December 22

Isaiah 57

1The upright man goes to his death, and no one gives a thought to it; and god-fearing men are taken away, and no one is troubled by it; for the upright man is taken away because of evil-doing, and goes into peace.

2They are at rest in their last resting-places, every one going straight before him.

3But come near, you sons of her who is wise in secret arts, the seed of her who is false to her husband, and of the loose woman.

4Of whom do you make sport? against whom is your mouth open wide and your tongue put out? are you not uncontrolled children, a false seed,

5You who are burning with evil desire among the oaks, under every green tree; putting children to death in the valleys, under the cracks of the rocks?

6Among the smooth stones of the valley is your heritage; they, even they, are your part: even to them have you made a drink offering and a meal offering. Is it possible for such things to be overlooked by me?

7You have put your bed on a high mountain: there you went up to make your offering.

8And on the back of the doors and on the pillars you have put your sign: for you have been false to me with another; you have made your bed wide, and made an agreement with them; you had a desire for their bed where you saw it

9And you went to Melech with oil and much perfume, and you sent your representatives far off, and went as low as the underworld.

10You were tired with your long journeys; but you did not say, There is no hope: you got new strength, and so you were not feeble.

11And of whom were you in fear, so that you were false, and did not keep me in mind, or give thought to it? Have I not been quiet, keeping myself secret, and so you were not in fear of me?

12I will make clear what your righteousness is like and your works; you will have no profit in them.

13Your false gods will not keep you safe in answer to your cry; but the wind will take them, they will be gone like a breath: but he who puts his hope in me will take the land, and will have my holy mountain as his heritage.

14And I will say, Make it high, make it high, get ready the way, take the stones out of the way of my people.

15For this is the word of him who is high and lifted up, whose resting-place is eternal, whose name is Holy: my resting-place is in the high and holy place, and with him who is crushed and poor in spirit, to give life to the spirit of the poor, and to make strong the heart of the crushed.

16For I will not give punishment for ever, or be angry without end: for from me breath goes out; and I it was who made the souls.

17I was quickly angry with his evil ways, and sent punishment on him, veiling my face in wrath: and he went on, turning his heart from me.

18I have seen his ways, and I will make him well: I will give him rest, comforting him and his people who are sad.

19I will give the fruit of the lips: Peace, peace, to him who is near and to him who is far off, says the Lord; and I will make him well.

20But the evil-doers are like the troubled sea, for which there is no rest, and its waters send up earth and waste.

21There is no peace, says my God, for the evil-doers.

Ezekiel 33

1And the word of the Lord came to me, saying,

2Son of man, give a word to the children of your people, and say to them, When I make the sword come on a land, if the people of the land take a man from among their number and make him their watchman:

3If, when he sees the sword coming on the land, by sounding the horn he gives the people news of their danger;

4Then anyone who, hearing the sound of the horn, does not take note of it, will himself be responsible for his death, if the sword comes and takes him away.

5On hearing the sound of the horn, he did not take note; his blood will be on him; for if he had taken note his life would have been safe.

6But if the watchman sees the sword coming, and does not give a note on the horn, and the people have no word of the danger, and the sword comes and takes any person from among them; he will be taken away in his sin, but I will make the watchman responsible for his blood.

7So you, son of man, I have made you a watchman for the children of Israel; and you are to give ear to the word of my mouth and give them news from me of their danger.

8When I say to the evil-doer, Death will certainly overtake you; and you say nothing to make clear to the evil-doer the danger of his way; death will overtake that evil man in his evil-doing, but I will make you responsible for his blood.

9But if you make clear to the evil-doer the danger of his way for the purpose of turning him from it, and he is not turned from his way, death will overtake him in his evil-doing, but your life will be safe.

10And you, son of man, say to the children of Israel, You say, Our wrongdoing and our sins are on us and we are wasting away in them; how then may we have life?

11Say to them, By my life, says the Lord, I have no pleasure in the death of the evil-doer; it is more pleasing to me if he is turned from his way and has life: be turned, be turned from your evil ways; why are you looking for death, O children of Israel?

12And you, son of man, say to the children of your people, The righteousness of the upright man will not make him safe in the day when he does wrong; and the evil-doing of the evil man will not be the cause of his fall in the day when he is turned from his evil-doing; and the upright man will not have life because of his righteousness in the day when he does evil.

13When I say to the upright that life will certainly be his; if he puts his faith in his righteousness and does evil, not one of his upright acts will be kept in memory; but in the evil he has done, death will overtake him.

14And when I say to the evil-doer, Death will certainly be your fate; if he is turned from his sin and does what is ordered and right;

15If the evil-doer lets one who is in his debt have back what is his, and gives back what he had taken by force, and is guided by the rules of life, doing no evil; life will certainly be his, death will not overtake him.

