Third Sunday of Advent – 16 Dec – Luke 3:7-18 ~ the Good News of repentance

Third Sunday of Advent

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

Opening Prayer

Almighty God, you sent your Son into a world where the wheat must be winnowed from the chaff and evil clings even to what is good. Let the fire of your Spirit purge us of selfishness and hypocrisy, so that, purified, we may find our peace in you and you may delight in us. Grant 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. Amen.
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“Gaudete”Querela – historická lidová hudba – Prague, Czech Republic

Rejoice! Rejoice! Christ is born
of the Virgin Mary; Rejoice!

The time of grace has come for which we have prayed
Let us devoutly sing songs of joy.

Rejoice! Rejoice! Christ is born
of the Virgin Mary; Rejoice!

God is made man, while nature wonders
The world is renewed by Christ the King.

Therefore, let our assembly sing praises now at this time of purification
Let it bless the Lord: greetings to our King.

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Gospel Reading: Luke 3:7-18 (NLT)

When the crowds came to John for baptism, he said, “You brood of snakes! Who warned you to flee the coming wrath? Prove by the way you live that you have repented of your sins and turned to God. Don’t just say to each other, ‘We’re safe, for we are descendants of Abraham.’ That means nothing, for I tell you, God can create children of Abraham from these very stones. Even now the ax of God’s judgment is poised, ready to sever the roots of the trees. Yes, every tree that does not produce good fruit will be chopped down and thrown into the fire.”

The crowds asked, “What should we do?”

John replied, “If you have two shirts, give one to the poor. If you have food, share it with those who are hungry.”

Even corrupt tax collectors came to be baptized and asked, “Teacher, what should we do?”

He replied, “Collect no more taxes than the government requires.”

“What should we do?” asked some soldiers.

John replied, “Don’t extort money or make false accusations. And be content with your pay.”

Everyone was expecting the Messiah to come soon, and they were eager to know whether John might be the Messiah. John answered their questions by saying, “I baptize you with water; but someone is coming soon who is greater than I am—so much greater that I’m not even worthy to be his slave and untie the straps of his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire. He is ready to separate the chaff from the wheat with his winnowing fork. Then he will clean up the threshing area, gathering the wheat into his barn but burning the chaff with never-ending fire.” John used many such warnings as he announced the Good News to the people.
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Prayers of Intercession:

Mighty God, our strength and our salvation, hear our prayers –

+ For all who follow Christ Jesus – that we may be joyful…
+ For all who are poor and needy – that we may freely share what we have…
+ For all who are brokenhearted – that we may comfort and support them..
+ For all who are sick – that we may visit and pray for them…
+ For all who are alone – that we may love and assist them…
+ For all who have died in Christ – that they may experience the joy of eternal life…

God our Savior, we rejoice in your loving-kindness and mighty deeds, help us we pray, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
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“Isaiah 12” (Sing to the Lord) – the Ambassadors

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Blessing – Philippians 4:4-5 (NLT)

“Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again—rejoice! Let everyone see that you are considerate in all you do. Remember, the Lord is coming soon.”

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

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

3rd Sunday of Advent, 13 December: Zephaniah 3:14-18a; Isaiah 12:2-6; Philippians 4:4-7; Luke 3:10-18 ~ Cheer up! He’s living among us.

Third Sunday of Advent

Traditionally, today is called Gaudete Sunday, which means ‘a day for rejoicing.’ The reason for celebration is that the day of the Lord’s coming is nearer.

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

Opening Prayer:

Almighty God, You sent your Son into a world where the wheat must be winnowed from the chaff and evil clings even to what is good. Let the fire of Your Spirit purify our hearts and consecrate our lives so that we may find our peace in You and You may delight in us. Grant 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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Hymn: “O Come O Come Emmanuel” – Enya


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A Reading from the Old Testament: Zephaniah 3:14-18a (NLT)
[Zephaniah appeals for joy. The Lord is in the midst of the people, so there is no need for fear.]

Sing, O daughter of Zion; shout aloud, O Israel! Be glad and rejoice with all your heart, O daughter of Jerusalem! For the Lord will remove his hand of judgment and will disperse the armies of your enemy. And the Lord himself, the King of Israel, will live among you! At last your troubles will be over, and you will never again fear disaster.

On that day the announcement to Jerusalem will be, “Cheer up, Zion! Don’t be afraid! For the Lord your God is living among you. He is a mighty savior. He will take delight in you with gladness. With his love, he will calm all your fears. He will rejoice over you with joyful songs.”

“I will gather you who mourn for the appointed festivals; you will be disgraced no more.
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A Reading of a Psalm: Isaiah 12:2-6 (NLT)

See, God has come to save me. I will trust in him and not be afraid. The Lord God is my strength and my song; he has given me victory.”

With joy you will drink deeply from the fountain of salvation! In that wonderful day you will sing: “Thank the Lord! Praise his name! Tell the nations what he has done. Let them know how mighty he is! Sing to the Lord, for he has done wonderful things. Make known his praise around the world. Let all the people of Jerusalem shout his praise with joy! For great is the Holy One of Israel who lives among you.”
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“Made me glad” – Hillsong


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A Reading from the Letters: Philippians 4:4-7 (NLT)
[Be happy, says Paul, and be considerate: the Lord is very near.]

Rejoice-Always-428x265

Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again — rejoice! Let everyone see that you are considerate in all you do. Remember, the Lord is coming soon.

Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.
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A Reading from the Gospels: Luke 3:10-18 (NLT)
[John the Baptist announces the Good News, and declares he is not the Messiah.]

St. John the Baptist Preaching Mattia Preti, c. 1665 Museum of Fine Arts, San Francisco
St. John the Baptist Preaching
Mattia Preti, c. 1665
Museum of Fine Arts, San Francisco

The crowds asked, “What should we do?”

John replied, “If you have two shirts, give one to the poor. If you have food, share it with those who are hungry.”

Even corrupt tax collectors came to be baptized and asked, “Teacher, what should we do?”

He replied, “Collect no more taxes than the government requires.”

“What should we do?” asked some soldiers.

John replied, “Don’t extort money or make false accusations. And be content with your pay.”

Everyone was expecting the Messiah to come soon, and they were eager to know whether John might be the Messiah. John answered their questions by saying, “I baptize you with water; but someone is coming soon who is greater than I am — so much greater that I’m not even worthy to be his slave and untie the straps of his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire. He is ready to separate the chaff from the wheat with his winnowing fork. Then he will clean up the threshing area, gathering the wheat into his barn but burning the chaff with never-ending fire.” John used many such warnings as he announced the Good News to the people.
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Hymn: “God is the strength of my heart”


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Intercessions:

Lord God: You are our strength and our salvation – hear our prayers.

+ For all who follow Christ – that we may have joy as we prepare for the Lord’s coming…. Lord, hear us.
+ For those who suffer from hunger and want – that we may generously share what we have…. Lord, hear us.
+ For all whose hearts are broken – that we may remember them and befriend them…. Lord, hear us.
+ For refugees and all who are far from home – that they find comfort and peace at Christmas…. Lord, hear us.
+ For those suffering from the devastation of terrorism – that they may find strength and courage in You, God…. Lord, hear us.
+ For those we love and people who are in any kind of need – that You, God, may be with them…. Lord, hear us.
+ For all who have died in Christ – that the peace and joy of eternal life may be theirs…. Lord, hear us.

God our Savior, we rejoice in Your mighty deeds, help us now through these troubled times, we pray, through Christ our Lord. Amen.
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Hymn: “Gaudete” – Steeleye Span


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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)

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