December 17, 2023 (Advent III)

Worship Resources for
the Center for Faith and Giving

Advent 3B

Isaiah 61:1-4, 8-11 

Psalm 126

I Thessalonians 5:16-24    

John 1:6-8, 19-28

Call to Worship 
(inspired by Psalm 126)

Gathered to worship the Lord our God, let us rejoice!
Even all who now are grieving, may you come to a time of joy,
for the Lord stands with us all.
Our God has done great things for us, so come! 
Let’s celebrate with songs of glad thanksgiving!

Opening Prayer 

Holy God of Joy,

We look, open-eyed, for the real you.
Help us recognize you as we delight in this gathering, joined to worship you.
Contentment comes and goes.
Happiness can flash like lightning, and then be gone.
We know our feelings are transient,
   depending on our health, our inner satisfaction, our circumstances.
But remind us today that our JOY can be rooted in our identity
   as your beloved daughters and sons.
Thank you!  AMEN    (adapted from a prayer by Joanna Harader found here:

Moment for Stewardship

In this Advent season it’s a challenge to find ways to carry out our normal lives while also preparing for the many additional pieces we often try to add in anticipation of Jesus’ birthday.

For those of us who have children in our day-to-day lives, we know the sense of anticipation which builds. Yet this is precisely the time to also help teach the children in our lives the joy of GIVING.  James Cash Penney (familiar to some older folks as the founded of the JC Penney stores) said “how can we expect our children to know and experience the joy of giving unless we teach them that the greater pleasure in life lies in the art of giving rather than receiving?”

You have an opportune moment right now to demonstrate your own understanding of the deep pleasure of giving as we share our tithes, our gifts and our offering.

May your giving fill you with JOY!

Prayer of Thanksgiving

Joy of Life,

In thanksgiving for all we have received, and all we now give,
we pray you will make us, while many, one.
                        Make us, tho’ broken, whole.
                        Make us, despite death, alive,
even as we offer these gifts, symbols of our lives, back to you.  AMEN
      (inspired by a prayer written by Alydia Smith, Program Coordinator, General Council
                                            Office, United Church of Canada)

Invitation to Communion

On this third Sunday of Advent, as we come to this communion table, we remember how God sent Jesus to show us the way to have life and have it abundantly.

When we focus on the ways Jesus reached out to those yearning for love, for connection, for recognition as human beings, we know “abundance” comes into our hearts and minds on the wings of joy.

With these gifts of bread and cup, we often focus on the difficult moments in Jesus’ life.  But today, we see them as confirmation that the gift of life is GOOD, that God is GOOD, that our identity as Jesus followers is GOOD.

In the face of all that goodness, recognize the joy which can be ours when we eat this bread and drink this cup, remembering Jesus, the Christ.