- Officiant: Cn. Dave (me)
- Preacher: Kids of the Parish under the direction of Dana, Allie, and Dcn. Laura
- Music: Tom leading a trio (vocals, guitar, drums)
- Scripture: Dcn. Ben (Zephaniah 3:14-20 and Psalm 85), Dcn. Andrea (Luke 3:7-20)
Songs of Praise
- Oh How I Need You (Find You)
- God with Us
- Build my Life
- Come Thou Long Expected Jesus
- Jesus Loves Me
- O Holy Night
- We Three Kings
- Mary, Did You Know?
- We Wish You a Merry Christmas
- Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silent
- Angels We Have Heard on High
Collect for the Day
Lord Jesus Christ, who sent your messengers the prophets to preach repentance and prepare the way for our salvation: Grant that the ministers and stewards of your mysteries may likewise make ready your way, by turning the hearts of the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, that at your second coming to judge the world, we may be found a people acceptable in your sight; who with the Father and the Holy Spirit, lives and reigns, one God, now and forever. Amen.
The Third Sunday of Advent is a strange liturgical creature. The
pink rose candle calls us to the older name of the day–Gaudete Sunday, Rejoicing Sunday. In the midst of Advent, we are called out of sobriety to test the joy of the salvation that is coming into the world. This was the expectation I wanted to cast vision for as we began our worship. As we prayed, confessed, received God’s forgiveness, and heard the assurance of that forgiveness in the Comfortable Words, there was a building joy in the work of God for us. Our songs of praise similarly called forth joy in the midst of acknowledging our need, our weakness, and our sin.
When the kids were brought forward for the lighting of the Advent wreath, I taught them about the difference of the day in the Advent season, and the youngest–a toddler–lit the candle. There is a profound weakness in us, but joy of salvation, too. The readings reflected similar tension. Zephaniah croons about the way that God will comfort His people by singing over them, and calls the people to rejoice. Psalm 85 echoes this powerfully. But then the Gospel reading shakes us from that restful disposition with John the Baptist’s cry, “You brood of vipers!” What a tension. It would have been quite fun to preach.
But in place of a sermon, we honored a tradition of the parish. The children of the parish presented a dramatic interpretation of the Nativity of Jesus. The announcement of the coming King as a Savior, not only for Israel but for the whole world, was interpreted for the congregation as a demonstration of God’s love, and an invitation to know and trust in the work of Jesus in His life, death, and resurrection. The kids did a wonderful job, and extended that invitation to faith with grace and enthusiasm. I’m grateful that we have such devoted disciple-makers working with the kids in our parish.
Following the pageant, we continued with the Creed and the Prayers of the People. With some insight from Bishop John Rodgers, our rector added an additional bidding to the Prayers of the People offered by the Prayer Book Taskforce at the beginning–beginning with thanksgiving. It was introduced last week, and this week, thanksgiving prompts a number of extemporaneous prayers from the congregation. This is a strong discipline for us, as Fr. Dennett said last week: Gratitude opposes the spirit of poverty.
After the Prayers, we had an extended time for announcements, including a call to pray for our persecuted brothers and sisters in China, particularly Early Rain Covenant Church, who have had upwards of 160 people–including pastor, elders, and other leaders–imprisoned or taken by the police. We also had a presentation by missionaries we support in Brazil, the Rev. Ron and Debby McKeon. They are doing tremendous ministry making disciples in Brazil. They are integral to our parish and it was a joy to welcome them, hear what God is doing in their ministry, and to pray for them as part of our worship. It was also a sweet thing to welcome and share Holy Communion with them. Our celebration reflected the joy of the salvation God has delivered in Jesus, and I hope and pray that this joy follows each of us to the ministries and work God has called us to do.