Feast of the Holy Nativity and Theophany of our Lord Jesus Christ
II Kings 2:19-22
I Corinthians 10:1-4
 And in that region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.
 And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with fear.
 And the angel said to them, “Be not afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy which will come to all the people;
 for to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.
 And this will be a sign for you: you will find a babe wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.”
 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,
 “Glory to God in the highest,
and on earth peace among men with whom he is pleased!”
 When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.”
 And they went with haste, and found Mary and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger.
 And when they saw it they made known the saying which had been told them concerning this child;
 and all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them.
 But Mary kept all these things, pondering them in her heart.
 And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.
 Inasmuch as many have undertaken to compile a narrative of the things which have been accomplished among us,
 just as they were delivered to us by those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word,
 it seemed good to me also, having followed all things closely for some time past, to write an orderly account for you, most excellent The-oph’ilus,
 that you may know the truth concerning the things of which you have been informed.
 In the days of Herod, king of Judea, there was a priest named Zechari’ah, of the division of Abi’jah; and he had a wife of the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth.
 And they were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless.
 But they had no child, because Elizabeth was barren, and both were advanced in years.
 Now while he was serving as priest before God when his division was on duty,
 according to the custom of the priesthood, it fell to him by lot to enter the temple of the Lord and burn incense.
 And the whole multitude of the people were praying outside at the hour of incense.
 And there appeared to him an angel of the Lord standing on the right side of the altar of incense.
 And Zechari’ah was troubled when he saw him, and fear fell upon him.
 But the angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zechari’ah, for your prayer is heard, and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John.
 And you will have joy and gladness,
and many will rejoice at his birth;
 for he will be great before the Lord,
and he shall drink no wine nor strong drink,
and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit,
even from his mother’s womb.
 And he will turn many of the sons of Israel to the Lord their God,
 and he will go before him in the spirit and power of Eli’jah,
to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children,
and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just,
to make ready for the Lord a people prepared.”
 And Zechari’ah said to the angel, “How shall I know this? For I am an old man, and my wife is advanced in years.”
 And the angel answered him, “I am Gabriel, who stand in the presence of God; and I was sent to speak to you, and to bring you this good news.
 And behold, you will be silent and unable to speak until the day that these things come to pass, because you did not believe my words, which will be fulfilled in their time.”
 And the people were waiting for Zechari’ah, and they wondered at his delay in the temple.
 And when he came out, he could not speak to them, and they perceived that he had seen a vision in the temple; and he made signs to them and remained dumb.
 And when his time of service was ended, he went to his home.
 After these days his wife Elizabeth conceived, and for five months she hid herself, saying,
 “Thus the Lord has done to me in the days when he looked on me, to take away my reproach among men.”
 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, “Hail, O favored one, the Lord is with you!”
 But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and considered in her mind 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 for ever;
and of his kingdom there will be no end.”
 And Mary said to the angel, “How shall this be, since I have no husband?”
 And the 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 called holy,
the Son of God.
 And behold, your kinswoman Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son; and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren.
 For with God nothing will be impossible.”
 And Mary said, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her.
 In those days Mary arose and went with haste into the hill country, to a city of Judah,
 and she entered the house of Zechari’ah and greeted Elizabeth.
 And when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the babe 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 me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?
 For behold, when the voice of your greeting came to my ears, the babe in my womb leaped for joy.
 And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfilment of what was spoken to her from the Lord.”
 And Mary said, “My soul magnifies the Lord,
 and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
 for he has regarded the low estate of his handmaiden.
For behold, henceforth 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 on those who fear him
from generation to generation.
 He has shown strength with his arm,
he has scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts,
 he has put down the mighty from their thrones,
and exalted those of low degree;
 he has filled the hungry with good things,
and the rich he has sent empty away.
 He has helped his servant Israel,
in remembrance of his mercy,
 as he spoke to our fathers,
to Abraham and to his posterity for ever.”
 And Mary remained with her about three months, and returned to her home.
 Now the time came for Elizabeth to be delivered, and she gave birth to a son.
 And her neighbors and kinsfolk heard that the Lord had shown great mercy to her, and they rejoiced with her.
 And on the eighth day they came to circumcise the child; and they would have named him Zechari’ah after his father,
 but his mother said, “Not so; he shall be called John.”
 And they said to her, “None of your kindred is called by this name.”
 And they made signs to his father, inquiring what he would have him called.
 And he asked for a writing tablet, and wrote, “His name is John.” And they all marveled.
 And immediately his mouth was opened and his tongue loosed, and he spoke, blessing God.
