Prophecy, promises, and preparation—all are part of the Advent tradition. They serve as reminders in this hectic season that there is more to prophecy than guessing what is in this package; more to promises than what Santa Claus will bring; more to preparation than cleaning house and putting on a spread for a holiday party. On this second Sunday of Advent, we are called back to the longing, not for a certain present, but for a messiah who brings about a beloved community of harmony and peace—but not without opposition. These passages speak of wishes, desires, and the hint of fulfillment that is Christmas. We need to hear, believe, and get ready.
Opening Prayer (Isaiah 11, Romans 15, Matthew 3)
God of hope and encouragement, we come in the midst of this season of busyness and preparations: to find a time and space to slow down, to reflect on what our true preparations should be. We need to prepare our hearts to receive the gifts of love and hope. We need to prepare our minds to focus on your promise that a messiah will come and nothing will be the same. We need to prepare our spirits: to praise God for prophecy, promises, and preparation; to find hope and encouragement; to find peace and joy. May we do so now, in our time of worship. Amen.
The Collect (Book of Common Prayers)
Merciful God, who sent your messengers the prophets to preach repentance and prepare the way for our salvation: Give us grace to heed their warnings and forsake our sins, that we may greet with joy the coming of Jesus Christ our Redeemer; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
Prayer of Confession (Isaiah 11, Psalm 72, Matthew 3)
O God, the stories of our faith have lost their power. We have heard the prophecies spoken so many times, the promises retold again and again, the call to prepare ourselves for your coming repeated so often, we don’t really hear or heed them anymore. We have replaced these messages of life: with guessing what presents we are getting, with preparing for parties and the social obligations of Christmas. Bring us back to a sense of mystery: a sense of awe, a sense of wonder, a sense of excitement, a sense of anticipation, a sense that something special is about to break into our everyday world. Help us prepare our hearts, souls, and minds for the coming of the messiah. Amen.
Words of Assurance (Psalm 72)
God’s promises are sure—promises of steadfast love and forgiveness. God deals with God’s people with righteousness and justice. Rejoice and be glad!
Prayer of the Day
Stir up our hearts, Lord God, to prepare the way of your only Son. By his coming nurture our growth as people of repentance and peace; through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
The Peaceful Kingdom
1 A shoot shall come out from the stump of Jesse,
and a branch shall grow out of his roots.
2 The spirit of the Lord shall rest on him,
the spirit of wisdom and understanding,
the spirit of counsel and might,
the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord.
3 His delight shall be in the fear of the Lord.
He shall not judge by what his eyes see,
or decide by what his ears hear;
4 but with righteousness he shall judge the poor,
and decide with equity for the meek of the earth;
he shall strike the earth with the rod of his mouth,
and with the breath of his lips he shall kill the wicked.
5 Righteousness shall be the belt around his waist,
and faithfulness the belt around his loins.
6 The wolf shall live with the lamb,
the leopard shall lie down with the kid,
the calf and the lion and the fatling together,
and a little child shall lead them.
7 The cow and the bear shall graze,
their young shall lie down together;
and the lion shall eat straw like the ox.
8 The nursing child shall play over the hole of the asp,
and the weaned child shall put its hand on the
9 They will not hurt or destroy
on all my holy mountain;
for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord
as the waters cover the sea.
Return of the Remnant of Israel and Judah
10 On that day the root of Jesse shall stand as a signal to the peoples; the nations shall inquire of him, and his dwelling shall be glorious.
Responsive Readings from the Psalms and Prayers
for Public Worship and Private Devotions
(The righteous shall flourish)
Blessed be the Lord, who alone does wondrous things.
Blessed be his glorious name forever. May his glory fill the whole earth.
Truly God is good to the upright, to those who are pure in heart.
As for me, my feet almost stumbled and my steps nearly slipped. I was envious of the arrogant and saw the prosperity of the wicked.
When I thought how to understand this, it seemed to me a wearisome task, until I went into the sanctuary of God; then I perceived their end, and the justice and mercy of God.
