This litany was originally written for a Bible study group’s Christmas worship celebration. It could easily be adapted for a larger worship gathering or a small family worship time. Make sure to have someone read the section titles to signal the liturgical moves in this litany. The original intent was for a different person to read each paragraph. However, if you use this in a church setting, it may be best to split the readings between three or four individuals. —JB
Lament and Longing
Give ear, O Shepherd of Israel,
you who lead Joseph like a flock!
You who are enthroned upon the cherubim,
shine forth before Ephraim and Benjamin and Manasseh.
Stir up your might, and come to save us.
Restore us, O God; let your face shine,
that we may be saved.
O Lord God of hosts,
how long will you be angry with your people’s prayers?
You have fed them with the bread of tears,
and given them tears to drink in full measure.
You make us the scorn of our neighbors;
our enemies laugh among themselves.
Restore us, O God of hosts;
let your face shine, that we may be saved.
But let your hand be upon the one at your right hand,
the one whom you made strong for yourself.
Then we will never turn back from you;
give us life, and we will call on your name.
Restore us, O Lord God of hosts;
let your face shine, that we may be saved. (Ps. 80:1-7, 17-19)
Song: “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel” LUYH 61, PH 9, PsH 328, TH 194, WR 154
God Promises the Savior King
The Lord said:
I will provide a place for my people Israel
and will plant them so that they can have a home of their own
and no longer be disturbed.
Wicked people will not oppress them anymore,
as they did at the beginning.
“The Lord declares to you
that the Lord himself will establish a house for you.
I will raise up your offspring to succeed you,
who will come from your own body,
and I will establish his kingdom.
I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever.
I will be his father and he will be my son.
“Your house and your kingdom will endure forever before me;
your throne will be established forever.” (2 Sam. 7:10-16)
“The days are coming,” declares the Lord,
“when I will raise up to David a righteous Branch,
a King who will reign wisely and do what is just and right in the land.
In his days, Judah will be saved and Israel will live in safety.
This is the name by which he will be called:
The Lord Our Righteousness.” (Jer. 23: 5-6)
For he will deliver the needy who cry out,
the afflicted who have no one to help.
He will take pity on the weak and the needy
and save the needy from death.
He will rescue them from oppression and violence,
for precious is their blood in his sight. (Ps. 72:12-14)
Through the ages, the promise became clearer:
“A virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son.” (Isa. 7:14)
“But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah,
though you are small among the clans of Judah,
out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel,
whose origins are from of old, from ancient times.
“He will stand and shepherd his flock in the strength of the Lord,
in the majesty of the name of the Lord his God.
And they will live securely,
for then his greatness will reach to the ends of the earth.
And he will be their peace.” (Micah 5:2, 4)
Song: “Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus” LUYH 56, PH 2, PsH 329, TH 196, WR 153
The Birth of the Anointed One
In the sixth month, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee,
to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David.
The virgin’s name was Mary.
The angel went to her and said,
“Greetings, you who are highly favored!
The Lord is with you.”
Mary was greatly troubled at his words
and wondered what kind of greeting this might be.
But the angel said to her,
“Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God.
You will be with child and give birth to a son,
and you are to give him the name Jesus.
He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High.
The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David,
and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever;
his kingdom will never end.”
“How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?”
The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you,
and the power of the Most High will overshadow you.
So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God.” (Luke 1:26-35)
In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree
that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world.
So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea,
to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David.
He went there to register with Mary,
who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child.
While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born,
and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son.
And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby,
keeping watch over their flocks at night.
An angel of the Lord appeared to them,
and the glory of the Lord shone around them,
and they were terrified.
But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid.
I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.
Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you;
he is Christ the Lord.
This will be a sign to you:
You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”
Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel,
praising God and saying,
“Glory to God in the highest,
and on earth peace to all on whom his favor rests.”
When the angels had left them and gone into heaven,
the shepherds said to one another,
“Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened,
which the Lord has told us about.”
So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph,
and the baby, who was lying in the manger.
When they had seen him,
they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child,
and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them.