 And fear came on all their neighbors. And all these things were talked about through all the hill country of Judea;
 and all who heard them laid them up in their hearts, saying, “What then will this child be?” For the hand of the Lord was with him.
 And his father Zechari’ah was filled with the Holy Spirit, and prophesied, saying,
 “Blessed be the Lord God of Israel,
for he has visited and redeemed his people,
 and has raised up a horn of salvation for us
in the house of his servant David,
 as he spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets from of old,
 that we should be saved from our enemies,
and from the hand of all who hate us;
 to perform the mercy promised to our fathers,
and to remember his holy covenant,
 the oath which he swore to our father Abraham,
 to grant us that we, being delivered from the hand of our enemies,
might serve him without fear,
 in holiness and righteousness before him all the days of our life.
 And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High;
for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways,
 to give knowledge of salvation to his people
in the forgiveness of their sins,
 through the tender mercy of our God,
when the day shall dawn upon us from on high
 to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of
to guide our feet into the way of peace.”
 And the child grew and became strong in spirit, and he was in the wilderness till the day of his manifestation to Israel.
 In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be enrolled.
 This was the first enrollment, when Quirin’i-us was governor of Syria.
 And all went to be enrolled, each to his own city.
 And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the city of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David,
 to be enrolled with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child.
 And while they were there, the time came for her to be delivered.
 And she gave birth to her first-born son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.
 The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.
 Abraham was the father of Isaac, and Isaac the father of Jacob, and Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers,
 and Judah the father of Perez and Zerah by Tamar, and Perez the father of Hezron, and Hezron the father of Ram,
 and Ram the father of Ammin’adab, and Ammin’adab the father of Nahshon, and Nahshon the father of Salmon,
 and Salmon the father of Bo’az by Rahab, and Bo’az the father of Obed by Ruth, and Obed the father of Jesse,
 and Jesse the father of David the king.
And David was the father of Solomon by the wife of Uri’ah,
 and Solomon the father of Rehobo’am, and Rehobo’am the father of Abi’jah, and Abi’jah the father of Asa,
 and Asa the father of Jehosh’aphat, and Jehosh’aphat the father of Joram, and Joram the father of Uzzi’ah,
 and Uzzi’ah the father of Jotham, and Jotham the father of Ahaz, and Ahaz the father of Hezeki’ah,
 and Hezeki’ah the father of Manas’seh, and Manas’seh the father of Amos, and Amos the father of Josi’ah,
 and Josi’ah the father of Jechoniah and his brothers, at the time of the deportation to Babylon.
 And after the deportation to Babylon: Jechoni’ah was the father of She-al’ti-el, and She-al’ti-el the father of Zerub’babel,
 and Zerub’babel the father of Abi’ud, and Abi’ud the father of Eli’akim, and Eli’akim the father of Azor,
 and Azor the father of Zadok, and Zadok the father of Achim, and Achim the father of Eli’ud,
 and Eli’ud the father of Elea’zar, and Elea’zar the father of Matthan, and Matthan the father of Jacob,
 and Jacob the father of Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom Jesus was born, who is called Christ.
 So all the generations from Abraham to David were fourteen generations, and from David to the deportation to Babylon fourteen generations, and from the deportation to Babylon to the Christ fourteen generations.
 For the grace of God has appeared for the salvation of all men,
 training us to renounce irreligion and worldly passions, and to live sober, upright, and godly lives in this world,
 awaiting our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ,
 who gave himself for us to redeem us from all iniquity and to purify for himself a people of his own who are zealous for good deeds.
 Declare these things; exhort and reprove with all authority. Let no one disregard you.
 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 of 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 this, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of 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 fulfil what the Lord had spoken by the prophet:
 “Behold, a virgin shall conceive and bear a son,
and his name shall be called Emmanuel”
(which means, God with us).
 When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him; he took his wife,
 but knew her not until she had borne a son; and he called his name Jesus.
 With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation.
 And you will say in that day: “Give thanks to the LORD,
call upon his name;
make known his deeds among the nations,
proclaim that his name is exalted.
 “Sing praises to the LORD, for he has done gloriously;
let this be known in all the earth.
 Shout, and sing for joy, O inhabitant of Zion,
for great in your midst is the Holy One of Israel.”
 So, when the people set out from their tents, to pass over the Jordan with the priests bearing the ark of the covenant before the people,
 and when those who bore the ark had come to the Jordan, and the feet of the priests bearing the ark were dipped in the brink of the water (the Jordan overflows all its banks throughout the time of harvest),
 the waters coming down from above stood and rose up in a heap far off, at Adam, the city that is beside Zar’ethan, and those flowing down toward the sea of the Arabah, the Salt Sea, were wholly cut off; and the people passed over opposite Jericho.
