December 23

Isaiah 58

1Make a loud cry, do not be quiet, let your voice be sounding like a horn, and make clear to my people their evil doings, and to the family of Jacob their sins.

2Though they make prayer to me every day, and take pleasure in the knowledge of my ways: like a nation which has done righteousness, and has not given up the rules of their God, they make requests to me for the right orders, it is their delight to come near to God.

3They say, Why have we kept ourselves from food, and you do not see it? why have we kept ourselves from pleasure, and you take no note of it? If, in the days when you keep from food, you take the chance to do your business, and get in your debts;

4If keeping from food makes you quickly angry, ready for fighting and giving blows with evil hands; your holy days are not such as to make your voice come to my ears on high.

5Have I given orders for such a day as this? a day for keeping yourselves from pleasure? is it only a question of the bent head, of putting on haircloth, and being seated in the dust? is this what seems to you a holy day, well-pleasing to the Lord?

6Is not this the holy day for which I have given orders: to let loose those who have wrongly been made prisoners, to undo the bands of the yoke, and to let the crushed go free, and every yoke be broken?

7Is it not to give your bread to those in need, and to let the poor who have no resting-place come into your house? to put a robe on the unclothed one when you see him, and not to keep your eyes shut for fear of seeing his flesh?

8Then will light be shining on you like the morning, and your wounds will quickly be well: and your righteousness will go before you, and the glory of the Lord will come after you.

9Then at the sound of your voice, the Lord will give an answer; at your cry he will say, Here am I. If you take away from among you the yoke, the putting out of the finger of shame, and the evil word;

10And if you give your bread to those in need of it, so that the troubled one may have his desire; then you will have light in the dark, and your night will be as the full light of the sun:

11And the Lord will be your guide at all times; in dry places he will give you water in full measure, and will make strong your bones; and you will be like a watered garden, and like an ever-flowing spring.

12And your sons will be building again the old waste places: you will make strong the bases of old generations: and you will be named, He who puts up the broken walls, and, He who makes ready the ways for use.

13If you keep the Sabbath with care, not doing your business on my holy day; and if the Sabbath seems to you a delight, and the new moon of the Lord a thing to be honoured; and if you give respect to him by not doing your business, or going after your pleasure, or saying unholy words;

14Then the Lord will be your delight; and I will put you on the high places of the earth; and I will give you the heritage of Jacob your father: for the mouth of the Lord has said it.

Ezekiel 34

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

2Son of man, be a prophet against the keepers of the flock of Israel, and say to them, O keepers of the sheep! this is the word of the Lord: A curse is on the keepers of the flock of Israel who take the food for themselves! is it not right for the keepers to give the food to the sheep?

3You take the milk and are clothed with the wool, you put the fat beasts to death, but you give the sheep no food.

4You have not made the diseased ones strong or made well that which was ill; you have not put bands on the broken or got back that which had been sent away or made search for the wandering ones; and the strong you have been ruling cruelly.

5And they were wandering in every direction because there was no keeper: and they became food for all the beasts of the field.

6And my sheep went out of the way, wandering through all the mountains and on every high hill: my sheep went here and there over all the face of the earth; and no one was troubled about them or went in search of them.

7For this cause, O keepers of the flock, give ear to the word of the Lord:

8By my life, says the Lord, truly, because my sheep have been taken away, and my sheep became food for all the beasts of the field, because there was no keeper, and my keepers did not go in search of the sheep, but the keepers took food for themselves and gave my sheep no food;

9For this reason, O you keepers of the flock, give ear to the word of the Lord;

10This is what the Lord has said: See I am against the keepers of the flock, and I will make search and see what they have done with my sheep, and will let them be keepers of my sheep no longer; and the keepers will no longer get food for themselves; I will take my sheep out of their mouths so that they may not be food for them.

11For this is what the Lord has said: Truly, I, even I, will go searching and looking for my sheep.

12As the keeper goes looking for his flock when he is among his wandering sheep, so I will go looking for my sheep, and will get them safely out of all the places where they have been sent wandering in the day of clouds and black night.

13And I will take them out from among the peoples, and get them together from the countries, and will take them into their land; and I will give them food on the mountains of Israel by the water-streams and wherever men are living in the country.

14I will give them good grass-land for their food, and their safe place will be the mountains of the high place of Israel: there they will take their rest in a good place, and on fat grass-land they will take their food on the mountains of Israel.

15I myself will give food to my flock, and I will give them rest, says the Lord.

