New every morning is your love, great God of light, and all day long you are working for good in the world. Stir up in us desire to serve you, to live peacefully with our neighbors and all your creation, and to devote each day to your Son, our Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.

"A Liturgy for Morning Prayer," Upper Room Worshipbook

Used by permission from the Book of Common Worship, © 2018 Westminster John Knox Press. All rights reserved. This prayer appears in “A Liturgy for Morning Prayer” in Upper Room Worshipbook.


Today’s Reflection

“O Little Town of Bethlehem” tells us, “While mortals sleep, the angels keep their watch of wondering love.” The angels are up all night; their watchful care never ceases. For the angels seem to dwell in some borderland between earth and heaven. In Jacob’s dream, they ascend and descend between earth and heaven. So it is no surprise that at the most important moments in God’s story, they are there. Early in Jesus’ story, the angels are busy, announcing the pregnancy to Mary, calming Joseph in a dream, singing for the shepherds, and warning Joseph to get his family out of Bethlehem. After Jesus’ death, they guard his tomb’s entrance and declare, “He is not here, but has risen” (Luke 24:5). Angels bookend Jesus’ story—they are the first witnesses to the Incarnation and Resurrection.

—James C. Howell, Why This Jubilee? Advent Reflections on Songs of the Season (Upper Room Books, 2015)

Today’s Question

Which Christmas story about angelic messengers is most meaningful to you? Join the conversation.

Today’s Scripture

In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary.
—Luke 1:26-27 (NRSVUE)

Prayer for the Week

O come, O come, Emmanuel,
And ransom captive Israel,
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear.
Rejoice! Rejoice!
Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.
Submit your prayer to The Upper Room.

Something More

The Academy for Spiritual Formation is pleased to announce its newest offering, Spirituality in Practice: Embodied Imagination for Life and Liberation, a unique six-session hybrid model that consists of three in-person five-day retreats as well as three online one-day retreats. Learn more and apply here.

Lectionary Readings

(Courtesy of Vanderbilt Divinity Library)

Looking for lectionary-based resources? Learn more about The Upper Room Disciplines.


  • Jill Posted December 17, 2023 6:38 am

    As I consider this question…I think of the angel appearing to Mary. The angel appearing to Joseph. Both of their reactions are humble. Joseph must have been devastated…yet, he was obedient. But – I guess my answer to the question is the angels who appeared to the shepherds…God is all inclusive. He meets the humble where they are – maybe allowing them to recognize their own humility and childlikeness. They unabashedly go with curiosity and simply worship.
    My time with my friend was so nice yesterday. She thought BBQ sounded good (when doesn’t it??) – so I picked up some for lunch. Her daughter and her boyfriend joined us for a little BBQ feast. Then we watched some football and had wonderful conversation. She even wanted to go out for a brief walk – the weather was so mild. She grabbed her crutches and we very slowly strode to the end of a cul de sac by her house. Encouraging for both of us.
    Today seems full…dad is coming by with lunch after church and will watch the first half of the football game with me. I will then go see my hospice patient and watch the rest of the game with him. I have a zoom call with one of my classes this evening to get ready for their exam. Little tidying up tasks around the house also.
    Very much looking forward to church this morning.

  • Rusty Posted December 17, 2023 11:00 am

    Jill, I agree with you. Angels are all-inclusive. Equalopportunity! As 21st Century Christians, I am afraid we don’t think about angels enough, but when I do think of them, I feel an almost instant comfort knowing they are here, doing God’s merciful and gracious bidding. Every time I read in the Bible about angels I feel I learn something new. And I love the way Eugene Peterson in The Message version paraphrases the name God Almighty as God-of-the-Angel-Armies. That’s what the shepherds saw! And we will too, one day.

  • robert moeller Posted December 17, 2023 3:43 pm

    I’d pick the Angel Gabriel coming to Mary.. Our pastor said the angels coming to the shepherds were terrifying to see, that’s why they said “fear no!” I also agree that the shepherds represent the down and lowly. When did Jesus not come to them?
    My post to all comes in the morning
    Thank You, Lord, for the posts of this day
    Advent blessings to all.

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