But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.
The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God
for all the things they had heard and seen,
which were just as they had been told. (Luke 2:1-20)
Song: “Once in Royal David’s City” LUYH 87, PH 49, PsH 346, TH 225, WR 183
Jesus Came to Save His People
And Mary said:
“My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant.
From now on all generations will call me blessed,
for the Mighty One has done great things for me—holy is his name.
“His mercy extends to those who fear him,
from generation to generation.
He has performed mighty deeds with his arm;
he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts.
He has brought down rulers from their thrones but has lifted up the humble.
“He has filled the hungry with good things
but has sent the rich away empty.
He has helped his servant Israel,
remembering to be merciful to Abraham and his descendants forever,
even as he said to our fathers.” (Luke 1:46-55)
“Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife,
because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit.
She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus,
because he will save his people from their sins.” (Matt. 1:20-21)
But who can endure the day of his coming?
Who can stand when he appears?
For he will be like a refiner’s fire or a launderer’s soap.
He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver;
he will purify the Levites and refine them like gold and silver.
Then the Lord will have men who will bring offerings in righteousness,
and the offerings of Judah and Jerusalem will be acceptable to the Lord,
as in days gone by, as in former years. (Mal. 3:2-4)
Endow the king with your justice, O God,
the royal son with your righteousness.
He will judge your people in righteousness,
your afflicted ones with justice.
The mountains will bring prosperity to the people,
the hills the fruit of righteousness.
He will defend the afflicted among the people
and save the children of the needy;
he will crush the oppressor. (Ps. 72:1-4)
Song: “Hail to the Lord’s Anointed” LUYH 109, PsH 72, TH 311
His People Rejected Their King
Who has believed our message
and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?
He grew up before him like a tender shoot,
and like a root out of dry ground.
He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him,
nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.
He was despised and rejected by men,
a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering.
Like one from whom men hide their faces he was despised,
and we esteemed him not. (Isa. 53:1-3)
She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger,
because there was no room for them in the inn. (Luke 2:7)
When [the wise men] had gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream.
“Get up,” he said, “take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt.
Stay there until I tell you, for Herod is going to search for the child to kill him.”
So he got up, took the child and his mother during the night and left for Egypt,
where he stayed until the death of Herod. (Matt. 2:13-14)
He was in the world,
and though the world was made through him,
the world did not recognize him.
He came to that which was his own,
but his own did not receive him.
Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name,
he gave the right to become children of God
—children born not of natural descent,
nor of human decision or a husband’s will,
but born of God.
The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.
We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only,
who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John 1:10-14)
“See Amid the Winter’s Snow” PH 51, TH 199
“O Word of God Incarnate” LUYH 757, PH 327, PsH 279, TH 140, WR 670
“Across the Lands” LUYH 775
God’s Salvation Is for the Whole World
The Lord had said to Abram,
“Leave your country, your people and your father’s household
and go to the land I will show you.
I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you;
I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing.
I will bless those who bless you,
and whoever curses you I will curse;
and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.” (Gen. 12:1-3)
In the last days, the mountain of the Lord’s temple will be established
as chief among the mountains;
it will be raised above the hills,
and all nations will stream to it.
Many peoples will come and say,
“Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord,
to the house of the God of Jacob.
He will teach us his ways, so that we may walk in his paths.”
The law will go out from Zion,
the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.
He will judge between the nations
and will settle disputes for many peoples.
They will beat their swords into plowshares
and their spears into pruning hooks.
Nation will not take up sword against nation,
nor will they train for war anymore. (Isa. 2:2-4)
The people walking in darkness have seen a great light;
on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned.
You have enlarged the nation and increased their joy;
they rejoice before you as people rejoice at the harvest,
as men rejoice when dividing the plunder.
For to us a child is born, to us a son is given,
and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called Wonderful Counselor,
Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end.
He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom,
establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness
from that time on and forever.
The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this. (Isa. 9:2-7)
When the time had fully come,
God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under law,
to redeem those under law, that we might receive the full rights of sons.