16I will go in search of that which had gone wandering from the way, and will get back that which had been sent in flight, and will put bands on that which was broken, and give strength to that which was ill: but the fat and the strong I will give up to destruction; I will give them for their food the punishment which is theirs by right.

17And as for you, O my flock, says the Lord, truly, I will be judge between sheep and sheep, the he-sheep and the he-goats.

18Does it seem a small thing to you to have taken your food on good grass-land while the rest of your grass-land is stamped down under your feet? and that after drinking from clear waters you make the rest of the waters dirty with your feet?

19And as for my sheep, their food is the grass which has been stamped on by your feet, and their drink the water which has been made dirty by your feet.

20For this reason the Lord has said to them, Truly, I, even I, will be judge between the fat sheep and the thin sheep.

21Because you have been pushing with side and leg, pushing the diseased with your horns till they were sent away in every direction;

22I will make my flock safe, and they will no longer be taken away, and I will be judge between sheep and sheep.

23And I will put over them one keeper, and he will give them food, even my servant David; he will give them food and be their keeper.

24And I the Lord will be their God and my servant David their ruler; I the Lord have said it.

25And I will make with them an agreement of peace, and will put an end to evil beasts through all the land: and they will be living safely in the waste land, sleeping in the woods.

26And I will give the rain at the right time, and I will make the shower come down at the right time; there will be showers of blessing.

27And the tree of the field will give its fruit and the earth will give its increase, and they will be safe in their land; and they will be certain that I am the Lord, when I have had their yoke broken and have given them salvation from the hands of those who made them servants.

28And their goods will no longer be taken by the nations, and they will not again be food for the beasts of the earth; but they will be living safely and no one will be a cause of fear to them.

29And I will give them planting-places of peace, and they will no longer be wasted from need of food or put to shame by the nations.

30And they will be certain that I the Lord their God am with them, and that they, the children of Israel, are my people, says the Lord.

31And you are my sheep, the sheep of my grass-lands, and I am your God, says the Lord.

Luke 1:26-56

26Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a town in Galilee, named Nazareth,

27To a virgin who was to be married to a man named Joseph, of the family of David; and the name of the virgin was Mary.

28And the angel came in to her and said, Peace be with you, to whom special grace has been given; the Lord is with you.

29But she was greatly troubled at his words, and said to herself, What may be the purpose of these words?

30And the angel said to her, Have no fear, Mary, for you have God’s approval.

31And see, you will give birth to a son, and his name will be Jesus.

32He will be great, and will be named the Son of the Most High: and the Lord God will give him the kingdom of David, his father:

33He will have rule over the house of Jacob for ever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.

34And Mary said to the angel, How may this be, because I have had no knowledge of a man?

35And the angel in answer said to her, The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will come to rest on you, and so that which will come to birth will be named holy, Son of God.

36Even now Elisabeth, who is of your family, is to be a mother, though she is old: and this is the sixth month with her who was without children.

37For there is nothing which God is not able to do.

38And Mary said: I am the servant of the Lord; may it be to me as you say. And the angel went away.

39Then Mary got up and went quickly into the high lands, to a town of Judah;

40And went into the house of Zacharias and took Elisabeth in her arms.

41And when the voice of Mary came to the ears of Elisabeth, the baby made a sudden move inside her; then Elisabeth was full of the Holy Spirit,

42And she said with a loud voice: May blessing be on you among women, and a blessing on the child of your body.

43How is it that the mother of my Lord comes to me?

44For, truly, when the sound of your voice came to my ears, the baby in my body made a sudden move for joy.

45Happy will she be who had faith that the things which the Lord has said to her will be done.

46And Mary said: My soul gives glory to God;

47My spirit is glad in God my Saviour.

48For he has had pity on his servant, though she is poor and lowly placed: and from this hour will all generations give witness to the blessing which has come to me.

49For he who is strong has done great things for me; and holy is his name.

50His mercy is for all generations in whom is the fear of him.

51With his arm he has done acts of power; he has put to flight those who have pride in their hearts.

52He has put down kings from their seats, lifting up on high the men of low degree.

53Those who had no food he made full of good things; the men of wealth he sent away with nothing in their hands;

54His help he has given to Israel, his servant, so that he might keep in mind his mercy to Abraham and his seed for ever,

55As he gave his word to our fathers.

56And Mary was with her for about three months and then went back to her house.

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One comment

  1. Pingback: Gratifying the Flesh 122211 « Mennonite Preacher

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