 And while all Israel were passing over on dry ground, the priests who bore the ark of the covenant of the LORD stood on dry ground in the midst of the Jordan, until all the nation finished passing over the Jordan.
 Then Moses led Israel onward from the Red Sea, and they went into the wilderness of Shur; they went three days in the wilderness and found no water.
 When they came to Marah, they could not drink the water of Marah because it was bitter; therefore it was named Marah.
 And the people murmured against Moses, saying, “What shall we drink?”
 And he cried to the LORD; and the LORD showed him a tree, and he threw it into the water, and the water became sweet.
There the LORD made for them a statute and an ordinance and there he proved them,
 saying, “If you will diligently hearken to the voice of the LORD your God, and do that which is right in his eyes, and give heed to his commandments and keep all his statutes, I will put none of the diseases upon you which I put upon the Egyptians; for I am the LORD, your healer.”
 Then they came to Elim, where there were twelve springs of water and seventy palm trees; and they encamped there by the water.
II Kings 2:19-22
 Now the men of the city said to Eli’sha, “Behold, the situation of this city is pleasant, as my lord sees; but the water is bad, and the land is unfruitful.”
 He said, “Bring me a new bowl, and put salt in it.” So they brought it to him.
 Then he went to the spring of water and threw salt in it, and said, “Thus says the LORD, I have made this water wholesome; henceforth neither death nor miscarriage shall come from it.”
 So the water has been wholesome to this day, according to the word which Eli’sha spoke.
 Then he brought me back to the door of the temple; and behold, water was issuing from below the threshold of the temple toward the east (for the temple faced east); and the water was flowing down from below the south end of the threshold of the temple, south of the altar.
 Then he brought me out by way of the north gate, and led me round on the outside to the outer gate, that faces toward the east; and the water was coming out on the south side.
 Going on eastward with a line in his hand, the man measured a thousand cubits, and then led me through the water; and it was ankle-deep.
 Again he measured a thousand, and led me through the water; and it was knee-deep. Again he measured a thousand, and led me through the water; and it was up to the loins.
 Again he measured a thousand, and it was a river that I could not pass through, for the water had risen; it was deep enough to swim in, a river that could not be passed through.
 And he said to me, “Son of man, have you seen this?”
Then he led me back along the bank of the river.
 As I went back, I saw upon the bank of the river very many trees on the one side and on the other.
 And he said to me, “This water flows toward the eastern region and goes down into the Arabah; and when it enters the stagnant waters of the sea, the water will become fresh.
 And wherever the river goes every living creature which swarms will live, and there will be very many fish; for this water goes there, that the waters of the sea may become fresh; so everything will live where the river goes.
 Fishermen will stand beside the sea; from En-ge’di to En-eg’laim it will be a place for the spreading of nets; its fish will be of very many kinds, like the fish of the Great Sea.
 But its swamps and marshes will not become fresh; they are to be left for salt.
 And on the banks, on both sides of the river, there will grow all kinds of trees for food. Their leaves will not wither nor their fruit fail, but they will bear fresh fruit every month, because the water for them flows from the sanctuary. Their fruit will be for food, and their leaves for healing.”
I Corinthians 10:1-4
 I want you to know, brethren, that our fathers were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea,
 and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea,
 and all ate the same supernatural food
 and all drank the same supernatural drink. For they drank from the supernatural Rock which followed them, and the Rock was Christ.
 In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judea,
 “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”
 For this is he who was spoken of by the prophet Isaiah when he said, “The voice of one crying in the wilderness:
Prepare the way of the Lord,
make his paths straight.”
 Now John wore a garment of camel’s hair, and a leather girdle around his waist; and his food was locusts and wild honey.
 Then went out to him Jerusalem and all Judea and all the region about the Jordan,
 and they were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins.
 But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sad’ducees coming for baptism, he said to them, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come?
 Bear fruit that befits repentance,
 and do not presume to say to yourselves, `We have Abraham as our father’; for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children to Abraham.
 Even now the axe is laid to the root of the trees; every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.
 “I baptize you with water for repentance, but he who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry; he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire.
 His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor and gather his wheat into the granary, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.”
 Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to John, to be baptized by him.
 John would have prevented him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?”
 But Jesus answered him, “Let it be so now; for thus it is fitting for us to fulfil all righteousness.” Then he consented.
 And when Jesus was baptized, he went up immediately from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and alighting on him;
 and lo, a voice from heaven, saying, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.”
The Revised Standard Version of the Bible is copyright © National Council of Churches of Christ in America