A prayer service for the fourth week of Advent: Mary and Joseph

Here is a simple prayer to read when you light the fourth candle on your Advent wreath. You can download it and print it (including a simple summary and a coloring picture for children) Advent Week Four Read the bold print in unison.

Today we’re reading the familiar story of Mary and Joseph, the couple God chose to be the earthly parents of his son Jesus.

…You shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins. (Matthew 1:21)

…The Lord himself will give you a sign.
Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son,
and shall call his name Immanuel. (Isaiah 7:14)

In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David.
And the virgin’s name was Mary. And he came to her and said, “Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!”
But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and tried to discern what sort of greeting this might be.
And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He 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 father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”
And Mary said to the angel, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?”
And the angel answered 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 called holy—the Son of God. And behold, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son, and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren. For nothing will be impossible with God.”
And Mary said, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her. (Luke 1:26-38)

…You shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins. (Matthew 1:21)

In those days Mary arose and went with haste into the hill country, to a town in Judah, and she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth.
And when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the baby leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit, and she exclaimed with a loud cry, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! And why is this granted to me that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For behold, when the sound of your greeting came to my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord.” (Luke 1:39-45)

…You shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins. (Matthew 1:21)

And Mary said,
“My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant.
For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed;
 for he who is mighty has done great things for me,
and holy is his name.
And his mercy is for those who fear him
from generation to generation.
He has shown strength with his arm;
he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts;
he has brought down the mighty from their thrones
and exalted those of humble estate;
he has filled the hungry with good things,
and the rich he has sent away empty.
He has helped his servant Israel,
in remembrance of his mercy,
as he spoke to our fathers,
to Abraham and to his offspring forever.” (Luke 1:46-55)

…You shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins. (Matthew 1:21)

Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit.
And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”
All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet:
“Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son,
and they shall call his name Immanuel.”(which means, God with us). (Matthew 1:18-23)

…You shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins. (Matthew 1:21) 

Father in Heaven,
Help us this season to have willing hearts like Mary, to remember that we are your servants, and to surrender to your plans for us.
Give us hospitable hearts like Elizabeth, comforting those who are in difficult situations, and rejoicing with those who are joyful.
Give us obedient hearts like Joseph, to hear your word and put it into practice.
Thank you for your precious Son, Jesus Christ, Immanuel, God with us.
In His Holy Name,
Amen

Photo credit:  Amy Mayfield

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