Waiting is hard in a fast-paced society. We want the stoplight to change quickly, the grocery line to move fast, and Christmas morning to arrive soon. We forget that before good things happen, preparations must be made. Last week we lit the Prophecy candle and remembered those who first spoke with hope the promise of the coming Christ child. This morning we pray for peace for all man-kind that only Christ can accomplish.
[Light the purple candle that was lit last week.]
The second candle on the Advent Wreath is called the Bethlehem candle. It is a symbol of the preparations being made to receive and cradle the Christ child. Preparations that bring us to the knowledge of the Peace of Christ.
[Light another purple candle]
Two candles, burning bright,
chasing away the darkness from light.
Two candles, glowing light,
The blessing of God, giving new sight.
From the Old Testament
Scripture: Isaiah 11:1-10
1 A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse;
from his roots a Branch will bear fruit.
2 The Spirit of the Lord will rest on him—
the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding,
the Spirit of counsel and of might,
the Spirit of the knowledge and fear of the Lord—
3 and he will delight in the fear of the Lord.
He will not judge by what he sees with his eyes,
or decide by what he hears with his ears;
4 but with righteousness he will judge the needy,
with justice he will give decisions for the poor of the earth.
He will strike the earth with the rod of his mouth;
with the breath of his lips he will slay the wicked.
5 Righteousness will be his belt
and faithfulness the sash around his waist.
6 The wolf will live with the lamb,
the leopard will lie down with the goat,
the calf and the lion and the yearling[a] together;
and a little child will lead them.
7 The cow will feed with the bear,
their young will lie down together,
and the lion will eat straw like the ox.
8 The infant will play near the cobra’s den,
and the young child will put its hand into the viper’s nest.
9 They will neither harm nor destroy
on all my holy mountain,
for the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the Lord
as the waters cover the sea.
10 In that day the Root of Jesse will stand as a banner for the peoples; the nations will rally to him, and his resting place will be glorious.
Come, Holy God, come and save us. Come, Holy Christ, come and touch us. Come, Holy Spirit, come and revive us. Come and turn us around, and point us to your kingdom. Come and give us peace. Amen.
From the Psalms
Psalm 72 is one of the “royal psalms,” sung at the coronation of a new king. Central to this prayer is the expectation that the king will be just and compassionate and that he will especially protect the needy. The church has traditionally seen this as a messianic psalm since the ideal of the compassionate ruler finds its ultimate expression in Christ who will bring lasting peace.
Scripture: Psalm 72:1-8
1 Endow the king with your justice, O God,
the royal son with your righteousness.
2 May he judge your people in righteousness,
your afflicted ones with justice.
3 May the mountains bring prosperity to the people,
the hills the fruit of righteousness.
4 May he defend the afflicted among the people
and save the children of the needy;
may he crush the oppressor.
5 May he endure as long as the sun,
as long as the moon, through all generations.
6 May he be like rain falling on a mown field,
like showers watering the earth.
7 In his days may the righteous flourish
and prosperity abound till the moon is no more.
8 May he rule from sea to sea
and from the River to the ends of the earth.
Dear God, as the kings and rulers of our world are enthroned, we have witnessed the elaborate preparations made for those events. By the power of your Spirit, move us to make the preparations needed to welcome you, the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords. Soften our hearts, break down our resistance. Open us anew to your life and love that we may be transformed and may be agents of transformation in the lives of others. Oh, blessed Redeemer you are our prosperity and Peace. Amen.
From the New Testament
Scripture: Matthew 3:1-11
In those days John the Baptist came, preaching in the wilderness of Judea 2 and saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.” 3 This is he who was spoken of through the prophet Isaiah:
“A voice of one calling in the wilderness,
‘Prepare the way for the Lord,
make straight paths for him.’”
4 John’s clothes were made of camel’s hair, and he had a leather belt around his waist. His food was locusts and wild honey. 5 People went out to him from Jerusalem and all Judea and the whole region of the Jordan. 6 Confessing their sins, they were baptized by him in the Jordan River.
7 But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to where he was baptizing, he said to them: “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? 8 Produce fruit in keeping with repentance. 9 And do not think you can say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ I tell you that out of these stones God can raise up children for Abraham. 10 The ax is already at the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire.
11 “I baptize you with water for repentance. But after me comes one who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.
Dear God, in this very busy season with so many things to do, help us to hear anew your voice calling us to prepare the way for our Lord and Savior Jesus. Call us to repentance that we may live in peace. Live in us by your Spirit that our lives will produce good fruit to the praise and honor of your name. Amen.