I am continually with you, O Lord. You hold my right hand. You guide me with your counsel. For me it is good to be near God. I have made the Lord God my refuge, and I will tell of all your works.
Heavenly Father, we praise You for the many blessings You bestow upon us. We honor You for the faithfulness You show to Your children from generation to generation. We pray that You will cleanse us from all unrighteousness so we can live and work with pure hearts. Fill us with Your Holy Spirit, so we can tell others of Your saving grace and mighty works, even as we pray in the name of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ: “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 trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us, and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom and the power, and the glory, forever and ever. Amen.”
15:4 For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, so that by steadfastness and by the encouragement of the scriptures we might have hope. 5 May the God of steadfastness and encouragement grant you to live in harmony with one another, in accordance with Christ Jesus, 6 so that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
The Gospel for Jews and Gentiles Alike
7 Welcome one another, therefore, just as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God. 8 For I tell you that Christ has become a servant of the circumcised on behalf of the truth of God in order that he might confirm the promises given to the patriarchs, 9 and in order that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy. As it is written,
“Therefore I will confess you among the Gentiles,
and sing praises to your name”;
10 and again he says,
“Rejoice, O Gentiles, with his people”;
11 and again,
“Praise the Lord, all you Gentiles,
and let all the peoples praise him”;
12 and again Isaiah says,
“The root of Jesse shall come,
the one who rises to rule the Gentiles;
in him the Gentiles shall hope.”
13 May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Alleluia. Prepare the way of the Lord.All flesh shall see the salvation of God. Alleluia. (Luke 3:4, 6)
The Proclamation of John the Baptist
3:1 In those days John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness of Judea, proclaiming, 2 “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.” 3 This is the one of whom the prophet Isaiah spoke when he said,
“The voice of one crying out in the wilderness:
‘Prepare the way of the Lord,
make his paths straight.’”
4 Now John wore clothing of camel’s hair with a leather belt around his waist, and his food was locusts and wild honey. 5 Then the people of Jerusalem and all Judea were going out to him, and all the region along the Jordan, 6 and they were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins.
7 But when he saw many Pharisees and Sadducees coming for baptism, he said to them, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? 8 Bear fruit worthy of repentance. 9 Do not presume to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our ancestor’; for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children to Abraham. 10 Even now the ax is lying at the root of the trees; every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.
11 “I baptize you with water for repentance, but one who is more powerful than I is coming after me; I am not worthy to carry his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. 12 His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor and will gather his wheat into the granary; but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.”
Click HERE to read today’s Holy Gospel Lesson message
The Nicene Creed
We believe in one God, the Father, the Almighty, maker of heaven and earth, of all that is, seen and unseen.
We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the only Son of God, eternally begotten of the Father, God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten, not made, of one Being with the Father. Through him all things were made. For us and for our salvation he came down from heaven; by the power of the Holy Spirit he became incarnate from the Virgin Mary, and was made man. For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate; he suffered death and was buried. On the third day he rose again in accordance with the Scriptures; he ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father. He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead, and his kingdom will have no end.
We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life, who proceeds from the Father and the Son. With the Father and the Son he is worshiped and glorified. He has spoken through the Prophets. We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church. We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins. We look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come. Amen.
Lord, thank you that we are a family in Christ. Help us to share his love and legacy with everyone that we encounter this week. May we lavish Christ’s abounding goodness upon our families, friends and colleagues. Holy Spirit, come and equip us in our workplace, guide us in our school life, and inspire us in our neighbourhood. May we be your hands and feet to the needy, your words of affirmation to the oppressed and your arms of comfort to the lonely.Thank you for choosing to use us to bring your kingdom here on earth.Amen
Optional parts of the readings are set off in [square brackets.]
The Bible texts of the Old Testament, Epistle and Gospel lessons are from the New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Church of Christ in the USA, and used by permission.
The Sunday Lectionary and Prayers for Sunday, December 4, 2022 — Second Sunday of Advent
Isaiah 11:1-10; Psalm 72:1-7, 18-19; Romans 15:4-13; Matthew 3:1-12