Third Sunday of Advent
COLOR: Purple or Blue
SCRIPTURE READINGS: Zephaniah 3:14-20; Isaiah 12:2-6; Philippians 4:4-7; Luke 3:7-18.
CALLS TO WORSHIP
Call to Worship #1
L: Rejoice in the Lord always, and again I say Rejoice!
P: Our joy is in the Lord who blesses us.
L: Shout for joy, for the Lord is near!
P: Our praises ascend to God for the mighty things God has done.
L: Let your praise dance and swirl in tribute to God!
P: Surely God blesses and saves us. Hallelujah! Praise be to God. AMEN.
Call to Worship #2
L: Come and rejoice in God!
P: Sing praise to God who continually blesses our lives!
L: In the midst of troubles and stress, God is near, offering compassion.
P: Our hope is in the Lord.
L: Let all the people praise God.
P: Hallelujah! AMEN.
Call to Worship #3
[Using THE FAITH WE SING, p. 2157, "Come and Fill our Hearts", offer the following call to worship as directed]
L: In the times of darkness and fear, God is ever near to love and guide us.
P: Come, Loving God, fill our hearts
Choir: singing the verse through in unison one time
L: In the times of joy and dancing, God is ever near in celebration.
P: Come, Loving God, fill our hearts
Choir: Singing in harmony, the verse through one time
L: At all times and in all places, God is always with us, sustaining, healing, loving.
P: Come, Loving God, fill our hearts with Joy.
ALL: singing the verse through twice.
Call to Worship #4
L: Good friends, Rejoice. God is with you.
P: Even though we are imperfect and too often have turned our backs on God, still God is with us.
L: God's love is forever. You are beloved.
P: Even when we behave in ways which are contrary to what God would have us do.
L: God forgives and loves you and seeks your well-being.
P: Praise be to God for such wondrous love. AMEN.
PRAYERS, LITANY/READING, BENEDICTION
Lord, we have come to this place from a world of demands and schedules. We have sought hope and peace and have found them here. Now we seek the inner joy that only your presence can bring to our lives. Open our hearts and our spirits to your love. For we ask this in Jesus' Name. AMEN.
Lighting the Advent Candle
Reader 1: Today we light three candles- the first Candle is called HOPE and it is a
Reader 2: The second Candle is called PEACE, God's gentle loving peace for our lives.
Reader 3: The third Candle is called JOY, because of God's absolute presence in our lives.
Reader 4: Come, all is ready. Let the light of this these candles, called HOPE, PEACE, and JOY, bring brightness to your spirits.
[The first , second and third Advent Candles are lighted]
Prayer of Confession
It is getting more and more difficult, Lord, for us to keep our attention on the holy things. Our lives are caught up in the planning, parties, gifts, and other such things. We get side-tracked too easily and exhausted, we fall into restless sleep. The cries of those in need abound and we are overwhelmed by the need. Too often we turn a deaf ear because we feel we just can't meet all the needs that are presented to us. Heal our hearts and spirits, Lord. Help us understand that you do not ask us to heal everything but rather to find a simple way in which we might lighten someone else's burden, as you have lightened our lives. You have brought hope and peace to us. Now cause us to rejoice in the wondrous things that you have done. Teach us to use our gifts for the common good, and that in helping, we find great and abundant joy. In Jesus' Name, we pray. AMEN.
Words of Assurance
The messenger has been sent to you, proclaiming that there is One who is Coming who will heal and lead you. Know that this is a great gift from God, who has always and will always love you. AMEN.
"It's the most wonderful time of the year" - the music swirls toward our ears from countless speakers in stores, on the radio, on TV. But we aren't so sure about that. We have been so wrapped up in preparation for the "wonderful season" we can't seem to find the joy. So many people are in need. We have friends and family members who are suffering from illnesses, loss, alienation. We want them to be happy, but we can't make that happen. We bring the names to you, Lord, for your healing mercy and rest in the assurance of your loving presence with them. That is a comfort to us. But we also stand in need of your healing restoration. We are feeling depleted, discouraged, and exhausted. Slow us down, Lord. Help us to feel the joy of your love from the "inside out" and in every direction! Remind us that your gift of love is freely given to us so that we may be healed and be a blessing to someone else. Touch our hearts and spirits, so that your joy may spring from our lips and our lives. For we ask it in Jesus' Name. AMEN.
L: Slowly and surely, we are finding hope and peace.
P: Today is a day of joy.
L: The branch on our worship center was bare; then suddenly there were signs of hope in the emergence of little leaves.
P: Look carefully! What do you see? Can you see the bud beginning? It is only a little show of flower yet to come. It will happen. Just wait.
L: Yes, there are buds - almost like the budding of joy at this time.
P: The joy will burst into full flower in the fullness of God's time. Just wait. It will happen.
L: All the wrappings and trimmings cannot compete with the gift of new life.
P: Praise be to God who surprises us with hope, peace and joy. AMEN.
[Using THE FAITH WE SING, p. 2270, "He Has Made Me Glad" have the choir sing the song through once, then play the music under the spoken word. Finally, have the whole congregation sing the song through once]
Choir: sing "He Has Made Me Glad" through once.
L: God has indeed made us Glad; for God will send us a Savior who will teach us how to live joyfully, peacefully, hopefully. Rejoice people of God, for such is God's great love for us.
All: singing "He Has Made Me Glad" through once.
The traditional color for this Sunday is PURPLE or BLUE
Note: I recommend putting a brief paragraph describing or explaining the symbolism used in your visual display. These become good teaching tools for a congregation.
Note: Risers are any objects which create a higher place than the main level. You may use books, wood blocks, anything that is sturdy on which to place various objects. Usually the risers are placed on the worship center first to create the variation in levels.
Note: For ADVENT 1, I have chosen to use the color blue, varying the shades each week with the addition of fabric and other symbols for the day. If your worship center is against a wall you may want to consider placing fabric behind the worship center so that it forms a screen effect and then draping the worship center with the same identical fabric. I recommend the use of dark blue during Advent (leaving the purple for Lent).
I have chosen not to have the cross on the worship center during Advent, but rather to focus on the Advent symbols themselves
For ADVENT 2: We will be adding little green leaves, only about 15 or 20 to the bare branch on the worship center. We will also be adding a small, plain, unpainted or varnished, wooden cross to the top of the center riser, alongside the pillar candle.
For ADVENT 3: We will be adding little buds near the leaves on our branches.
SURFACE: Place 5 risers on the worship center. One riser in the center back and the other four risers to the right and left, but not in a straight line, they should be staggered.
FABRIC: Cover the entire worship center with dark blue fabric (or dark purple).
CANDLES Place one dark blue 8-10" pillar candle on the center riser. Place dark blue votive candles, in holders on each of the other risers.
FLOWERS/PLANTS: no flowers or plants at this time
ROCKS/WOOD: Using crepe paper in emerald or celery green, cut out leaf shapes, about 2-3" long. Also using crepe paper in white, make "buds" with small bits of green around them to look like buds. Using floral tape, carefully tape them to some of the branches of the bare limb, making sure that they can been seen from a distance (this is important, because the idea is to imply new life and growth). The amount of leaves you place should suggest growth is happening (you may add more leaves if you wish), but it is not complete - the stage is being set.
OTHER: If you have a wooden cross about 10-12" high, place it on the center riser with the large pillar candle. The cross should be rough, unpainted and unvarnished.