3rd Sunday of Advent, 11 Dec: Isaiah 35:1-6, 10; Psalm 146:6-10; James 5:7-10; Matthew 11:2-11 ~ a day for rejoicing

Third Sunday of Advent

Traditionally, this Sunday is called Gaudete Sunday, which means ‘a day for rejoicing’. Advent is about half over, and the day of the Lord’s coming is nearer. We worship God who promises us joy without end.

+ In the Name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Opening Prayer:

God of glory and compassion, at your touch the wilderness blossoms, broken lives are made whole, and fearful hearts grow strong in faith.

Open our eyes to your presence and awaken our hearts to sing your praise. To all who long for your Son’s return grant perseverance and patience, that we may announce in word and deed the good news of the kingdom.

We ask this through him whose coming is certain, whose day draws near: your Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God for ever and ever.
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“When We All Get to Heaven” – Bill & Gloria Gaither

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A Reading from the Old Testament: Isaiah 35:1-6, 10 (NLT)
[Isaiah looks forward to the Day of Joy, when God’s power will be seen on earth.]

Even the wilderness and desert will be glad in those days. The wasteland will rejoice and blossom with spring crocuses. Yes, there will be an abundance of flowers and singing and joy! The deserts will become as green as the mountains of Lebanon, as lovely as Mount Carmel or the plain of Sharon. There the Lord will display his glory, the splendor of our God.

With this news, strengthen those who have tired hands, and encourage those who have weak knees. Say to those with fearful hearts, “Be strong, and do not fear, for your God is coming to destroy your enemies. He is coming to save you.”

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And when he comes, he will open the eyes of the blind and unplug the ears of the deaf. The lame will leap like a deer, and those who cannot speak will sing for joy! Springs will gush forth in the wilderness, and streams will water the wasteland.
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Those who have been ransomed by the Lord will return. They will enter Jerusalem singing, crowned with everlasting joy. Sorrow and mourning will disappear, and they will be filled with joy and gladness.
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A Reading from the Psalms: Psalm 146:6-10 (NLT)

He made heaven and earth, the sea, and everything in them. He keeps every promise forever. He gives justice to the oppressed and food to the hungry. The Lord frees the prisoners. The Lord opens the eyes of the blind. The Lord lifts up those who are weighed down. The Lord loves the godly. The Lord protects the foreigners among us. He cares for the orphans and widows, but he frustrates the plans of the wicked.

The Lord will reign forever. He will be your God, O Jerusalem, throughout the generations. Praise the Lord!
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“What Joy (Psalm 146)” – Sarah Emerson

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A Reading from the Letters: James 5:7-10 (NLT)
[James reminds us to be patient, for the Lord’s coming in glory will be soon.]

Dear brothers and sisters, be patient as you wait for the Lord’s return. Consider the farmers who patiently wait for the rains in the fall and in the spring. They eagerly look for the valuable harvest to ripen. You, too, must be patient. Take courage, for the coming of the Lord is near.

Don’t grumble about each other, brothers and sisters, or you will be judged. For look—the Judge is standing at the door!

For examples of patience in suffering, dear brothers and sisters, look at the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord.
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A Reading from the Gospels: Matthew 11:2-11 (NLT)
[Isaiah’s prophesied came to pass in the life of Jesus.]

John the Baptist, who was in prison, heard about all the things the Messiah was doing. So he sent his disciples to ask Jesus, “Are you the Messiah we’ve been expecting, or should we keep looking for someone else?”

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Jesus told them, “Go back to John and tell him what you have heard and seen—the blind see, the lame walk, those with leprosy are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised to life, and the Good News is being preached to the poor.” And he added, “God blesses those who do not fall away because of me.”

As John’s disciples were leaving, Jesus began talking about him to the crowds. “What kind of man did you go into the wilderness to see? Was he a weak reed, swayed by every breath of wind? Or were you expecting to see a man dressed in expensive clothes? No, people with expensive clothes live in palaces. Were you looking for a prophet? Yes, and he is more than a prophet. John is the man to whom the Scriptures refer when they say,

‘Look, I am sending my messenger ahead of you, and he will prepare your way before you.’ “I tell you the truth, of all who have ever lived, none is greater than John the Baptist. Yet even the least person in the Kingdom of Heaven is greater than he is!
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“Hail to the Lord’s Annointed” – Indelible Grace

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Intercessory Prayer:

We rejoice in God, our Lord and Savior, who raises up those who are bowed down. Gracious God, hear our prayers:

+ That all the peoples of the world may discover the beauty, goodness, and truth of the Gospel…. Lord, hear us.
+ That all Christians everywhere may be filled with joy as they prepare for the Lord’s coming…. Lord, hear us.
+ That the blind, the lame, the sick and the deaf may receive healing and strength…. Lord, hear us.
+ That children everywhere who are in need this day, may be provided for and loved…. Lord, hear us.
+ That people who live in fear may have courage and confidence in your certain return…. Lord, hear us.
+ That those who have died (especially through violence in the Middle East), may be raised up to glory…. Lord, hear us.

O God, you keep faith with those in need of your kindness and justice, receive our prayers, through Christ our Lord. Amen.
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“Gaudete” – Celtic Thunder

Gaudete! gaudete! Christus est natus ex Maria Virgine: Gaudete!
[Rejoice! Rejoice! Christ is born of the Virgin Mary: rejoice!]

Tempus adest gratiae, Hoc quod optabamus;
Carmina laeticiae Devote redamus.
[The time of grace has come, This that we have desired;
Verses of joy, Let us devoutly return.]

Deus homo factus est, Natura mirante;
Mundus renovatus est, A Christo regnante.
[God has become man, Nature marveling;
The world has been renewed, By the reigning Christ.]

Ergo nostra concito Psallat iam in lustro;
Benedicat Domino: Salus Regi nostro.
[Therefore let our gathering, Now sing in brightness
Let it give praise to the Lord: Greeting to our King.]

Gaudete! gaudete! Christus est natus ex Maria Virgine: Gaudete!
Gaudete! gaudete! Christus est natus ex Maria Virgine: Gaudete!
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Benediction:

He who testifies to these things says, “Surely I am coming soon.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus! The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all. Amen. – Revelation 22:20-21
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+ In the Name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen



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