Advent 3 – December 12, 2021

Lectionary Texts

Zephaniah 3. 14-20 speaks joy to people who are in exile: God is among you, God delights in you, and God will free you from your oppressors and bring you home.

Isaiah 12.2-6 rejoices in God’s saving grace. We will draw from the wells of our salvation, and proclaim God’s goodness to the world.

In Philippians 4. 4-7 Paul encourages us to be joyful, gentle, thankful and prayerful, and rooted in the peace of God.

In Luke 3. 7-18 John the Baptist tells people to prepare for One Who Is Coming, and to repent: to put an end to injustice and exploitation, and to share with the poor.

Call to Worship / Lighting the Advent Candle

1. [Philippians 4.4-7]
READING: Rejoice in God always; again I will say, Rejoice. Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Beloved is near. Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
    RESPONSE
Leader: Kindle your joy in us, O God.
       All: By the grace of your nearness, instill your gentleness in us.
Heal our worries, lift our hopes, and hear our prayers.
       Receive our thanksgiving, and our silent supplications.
Friends, in the light of the One who is coming,
may the peace that passes all understanding
guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

2.
Reader: Reads Philippians 4.4-7
Leader: We pray that this Advent candle may shine in our hearts with joy.
         All: Even in the darkness we shine with joy, for the Light is coming.
Even in the cold our hearts are warm with joy, for you are with us.
          Even amidst evil and cruelty we bear joy and not despair into the world.
         God, we open our hearts to your grace. Fill us with the light of your joy.


3. [Philippians 4.4-7]
Reader: Loving God, we light this candle as a prayer of hope in your coming.
         All: Kindle your spirit in us, that we may always be prayerful.
We light this candle as an invitation to the Prince of Peace.
         Kindle your grace in us, that we may always be gentle.
We light this candle in joy for your coming among us.
         Kindle your love in us, that we may always be joyful.
         Come, O Sovereign of Joy, and rejoice with us!


4.
READING [from Zephaniah 3.14-18]
Rejoice, O Israel! Do not fear,
God, the Holy One is in your midst.
God says, “I will rejoice over you with gladness,
and renew you in my love;
I will exult over you with loud singing as on a day of festival.”
    RESPONSE
Leader: We light a candle of joy in this wreath of life,
as a sign of God’s joy in us, and our hope in God.
      All: With joy and hope we await the coming of Christ.
The prophet calls us to repentance as we prepare.
      We gladly repent, that like this candle
      we may be baptized with the Holy Sprit, and with fire.


5.
READING [from Zephaniah 3.14-18]
Rejoice, O Israel! Do not fear,
God, the Holy One is in your midst.
God says, “I will rejoice over you with gladness,
and renew you in my love;
I will exult over you with loud singing as on a day of festival.”
    RESPONSE
Leader:, As you look upon us, God, kindle in us the light of your love.
      All: As we await the coming of Christ open our hearts to your joy.
Grant us a spirit of repentance, that we may prepare in faith and confidence.
      As we await the coming of the light,
      kindle in us the courage to be transformed by hope and joy
.
      We worship with gladness in the light of your coming.

Collect / Prayer of the Day

1.
God of love and abundance, you come to us so that your joy may be in us, and our joy may be full. Fill us with your Spirit, that we may know your delight and rejoice in your presence and your grace. Speak your Word to us and bless us that we may always be joyful, gentle and prayerful, in the spirit of Christ. Amen.

2.
Gracious and ever-present God, we await the coming of your Anointed One, and we worship in the company of the One who is always with us. We await your Word, and yet your Word is within us. We long for your Realm of Grace, and yet even now it is hidden among us. Open our hearts to your Word, to your grace, to your Presence. Amen.

3.
Gracious God, John the Baptist calls us to repentance in preparation for the coming of your Messiah. As the people came to hear him, so we come now to hear your Word. Bless us with open hearts and minds, that as the scriptures are read and your good news proclaimed we may hear with joy what you are saying to us today. Amen.

Prayer of Confession

1.
The grace of God is with you.
      And also with you.
Trusting in God’s tender mercy, let us confess our sin to God with one another.
      Gracious God,
      We confess the the dead and fruitless branches in our lives,
      shriveled by the wintery storms of our fears and desires.
      Prune the branches of our hearts,
      that we may bear fruit in your Spirit.
      Forgive our sin, heal our hearts,
      and be born in us again,
      that by your grace we may bear your light.
      O come to us, Beloved, and save us! Amen.
SILENT PRAYERTHE WORD OF GRACE

2.
[Pastor:]
Dearly Beloved, the ax lying at the root of the trees
is not for punishment, but pruning.
Therefore, trusting in God’s tender mercy, we examine ourselves,
that we may see ourselves clearly through the eyes of love.
Grateful for your goodness, we reflect on those parts of our lives
that bear good fruit, and we give thanks.
Silent reflection…
Trusting in your mercy, we reflect on the dead branches of our lives,
the barren or hurtful parts, the parts that do not bear good fruit,
and we seek your grace.
Silent reflection…
O God, prune the branches of our hearts according to your grace,
that we may flourish in doing your will.
Draw from the well of our salvation and water the trees of our souls,
that we may faithfully bear fruit,
and delight in your love, in the grace of Jesus Christ. Amen.

