Today is the Ninth Day of Christmas, the traditional twelve day festival that begins on Christmas Day and runs until January 5th. During this time we concentrate our readings on Jesus’ early life. This leads us to January 6th, which is the Feast of the Epiphany, where we celebrate Christ’s revelation to the world as Messiah, predominantly in the events leading up to and immediately after his baptism. This afternoon, our readings turn to the very front of the Bible as we begin a chronological tour through the scriptures; whilst in the readings at Compline we begin working our way through Paul’s letter to the Romans.
CALL TO WORSHIP
God, come to my assistance.
Lord, make haste to help me.
Glory be to the Father and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.
As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen
A psalm of Asaph.
O God, pagan nations have conquered your land,
your special possession.
They have defiled your holy Temple
and made Jerusalem a heap of ruins.
They have left the bodies of your servants
as food for the birds of heaven.
The flesh of your godly ones
has become food for the wild animals.
Blood has flowed like water all around Jerusalem;
no one is left to bury the dead.
We are mocked by our neighbors,
an object of scorn and derision to those around us.
O Lord, how long will you be angry with us? Forever?
How long will your jealousy burn like fire?
Pour out your wrath on the nations that refuse to acknowledge you—
on kingdoms that do not call upon your name.
For they have devoured your people Israel,
making the land a desolate wilderness.
Do not hold us guilty for the sins of our ancestors!
Let your compassion quickly meet our needs,
for we are on the brink of despair.
Help us, O God of our salvation!
Help us for the glory of your name.
Save us and forgive our sins
for the honor of your name.
Why should pagan nations be allowed to scoff,
asking, “Where is their God?”
Show us your vengeance against the nations,
for they have spilled the blood of your servants.
Listen to the moaning of the prisoners.
Demonstrate your great power by saving those condemned to die.
O Lord, pay back our neighbors seven times
for the scorn they have hurled at you.
Then we your people, the sheep of your pasture,
will thank you forever and ever,
praising your greatness from generation to generation.
Glory be to the Father and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen
(A short time of worship and thanksgiving, led or spontaneous. Alternatively a devotional song may be played and listened to.)
OLD TESTAMENT READING
The Beginning of the World
In the beginning God created the sky and the earth. The earth was empty and had no form. Darkness covered the ocean, and God’s Spirit was moving over the water.
Then God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. God saw that the light was good, so he divided the light from the darkness. God named the light “day” and the darkness “night.” Evening passed, and morning came. This was the first day.
Then God said, “Let there be something to divide the water in two.” So God made the air and placed some of the water above the air and some below it. God named the air “sky.” Evening passed, and morning came. This was the second day.
Then God said, “Let the water under the sky be gathered together so the dry land will appear.” And it happened. God named the dry land “earth” and the water that was gathered together “seas.” God saw that this was good.
Then God said, “Let the earth produce plants—some to make grain for seeds and others to make fruits with seeds in them. Every seed will produce more of its own kind of plant.” And it happened. The earth produced plants with grain for seeds and trees that made fruits with seeds in them. Each seed grew its own kind of plant. God saw that all this was good. Evening passed, and morning came. This was the third day.
Then God said, “Let there be lights in the sky to separate day from night. These lights will be used for signs, seasons, days, and years. They will be in the sky to give light to the earth.” And it happened.
So God made the two large lights. He made the brighter light to rule the day and made the smaller light to rule the night. He also made the stars. God put all these in the sky to shine on the earth, to rule over the day and over the night, and to separate the light from the darkness. God saw that all these things were good. Evening passed, and morning came. This was the fourth day.
Then God said, “Let the water be filled with living things, and let birds fly in the air above the earth.”
So God created the large sea animals and every living thing that moves in the sea. The sea is filled with these living things, with each one producing more of its own kind. He also made every bird that flies, and each bird produced more of its own kind. God saw that this was good. God blessed them and said, “Have many young ones so that you may grow in number. Fill the water of the seas, and let the birds grow in number on the earth.” Evening passed, and morning came. This was the fifth day.
Then God said, “Let the earth be filled with animals, each producing more of its own kind. Let there be tame animals and small crawling animals and wild animals, and let each produce more of its kind.” And it happened.
So God made the wild animals, the tame animals, and all the small crawling animals to produce more of their own kind. God saw that this was good.
Then God said, “Let us make human beings in our image and likeness. And let them rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the tame animals, over all the earth, and over all the small crawling animals on the earth.”
So God created human beings in his image. In the image of God he created them. He created them male and female. God blessed them and said, “Have many children and grow in number. Fill the earth and be its master. Rule over the fish in the sea and over the birds in the sky and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”
God said, “Look, I have given you all the plants that have grain for seeds and all the trees whose fruits have seeds in them. They will be food for you. I have given all the green plants as food for every wild animal, every bird of the air, and every small crawling animal.” And it happened. God looked at everything he had made, and it was very good. Evening passed, and morning came. This was the sixth day.
The Word of the Lord.
Thanks be to God.
Pause for Reflection……
(Take a moment to bring to God any issues that have arisen during the morning. You may like to end with the following prayer…)
Lord Jesus we thank you for the many blessings of this day,
Give us eyes to see the path ahead,
And faith to reach towards the prize. Amen
Lord God, we thank you for your gift to us of this food;
Produce of earth, sky, many living beings, and much hard work.
May we eat with prayerfulness, gratitude and moderation;
With renewed minds and spirit-controlled appetites.
May we eat with compassion for those who hunger today,
And in such a way that reduces the suffering of all creatures;
Healing and preserving our precious planet.
Use this food to strengthen our bodies, revive our spirits,
Nurture our family and nourish our resolve;
That we may continue to serve all that lives with all our life. Amen
Psalms in Bold – Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved
All other Psalms – Scripture quotations are taken from The Living Bible copyright © 1971. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, a Division of Tyndale House Ministries, Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.
All other Scripture taken from The Holy Bible, New Century Version®. Copyright © 2005 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.