Thursday in the Third Week of Advent
+ In the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen!
Opening Sentence – (In the preparation days of Celtic Advent)
+ We have waited long for You. Deep has been our darkness.
+ We long for You to shine right here among us where we are.
+ We will not fear the shadows that surround us if only You will come among us!
+ We wait for the sound of a cry in the night, the joy that follows pain, the coming of hope.
Reading: Psalm 30:2, 4-6, 11-13 (NLT)
O Lord my God, I cried to you for help, and you restored my health.
Sing to the Lord, all you godly ones! Praise his holy name. For his anger lasts only a moment, but his favor lasts a lifetime! Weeping may last through the night, but joy comes with the morning. When I was prosperous, I said, “Nothing can stop me now!”
You have turned my mourning into joyful dancing. You have taken away my clothes of mourning and clothed me with joy, that I might sing praises to you and not be silent. O Lord my God, I will give you thanks forever!
Reading: Isaiah 54:1-10 (NLT)
“Sing, O childless woman, you who have never given birth! Break into loud and joyful song, O Jerusalem, you who have never been in labor. For the desolate woman now has more children than the woman who lives with her husband,” says the Lord.
“Enlarge your house; build an addition. Spread out your home, and spare no expense! For you will soon be bursting at the seams. Your descendants will occupy other nations and resettle the ruined cities.
“Fear not; you will no longer live in shame. Don’t be afraid; there is no more disgrace for you. You will no longer remember the shame of your youth and the sorrows of widowhood. For your Creator will be your husband; the Lord of Heaven’s Armies is his name! He is your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel, the God of all the earth. For the Lord has called you back from your grief—as though you were a young wife abandoned by her husband,” says your God.
“For a brief moment I abandoned you, but with great compassion I will take you back. In a burst of anger I turned my face away for a little while. But with everlasting love I will have compassion on you,” says the Lord, your Redeemer.
“Just as I swore in the time of Noah that I would never again let a flood cover the earth, so now I swear that I will never again be angry and punish you. For the mountains may move and the hills disappear, but even then my faithful love for you will remain. My covenant of blessing will never be broken,” says the Lord, who has mercy on you.
Reading: Luke 7:24-30 (NLT)
After John’s disciples left, 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 who wear beautiful clothes and live in luxury are found 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, of all who have ever lived, none is greater than John. Yet even the least person in the Kingdom of God is greater than he is!”
When they heard this, all the people—even the tax collectors—agreed that God’s way was right, for they had been baptized by John. But the Pharisees and experts in religious law rejected God’s plan for them, for they had refused John’s baptism.
Open the heavens, Mighty God, and rain down your Spirit – that the earth may joyfully receive your Son, Jesus Christ, the embodiment of your grace and truth.
+ Lord Jesus Christ, you have called us into your kingdom: may we enter in, and live according to your call.
+ Lord Jesus Christ, the world does not know you: show yourself, in our midst, to all our brothers and sisters around the world.
+ Lord Jesus Christ, we thank you for all that we have: move us to give of our plenty to those who have little.
+ Lord Jesus Christ, we look for your coming: when you knock, may we be found watching in prayer and rejoicing in praise.
Gracious God, heal us and bring us joy by the coming of your only Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God for ever and ever. Amen.
“Christmas Joy” – Wellington Citadel (NZ) Salvation Army Band
Make your heart ready for the King of Glory to come in. Pray: come dwell among us and be our peace today.
+ In the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holly Spirit. Amen!