The Sunday Lectionary Readings
SUNDAY, December 15, 2019 - Third Sunday of Advent
(Revised Common Lectionary Year A)
BEHOLD AND BELIEVE!
Isaiah 35:1-10; Psalm 146:5-10 or Luke 1:46b-55; James 5:7-10; Matthew 11:2-11
We are so caught up in the rush to Christmas festivities that we fail to notice the wondrous ways in which God is present in our lives. We often believe that God’s blessings are reserved for the holy and righteous—and never number ourselves among them. Yet, in the story of Mary, we learn that God works through God’s people—God’s regular, ordinary people—we just have to say “yes!” to God’s loving presence. Today is a day to behold the wonders that are wrought in the name of God.
These Advent readings proclaim a world turned upside down. For those who are currently poor, hungry, or oppressed, this is great news. But for those who enjoy the comforts of food in abundance, warm places to live, steady jobs, and a voice in the political system, well, this means acknowledging our role in the world’s injustices. Somehow the good news doesn’t seem quite so good. But the scriptures call us to work side by side with Jesus in bringing about God’s vision of abundance for all. When we claim our calling as partners in the dance, we can truly rejoice in the coming of Christ!
Third Sunday of Advent - Joy
Loving God, we open ourselves to you,trusting that this is how you made us:you created us for joy-filled hearts and lives.
Show us the creative power of hope.Teach us the peace that comes from justice.Fill us with the kind of joy that cannot be contained, but must be shared.Prepare our hearts to be transformed by you,That we may walk in the light of Christ. Amen.
Opening Prayer (Isaiah 35)
God of Glory, we rejoice in the good news of your promises. Come into our parched world and shower us with your gushing, abundant water of life. Enter into our brokenness, and renew us with the strength of your love. Be born anew in our hearts and in our world. Come, Jesus; come. We are ready! Amen.
The Collect (Book of Common Prayers)
Stir up your power, O Lord, and with great might come among us; and, because we are sorely hindered by our sins, let your bountiful grace and mercy speedily help and deliver us; through Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom, with you and the Holy Spirit, be honor and glory, now and for ever. Amen.
Prayer of Confession (Isaiah 35, Luke 1, Matthew 11)
Upside-down God, you announce your coming with exciting news: the hungry will eat their fill, the oppressed will dance in newfound freedom; you proclaim your mission with hard news: the well fed will go hungry, the powerful will lose their status. We find ourselves squirming as we acknowledge our participation in structures that oppress and marginalize. Help us accept and proclaim the coming of your Son as truly good news. Give us the courage to set aside our privilege, and help bring about this upside-down world, where everyone can sing together for joy.
Words of Assurance (Isaiah 35)
The desert shall rejoice and blossom. Waters shall break forth in the wilderness. The burning sand shall become a pool. The God who can transform the dry lands can also transform the desert of our lives. Abundant forgiveness is ours from the God who turns sorrow and sighing into joy and gladness.
Prayer of the Day
Stir up the wills of all who look to you, Lord God, and strengthen our faith in your coming, that, transformed by grace, we may walk in your way; through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
(The desert blooms)
The Return of the Redeemed to Zion
1 The wilderness and the dry land shall be glad,
the desert shall rejoice and blossom;
like the crocus 2 it shall blossom abundantly,
and rejoice with joy and singing.
The glory of Lebanon shall be given to it,
the majesty of Carmel and Sharon.
They shall see the glory of the Lord,
the majesty of our God.
3 Strengthen the weak hands,
and make firm the feeble knees.
4 Say to those who are of a fearful heart,
“Be strong, do not fear!
Here is your God.
He will come with vengeance,
with terrible recompense.
He will come and save you.”
5 Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened,
and the ears of the deaf unstopped;
6 then the lame shall leap like a deer,
and the tongue of the speechless sing for joy.
For waters shall break forth in the wilderness,
and streams in the desert;
7 the burning sand shall become a pool,
and the thirsty ground springs of water;
the haunt of jackals shall become a swamp,
the grass shall become reeds and rushes.
8 A highway shall be there,
and it shall be called the Holy Way;
the unclean shall not travel on it,
but it shall be for God’s people;
no traveler, not even fools, shall go astray.
9 No lion shall be there,
nor shall any ravenous beast come up on it;
they shall not be found there,
but the redeemed shall walk there.
10 And the ransomed of the Lord shall return,
and come to Zion with singing;
everlasting joy shall be upon their heads;
they shall obtain joy and gladness,
and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.
(God lifts up those bowed down)
5 Happy are those whose help is the God of Jacob,
whose hope is in the Lord their God,
6 who made heaven and earth,
the sea, and all that is in them;
who keeps faith forever;
7 who executes justice for the oppressed;
who gives food to the hungry.
The Lord sets the prisoners free;
8 the Lord opens the eyes of the blind.
The Lord lifts up those who are bowed down;
the Lord loves the righteous.
9 The Lord watches over the strangers;
he upholds the orphan and the widow,
but the way of the wicked he brings to ruin.
10 The Lord will reign forever,
your God, O Zion, for all generations.
Praise the Lord!
(My spirit rejoices in God)
Mary’s Song of Praise
46 “My soul magnifies the Lord,
47 and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
48 for he has looked with favor on the lowliness of his
Surely, from now on all generations will call me
49 for the Mighty One has done great things for me,
and holy is his name.
50 His mercy is for those who fear him
from generation to generation.
51 He has shown strength with his arm;
he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their
52 He has brought down the powerful from their thrones,
and lifted up the lowly;
53 he has filled the hungry with good things,
and sent the rich away empty.
54 He has helped his servant Israel,
in remembrance of his mercy,
55 according to the promise he made to our ancestors,
to Abraham and to his descendants forever.”
(Patience until the Lord’s coming)
Patience in Suffering
5:7 Be patient, therefore, beloved, until the coming of the Lord. The farmer waits for the precious crop from the earth, being patient with it until it receives the early and the late rains. 8 You also must be patient. Strengthen your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is near. 9 Beloved, do not grumble against one another, so that you may not be judged. See, the Judge is standing at the doors! 10 As an example of suffering and patience, beloved, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord.
Alleluia. I am sending my messenger before you,who will prepare your way before you. Alleluia. (Matt. 11:10)
(The forerunner of Christ)
Messengers from John the Baptist
11:2 When John heard in prison what the Messiah was doing, he sent word by his disciples 3 and said to him, “Are you the one who is to come, or are we to wait for another?” 4 Jesus answered them, “Go and tell John what you hear and see: 5 the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor have good news brought to them. 6 And blessed is anyone who takes no offense at me.”
Jesus Praises John the Baptist
7 As they went away, Jesus began to speak to the crowds about John: “What did you go out into the wilderness to look at? A reed shaken by the wind? 8 What then did you go out to see? Someone dressed in soft robes? Look, those who wear soft robes are in royal palaces. 9 What then 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,
‘See, I am sending my messenger ahead of you,
who will prepare your way before you.’
11 Truly I tell you, among those born of women no one has arisen greater than John the Baptist; yet the least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.
Here ends the Lessons
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 Readings for SUNDAY, December 15, 2019 - Third Sunday of Advent
BEHOLD AND BELIEVE!
Isaiah 35:1-10; Psalm 146:5-10 or Luke 1:46b-55; James 5:7-10; Matthew 11:2-11