O give thanks to the Lord, for he is gracious, for his steadfast love endures for ever. Let the redeemed of the Lord say this, those he redeemed from the hand of the enemy, And gathered out of the lands from the east and from the west, from the north and from the south. Some went astray in desert wastes and found no path to a city to dwell in. Hungry and thirsty, their soul was fainting within them. So they cried to the Lord in their trouble and he delivered them from their distress. He set their feet on the right way till they came to a city to dwell in.
Let them give thanks to the Lord for his goodness and the wonders he does for his children. For he satisfies the longing soul and fills the hungry soul with good. Some sat in darkness and in the shadow of death, bound fast in misery and iron, For they had rebelled against the words of God and despised the counsel of the Most High. So he bowed down their heart with heaviness; they stumbled and there was none to help them. Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress. He brought them out of darkness and out of the shadow of death, and broke their bonds asunder.
Let them give thanks to the Lord for his goodness and the wonders he does for his children. For he has broken the doors of bronze and breaks the bars of iron in pieces. Some were foolish and took a rebellious way, and were plagued because of their wrongdoing. Their soul abhorred all manner of food and drew near to the gates of death. Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress. He sent forth his word and healed them, and saved them from destruction. Let them give thanks to the Lord for his goodness and the wonders he does for his children.
Let them offer him sacrifices of thanksgiving and tell of his acts with shouts of joy. Those who go down to the sea in ships and ply their trade in great waters, These have seen the works of the Lord and his wonders in the deep. For at his word the stormy wind arose and lifted up the waves of the sea. They were carried up to the heavens and down again to the deep; their soul melted away in their peril. They reeled and staggered like a drunkard and were at their wits’ end. Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and he brought them out of their distress. He made the storm be still and the waves of the sea were calmed. Then were they glad because they were at rest, and he brought them to the haven they desired.
Let them give thanks to the Lord for his goodness and the wonders he does for his children.
Let them exalt him in the congregation of the people and praise him in the council of the elders. The Lord turns rivers into wilderness and water springs into thirsty ground; A fruitful land he makes a salty waste, because of the wickedness of those who dwell there. He makes the wilderness a pool of water and water springs out of a thirsty land. There he settles the hungry and they build a city to dwell in. They sow fields and plant vineyards and bring in a fruitful harvest. He blesses them, so that they multiply greatly; he does not let their herds of cattle decrease. He pours contempt on princes and makes them wander in trackless wastes. They are diminished and brought low, through stress of misfortune and sorrow, But he raises the poor from their misery and multiplies their families like flocks of sheep. The upright will see this and rejoice, but all wickedness will shut its mouth.
Whoever is wise will ponder these things and consider the loving-kindness of the Lord.
Exodus 28.1-4a, 29-38
Then bring near to you your brother Aaron, and his sons with him, from among the Israelites, to serve me as priests—Aaron and Aaron’s sons, Nadab and Abihu, Eleazar and Ithamar. You shall make sacred vestments for the glorious adornment of your brother Aaron. And you shall speak to all who have ability, whom I have endowed with skill, that they make Aaron’s vestments to consecrate him for my priesthood. These are the vestments that they shall make: a breastpiece, an ephod, a robe, a chequered tunic, a turban, and a sash. When they make these sacred vestments for your brother Aaron and his sons to serve me as priests, So Aaron shall bear the names of the sons of Israel in the breastpiece of judgement on his heart when he goes into the holy place, for a continual remembrance before the Lord. In the breastpiece of judgement you shall put the Urim and the Thummim, and they shall be on Aaron’s heart when he goes in before the Lord; thus Aaron shall bear the judgement of the Israelites on his heart before the Lord continually.
You shall make the robe of the ephod all of blue. It shall have an opening for the head in the middle of it, with a woven binding round the opening, like the opening in a coat of mail, so that it may not be torn. On its lower hem you shall make pomegranates of blue, purple, and crimson yarns, all round the lower hem, with bells of gold between them all round—a golden bell and a pomegranate alternating all round the lower hem of the robe. Aaron shall wear it when he ministers, and its sound shall be heard when he goes into the holy place before the Lord, and when he comes out, so that he may not die.
You shall make a rosette of pure gold, and engrave on it, like the engraving of a signet, ‘Holy to the Lord.’ You shall fasten it on the turban with a blue cord; it shall be on the front of the turban. It shall be on Aaron’s forehead, and Aaron shall take on himself any guilt incurred in the holy offering that the Israelites consecrate as their sacred donations; it shall always be on his forehead, in order that they may find favour before the Lord.
In those days a decree went out from Emperor Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration and was taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria. All went to their own towns to be registered. Joseph also went from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to the city of David called Bethlehem, because he was descended from the house and family of David. He went to be registered with Mary, to whom he was engaged and who was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for her to deliver her child. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in bands of cloth, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.
In that region there were shepherds living in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. Then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid; for see—I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: to you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, who is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign for you: you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger.’ And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace among those whom he favours!’
When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, ‘Let us go now to Bethlehem and see this thing that has taken place, which the Lord has made known to us.’ So they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the child lying in the manger. When they saw this, they made known what had been told them about this child; and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds told them. But Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.
Risen Christ, you filled your disciples with boldness and fresh hope: strengthen us to proclaim your risen life and fill us with your peace, to the glory of God the Father.