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 (NRSV)

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 new year is just around the corner. Don’t forget to order your copy of The Upper Room Disciplines 2021.

Lectionary Readings

(Courtesy of Vanderbilt Divinity Library)

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


  • Julie Posted December 13, 2020 8:29 am

    The angels anouncing Jesus’ birth to the shephards. That God sent special messengers to declare the Good News to those who were marginalized by society, not those held in high regard for theirroyal or religious standing is the epitome of the reason God sent Jesus. He offers salvation to every single individual, no one is excempt from His love.
    I have had a wonderful encounter this morning and now understand what so many here have shared. I had a new issue weighing on my mind and as I was praying about my fear…God spoke to me! I did not hear Him but I received the answer as surely as if He had. I was sure the answer was true, even though I had no new wordly information. I am in awe!
    Prayers for Jill and Larry as they continue to connect and keep loneliness and isolation at bay.
    Prayers for Robert and his church as they celebrate the third Sunday of Advent. May they also share joy in one another.
    Prayers for Ally and David. I pray the medication clears David’s rash and Ally’s cardiac meds continue to ease her symptoms.
    Prayers for Lou and her family as well as for Rick and Scott, I pray all are safe and well.
    Prayers for Marcy who I was unable to speak with yesterday. I will try a text message and hope that she responds.
    Thank you Lord for all who gather here and for your care and love and Son who brought salvation to one and all.

  • Jill Posted December 13, 2020 2:29 pm

    I find it intriguing that both times the angels visited Joseph – it was in a dream. Is there significance in this? And – in each instance, Joseph knew what he must do.
    Whereas, Mary – she didn’t necessarily have to “do” anything – the Holy Spirit had already “done” the work. Of course, she had to believe and entrust the situation to her Father God. And she did…”may it be until me according to Your word.”
    Julie – perhaps in some manner – what occurred this morning was the ushering of an angel. God works in mysterious ways, and yet – you know that you know that you know. It is a fantastical feeling. May it buoy your perseverance.
    My friend texted me yesterday, saying she had an extra ticket to my god daughter’s basketball game. Abandoning any sense of caution, I jumped at the chance. I feel like the season is hanging precariously close to the edge and wanted to see at least one of her games in person. I was certainly able to maintain social distance – having watched previous games on livestream – I knew this would be the case in her gym. Grateful to have done it. Her school is within 5 minutes of my friend’s house – and I called her when I was done. The sun had peeked out and I asked her if she and the dogs would like to take a quick walk.
    Have been hungering for something different sweet – and when I opened my pantry I noticed a mix for a cinnamon coffee cake. It is now in the oven and the aroma is intoxicating. Cinnamon is my absolute favorite flavor…it’s my chocolate.
    Will keep at it here, making up exams for this week. Glad for the week to look different. No doubt – still hectic, with loads of grading ahead.

  • robert moeller Posted December 13, 2020 2:53 pm

    I’m in agreement with Julie on the angelic visit to the shepherds being the most meaningful.Of course, Jesus is also seen as a shepherd who lets His flock in and out and they know His name. He’s also the Lamb that takes away the sins of the world. There are strong connections to shepherds.

    Have a bunch of favorite flavors: vanilla, maple syrup, chocolate, cinnamon, ginger, citron, lemon. Cinnamon with sugar on toast, in German sweet rolls called Scheckennoodles (snail noodles) a lot lost in the translation, in coffee, apple pie, or hot chocolate. Cinnamon is very good for your heart.

    Thankful for your “experience” this morning Julie. Prayers for all that relates to Jill, Julie, Ally & David, Marcy, Rick, Scott and the UR family. Members seen, unseen, not heard from, and haven’t messaged yet.
    The all encompassing love of God s with you. Thank You, Lord.

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