Reading

[Isaiah 12. 2-6]
Leader: Surely God is my salvation;
I will trust, and will not be afraid.
      All: For God, the Holy One, is my strength and my might;
       God has become my salvation.
With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation.
And you will say in that day:
       Give thanks to the Holy One, call on God’s name
       make known God’s deeds among the nations;
       proclaim that God’s name is exalted.
Sing praises to God, for God has done gloriously;
let this be known in all the earth.
       Shout aloud and sing for joy, O royal Zion
       for great in your midst is the Holy One of Israel.

Listening Prayer

(suitable as a Collect, preparation for hearing scriptures, or invitation to prayer)

Surely God is our salvation.
      We will trust and not be afraid.
With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation.
      With joy we come to the well.
      Thirsting for your grace, we lower our prayers
      into the deep, clear waters of your Word.

Sing for joy, for God is in your midst.
      We come with joy to the well.

Eucharistic Prayer

May God be with you.
      And also with you.
Lift up your hearts.
      We lift them up to the Beloved.
Let us give thanks to the Holy One our God.
      It is good to give God thanks and praise.

Gracious God, we rejoice, for you are in our midst.
     You rejoice over us with gladness and renew us in your love.
By your Covenant you have taken us as your own.
     You set us free and ask us to put the axe to the roots
     of all oppression and injustice.

You have prepared the way for us in Jesus, your Christ.
     Therefore at his invitation we come to this feast
     to draw water from the well of our salvation,
     singing your praise with all Creation.

              [Sanctus]

Blessed are all who come in your name,
and blessed is Jesus, your Christ,
who loved and taught, who fed the hungry and healed the broken.
      His gentleness was known to everyone,
      and he granted to us a peace that surpasses understanding.

For his prophetic love he was crucified,
but you raised him from the dead,
and he comes among us and invites us to this feast of joy.
           [The Blessing and Covenant•]

As long was we break this bread and share this cup
we remember his death and resurrection until he comes again.
      Remembering these your mighty acts in Jesus Christ,
      we offer ourselves in joy, in union with his offering for us,
proclaiming the mystery of our faith.

            [ Memorial Acclamation]

Pour out your Holy Spirit on these gifts of bread and cup,
that they may be for us the Body and Blood of Christ.
      Pour out your Holy Spirit on us,
      that we may be the Body of Christ for the world,
      fearless in repentance, and courageous in justice.
      Baptize us with the Holy Spirit and with fire,
      that we may bear fruit, the fruit of your love and joy in us,
      for the sake of the healing of the world.

             [Amen]
__________________

* The Blessing and Covenant
[I usually don’t print the words. I want people to be looking at the bread, not their bulletins.]

On the night in which he gave himself for us
Jesus took bread, blessed it,. broke it, and gave it to his disciples,saying,
“Take and eat; this is my body.”
In the same way, after the supper he took the cup,
blessed it with thanks and gave it to them, saying,
“Drink of this, all of you. This is my blood,
poured out for you and for many, in a new Covenant,
which is the forgiveness of sin.”
As long as we break this bread and share this cup
we remember his death and resurrection, until he comes again.

Prayer of Dedication / Sending or after Communion

1.
Gracious God, we thank you for this mystery in which you have given yourself to us. You have filled us with the joy of your love, the taste of your delight in us. Send us into the world to share your joy, to serve you in love for one another, and to wait for your coming in gentleness, confidence, patience and joy, in the name and the Spirit of Christ. Amen.

2.
Gracious God, we thank you for this mystery in which you have given yourself to us. Even as we await your coming, you have fed us with your presence. Send us into the world, confident to live in your promised Realm until it is fulfilled, as signs of your coming, in the name and the Spirit of Christ. Amen.

3. (Benediction- Philippians 4.)
Beloved, rejoice in the Beloved always; again I will say, Rejoice. Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near. Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Amen.

Suggested Songs

(Available in the Music Store. Click titles to view songs)

All songs with “Advent” Tag, especially
Drink from the Wells (Isaiah)
Prepare Your Way In Me (Luke)