December 24

Isaiah 59

1Truly, the Lord’s hand has not become short, so that he is unable to give salvation; and his ear is not shut from hearing:

2But your sins have come between you and your God, and by your evil doings his face has been veiled from you, so that he will give you no answer.

3For your hands are unclean with blood, and your fingers with sin; your lips have said false things, and your tongue gives out deceit.

4No one puts forward an upright cause, or gives a true decision: their hope is in deceit, and their words are false; they are with child with sin, and give birth to evil.

5They give birth to snake’s eggs, and make spider’s threads: whoever takes their eggs for food comes to his death, and the egg which is crushed becomes a poison-snake.

6Their twisted threads will not make clothing, and their works will give them nothing for covering themselves: their works are works of sin, and violent acts are in their hands.

7Their feet go quickly to evil, and they take delight in the death of the upright; their thoughts are thoughts of sin; wasting and destruction are in their ways.

8They have no knowledge of the way of peace, and there is no sense of what is right in their behaviour: they have made for themselves ways which are not straight; whoever goes in them has no knowledge of peace.

9For this cause our right is far from us, and righteousness does not overtake us: we are looking for light, but there is only the dark; for the shining of the sun, but our way is in the night.

10We go on our way, like blind men feeling for the wall, even like those who have no eyes: we are running against things in daylight as if it was evening; our place is in the dark like dead men.

11We make noises of grief, like bears, and sad sounds like doves: we are looking for our right, but it is not there; for salvation, but it is far from us.

12For our evil doings are increased before you, and our sins give witness against us: for our evil doings are with us, and we have knowledge of our sins:

13We have gone against the Lord, and been false to him, turning away from our God, our words have been uncontrolled, and in our hearts are thoughts of deceit.

14And the right is turned back, and righteousness is far away: for good faith is not to be seen in the public places, and upright behaviour may not come into the town.

15Yes, faith is gone; and he whose heart is turned from evil comes into the power of the cruel: and the Lord saw it, and he was angry that there was no one to take up their cause.

16And he saw that there was no man, and was surprised that there was no one to take up their cause: so his arm gave salvation, and he made righteousness his support.

17Yes, he put on righteousness as a breastplate, and salvation as a head-dress; and he put on punishment as clothing, and wrath as a robe.

18He will give them the right reward of their doings, wrath to his attackers, punishment to his haters, and even on the sea-lands he will send punishment.

19So they will see the name of the Lord from the west, and his glory from the east: for he will come like a rushing stream, forced on by a wind of the Lord.

20And as a saviour he will come to Zion, turning away sin from Jacob, says the Lord.

21And as for me, this is my agreement with them, says the Lord: my spirit which is on you, and my words which I have put in your mouth, will not go away from your mouth, or from the mouth of your seed, or from the mouth of your seed’s seed, says the Lord, from now and for ever.

Ezekiel 35

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

2Son of man, let your face be turned to Mount Seir, and be a prophet against it,

3And say to it, This is what the Lord has said: See, I am against you, O Mount Seir, and my hand will be stretched out against you, and I will make you a waste and a cause for wonder.

4I will make your towns unpeopled and you will be a waste; and you will be certain that I am the Lord.

5Because yours has been a hate without end, and you have given up the children of Israel to the power of the sword in the time of their trouble, in the time of the punishment of the end:

6For this cause, by my life, says the Lord, because you have been sinning through blood, blood will come after you.

7And I will make Mount Seir a cause for wonder and a waste, cutting off from it all comings and goings.

8I will make his mountains full of those who have been put to death; in your valleys and in all your water-streams men will be falling by the sword.

9I will make you waste for ever, and your towns will be unpeopled: and you will be certain that I am the Lord.

10Because you have said, The two nations and the two countries are to be mine, and we will take them for our heritage; though the Lord was there:

11For this cause, by my life, says the Lord, I will do to you as you have done in your wrath and in your envy, which you have made clear in your hate for them; and I will make clear to you who I am when you are judged by me.

12And you will see that I the Lord have had knowledge of all the bitter things which you have said against the mountains of Israel, saying, They have been made waste, they are given to us to take for our heritage.

13And you have made yourselves great against me with your mouths, increasing your words against me; and it has come to my ears.

14This is what the Lord has said: Because you were glad over my land when it was a waste, so will I do to you:

15You will become a waste, O Mount Seir, and all Edom, even all of it: and you will be certain that I am the Lord.

Ezekiel 36

1And you, son of man, be a prophet about the mountains of Israel, and say, You mountains of Israel, give ear to the word of the Lord:

2This is what the Lord has said: Because your hater has said against you, Aha! and, The old waste places are our heritage, we have taken them:

3For this cause be a prophet, and say, This is what the Lord has said: Because, even because they have been glad over you and put you to shame on every side, because you have become a heritage for the rest of the nations, and you are taken up on the lips of talkers and in the evil talk of the people:

4For this reason, you mountains of Israel, give ear to the word of the Lord; this is what the Lord has said to the mountains and to the hills, to the streams and to the valleys, to the unpeopled wastes and to the towns where no one is living, from which the goods have been taken and which have been put to shame by the rest of the nations who are round about:

5For this cause the Lord has said: Truly, in the heat of my bitter feeling I have said things against the rest of the nations and against all Edom, who have taken my land as a heritage for themselves with the joy of all their heart, and with bitter envy of soul have made attacks on it:

6For this cause be a prophet about the land of Israel, and say to the mountains and to the hills, to the streams and to the valleys, This is what the Lord has said: Truly, in my bitter feeling and in my wrath I have said these things, because you have undergone the shame of the nations:

7For this cause the Lord has said, See, I have taken an oath that the nations which are round about you are themselves to undergo the shame which they have put on you.

