The darkness is past, and the true light now shineth (1.Jo2,8b)
Introit from Psalm 100: Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all ye lands. Serve the Lord with gladness: come before his presence with singing. Know ye that the Lord he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture. Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name. For the Lord is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations.
Epistle to the Ephesians the 3rd chapter: If ye have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which is given me to you-ward: How that by revelation he made known unto me the mystery; … Which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit; That the Gentiles should be fellowheirs, and of the same body, and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel. (2-3a.5-6)
The holy Gospel of the apostle and evangelist Saint Matthew the 2nd chapter: Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem, Saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him. When Herod the king had heard these things, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he demanded of them where Christ should be born.
And they said unto him, In Bethlehem of Judaea: for thus it is written by the prophet, And thou Bethlehem, in the land of Juda, art not the least among the princes of Juda: for out of thee shall come a Governor, that shall rule my people Israel. Then Herod, when he had privily called the wise men, enquired of them diligently what time the star appeared. And he sent them to Bethlehem, and said, Go and search diligently for the young child; and when ye have found him, bring me word again, that I may come and worship him also. When they had heard the king, they departed; and, lo, the star, which they saw in the east, went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was.
When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy. And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense and myrrh. And being warned of God in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed into their own country another way. (1-12)
The lesson for today’s sermon from the holy apostle and evangelist St. John chapter 1: John bare witness of him, and cried, saying, This was he of whom I spake, He that cometh after me is preferred before me: for he was before me. And of his fulness have all we received, and grace for grace. For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ. No man hath seen God at any time, the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him. (15-18)
We pray with a collect for this holiday: O God, by the leading of a star You made known Your only begotten Son to the Gentiles. Lead us, who know You by faith, to enjoy in heaven the fullness of Your divine presence; through the same Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
- Morning Star, how fair and bright! You shine with God’s own truth and light, aglow with grace and mercy! Of Jacob’s race, King David’s son, Our Lord and master, you have won our hearts to serve you only! Lowly, holy! Great and glorious, All victorious, rich in blessing! Rule and might, o’er all possessing!
- Come, heav’nly bridegroom, light divine, and deep within our hearts now shine; There light a flame undying! In your own body let us be as living braches of a tree, your life our lives supplying. Now, though daily earth’s deep sadness may perplex us and distress us, yet with heav’nly joy you bless us.
- Lord, when you look on us in love, at once there falls from God above a ray of purest pleasure. Your word and Spirit, flesh and blood, refresh our souls with heav’nly food. You are our dearest treasure! Let your mercy warm and cheer us! O draw near us! For you teach us God’s own love through you has reached us.
- Almighty Farther, in your Son you loved us when not yet begun was this old earth’s foundation! Your Son has ransomed us in love to live in him here and above: This is your great salvation. Alleluia! Christ the living, to us giving life forever, keeps us yours and fails us never!
- let the harps break forth in sound! Our joy be all with music crowned, our voices gladly blending! For Christ goes with us all the way today, tomorrow, ev’ry day! His love is never ending! Sing out! Ring out! Jubilation! Exultation! Tell the story! Great is He, the King of glory!
- What joy to know, when life is past, the Lord we love is first and last, the end and the beginning! He will one day, oh, glorious grace, transport us to that happy place beyond all tears and sinning! Amen! Amen! Come, Lord Jesus! Crown of gladness! We are yearning for the day of your returning!
Philipp Nicolai 1556-1608 translated Lutheran Book of Worship.