Advent 2020 / 3rd SundayJoy / Shepherd’s Candle / Pink Candle
Jesus is coming, shout for joy! Joy is a word we see and hear everywhere at Christmas. Joy to the world is the message of the season. Joy is the theme of this day. Two weeks ago, we lit the Prophecy candle and remembered those who first spoke the promise of hope of the coming Christ child.
[Light the purple candle that was on the first week]
Last week we lit the Bethlehem candle, a symbol of the preparations being made to receive and cradle the Christ child.
[Light the purple candle that was lit last week]
The third candle on the Advent wreath is called the Shepherds’ candle. It remembers the first in a long line of people who joyfully shared the good news of the Savior’s birth. The candle is a different color, reminding us that our period of waiting is half over.
[Light the pink candle]
Three candles, burning bright,
Chasing away the darkness from light.
Three candles, glowing bright,
The blessing of God, giving new sight.
From the Old Testament
Scripture: Isaiah 35
The desert and the parched land will be glad;
the wilderness will rejoice and blossom.
Like the crocus, 2 it will burst into bloom;
it will rejoice greatly and shout for joy.
The glory of Lebanon will be given to it,
the splendor of Carmel and Sharon;
they will see the glory of the Lord,
the splendor of our God.
3 Strengthen the feeble hands,
steady the knees that give way;
4 say to those with fearful hearts,
“Be strong, do not fear;
your God will come,
he will come with vengeance;
with divine retribution
he will come to save you.”
5 Then will the eyes of the blind be opened
and the ears of the deaf unstopped.
6 Then will the lame leap like a deer,
and the mute tongue shout for joy.
Water will gush forth in the wilderness
and streams in the desert.
7 The burning sand will become a pool,
the thirsty ground bubbling springs.
In the haunts where jackals once lay,
grass and reeds and papyrus will grow.
8 And a highway will be there;
it will be called the Way of Holiness;
it will be for those who walk on that Way.
The unclean will not journey on it;
wicked fools will not go about on it.
9 No lion will be there,
nor any ravenous beast;
they will not be found there.
But only the redeemed will walk there,
10 and those the Lord has rescued will return.
They will enter Zion with singing;
everlasting joy will crown their heads.
Gladness and joy will overtake them,
and sorrow and sighing will flee away
Holy God, create in us a fountain of joy, stir in us a spirit ready to dance, kindle in us the fire of gladness, set loose in us songs of praise. For you are the One who comes with healing and blessing. Amen.
From the Psalms
Psalm 146 praises the Lord as the Creator of the world and the Provider for his people. The psalm contains a wonderful “catalog” of the loving deeds of God, who gives food to the hungry and raises up those who are bowed down. The words remind us of the answer Jesus gave when John the Baptist asked him if he was the Messiah.
Scripture: Psalm 146:5-10
5 Blessed are those whose help is the God of Jacob,
whose hope is in the Lord their God.
6 He is the Maker of heaven and earth,
the sea, and everything in them—
he remains faithful forever.
7 He upholds the cause of the oppressed
and gives food to the hungry.
The Lord sets prisoners free,
8 the Lord gives sight to the blind,
the Lord lifts up those who are bowed down,
the Lord loves the righteous.
9 The Lord watches over the foreigner
and sustains the fatherless and the widow,
but he frustrates the ways of the wicked.
10 The Lord reigns forever,
your God, O Zion, for all generations. Praise the Lord.
Dear God, with joy we acknowledge your care and love for us. With joy we acknowledge that our help is in you, the Maker of heaven and earth. Through faith in him, grant us solid joy that lasts long beyond this Christmas season and that equips us to face the adversities of life. Amen.
From the New Testament
Scripture: Matthew 11:2-11
2 When John, who was in prison, heard about the deeds of the Messiah, he sent his disciples 3 to ask him, “Are you the one who is to come, or should we expect someone else?”
4 Jesus replied, “Go back and report to John what you hear and see: 5 The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy[a] are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is proclaimed to the poor. 6 Blessed is anyone who does not stumble on account of me.”
7 As John’s disciples were leaving, Jesus began to speak to the crowd about John: “What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed swayed by the wind? 8 If not, what did you go out to see? A man dressed in fine clothes? No, those who wear fine clothes are in kings’ palaces. 9 Then what did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. 10 This is the one about whom it is written:
“‘I will send my messenger ahead of you,
who will prepare your way before you.”
11 Truly I tell you, among those born of women there has not risen anyone greater than John the Baptist; yet whoever is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.
Dear God, with joy and praise we acknowledge the signs that your kingdom has come in Jesus Christ. We rejoice in the forgiveness of sin. With joy we commit ourselves to the proclamation of the good news of great joy. In the Savior’s name we pray. Amen.