PDF for print version HERE. For permission to print and redistribute, comment below.
Third Sunday of Advent
Preparation for Worship
Songs: Ask yourself and the people who will be worshipping with you (kids included), “What are some of the songs we sing about waiting and expectation?” Play them on Spotify, sing them acapella, or create your own instrumental arrangement.
Bible: You will need a Bible to read from the scriptures. You can use this doc or your phone as well…but I’d recommend using an actual Bible.
This week’s liturgy is based on the following texts:
Isaiah 61:1-4, 8-11, Psalm 126 or Luke 1:46b-55, 1 Thessalonians 5:16-24, John 1:6-8, 19-28.
You can decide who will lead the different movements of this gathering. It would be great for every person to have a part.
The season of Advent is a time of preparation, a time of great expectation and anticipation, the season when we celebrate that God entered the world in the form of a baby. Today we will listen and watch and wait in expectation of God’s power at work among us as we celebrate this season.
Call to Worship
Leader: We come to worship Christ
All: Jesus proclaims good news to the poor,
binds up the broken-hearted,
frees the prisoner
and comforts those who mourn.
Leader: We come to worship Christ
All: Jesus gives us a crown of beauty instead of ashes,
the oil of joy Instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of heaviness.
Leader: We come to worship Christ
All: He is the one who rebuilds ancient ruins
and restores broken places.
Leader: Come, let us worship Christ our Lord!
Song of Praise
Sing one song that focuses on God’s love and God’s call.
O Come, O Come Emmanuel (instrumental)
The Best Present Ever (for kids)
Feelin’ Like Christmas (for kids)
For other song ideas click here.
Reading of the Psalm
The psalmist writes in Psalm 126 (CEB),
When the Lord changed Zion’s circumstances for the better,
it was like we had been dreaming.
2 Our mouths were suddenly filled with laughter;
our tongues were filled with joyful shouts.
It was even said, at that time, among the nations,
“The Lord has done great things for them!”
3 Yes, the Lord has done great things for us,
and we are overjoyed.
4 Lord, change our circumstances for the better,
like dry streams in the desert waste!
5 Let those who plant with tears
reap the harvest with joyful shouts.
6 Let those who go out,
crying and carrying their seed,
come home with joyful shouts,
carrying bales of grain!
and will make a path for his steps.
Exhortation from the New Testament
1 Thessalonians 5 (NRSV) says, 16 Rejoice always, 17 pray without ceasing, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 19 Do not quench the Spirit. 20 Do not despise the words of prophets, 21 but test everything; hold fast to what is good; 22 abstain from every form of evil. 23 May the God of peace himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be kept sound and blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. 24 The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do this.
Prayer of Preparation
Guide us, O God, by your Word and Spirit,
that in your light we may see light,
in your truth find freedom,
and in your will discover your peace;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
(The time of listening is a series of reading the scripture, re-telling the story, and paying attention to where God is stirring your hearts as you listen. Invite everyone to listen to the words of the scriptures and to be ready to re-tell the story.)
A reading from Isaiah 61 (NRSV).
The spirit of the Lord God is upon me,
because the Lord has anointed me;
he has sent me to bring good news to the oppressed,
to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim liberty to the captives,
and release to the prisoners;
2 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor,
and the day of vengeance of our God;
to comfort all who mourn;
3 to provide for those who mourn in Zion—
to give them a garland instead of ashes,
the oil of gladness instead of mourning,
the mantle of praise instead of a faint spirit.
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
the planting of the Lord, to display his glory.
4 They shall build up the ancient ruins,
they shall raise up the former devastations;
they shall repair the ruined cities,
the devastations of many generations.
For I the Lord love justice,
I hate robbery and wrongdoing;
I will faithfully give them their recompense,
and I will make an everlasting covenant with them.
9 Their descendants shall be known among the nations,
and their offspring among the peoples;
all who see them shall acknowledge
that they are a people whom the Lord has blessed.
10 I will greatly rejoice in the Lord,
my whole being shall exult in my God;
for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation,
he has covered me with the robe of righteousness,
as a bridegroom decks himself with a garland,
and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.
11 For as the earth brings forth its shoots,
and as a garden causes what is sown in it to spring up,
so the Lord God will cause righteousness and praise
to spring up before all the nations.
A reading from John 1 (NRSV),
6 There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. 7 He came as a witness to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him. 8 He himself was not the light, but he came to testify to the light. 19 This is the testimony given by John when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, “Who are you?” 20 He confessed and did not deny it, but confessed, “I am not the Messiah.” 21 And they asked him, “What then? Are you Elijah?” He said, “I am not.” “Are you the prophet?” He answered, “No.” 22 Then they said to him, “Who are you? Let us have an answer for those who sent us. What do you say about yourself?” 23 He said,
“I am the voice of one crying out in the wilderness,
‘Make straight the way of the Lord,’” as the prophet Isaiah said.
24 Now they had been sent from the Pharisees. 25 They asked him, “Why then are you baptizing if you are neither the Messiah, nor Elijah, nor the prophet?” 26 John answered them, “I baptize with water. Among you stands one whom you do not know, 27 the one who is coming after me; I am not worthy to untie the thong of his sandal.” 28 This took place in Bethany across the Jordan where John was baptizing.
Let’s remember together what was said in these readings. You may want to read/act out one or both of the readings. What was said first? What happened next? (go around the circle and tell the story to each other. Try to remember as many details as possible.).
What part of these scriptures grabbed your attention? Why do you think that part stood out?
Let each person in the circle take a turn to wonder about something in this text…a word, a phrase, something that happened in the text, something that you’re thinking about… Start out by saying “As we read these texts, it made me wonder…”
What word is God giving you to proclaim in this season?
What will we carry into this week from this text?
How can we be praying this week?
Prayers of the People
God of Grace,
Thank you for this season of waiting.
Thank you for the joy of children
waiting for the excitement of gift giving.
Thank you for the gift of songs and joy this season brings.
Thank you for the gift of Jesus;
we have been waiting for a Savior.
We pray for all who are waiting this morning;
those who are waiting for healing
because they live with sickness and pain;
those who are waiting for good news
because they are weighed down with grief.
We pray for all of the earth that is waiting–
Throughout the world, in and on and under it,
waiting happens, waiting grows and gathers,
the earth is pregnant waiting for redemption.
In eager expectation we wait for the revelation of the Son of God.
Lord in every aspect of our lives, may we know the presence of the Wonderful Counsellor,
Mighty God, Everlasting Father, and Prince of Peace.
Be glorified and magnified in our world, in our country, in our communities, in our homes, in our lives.
To the glory of your great name.
And now we pray together the prayer you have taught us to pray, saying:
Our Father, who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy Name,
thy kingdom come,
thy will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our sins,
as we forgive those who sin against us.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom,
and the power, and the glory,
Go out into the world in peace.
Be faithful in service and persistent in prayer;
be Advent people,
loving and serving the Lord.
Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or imagine, according to the power at work within us, to God be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.