Because you are sons,
God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts,
the Spirit who calls out, “Abba, Father.”
So you are no longer a slave, but a son;
and since you are a son, God has made you also an heir. (Gal. 4:4-6)
The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said.
“Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29)
Arise, shine; for your light has come,
and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you.
For darkness shall cover the earth, and thick darkness the peoples;
but the Lord will arise upon you, and his glory will appear over you.
Nations shall come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your dawn. (Isa. 60:1-3)
Song: “Arise, Shine, for Your Light Is Come” LUYH 103, PsH 198
Our Spiritual Battle and the Victory of Christ
When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said,
“I am the light of the world.
Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness,
but will have the light of life.
While I am in the world, I am the light of the world.
I have come into the world as a light,
so that no one who believes in me should stay in
darkness.” (John 8:12; 9:5; 12:46)
This is the verdict:
Light has come into the world,
but men loved darkness instead of light
because their deeds were evil. (John 3:19)
You are the light of the world.
A city on a hill cannot be hidden. (Matt. 5:14)
Come, O house of Jacob,
let us walk in the light of the Lord. (Isa. 2:5)
Daniel said: “In my vision at night I looked,
and there before me were the four winds of heaven churning up the great sea.
Four great beasts, each different from the others, came up out of the sea.
The four great beasts are four kingdoms that will rise from the earth.
But the saints of the Most High will receive the kingdom
and will possess it forever—yes, for ever and ever.
“As I looked, thrones were set in place, and the Ancient of Days took his seat.
His clothing was as white as snow;
the hair of his head was white like wool.
His throne was flaming with fire,
and its wheels were all ablaze.
“In my vision at night I looked,
and there before me was one like a son of man,
coming with the clouds of heaven.
He approached the Ancient of Days
and was led into his presence.
He was given authority, glory and sovereign power;
all peoples, nations and men of every language worshiped him.
His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away,
and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed.
“The Ancient of Days came and pronounced judgment
in favor of the saints of the Most High,
and the time came when they possessed the kingdom.
Then the sovereignty, power and greatness of the kingdoms under the whole heaven
will be handed over to the saints, the people of the Most High.
His kingdom will be an everlasting kingdom,
and all rulers will worship and obey him.” (from Dan. 7)
In these last days God has spoken to us by his Son,
whom he appointed heir of all things,
and through whom he made the universe.
The Son is the radiance of God’s glory
and the exact representation of his being,
sustaining all things by his powerful word.
After he had provided purification for sins,
he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven. (Heb. 1:2-3)
He is the image of the invisible God,
the firstborn over all creation.
For by him all things were created:
things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible,
whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities;
all things were created by him and for him.
He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.
And he is the head of the body, the church;
he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead,
so that in everything he might have the supremacy. (Col. 7:15-18)
The Father has rescued us from the dominion of darkness
and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves.
In him we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. (Col. 1:9-13)
Now the dwelling of God is with men,
and he will live with them and be their God.
He will wipe every tear from their eyes.
There will be no more death or crying or pain,
for the old order of things has passed away.
He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new.” (Rev. 21:3-5)
Song: “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing” LUYH 80, PH 31/32, PsH 345, TH 203, WR 185
Sing to the LORD a new song,
for he has done marvelous things;
his right hand and his holy arm have worked salvation for him.
The LORD has made his salvation known
and revealed his righteousness to the nations.
He has remembered his love
and his faithfulness to the house of Israel;
all the ends of the earth have seen the salvation of our God.
Shout for joy to the LORD, all the earth,
burst into jubilant song with music.
Make music to the LORD with the harp,
with the harp and the sound of singing,
with trumpets and the blast of the ram’s horn—
shout for joy before the LORD, the King.
Let the sea resound, and everything in it,
the world, and all who live in it.
Let the rivers clap their hands,
Let the mountains sing together for joy;
let them sing before the LORD, for he comes to judge the earth.
He will judge the world in righteousness and the
peoples with equity.
Song: “Joy to the World” LUYH 92, PH 40, PsH 337, TH 195, WR 179