Grace Evangelical Lutheran Church, Toledo, Ohio
A congregation of the Northwestern Ohio Synod
The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
Sunday, January 2, 2022
Second Sunday of Christmas!
Introduction & Welcome
Welcome to worship today, God’s gift to us because God is good! all the time!
and all the time! God is good!
Within the gospel reading’s profound words lies the simple message that God is revealed in a human person. Though we may try to understand how the Word existed with God from the beginning of time, the wonder we celebrate at Christmas is that the Word continues to dwell among us. Christ comes among us in the gathered assembly, the scriptures, the waters of new birth, and the bread and the wine. Through these ordinary gifts we receive the fullness of God’s grace and truth.
Confession and Forgiveness
Blessed be the holy Trinity, ☩ one God,
who sends the word with angels,
who is made flesh among all peoples,
and who breathes peace on all the earth.
In Christ, we are bold to name our sin and cry out for peace.
Silence is kept for reflection.
we confess our sin before you.
We replace compassion with competition.
We seek what is mighty while ignoring the meek.
We are quick to anger but slow to forgive.
We have not put on love in harmony with you.
Wrap us in the grace of your powerful Word.
Swaddle our hearts with your peace,
that all we do, in word or deed,
may reflect your love born among us.
I bring you good news of great joy for all people:
God has come among us
in the child born of Mary, Christ the Lord.
☩ In Christ your sins are forgiven
and you are clothed in peace.
Prayer of the Day
Almighty God, you have filled all the earth with the light of your incarnate Word. By your grace empower us to reflect your light in all that we do, through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.
First Reading: Jeremiah 31:7-14
God promises to bring Israel back to its land from the most remote parts of exile. In Zion Israel will rejoice over God’s gift of food and livestock. Young women will express their joy in dancing; God will give gladness instead of sorrow.
7Thus says the Lord:
Sing aloud with gladness for Jacob,
and raise shouts for the chief of the nations;
proclaim, give praise, and say,
“Save, O Lord, your people,
the remnant of Israel.”
8See, I am going to bring them from the land of the north,
and gather them from the farthest parts of the earth,
among them the blind and the lame,
those with child and those in labor, together;
a great company, they shall return here.
9With weeping they shall come,
and with consolations I will lead them back,
I will let them walk by brooks of water,
in a straight path in which they shall not stumble;
for I have become a father to Israel,
and Ephraim is my firstborn.
10Hear the word of the Lord, O nations,
and declare it in the coastlands far away;
say, “He who scattered Israel will gather him,
and will keep him as a shepherd a flock.”
11For the Lord has ransomed Jacob,
and has redeemed him from hands too strong for him.
12They shall come and sing aloud on the height of Zion,
and they shall be radiant over the goodness of the Lord,
over the grain, the wine, and the oil,
and over the young of the flock and the herd;
their life shall become like a watered garden,
and they shall never languish again.
13Then shall the young women rejoice in the dance,
and the young men and the old shall be merry.
I will turn their mourning into joy,
I will comfort them, and give them gladness for sorrow.
14I will give the priests their fill of fatness,
and my people shall be satisfied with my bounty,
says the Lord.
Psalm: Psalm 147:12-20
Worship the Lord, O Jerusalem; praise your God, O Zion. (Ps. 147:12)
12Worship the Lord, O Jerusalem;
praise your God, O Zion,
13who has strengthened the bars of your gates
and has blessed your children within you.
14God has established peace on your borders
and satisfies you with the finest wheat.
15God sends out a command to the earth,
a word that runs very swiftly.
16God gives snow like wool,
scattering frost like ashes.
17God scatters hail like bread crumbs.
Who can stand against God’s cold?
18The Lord sends forth the word and melts them;
the wind blows, and the waters flow.
19God declares the word to Jacob,
statutes and judgments to Israel.
20The Lord has not done so to any other nation;
they do not know God’s judgments. Hallelujah!
Second Reading: Ephesians 1:3-14
In Jesus, all of God’s plans and purposes have been made know as heaven and earth are united in Christ. Through Jesus, we have been chosen as God’s children and have been promised eternal salvation.
3Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, 4just as he chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world to be holy and blameless before him in love. 5He destined us for adoption as his children through Jesus Christ, according to the good pleasure of his will, 6to the praise of his glorious grace that he freely bestowed on us in the Beloved. 7In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace 8that he lavished on us. With all wisdom and insight 9he has made known to us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure that he set forth in Christ, 10as a plan for the fullness of time, to gather up all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth. 11In Christ we have also obtained an inheritance, having been destined according to the purpose of him who accomplishes all things according to his counsel and will, 12so that we, who were the first to set our hope on Christ, might live for the praise of his glory. 13In him you also, when you had heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and had believed in him, were marked with the seal of the promised Holy Spirit; 14this is the pledge of our inheritance toward redemption as God’s own people, to the praise of his glory.
Alleluia. All the ends of the earth have seen the victory of our God. Alleluia (Ps. 98:3)
Gospel: John 1:[1-9] 10-18
John begins his gospel with this prologue: a hymn to the Word through whom all things were created. This Word became flesh and brought grace and truth to the world.
[1In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2He was in the beginning with God. 3All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being 4in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. 5The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.
6There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. 7He came as a witness to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him. 8He himself was not the light, but he came to testify to the light. 9The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world.]
10He was in the world, and the world came into being through him; yet the world did not know him. 11He came to what was his own, and his own people did not accept him. 12But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God, 13who were born, not of blood or of the will of the flesh or of the will of man, but of God.
