December 16, 2018

December 16, 2018

Center for Faith and Giving worship resources,

Advent 3

Zephaniah 3:14-20

Isaiah 12:2-6

Philippians 4:4-7

Luke 3:7-18


The third Sunday of December, Advent III, brings us half-way through our four Sundays of “preparation” for the coming of the Christ.

A connection to earlier years, when Advent was a season of fasting before Christmas feasting, this Sunday became known as “gaudate” (or JOY) Sunday.  The penitential purple candle lightened to pink, because we’ve made it half-way through the season!

We continue linking the call to worship, opening prayer and lighting the third candle of the Advent wreath, the candle of JOY.


Call to Worship and opening prayer  

(linked to lighting the Advent wreath candle of JOY)

One: Today we come to rejoice in the God who brings JOY to the world!

Many: We give thanks to God, and sing praises!
Great is the Holy One of Israel!

One: As we re-light the candles of Hope and Peace, we’re eager for God’s
light to break through the despair and violence of the world.

(candle-lighter lights the first and second candles)

Many: Today we light a candle of JOY.

May it help guide us, so we no longer need to fear.

Solo: (sing just this phrase) “Joy to the world, the Lord is come…”

One: And together we pray: (unison)

All:Godof action, thank you for being in our midst.
We rejoice in the promise that you will remove disaster,
and bring your beloved ones home.

We delight in the promise that Jesus is coming.
As we celebrate that “the Lord is come”,
may we live in the hope, peace and joy you offer.  AMEN

All: Sing verse 1, “Joy to the World”, CH #143

Stewardship Moment   (from Luke 3:7-18)

John the Baptist speaks such tough words!

Just when we’d like to put Hallmark movies on a loop, bring out the Christmas cookies and wiggle into the soft billows of self-congratulation and self-satisfaction, here comes the Grinch!

Many of us have welcome traditions as we move closer to Christmas day.  I don’t know anyone who includes listening for the one shouting “you brood of vipers!”

Yet today, what happens when we join the crowds, asking
“what should we do?”

John the Baptist says it straight out: “whoever has two coats must share with anyone who has none; and whoever has food must do likewise.”

In the “bleak mid-winter” reality many face in the US and around the world, this becomes timely counsel.  As we receive our morning tithes, gifts and offering, consider how your contribution will be transformed into joy in the form of warmth, food, shelter, care.  Think of __________________  (name your own congregation’s action here), and then share your most generous gifts in anticipation of the coming of “one who is more powerful”.

Prayer of Thanksgiving

 Thank you, God of action,
for challenging us and giving us opportunity
to participate in THIS moment, anticipating the coming Christ.

Thank you for poetry which points us to you, even as we ask:

How can this be Christmas, the ax at the root?
Where are the lovely things,
the sheep and stars and frankincense?
And as we hear: Wake up.

Christmas is meant to change us.
There is no comfort without engagement,
no good news without strings attached.
Steve Garnaas-Holmes, found at

For this time of engagement, and for good news (and its strings), we give you thanks! AMEN

Invitation to Communion 

The month of December seems to dress itself in red and green.
For many of us, family gatherings and friends coming home for the holidays mean meals of abundance and an ever-present array of snacks.

However, we come to this table, clad in (purple/blue), and set with tiny pieces of bread and thimbles full of juice (or “one single loaf and one chalice”), recognizing here is a FEAST.

For in these symbols, we are both remindedand set eagerly in anticipation.
Remindedof Jesus in an upper room,
gathered with friends, preparing for a difficult and dangerous time;
anticipating Jesus at a banquet table,
with a place for every beloved child of God; every neighbor, every foe.

So in this present moment, looking both back and ahead, I invite you to take a moment to drink in the beauty, the simplicity, the fullness…the JOY.

All are welcome! Come…with joy.
(use “I Come with Joy”, CH #420 as your hymn)

If you’re preaching from Zephaniah, or want to use this text, here’s a video of the text set to singable music:

Zephaniah 3:17        The Lord Thy God