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Advent 4 – 23 December 2018

 Children celebrating Christmas in Jerusalem. © Diocese of Jerusalem, used with permission.
Children celebrating Christmas in Jerusalem. © Diocese of Jerusalem, used with permission.


Micah 5.2-5a

But you, O Bethlehem of Ephrathah,
     who are one of the little clans of Judah,
from you shall come forth for me
     one who is to rule in Israel,
whose origin is from of old,
     from ancient days. 
Therefore he shall give them up until the time
     when she who is in labour has brought forth;
then the rest of his kindred shall return
     to the people of Israel. 
And he shall stand and feed his flock in the strength of the Lord,
     in the majesty of the name of the Lord his God.
And they shall live secure, for now he shall be great
     to the ends of the earth; 
and he shall be the one of peace. 
     If the Assyrians come into our land
     and tread upon our soil,
we will raise against them seven shepherds
     and eight installed as rulers. 

Song of Mary

My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord:
     my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour,
Who has looked with favour on his lowly servant:
     from this day all generations will call me blessed.
The Almighty has done great things for me:
     and holy is his name.
God has mercy on those who fear him:
     from generation to generation.
The Lord has shown strength with his arm:
     and scattered the proud in their conceit,
Casting down the mighty from their thrones:
     and lifting up the lowly.
God has filled the hungry with good things:
    and sent the rich away empty.
He has come to the aid of his servant Israel:
     to remember the promise of mercy,
The promise made to our forebears:
     to Abraham and his children for ever.


Psalm 80.1-7

1 Hear, O Shepherd of Israel,
you that led Joseph like a flock:
you that are enthroned upon the cherubim,
shine out in glory;

2 Before Ephraim, Benjamin and Manasseh:
stir up your power, and come to save us.

3 Restore us again, O Lord of hosts:
show us the light of your countenance,
and we shall be saved.

4 O Lord God of hosts:
how long will you be angry at your people’s prayer?

5 You have fed them with the bread of tears:
and given them tears to drink in good measure.

6 You have made us the victim of our neighbours:
and our enemies laugh us to scorn.

7 Restore us again, O Lord of hosts:
show us the light of your countenance,
and we shall be saved.


Hebrews 10.5-10

Consequently, when Christ came into the world, he said,

‘Sacrifices and offerings you have not desired,
     but a body you have prepared for me; 
in burnt-offerings and sin-offerings
     you have taken no pleasure. 
Then I said, “See, God, I have come to do your will, O God”
     (in the scroll of the book it is written of me).’ 

When he said above, ‘You have neither desired nor taken pleasure in sacrifices and offerings and burnt-offerings and sin-offerings’ (these are offered according to the law), then he added, ‘See, I have come to do your will.’ He abolishes the first in order to establish the second. And it is by God’s will that we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. 


HYMN: Tell out, my soul, the greatness of the Lord

Tune: Woodlands Composer: Walter Greatorex 1877-1949
Sung by the choir of St Anne’s Cathedral, Belfast

1. Tell out, my soul, the greatness of the Lord!

Unnumbered blessings give my spirit voice;

Tender to me the promise of his word;

In God my Saviour shall my heart rejoice.


2. Tell out, my soul, the greatness of his Name!

Make known his might, the deeds his arm has done;

His mercy sure, from age to age to same;

His holy Name – the Lord, the Mighty One.

3. Tell out, my soul, the greatness of his might!

Powers and dominions lay their glory by.

Proud hearts and stubborn wills are put to flight,

The hungry fed, the humble lifted high.


4. Tell out, my soul, the glories of his word!

Firm is his promise, and his mercy sure.

Tell out, my soul, the greatness of the Lord

To children’s children and for evermore!


Words: Paraphrase of Luke 1.46-56 by Bishop Timothy Dudley Smith (– words copyright, owned by Hope Publishing)


Luke 1.39-55

In those days Mary set out and went with haste to a Judean town in the hill country, where she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the child leapt in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit and exclaimed with a loud cry, ‘Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. And why has this happened to me, that the mother of my Lord comes to me? For as soon as I heard the sound of your greeting, the child in my womb leapt for joy. And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfilment of what was spoken to her by the Lord.’

   And Mary said,
‘My soul magnifies the Lord, 
   and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour, 
   for he has looked with favour on the lowliness of his servant.
     Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed; 
   for the Mighty One has done great things for me,
     and holy is his name. 
   His mercy is for those who fear him
     from generation to generation. 
   He has shown strength with his arm;
     he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts. 
   He has brought down the powerful from their thrones,
     and lifted up the lowly; 
   he has filled the hungry with good things,
     and sent the rich away empty. 
   He has helped his servant Israel,
     in remembrance of his mercy, 
   according to the promise he made to our ancestors,
     to Abraham and to his descendants for ever.’ 


Reflection for the Fourth Sunday of Advent

Is there greater witness to true discipleship than the deep and meaningful engagement of Mary through her words, “My soul magnifies the Lord”? Where would we be if she had said, “No”? What thoughts came to mind as she travelled the long distance from Nazareth to Ein Karem near Jerusalem to visit with Elizabeth? Did she have doubts? Did she have any regrets? Imagine her relief at hearing Elizabeth’s greeting and the affirmation afforded by John the Baptist who leapt for joy within the womb! What reassurances do we need in our own discipleship? What affirmation do we seek?

  • Praythat we may know how to say “yes” so that our souls might also magnify the Lord!
  • Pray for the Church of the Province of Myanmar (Burma), giving thanks for the work they do to further God’s mission in the world.

Written by The Rev Laurette Glasgow, Special Advisor for Government Relations for the Anglican Church of Canada and the Diocese of Ottawa © Anglican Board of Mission, 2015


ANTHEM: Magnificat in C (based on Latin American Rhythms)

Composer: Bryan Kelly b.1934
Sung by the choir of Lichfield Cathedral 

My soul doth magnify the Lord and my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour. For he hath regarded the lowliness of his handmaiden. For behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed. For he that is mighty hath magnified me and holy is his Name. And his mercy is on them that fear him throughout all generations. He hath showed strength with his arm he hath scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts. He hath put down the mighty from their seat and hath exalted the humble and meek. He hath filled the hungry with good things and the rich he hath sent empty away. He remembering his mercy hath holpen his servant Israel as he promised to our forefathers, Abraham and his seed, for ever.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son and to the Holy Ghost; as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be world without end.  Amen.

Words: Luke 1.46-56, Book of Common Prayer