December 12, 2021 (Advent III)

Worship Resources for 
the Center for Faith and Giving

Advent 3

 Zephaniah 3:14-20

Isaiah 12:2-6

Philippians 4:4-7

Luke 3:7-18

Traditionally, this Advent 3 Sunday is known as Gaudate (Joy) Sunday.  
It marks the mid-way point in this Advent season. 
Continue to grow your Advent decorations,
perhaps by inviting people to add an ornament or a Chrismon to the chancel or to a Christmas tree. 

Call to Worship  (in 2 voices, adapted from Zephaniah 3) 

 1. Gathered to worship God, we shout for joy!

 2.  (shout this out)  REJOICE!

     1.  Why?  Because when the day comes for true joy, 
                 we will have no more evil to fear.

     2.  When that time comes, God will exult with joy over us,
                 renewing us in God’s own love.

     1.  When that time comes, God will gather us in, 
     2.     restore our fortunes 

    1 and 2 together:  and dance with shouts of joy!

(if you have a liturgical dancer or dance group, this is a great time for a joyous song and dance, a choir choral proclamation, or joyful people coming forward to light the pink Advent wreath candle)

Opening Prayer  (from Philippians and Luke)

Mid-way through this Advent season, God, we do rejoice, anticipating the coming of the Christ!  In the midst of preparations, we pause from our to-do lists, coming together to remember the foundation of our faith.

In this worship hour, fill each of us – and all of us – with the joy of your presence.  Reach into our minds, hearts and spirits.  
                Inspire us to act out our faith each day. 
                Bring us to repentance from our selfish ways, 
                    and inspire us to share with those 
          in need of clothing, food, and honest relationships.   

Moment for Stewardship  (from Luke 3)

When we’ve spent all this worship hour focused on joy, the serious challenge from John the Baptist seems out-of-line.  Yet John comes in fulfillment of the prophet Isaiah’s demand that we “prepare the way of the Lord”!

Many of us work, preparing for special events here at church, with our friends and family, in our neighborhood, at school and at our jobs.  Food is purchased, invitations are sent, special music floods the air.  

But what of our inner preparation?  
We follow the people recorded in Luke’s Gospel, saying “what must we do?”

John’s response becomes a steadfast reminder of the work we must do:  
1)  repent!  (turn away from evil and toward God)
2)  produce appropriate fruits in our lives
3)  don’t rely on where we go to church, who is our minister, when we were 
      baptized…but rely on caring for those in need 
      (clothe those in need of clothing, feed the hungry) 
        and being in right relationship with those we encounter. 

This is a great opportunity to respond.  I invite you to dig deep, think clearly, and find ways you can offer significant gifts to support our _____________________  (whatever is your special Christmas offering)
in addition to contributing to our general funds and year-end appeals.

Let the feeling of expectancy fill you, as we look for the coming of the Christ, who will baptize with the Holy Spirit and with fire!

Prayer of Thanksgiving

All things come from you, Giver of Life.  
These gifts and offerings are symbols of our lives, given as signs of our desire to give you thanks.  
Please accept them.  
Help us put these resources to use in our community, and in our congregation, even as you inspire us to be merciful and generous each day of our lives.


Invitation to Communion 
(from Philippians 4)

(Consider using “Rejoice in the Lord Always” or “I’ve Got the Joy, Joy, Joy, Joy, Down in my Heart) as a communion hymn or during the serving of communion)  

So often, joy-filled moments include gathering with loved ones for a meal.  Wedding receptions, baptisms, birthdays, anniversaries; all these might include a time when people come together to share their joy with festive food and drink.

Many Sundays, we’re somber when we come to the Table, often re-telling the story of Jesus’ death.  But today, we’re joy-filled!  We’re eagerly anticipating the birth of Jesus.  We remember Paul’s counsel in his letter to the people of Philippi:  “rejoice in the Lord always!”

So this day, I invite you to remember a time when your faith filled you with joy.  Take a moment to think of a time, then share that remembrance with someone sitting close to you (or make a note in the chat to share with others who are worshiping remotely).

(you might need to prompt this action by sharing your own remembrance, or walking over to someone to tell your memory).

We remember Jesus and his disciples gathered for a meal, during which Jesus used the bread and wine at the table as symbols which would embody his love.  He shared with his followers, as we share and rejoice with one another.

You are welcome at this Table.  

Rejoice, remember, and know the peace of God will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.