14And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth. 15(John testified to him and cried out, “This was he of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me ranks ahead of me because he was before me.’ ”) 16From his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. 17The law indeed was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. 18No one has ever seen God. It is God the only Son, who is close to the Father’s heart, who has made him known.
Meditation by David O’Brien
In a theology class I took recently, we spent six hours discussing who Jesus Christ is. We were looking at the question of his being both fully human and fully God. What does it mean to say that Jesus is fully human? Does that make Him subject to original sin, as the rest of us are? I guess that means we have to define the term original sin. To me, original sin refers to our fallen nature as humans, our selfish tendency to screw things up. I think it’s a temptation to do things or react to others in the wrong way. Certainly people in the time that Christ walked the earth reacted to Him in the wrong way. But Christ is blameless and didn’t cause any of the bad things that occurred during His time on earth.
An illustration of His being fully human was told in last week’s Gospel reading. Luke tells the story of Jesus staying behind at the Temple when His earthly parents started home, giving them quite the fright. I think Mary & Joseph’s reaction to Jesus going missing is something any parent can relate to. I know I can. But it also illustrates how He is fully God in that He was maturing in His understanding of God the Father and was enjoying spending time with the Father and learning, and teaching, about Him.
Today’s Gospel tells us who Christ is. It does this, of course, referring to Him as the Word. This Gospel reading further illustrates His divinity, but it goes further. John, the Evangelist (not to be confused with John the Baptist) is attempting to show how Jesus is not only God but is equal with God the Father. He was there at the beginning and was an essential part of the Father’s creative process.
John the Evangelist also spend some time talking about the other John and how he came to tell the people about Jesus’ coming, but was careful to point out that he was not Jesus. John the Baptist is referred to as a witness to “the light” (Christ being the light of the world) so that they might all believe in Him when Jesus did come.
I think John is also trying to point to the fact that Christ is fully human when he says that “the word became flesh and lived among us”, and yet still fully God “and we have seen His glory, the glory of a father’s son, full of grace and truth”.
Christmas time is when we celebrate that the Word became flesh and came to live with and redeem us. Some folks view Christmas as a day, but it’s really not over now. According to the Church calendar, it runs until January 6. My nephew’s Church celebrates Christmas on January 7 this year. Christmas should live every day, in our hearts. Not just on December 25 or January 7. I remember in “A Christmas Carol” Ebeneezer Scrooge’s chance for redemption came only at Christmas time. Our chance for redemption comes every day in the gift of grace that is Jesus Christ. We see evidence of this when viewing the Lord’s majesty in the flowers that grow in the spring, the children at play in summer and the bountiful harvests we enjoy in this country in the fall. Christ’s light may come to us during the darkest month of the year, but it stays with us all year long. I think my mother knew this because she used to sing Christmas carols in August all the time.
This year, after the trees come down, and the decorations are put away, I pray that we all will keep Christmas, and Christ, in our hearts throughout the year.
Prayers of Intercession
Joining our voices with the heavenly host and Christians throughout time and space, let us pray for the church, the world, and all in need.
A brief silence.
You make yourself known in the gift of language in diverse forms. Draw our attention to those who communicate through sign, braille, technology, and different spoken languages. Send you Holy Spirit to inspire us, along with Daniel & Elizabeth, our bishops, and Howard, our pastor, to help to make your church a place where all methods of communication are celebrated. Merciful God, receive our prayer.
Creating God, the sun greets us anew each morning. Thank you for waking us up today to witness and share your abundance and majesty. Awaken us always to your wisdom and deepen our care for your natural world. Merciful God, receive our prayer.
Emmanuel, in your name we are assured that you are with us. Train nations and peoples to honor and respect one another, especially those whose names and identities have been mistreated, neglected, or oppressed. Merciful God, receive our prayer.
You adopt us as your beloved ones. Accompany parents and children navigating the adoption process, especially those in the foster system. Sustain those struggling with infertility or pregnancy loss. Tenderly embrace all in need especially those on our prayer list and in our hearts. Merciful God, receive our prayer.
You journey with us through change. Guide those assuming new roles in this congregation or making transitions in their families, workplaces, or communities. As the seasons and the calendar change, equip us for unexpected challenges. Merciful God, receive our prayer.
We give you thanks for all who modeled lives of loving service, especially Wilhelm Loehe, whom we commemorate today. Lead us in your grace until, with all your saints, we enter the fullness of your glory. Merciful God, receive our prayer.
Rejoicing in your Word made flesh among us, we commend these prayers to you, confident of your grace and love made known to us in Jesus Christ, our Savior. Amen.
Together, let us profess our faith using the words of the Apostles Creed:
I believe in God, the Father almighty,
creator of heaven and earth.
I believe in Jesus Christ, God’s only Son, our Lord,
who was conceived by the Holy Spirit,
born of the virgin Mary,
suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, died, and was buried;
he descended to the dead.
On the third day he rose again;
he ascended into heaven,
he is seated at the right hand of the Father,
and he will come to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit,
the holy catholic church,
the communion of saints,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body,
and the life everlasting. Amen.
And now, as our Savior, Christ, continues to teach us, we boldly pray:
Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name, your kingdom come,
your will be done, on earth as in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins
as we forgive those who sin against us.
Save us from the time of trial and deliver us from evil.
For the kingdom, the power, and the glory are yours,
now and forever. Amen.
The God of hope
fill us with all joy and peace in believing,
so that we may abound in hope
by the power of the Holy Spirit,
through Christ Jesus, the Word made flesh. Amen.
Go in peace. Rejoice in Christ our Savior.
Thanks be to God.