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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

It’s safe to assume Mary had no previous angel sightings [before Gabriel’s announcement that she would bear the Messiah]. Luke does not comment on her response to the angel’s presence but to the angel’s greeting, “The Lord is with you” (1:28). . . . Gabriel does not tell her that she needs to go somewhere to find God or that she has to pray so often for so many days to experience God. The angel simply proclaims God’s presence in Mary’s life, even in Nazareth. This angelic salutation perplexes Mary, and she ponders these words.

—Max O. Vincent, Good News of Great Joy: Advent Reflections on the Songs of Luke (Upper Room Books, 2021)

Today's Question

How do you think you might feel if an angel suddenly entered your home? 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. And he came to her and said, “Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you.” But she was much perplexed by his words and pondered what sort of greeting this might be.
—Luke 1:26-29 (NRSV)

Prayer for the Week

O come to us, abide with us,
Our Lord, Emmanuel. Amen.
Submit your prayer to The Upper Room.

Something More

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Lectionary Readings

(Courtesy of Vanderbilt Divinity Library)

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

4 Comments | Join the Conversation.

 

Today's Reflection

Advent is a strange mixture of the already and the not yet. There is a remembrance of the first coming of Christ at Christmas, the already. There is also an anticipation of the day when we will be fully present with Christ, the future coming of Christ into our midst, the not yet. But Advent also invites us to the surprising discovery of Christ among us now, a revelation that sometimes takes intense focus.

—Max O. Vincent, Good News of Great Joy: Advent Reflections on the Songs of Luke (Upper Room Books, 2021)

Today's Question

How does contemplating Christ’s first coming and anticipating Christ’s return deepen your celebration of Advent? Join the conversation.

Today's Scripture

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 leaped 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?”
—Luke 1:39-43 (NRSV)

Prayer for the Week

O come to us, abide with us,
Our Lord, Emmanuel. Amen.
Submit your prayer to The Upper Room.

Something More

Seeking resources for spiritual formation and prayer? Subscribe to The Upper Room Recommends, a weekly email with resource suggestions for small groups, congregational studies, and individual spiritual growth.

Lectionary Readings

(Courtesy of Vanderbilt Divinity Library)

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

5 Comments | Join the Conversation.

 

Today's Reflection

We call the four songs at the beginning of Luke canticles. Canticle comes from another Latin word, canticulum, meaning “little song.” We use this term to describe hymns in the Bible located outside the book of Psalms. The four canticles in Luke 1–2 entered the church’s regular worship early and are still in common use today. In some traditions of the church, these canticles are daily prayers.

—Max O. Vincent, Good News of Great Joy: Advent Reflections on the Songs of Luke (Upper Room Books, 2021)

Today's Question

How do you think the canticles, or “little songs,” in Luke enrich our worship today? Join the conversation.

Today's Scripture

Mary said, “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has looked with favor 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.”
—Luke 1:46-49 (NRSV)

Prayer for the Week

O come to us, abide with us,
Our Lord, Emmanuel. Amen.
Submit your prayer to The Upper Room.

Something More

Seeking resources for spiritual formation and prayer? Subscribe to The Upper Room Recommends, a weekly email with resource suggestions for small groups, congregational studies, and individual spiritual growth.

Lectionary Readings

(Courtesy of Vanderbilt Divinity Library)

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

4 Comments | Join the Conversation.

 

Today's Reflection

Advent and Christmas are both musically rich seasons. Many churches struggle each year, trying to decide the proper time to start singing Christmas carols versus Advent hymns. Do we lose the mystery of God’s current presence and the wonder at God’s return to us if we jump too early to Christmas carols? However, Christmas music is some of the most beautiful music we have. If we limit this music to just the twelve days of Christmas, it hardly seems fair.

—Max O. Vincent, Good News of Great Joy: Advent Reflections on the Songs of Luke (Upper Room Books, 2021)

Today's Question

When does your congregation start singing Christmas carols? Join the conversation.

Today's Scripture

Then an angel of the Lord stood before [the shepherds], 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 Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord.”
—Luke 2:9-11 (NRSV)

Prayer for the Week

O come to us, abide with us,
Our Lord, Emmanuel. Amen.
Submit your prayer to The Upper Room.

Something More

Seeking resources for spiritual formation and prayer? Subscribe to The Upper Room Recommends, a weekly email with resource suggestions for small groups, congregational studies, and individual spiritual growth.

Lectionary Readings

(Courtesy of Vanderbilt Divinity Library)

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

5 Comments | Join the Conversation.

 

Today's Reflection

What makes a saint? Extravagance. Excessive love, flagrant mercy, radical affection, exorbitant charity, immoderate faith, intemperate hope, inordinate love. None of which is an achievement, a badge to be earned or a trophy to be sought; all are secondary by-products of the one thing that truly makes a saint, which is the love of God, which is membership in the body of Christ, which is what all of us . . . have in common. Some of us may do more with that love than others and may find ourselves able to reflect it in a way that causes others to call us saints, but the title is one that has been given to us all by virtue of our baptisms. The moment we rose dripping from the holy water we joined the communion of saints, and we cannot go back any more than we can give back our names or the blood in our veins.

—Barbara Brown Taylor, "The Embers of Faith,"  The Wondrous Mystery: An Upper Room Advent Reader, compiled by Benjamin Howard (Upper Room Books, 2019)

Today's Question

Who has influenced you in your journey of faith? How did they impact you? Join the conversation.

Today's Scripture

Since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us.
—Hebrews 12:1 (NRSV)

Prayer for the Week

God, thank you for what is just around the corner. In a season filled with the longest, darkest nights, I await the coming of the most beautiful light.
Submit your prayer to The Upper Room.

Something More

Join us for The Wondrous Mystery: An Upper Room Advent eCourse. Beginning next week and throughout Advent, we will gather online for weekly guided spiritual practice sessions, group learning, and facilitated discussion. The eCourse also includes daily readings from this week’s featured book, The Wondrous Mystery. Register here.

Lectionary Readings

(Courtesy of Vanderbilt Divinity Library)

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

5 Comments | Join the Conversation.

 

Today's Reflection

It’s no wonder, then, that when the church gathers to rejoin the biblical story in worship, the reality of koinonia comes to such palpable expression. We know such closeness to God and those around us when we harmonize a hymn, share the bread and cup, take each other’s hand in passing the peace or saying hello, wink at a child peering over the next pew, speak our prayers of confession, wait together in silence, come to the altar rail for prayer or healing, receive a word of blessing. As we share with others in the worship of God, we become intimately bound up with God and one another in more ways than we know.

—Paul Lynd Escamilla, "The Meaning of Community," The Wondrous Mystery: An Upper Room Advent Reader, compiled by Benjamin Howard (Upper Room Books, 2019)

Today's Question

In what ways has your community helped to form you? How do you help your community form others? Join the conversation.

Today's Scripture

For as in one body we have many members, and not all the members have the same function, so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually we are members one of another.
—Romans 12:4–5 (NRSV)

Prayer for the Week

God, thank you for what is just around the corner. In a season filled with the longest, darkest nights, I await the coming of the most beautiful light.
Submit your prayer to The Upper Room.

Something More

Join us for The Wondrous Mystery: An Upper Room Advent eCourse. Beginning next week and throughout Advent, we will gather online for weekly guided spiritual practice sessions, group learning, and facilitated discussion. The eCourse also includes daily readings from this week’s featured book, The Wondrous Mystery. Register here.

Lectionary Readings

(Courtesy of Vanderbilt Divinity Library)

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

4 Comments | Join the Conversation.