Worship in the Home: Sunday, December 20, 2020

Posted on December 15, 2020 by ELCA Worship

Worship in the Home

Fourth Sunday of Advent, Year B
December 20, 2020

In this time of world-wide crisis, congregations throughout this church are not able to gather for worship as the body of Christ. While you cannot be together in person, we can hear the word of God and hold each other in prayer. We offer this brief resource as an aid for prayer in the home. As with our prayers in the gathered assembly for worship, you are encouraged to prepare or adapt them locally for your context.

Find a peaceful place to pray, perhaps a table. During this season, you may wish to include an advent wreath where you pray, and light four candles. You may light your Advent wreath each day this week. A prayer to use throughout the week appears at the end of this blog.

Then, one person may lead in this acclamation and then pray the Prayer of the Day.

The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with us all.

Let us pray.
A brief silence is kept before the prayer.

Stir up your power, Lord Christ, and come. With your abundant grace and might, free us from the sin that would obstruct your mercy, that willingly we may bear your redeeming love to all the world, for you live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.


Then the readings for this day may be read, as follows:

First Reading:  2 Samuel 7:1-11, 16

1Now when David the king was settled in his house, and the LORD had given him rest from all his enemies around him, 2the king said to the prophet Nathan, “See now, I am living in a house of cedar, but the ark of God stays in a tent.” 3Nathan said to the king, “Go, do all that you have in mind; for the LORD is with you.”

4But that same night the word of the LORD came to Nathan: 5Go and tell my servant David: Thus says the LORD: Are you the one to build me a house to live in? 6I have not lived in a house since the day I brought up the people of Israel from Egypt to this day, but I have been moving about in a tent and a tabernacle. 7Wherever I have moved about among all the people of Israel, did I ever speak a word with any of the tribal leaders of Israel, whom I commanded to shepherd my people Israel, saying, “Why have you not built me a house of cedar?” 8Now therefore thus you shall say to my servant David: Thus says the LORD of hosts: I took you from the pasture, from following the sheep to be prince over my people Israel; 9and I have been with you wherever you went, and have cut off all your enemies from before you; and I will make for you a great name, like the name of the great ones of the earth. 10And I will appoint a place for my people Israel and will plant them, so that they may live in their own place, and be disturbed no more; and evildoers shall afflict them no more, as formerly, 11from the time that I appointed judges over my people Israel; and I will give you rest from all your enemies. Moreover the LORD declares to you that the LORD will make you a house. 16Your house and your kingdom shall be made sure forever before me; your throne shall be established forever.

Word of God, word of life.
Thanks be to God.


The song of Mary, also known as the Magnificat, may be sung or read in response to the First Reading.

Psalmody: Luke 1:46b-55

46bMy soul proclaims the greatness | of the Lord,
47my spirit rejoices in | God my Savior,
48for you, Lord, have looked with favor on your | lowly servant.
From this day all generations will | call me blessed:
49you, the Almighty, have done great | things for me
and holy | is your name.
50You have mercy on | those who fear you,
from generation to | generation.
51You have shown strength | with your arm
and scattered the proud in | their conceit,
52casting down the mighty | from their thrones
and lifting | up the lowly.
53You have filled the hungry | with good things
and sent the rich | away empty.
54You have come to the aid of your | servant Israel,
to remember the prom- | ise of mercy,
55the promise made | to our forbears,
to Abraham and his chil- | dren forever.


Second Reading: Romans 16:25-27

25Now to God who is able to strengthen you according to my gospel and the proclamation of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery that was kept secret for long ages 26but is now disclosed, and through the prophetic writings is made known to all the Gentiles, according to the command of the eternal God, to bring about the obedience of faith—27to the only wise God, through Jesus Christ, be the glory forever! Amen.

Word of God, word of life.
Thanks be to God.


Gospel: Luke 1:26-38

The holy gospel according to Luke.
Glory to you, O Lord.

