Christmas at Dawn: Joy to the World! – Isaiah 62:6-12

ISAIAH 62:6-12

6   Upon your walls, O Jerusalem,
I have posted sentinels;
all day and all night
they shall never be silent.
You who remind the Lord,
take no rest,
7   and give him no rest
until he establishes Jerusalem
and makes it renowned throughout the earth.
8   The Lord has sworn by his right hand
and by his mighty arm:
I will not again give your grain
to be food for your enemies,
and foreigners shall not drink the wine
for which you have labored;
9   but those who garner it shall eat it
and praise the Lord,
and those who gather it shall drink it
in my holy courts.

10  Go through, go through the gates,
prepare the way for the people;
build up, build up the highway,
clear it of stones,
lift up an ensign over the peoples.
11  The Lord has proclaimed
to the end of the earth:
Say to daughter Zion,
“See, your salvation comes;
his reward is with him,
and his recompense before him.”
12  They shall be called, “The Holy People,
The Redeemed of the Lord”;
and you shall be called, “Sought Out,
A City Not Forsaken.”

PSALM 97:1-12

1   The Lord is king! Let the earth rejoice;
let the many coastlands be glad!
2   Clouds and thick darkness are all around him;
righteousness and justice are the foundation of his throne.
3   Fire goes before him,
and consumes his adversaries on every side.
4   His lightnings light up the world;
the earth sees and trembles.
5   The mountains melt like wax before the Lord,
before the Lord of all the earth.

6   The heavens proclaim his righteousness;
and all the peoples behold his glory.
7   All worshipers of images are put to shame,
those who make their boast in worthless idols;
all gods bow down before him.
8   Zion hears and is glad,
and the towns of Judah rejoice,
because of your judgements, O God.
9   For you, O Lord, are most high over all the earth;
you are exalted far above all gods.

10  The Lord loves those who hate evil;
he guards the lives of his faithful;
he rescues them from the hand of the wicked.
11  Light dawns for the righteous,
and joy for the upright in heart.
12  Rejoice in the Lord, O you righteous,
and give thanks to his holy name!

TITUS 3:4-7 4But when the goodness and loving-kindness of God our Savior appeared, 5he saved us, not because of any works of righteousness that we had done, but according to his mercy, through the water of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit. 6This Spirit he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.

LUKE 2:(1-7) 8-20

1In those days a decree went out from Emperor Augustus that all the world should be registered. 2This was the first registration and was taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria. 3All went to their own towns to be registered. 4Joseph also went from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to the city of David called Bethlehem, because he was descended from the house and family of David. 5He went to be registered with Mary, to whom he was engaged and who was expecting a child. 6While they were there, the time came for her to deliver her child. 7And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in bands of cloth, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.8 In that region there were shepherds living in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9Then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for see — I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people:11to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord. 12This will be a sign for you: you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger.” 13And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying, 14  “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace among those whom he favors!”15When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go now to Bethlehem and see this thing that has taken place, which the Lord has made known to us.” 16So they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the child lying in the manger. 17When they saw this, they made known what had been told them about this child; 18and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds told them.19But Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart. 20The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.

  • Light a candle to remember Christ’s presence with you.
  • Sit five to fifteen minutes in silent meditation paying attention to the deep breath.
  • Imagine you are a shepherd keeping watch over the flock at night.
  • The angels appear and share the good news: 11to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord. 12This will be a sign for you: you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger.” 13And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying,14  “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace among those whom he favors!”
  • What do you feel in your body when you hear this message?
  • What part of you is leading toward the manger?
  • What mercy does the Christ child extend to you as you move toward the manger?
  • Savor the mercy of the Christ child.
  • Know that you are loved.
  • What message does God have for you?
  • Give thanks to God for this time to move toward the manger, to share the good news, and for any new insights you have received.
  • Share as you feel led in the reply box below. 

Revised Common Lectionary Readings for Wednesday, December 25, 2019, Christmas (Year A)
Isaiah 62:6-12
Psalm 97:1-12
Titus 3:4-7
Luke 2:(1-7) 8-20

If you use these prayers in other groups, please give credit to author. Permission to use in not-for-profit settings.  (c) 2019 The Rev. Dr. Lil Smith, DASD

Rev. Dr. Lil Smith is a trained spiritual director, supervisor, and co-founder of Retreat House Spirituality Center in Richardson, TX.  Upon completion of her spiritual direction certification, Lil began Praying the Lectionary in 2011 as a spiritual practice for her morning prayer time.  Instead of reading about someone else’s experience of God, it was important for her to create a prayer practice that would encourage felt sense experience of the Holy emerging from within.  It dawned on her others might enjoy the practice, as well.  So she began to share them on this site.

As you experience the practice of Praying the Lectionary, adopt a loving, caring, and compassionate stance.  If the end of your prayer and meditation time is not pointing to love and hope, there is more work to do.  Keep wrestling.  God is faithful to your journey.  Love and hope will emerge.  Be gentle with yourself and befriend any judgment that arises in you.

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