Third Sunday of Advent


If you extend your soul to the hungry
And satisfy the afflicted soul,
Then your light shall dawn in the darkness,
And your darkness shall be as the noonday.

—Isaiah 58:10 (NKJV)

Scripture Readings:

Isaiah 61:1–4, 8–11

The Good News of Deliverance

The spirit of the Lord God is upon me,
 because the Lord has anointed me;
he has sent me to bring good news to the oppressed,
 to bind up the broken-hearted,
to proclaim liberty to the captives,
 and release to the prisoners;
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour,
 and the day of vengeance of our God;
 to comfort all who mourn;
to provide for those who mourn in Zion—
 to give them a garland instead of ashes,
the oil of gladness instead of mourning,
 the mantle of praise instead of a faint spirit.
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
 the planting of the Lord, to display his glory.
They shall build up the ancient ruins,
 they shall raise up the former devastations;
they shall repair the ruined cities,
 the devastations of many generations.

For I the Lord love justice,
 I hate robbery and wrongdoing;
I will faithfully give them their recompense,
 and I will make an everlasting covenant with them.
Their descendants shall be known among the nations,
 and their offspring among the peoples;
all who see them shall acknowledge
 that they are a people whom the Lord has blessed.
I will greatly rejoice in the Lord,
 my whole being shall exult in my God;
for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation,
 he has covered me with the robe of righteousness,
as a bridegroom decks himself with a garland,
 and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.
For as the earth brings forth its shoots,
 and as a garden causes what is sown in it to spring up,
so the Lord God will cause righteousness and praise
 to spring up before all the nations.


Thematic Prayer

God of hope,
you call us home from the exile of selfish oppression
to the freedom of justice,
the balm of healing,
and the joy of sharing.
Make us strong to join you in your holy work,
as friends of strangers and victims,
companions of those whom others shun,
and as the happiness of those whose hearts are broken.
We make our prayer through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Intercessory Prayer

Brothers and sisters,
as we joyfully await the glorious coming of the Christ,
let us pray for the needs of the church, our community, and the world.

Prayers of the People, concluding with:

God of joy and exultation,
you strengthen what is weak;
you enrich the poor
and give hope to those who live in fear.
Look upon our needs this day.
Make us grateful for the good news of salvation
and keep us faithful in your service until the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ,
who lives for ever and ever. Amen.

Scripture Prayer

Merciful God of peace, 
your work, spoken by the prophets, 
restores your people's life and hope. 
Fill our hearts with the joy of your saving grace, 
that we may hold fast to your great goodness 
and in our lives proclaim your justice in all the world. Amen.

Psalm 126

A Harvest of Joy

A Song of Ascents.

When the Lord restored the fortunes of Zion,
 we were like those who dream.
Then our mouth was filled with laughter,
 and our tongue with shouts of joy;
then it was said among the nations,
 ‘The Lord has done great things for them.’
The Lord has done great things for us,
 and we rejoiced.

Restore our fortunes, O Lord,
 like the watercourses in the Negeb.
May those who sow in tears
 reap with shouts of joy.
Those who go out weeping,
 bearing the seed for sowing,
shall come home with shouts of joy,
 carrying their sheaves.

I Thessalonians 5:16–24

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise the words of prophets, but test everything; hold fast to what is good; abstain from every form of evil.

May the God of peace himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be kept sound and blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do this.

St. John 1:6–8, 19–28

There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him. He himself was not the light, but he came to testify to the light.

The Testimony of John the Baptist

This is the testimony given by John when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, ‘Who are you?’ He confessed and did not deny it, but confessed, ‘I am not the Messiah.’ And they asked him, ‘What then? Are you Elijah?’ He said, ‘I am not.’ ‘Are you the prophet?’ He answered, ‘No.’ Then they said to him, ‘Who are you? Let us have an answer for those who sent us. What do you say about yourself?’ He said,

‘I am the voice of one crying out in the wilderness,
“Make straight the way of the Lord”’,

as the prophet Isaiah said.

Now they had been sent from the Pharisees. They asked him, ‘Why then are you baptizing if you are neither the Messiah, nor Elijah, nor the prophet?’ John answered them, ‘I baptize with water. Among you stands one whom you do not know, the one who is coming after me; I am not worthy to untie the thong of his sandal.’ This took place in Bethany across the Jordan where John was baptizing.

A Story for the Day

At age 70, how was Gnana possibly going to provide for and look after a 3-year-old and a newborn?

Read more to find out how God provided.

Source for Collects: The Collects are from the Book of Common Prayer, 1979.

Source for Revised Common Lectionary Prayers: Reproduced from Revised Common Lectionary Prayers copyright © 2002 Consultation on Common Texts admin. Augsburg Fortress. Used by permission. A complete edition of the prayers is available through Augsburg Fortress.

Source for Scripture Passages: Scripture texts are from the New Revised Standard Version of the Bible: Anglicised Edition, copyright © 1989, 1995 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used with permission. All rights reserved.

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