26In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, 27to a virgin woman engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. 28And the angel came to her and said, “Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you.” 29But she was much perplexed by the angel’s words and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. 30The angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. 31And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus. 32He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his ancestor David. 33He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his dominion there will be no end.” 34Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?” 35The angel said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be holy; he will be called Son of God. 36And now, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son; and this is the sixth month for her who was said to be barren. 37For nothing will be impossible with God.” 38Then Mary said, “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.” Then the angel departed from her.

The gospel of the Lord.
Praise to you, O Christ.



Having read these readings, think on this:

“The Lord is with you,” says Nathan to David. “The Lord is with you,” says the angel to Mary. When we hear these readings today they say to us, “The Lord is with you.” We have been and are afraid, especially now. Though we have heard promises about how kings and other rulers will do wonderful things, they have cruelly disappointed our hopes. “Do not be afraid,” these readings say to us. The house that God builds is neither a royal temple nor a dynasty of kings, for the true king is not a king at all, but a child born among the poor who grows to become a crucified man and lives as Christ arisen. In the power of the Spirit, he is present now, making any place where his word is heard to be the house of God. That secret is now disclosed. We usually come to the house God builds when we gather with the assembly to hear the word and to receive Christ in the holy communion. But even in these days, God’s word sounds in our homes and in our hearts. We become God’s house, empowered to share Christ with our world. “The Lord is with you.” Now. Listen to that word. With Mary, trust it. Say, “Let it be to me according to your word.”


If you have a hymnal, you may now sing or read “Unexpected and Mysterious” (Evangelical Lutheran Worship 258), Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus” (Evangelical Lutheran Worship 254), “Filled with Hope and Gratitude” (All Creation Sings 907, learn more about this adaption of the song of Mary in this video). Selected hymns are provided below for those without a hymnal at home.

Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus

Filled with Hope and Gratitude


Then pray these intercessions:

On this fourth Sunday of Advent, let us pray that God come quickly to this weary world, responding to each petition with the words, “Come and save us soon.”

A brief silence.

O God, Emmanuel, we pray: be with us. Bless our national church and our own congregation. Bless also our neighbors of other denominations and faiths, that strengthened by your presence we may support one another in love and together serve those in need.

A brief silence.

Hear our prayer, O God:
Come and save us soon.

O God, the Wisdom of the world, as tomorrow the earth’s north tilts back toward the sun, preserve vegetation and wild animals during winter. Form us into a people who honor your creation. Make of our decorated Christmas trees signs of our thankfulness for the earth.

A brief silence.

Hear our prayer, O God:
Come and save us soon.

O God, King of nations, bring peace and justice to the countries of the world. Lead the nations of the Middle East toward peace with one another and justice for the Palestinians. Guide our elected leaders toward honest and compassionate policies that serve all the people. Preserve our nation from discord and violence.

A brief silence.

Hear our prayer, O God:
Come and save us soon.

O God, Key of David, look with mercy on all who are locked into despair, who fear the darkness, who live brokenhearted. Open windows to those who are isolated. Abide with all who are incarcerated. Give shelter to the homeless and the refugees.

A brief silence.

Hear our prayer, O God:
Come and save us soon.

O God, Root of Jesse, nurture our community. Connect us with one another across all barriers, and bring an end to historic prejudices. Bless the work of food pantries and relief agencies, and inspire our holidays with your spirit of benevolence.

A brief silence.

Hear our prayer, O God:
Come and save us soon.

O God, Ruler of might, send your healing power to all in bodily need. Curb the coronavirus, and strengthen medical workers. For those with COVID-19 we pray: . . . Guide all world health organizations and governmental officials in the distribution of the vaccines, and calm the fears of those who are reluctant to receive the vaccine. Bring pregnant women to successful births. We pray especially for . . . .

A brief silence.

Hear our prayer, O God:
Come and save us soon.

O God, our Savior, dwell within us; make us your home, and receive the prayers of our hearts.

A longer time of silence.

Hear our prayer, O God:
Come and save us soon.

O God, Dayspring everlasting, we remember all who have died and now live in your light, especially Katharina von Bora Luther and those we name here before you: . . . Gather us to yourself, when we join with all the faithful of every time and land to sing Mary’s hymn of praise.   

