18 December.                                               Fourth Sunday after Advent

Collect of the Day

God our redeemer, who prepared the Blessed Virgin Mary to be the mother of your Son: grant that, as she looked for his coming as our saviour, so we may be ready to greet him when he comes again as our judge; who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of  the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.

First Reading

Isaiah 7.10-16

10The LORD spoke to Ahaz, saying, 11Ask a sign of the LORD your God; let it be deep as Sheol or high as heaven. 12But Ahaz said, I will not ask, and I will not put the LORD to the test. 13Then Isaiah said: ‘Hear then, O house of David! Is it too little for you to weary mortals, that you weary my God also? 14Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Look, the young woman is with child and shall bear a son, and shall name him Immanuel. 15He shall eat curds and honey by the time he knows how to refuse the evil and choose the good. 16For before the child knows how to refuse the evil and choose the good, the land before whose two kings you are in dread will be deserted.


Psalm or Canticle

Psalm 80.1-8,18-20

1                 Hear, O Shepherd of Israel, you that led Joseph like a flock; 2 Shine forth, you that are enthroned upon the cherubim, before Ephraim, Benjamin and Manasseh.  3 Stir up your mighty strength and come to our salvation.

4                 Turn us again, O God; show the light of your countenance, and we shall be saved.

5                 O Lord God of hosts, how long will you be angry at your people’s prayer?  6  You feed them with the bread of tears; you give them abundance of tears to drink.  7 You have made us the derision of our neighbours, and our enemies laugh us to scorn.

8                 Turn us again, O God of hosts;  
show the light of your countenance, and we shall be saved.

18               Let your hand be upon the man at your right hand, the son of man you made so strong for yourself.  19 And so will we not go back from you; give us life, and we shall call upon your name.

20               Turn us again, O Lord God of hosts; show the light of your countenance, and we shall be saved.


Second Reading

Romans 1.1-7

1Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God, 2which he promised beforehand through his prophets in the holy scriptures, 3the gospel concerning his Son, who was descended from David according to the flesh 4and was declared to be Son of God with power according to the spirit of holiness by resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord. 5Through Christ we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith among all the Gentiles for the sake of his name, 6including yourselves who are called to belong to Jesus Christ,

7To all God’s beloved in Rome, who are called to be saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. 



Matthew 1.18-25

18The birth of Jesus the Messiah took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been engaged to Joseph, but before they lived together, she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. 19Her husband Joseph, being a righteous man and unwilling to expose her to public disgrace, planned to dismiss her quietly. 20But just when he had resolved to do this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, ‘Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife, for the child conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21She will bear a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.’ 22All this took place to fulfil what had been spoken by the Lord through the prophet: 23’Look, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel’, which means, ‘God is with us.’ 24When Joseph awoke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him; he took her as his wife, 25but had no marital relations with her until she had borne a son; and he named him Jesus. 


Post Communion Prayer

Heavenly Father,
who chose the Blessed Virgin Mary to be the mother of the promised saviour: fill us your servants with your grace,
that in all things we may embrace your holy will and with her rejoice in your salvation;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.


Copyright acknowledgement (where not already indicated above):

Isaiah 7.10-16 ©  1989 National Council of the Churches of Christ, USA

Matthew 1.18-25 ©  1989 National Council of the Churches of Christ, USA

Romans 1.1-7 ©  1989 National Council of the Churches of Christ, USA

Some material included in this service is copyright: ©  The Archbishops' Council 2000

Psalm 80.1-8,18-20 ©  The Archbishops' Council 2000