8But you, O mountains of Israel, will put out your branches and give your fruit to my people Israel; for they are ready to come.

9For truly I am for you, and I will be turned to you, and you will be ploughed and planted:

10And I will let your numbers be increased, all the children of Israel, even all of them: and the towns will be peopled and the waste places will have buildings;

11Man and beast will be increased in you, and they will have offspring and be fertile: I will make you thickly peopled as you were before, and will do more for you than at the first: and you will be certain that I am the Lord.

12Yes, I will have you walked on by the feet of men, even my people Israel; they will have you for a heritage and you will be theirs, and never again will you take their children from them.

13This is what the Lord has said: Because they say to you, You, O land, are the destruction of men, causing loss of children to your nation;

14For this reason you will no longer take the lives of men and will never again be the cause of loss of children to your nation, says the Lord.

15And I will not let the shaming of the nations come to your ears, and no longer will you be looked down on by the peoples, says the Lord.

16Then the word of the Lord came to me, saying,

17Son of man, when the children of Israel were living in their land, they made it unclean by their way and their acts: their way before me was as when a woman is unclean at the time when she is kept separate.

18So I let loose my wrath on them because of those whom they had violently put to death in the land, and because they had made it unclean with their images:

19And I sent them in flight among the nations and wandering through the countries: I was their judge, rewarding them for their way and their acts.

20And when they came among the nations, wherever they went, they made my holy name unclean, when it was said of them, These are the people of the Lord who have gone out from his land.

21But I had pity for my holy name which the children of Israel had made unclean wherever they went.

22For this cause say to the children of Israel, This is what the Lord has said: I am doing this, not because of you, O children of Israel, but because of my holy name, which you have made unclean among the nations wherever you went.

23And I will make holy my great name which has been made unclean among the nations, which you have made unclean among them; and it will be clear to the nations that I am the Lord, says the Lord, when I make myself holy in you before their eyes.

24For I will take you out from among the nations, and get you together from all the countries, and take you into your land.

25And I will put clean water on you so that you may be clean: from all your unclean ways and from all your images I will make you clean.

26And I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you: I will take away the heart of stone from your flesh, and give you a heart of flesh.

27And I will put my spirit in you, causing you to be guided by my rules, and you will keep my orders and do them.

28So that you may go on living in the land which I gave to your fathers; and you will be to me a people, and I will be to you a God.

29And I will make you free from all your unclean ways: and at my voice the grain will come up and be increased, and I will not let you be short of food.

30And I will make the tree give more fruit and the field fuller produce, and no longer will you be shamed among the nations for need of food.

31And at the memory of your evil ways and your wrongdoings, you will have bitter hate for yourselves because of your evil-doings and your disgusting ways, O children of Israel.

32Not because of you am I doing it, says the Lord; let it be clear to you, and be shamed and made low because of your ways, O children of Israel.

33This is what the Lord has said: In the day when I make you clean from all your evil-doings I will let the towns be peopled and there will be building on the waste places.

34And the land which was waste will be farmed, in place of being a waste in the eyes of everyone who went by.

35And they will say, This land which was waste has become like the garden of Eden; and the towns which were unpeopled and wasted and pulled down are walled and peopled.

36Then the rest of the nations round about you will be certain that I the Lord am the builder of the places which were pulled down and the planter of that which was waste: I the Lord have said it, and I will do it.

37This is what the Lord has said: The children of Israel will again make prayer to me for this, that I may do it for them; I will make them increased with men like a flock.

38Like sheep for the offerings, like the sheep of Jerusalem at her fixed feasts, so the unpeopled towns will be made full of men: and they will be certain that I am the Lord.

Luke 1:57-80

57Now it was time for Elisabeth to give birth, and she had a son.

58And it came to the ears of her neighbours and relations that the Lord had been very good to her, and they took part in her joy.

59And on the eighth day they came to see to the circumcision of the child, and they would have given him the name of Zacharias, his father’s name;

60But his mother made answer and said, No, his name is John.

61And they said, Not one of your relations has that name.

62And they made signs to his father, to say what name was to be given to him.

63And he sent for writing materials and put down: His name is John; and they were all surprised.

64And straight away his mouth was open and his tongue was free and he gave praise to God.

65And fear came on all those who were living round about them: and there was much talk about all these things in all the hill-country of Judaea.

66And all who had word of them kept them in their minds and said, What will this child be? For the hand of the Lord was with him.

67And his father, Zacharias, was full of the Holy Spirit, and with the voice of a prophet said these words:

68Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel, for he has come to his people and made them free,

69Lifting up a horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David,

70(As he said, by the mouth of his holy prophets, from the earliest times,)

71Salvation from those who are against us, and from the hands of those who have hate for us;

72To do acts of mercy to our fathers and to keep in mind his holy word,

73The oath which he made to Abraham, our father,

74That we, being made free from the fear of those who are against us, might give him worship,

75In righteousness and holy living before him all our days.

76And you, child, will be named the prophet of the Most High: you will go before the face of the Lord, to make ready his ways;

77To give knowledge of salvation to his people, through the forgiveness of sins,

78Because of the loving mercies of our God, by which the dawn from heaven has come to us,

79To give light to those in dark places, and in the shade of death, so that our feet may be guided into the way of peace.

80And the child became tall, and strong in spirit; and he was living in the waste land till the day when he came before the eyes of Israel.

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