A brief silence.

Hear our prayer, O God:
Come and save us soon.

We cannot thank you enough, O Emmanuel, for your ongoing presence among us. Remain with us, and receive our prayers, for the sake of the Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.


If you have a hymnal, you may now sing or read “Joy to the World” (Evangelical Lutheran Worship 267), My Soul Proclaims Your Greatness” (Evangelical Lutheran Worship 251). Selected hymns are provided below for those without a hymnal at home.

Joy to the World


Then conclude with these prayers:

Let us pray.
A brief silence is kept before the prayer.
Holy God,
the Beginning and the Ending, our Hope as we wait,
we praise you for joining us to your people of old.
We bless you for your prophets who call us to righteousness
and promise a new earth with peace for all.
For the Word of your covenant, we thank you, O God.
We thank you, O God.

We praise you for the coming of Jesus our Lord,
who lifts up the lowly, heals the suffering world,
and proclaims your way of mercy and truth.
For your Word who is Christ, we magnify you, O God.
We magnify you, O God.

Send your Spirit on all who receive your Word.
Nurture our faith with your grace,
accompany us with your might,
and empower our zeal for your justice and joy.
For your Word through the church, we praise you, O God.
We praise you, O God.

All praise to you, holy God,
today, tomorrow, and forever. Amen.


Gathered into one by the Holy Spirit, let us pray as Jesus taught us:

Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins
as we forgive those who sin against us.
Save us from the time of trial,
and deliver us from evil.
For the kingdom, the power,
and the glory are yours,
now and forever.


Then speak the Blessing:

The Creator of the stars bless our Advent waiting,
the long-expected Savior fill us with love,
the unexpected Spirit guide our journey,
+ now and forever.


Here is a brief prayer to use as you light four candles on the Advent wreath this coming week:

Blessed are you, O God. In Jesus you came to live among us. Give us hearts ready to welcome you when you come to us in friends, neighbors, and strangers.


Devotional Music Links: For your individual or group devotion, you may choose to listen to the following choral recordings made available through Augsburg Fortress: “As the Dark Awaits the Dawn;” “Savior of the Nations Come: Let the Earth Now Praise the Lord;” “O Savior of Our Fallen Race.”


Readings for the Week:
Monday Luke 1:46b-55. Tuesday Hebrews 8:1-13. Wednesday 1 Samuel 2:1-10. Thursday (Nativity of Our Lord: Christmas Eve) Luke 2:1-15 [15-20]. Friday (Nativity of Our Lord: Christmas Day) John 1:1-14. Saturday (Stephen, Deacon and Martyr) Acts 6:8 — 7:2a, 51-60. First Sunday of Christmas Isaiah 61:10 — 62:3; Psalm 148; Galatians 4:4-7; Luke 2:22-40.

Daily Prayer Resources are available, including simple forms of Morning, Evening, and Night Prayer; Responsive Prayer; and prayers for mealtimes and other occasions.

Due to copyright restrictions, we are only able to provide downloadable hymns that are in the public domain and selected hymns for limited use. Other suggestions provided above may be found in Evangelical Lutheran Worship. To purchase copies of Evangelical Lutheran Worship and All Creation Sings for the home, visit the Augsburg Fortress website or call 1-800-328-4648. Selected hymns from All Creation Sings will be provided for limited use.

Reflection text: Gordon Lathrop. Intercessory Prayer: Gail Ramshaw

Portions from Evangelical Lutheran Worship, sundaysandseasons.com, and Families Celebrate Advent & Christmas 2020-21 © 2020 Augsburg Fortress. All rights reserved. Reprinted by permission under Augsburg Fortress.

Readings from Readings for the Assembly © 1995, 1996, 1997 Augsburg Fortress. Citations from the Revised Common Lectionary © 1992 Consultation on Common Texts. Scripture quotations from NRSV Bible, Copyright © 1989, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America, adapted and edited with permission by Gordon Lathrop and Gail Ramshaw.

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