John 1:7, 14

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:
You cover us with saving power and love.
Everything that is just and right comes from you.
How can we keep from singing your praise?
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:
In the coming of Jesus Christ our Lord
our eyes have seen the dawning of salvation.
Your glory, O God, is a light to the nations.
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.
By your Holy Spirit, speak to our hearts
so that we may live as your beloved children,
proclaiming the joy of redemption to all.
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 of shepherds and sheep,
we give you thanks
that you have gathered us here,
revealed to us your glory,
and fed us with your mercy.
Now send us out
with good news for all—
for us a child is born:
Jesus Christ our Savior. Amen.

— Sending —

Hymn, Psalm, or Spiritual Song


Blessing and Charge

At the doors of the church:
The loving kindness of the Lord our God,
the grace of Jesus Christ our Savior,
and the renewing power of the Holy Spirit
be with you all. Alleluia!
Titus 3:4–7

Go and tell this good news of great joy:
to us a Savior is born. Amen.
Luke 2:10–11

La presentación de Cristo en el templo

by Kelly Latimore, 2018

Additional Materials

Congregational Song


  • All Hail the Power of Jesus’ Name! (G) CORONATION GTG 263
  • All Hail to God’s Anointed (O) ROCKPORT GTG 149
  • For the Beauty of the Earth (O) DIX GTG 14
  • I Danced in the Morning (EG) LORD OF THE DANCE GTG 157


  • Blessed Assurance (E) ASSURANCE GTG 839
  • I Want to Walk as a Child of the Light (E) HOUSTON GTG 377
  • Mary and Joseph Came to the Temple (G) EVENING HYMN GTG 148
  • Sing a New Song unto the Lord (OEG) SING A NEW SONG GTG 276


  • Creator of the Stars of Night (E) CONDITOR ALME SIDERUM GTG 84
  • Lord, I Have Seen Thy Salvation (G) THY SALVATION AAHH 679
  • Soul, Adorn Yourself with Gladness (O) SCHMÜCKE DICH GTG 514
  • What Child Is This (EG) GREENSLEEVES GTG 145


  • Hark! The Herald Angels Sing/Jesus, the Light of the World (E) WE’LL WALK IN THE LIGHT GTG 127
  • Hope of the World (E) DONNE SECOURS GTG 734
  • Lord, Bid Your Servant Go in Peace (G) LAND OF REST GTG 545
  • Lord, Dismiss Us with Your Blessing (G) SICILIAN MARINERS 546

Psalms and Canticles


  • Let the Whole Creation Cry [ORIENTIS PARTIBUS, SALZBURG]; PP 294 (with refrain), GTG 679, PH 256, PAS 148 I
  • Hallelujah! Sing Praise to Your Creator / Nyanyikanlah [NYANYIKANLAH]; GTG 18, LUYH 550, PAS 148E
  • Praise the Lord, Sing Hallelujah [ D]; SGP 217
  • Let All Creation’s Wonders [THAXTED]; PAS 148A, LUYH 555
  • Praise the Lord, Sing Hallelujah [PRAISE JEHOVAH]; SSS 22 (with Spanish translation), PAS 148C


  • Alleluia! Alleluia! PSA 155
  • Glory to God in the Highest; PAS 148G
  • O Bless the Lord; PAS 148B

    Organ Music

    • “Love Came Down at Christmas,” Easy Organ Library, vol. 68, Nigel Williams, LOR (E)
    • “Pastorale on ‘Blessed Assurance,’” Worship and Praise, Robert Lau, LOR (M)
    • “Postlude on ‘Coronation,’” Jubilation! Jason D. Payne, LOR (M)
    • “An Advent Prelude,” Four Organ Pieces for Advent & Christmas, Charles Callahan, MSM (E)

    Anthems for Adult Choirs

    • “Sans Day Carol,” John Rutter, OUP, SATB, org or orch (M)
    • “The First Noel,” Carl F. Schalk, CON, SATB, stngs, timp, tubular spring bells (E)
    • “Psalm 148,” Gustav Holst, ECS, SATB, orch (A)
    • “Nunc Dimittis,” Alexander Gretchaninoff, Musica Russica, SATB div, acap (A)
    • “Hail Mary,” William Dawson, KJO, SATB, acap (M)

    Handbell Music

    • “I Want to Walk as a Child of the Light,” Mark Hayes and Brenda Austin, 3‑6 oct, opt chimes and voices, HOPE, 2968, Level 2+
    • “Greensleeves,” Jason Krug, 3‑7 oct, opt hc, SFP, 20/1999SF, Level 3
    • “All Hail the Power of Jesus’ Name,” Hart Morris, 3‑4 oct, RRM, HB0011, Level 2


    • Presentation in the Temple, John August Swanson (EYE)
    • La presentación de Cristo en el templo, Kelly Latimore (VDL)
    • Annunciation, Birth, Adoration and Presentation, Conrad von Soest (VDL)
    • Prophetess Anna, Rembrandt van Rijn (VDL)