16Not one of the sins which he has done will be kept in mind against him: he has done what is ordered and right, life will certainly be his.

17But the children of your people say, The way of the Lord is not equal: when it is they whose way is not equal.

18When the upright man, turning away from his righteousness, does evil, death will overtake him in it.

19And when the evil man, turning away from his evil-doing, does what is ordered and right, he will get life by it.

20And still you say, The way of the Lord is not equal. O children of Israel, I will be your judge, giving to everyone the reward of his ways.

21Now in the twelfth year after we had been taken away prisoners, in the tenth month, on the fifth day of the month, one who had got away in flight from Jerusalem came to me, saying, The town has been taken.

22Now the hand of the Lord had been on me in the evening, before the man who had got away came to me; and he made my mouth open, ready for his coming to me in the morning; and my mouth was open and I was no longer without voice.

23And the word of the Lord came to me, saying,

24Son of man, those who are living in these waste places in the land of Israel say, Abraham was but one, and he had land for his heritage: but we are a great number; the land is given to us for our heritage.

25For this cause say to them, This is what the Lord has said: You take your meat with the blood, your eyes are lifted up to your images, and you are takers of life: are you to have the land for your heritage?

26You put your faith in your swords, you do disgusting things, everyone takes his neighbour’s wife: are you to have the land for your heritage?

27This is what you are to say to them: The Lord has said, By my life, truly, those who are in the waste places will be put to the sword, and him who is in the open field I will give to the beasts for their food, and those who are in the strong places and in holes in the rocks will come to their death by disease.

28And I will make the land a waste and a cause of wonder, and the pride of her strength will come to an end; and the mountains of Israel will be made waste so that no one will go through.

29Then they will be certain that I am the Lord, when I have made the land a waste and a cause of wonder, because of all the disgusting things which they have done,

30And as for you, son of man, the children of your people are talking together about you by the walls and in the doorways of the houses, saying to one another, Come now, give ear to the word which comes from the Lord.

31And they come to you as my people come, and are seated before you as my people, hearing your words but doing them not: for deceit is in their mouth and their heart goes after profit for themselves.

32And truly you are to them like a love song by one who has a very pleasing voice and is an expert player on an instrument: for they give ear to your words but do them not.

33And when this comes about (see, it is coming), then it will be clear to them that a prophet has been among them.

Luke 1:1-25

1As a number of attempts have been made to put together in order an account of those events which took place among us,

2As they were handed down to us by those who saw them from the first and were preachers of the word,

3It seemed good to me, having made observation, with great care, of the direction of events in their order, to put the facts in writing for you, most noble Theophilus;

4So that you might have certain knowledge of those things about which you were given teaching.

5In the days of Herod, king of Judaea, there was a certain priest, by name Zacharias, of the order of Abijah; and he had a wife of the family of Aaron, and her name was Elisabeth.

6They were upright in the eyes of God, keeping all the rules and orders of God, and doing no wrong.

7And they were without children, because Elisabeth had never given birth, and they were at that time very old.

8Now it came about that in his turn he was acting as priest before God,

9And as was the way of the priests, he had to go into the Temple to see to the burning of perfumes.

10And all the people were offering prayers outside, at the time of the burning of perfumes.

11And he saw an angel of the Lord in his place on the right side of the altar.

12And Zacharias was troubled when he saw him, and fear came on him.

13But the angel said, Have no fear, Zacharias, for your prayer has come to the ears of God, and your wife Elisabeth will have a son, and his name will be John.

14And you will be glad and have great delight; and numbers of people will have joy at his birth.

15For he will be great in the eyes of the Lord; he will not take wine or strong drink; and he will be full of the Spirit of God from his birth.

16And through him great numbers of the children of Israel will be turned to the Lord their God.

17And he will go before his face in the spirit and power of Elijah, turning the hearts of fathers to their children, and wrongdoers to the way of righteousness; to make ready a people whose hearts have been turned to the Lord.

18And Zacharias said to the angel, How may I be certain of this? For I am an old man, and my wife is far on in years.

19And the angel, answering, said, I am Gabriel, whose place is before God; I have been sent to say these words to you and to give you this good news.

20Now, see, you will be without voice or language till the day when these things come about, because you had not faith in my words, which will have effect at the right time.

21And the people were waiting for Zacharias and were surprised because he was in the Temple for such a long time.

22And when he came out he was not able to say anything, and they saw that he had seen a vision in the Temple; and he was making signs to them without words.

23And when the days of his work in the Temple were ended, he went back to his house.

24After that time, Elisabeth, being certain that she was to become a mother, kept herself from men’s eyes for five months, saying,

25The Lord has done this to me, for his eyes were on me, to take away my shame in the eyes of men.

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