United Church of Christ

Advent 3 - December 13

Service Prayers
for the Third Sunday of Advent, Year B
December 13, 2020

 Isaiah 61:1-4, 8-11  •  Psalm 126 •  1 Thessalonians 5:16-24   •  John 1:6-8, 19-28


Since Congregations are returning to “in-person” services at different paces, Worship Ways for will be edited for online use.  “Rubrics” for virtual services will be noted in red;  take and adapt as you need!

Leader should speak the lines of the people, along with the Leader’s lines

Meditation on Community Life: The Advent Wreath

The Advent Wreath, which in recent years has been adopted enthusiastically as a congregational ritual during public worship, actually began as an at-home devotional practice. So if your church is worshipping virtually, encourage your members to create an Advent Wreath in their households. 

An Advent wreath has 5 candles arranged in a circle.  Candles may be tapers, or pillars:
           3 blue or purple, lit on 1st, 2nd and 4th Sundays
           1 rose or pink, lit on 3rd Sunday
           1 white or gold, placed in the center, to be lit on Christmas Eve.
           Surround the candles with evergreen boughs, or other decorative elements that speak to the season of the year. You may want to hold off on the reds and greens of Christmas; Advent is a celebration of anticipation, waiting, getting ready.

           Each week of Advent you may invite a household to share their Advent wreath, and take the lead in lighting the appropriate candles.                  

           The Advent Candle Lighting time may be used at the start of worship, or perhaps during the Sermon time, as an interactive devotional time, or a simple Bible study.  It may be a moment to help the community reflect on the year past, with its trauma and displacements, in light of the scriptures that call us to faithfully get ready for a new moment in the coming of Christ.


Week Three:   Certainly, the readings today shift in tone and imagery from the lament and confusion of the first two Advent Sundays.  There is an energetic, confident tone to the readings, taking realistic note of destruction and pain, but giving voice to determination to rebuild and restore a broken world.  God’s Spirit is at work anointing people to this  future-building, and the dominant image throughout the readings is Joy.  “Rejoice, rejoice, rejoice” is the refrain in the readings.  The traditional name for the third Sunday of Advent is “Gaudete Sunday”, from the Latin word for “rejoice” in Philippians 4: 4-5 (Gaudete in Domino semper: Rejoice in the Lord always…the Lord is near.) Advent 3 year B echoes this in 

1 Thessalonians 5.  The English word “gaudy” comes from this Latin root, and gives a sense of the tone of this day. Pink/rose, (a gaudy “hot” pink?) the color alerting the world to the coming of dawn, is the color of this week’s Advent readings.

Invite someone from the congregation to read 1 Thessalonians 5:16-24
How does it feel to hear these words at the end of a year as tumultuous as 2020?

     Light the first, second and third candles:

O Holy One, we light this  third candle,
And delight in the sparkle of its outrageous reminder
to “rejoice”!
Let its flame cast light into shadowy places
and show where work is to be done.
Let a community of builders be formed in
The Light of Joy.
Let Joy find home in our hearts,
And make space for your presence there,
As we work for justice and peace in the service of Love.

People:        Out loud, but muted
                     God be with us  in this Light of Joy. 

Call to Worship                       

The spirit of God is sending us:
People:Out loud, but muted
to bring good news to the oppressed,
to comfort the brokenhearted,
to proclaim liberty to the captives,
to proclaim the year of favor among God’s people.

The work of the Spirit is calling us:
People:Out loud, but muted
To rebuild ancient relationships ruined by injustice,
To repair the cities as places of hope,
To restore land devastated across generations.
to proclaim the year of favor among God’s people.

The Glory of the Spirit is leading us:     
People:Out loud, but muted
To cast off any faint spirit
and put on the mantle of praise,
To take root as the plantings of the HOLY ONE,
to display God’s glory.
Come, let us worship in Joy!


Holy One,
Builder who delights
in making spaces of safety and beauty,
Matchmaker who rejoices
in presenting new spouses with a future of hope,
fill us today with the gifts we need
to join you in your life-sustaining, hope-giving work in the world;
let us share your joyful vision
of beauty and justice
in this world you have created and loved.     
In the name of the One who is coming,


Witness to Joy

Instead of a typical Confession of Sin,
today let us try something that may be equally challenging
in light of the difficult year we have spent:
Let’s  give witness instead to signs of Joy in our midst,
Signs that our God is doing something new,
and calling us to faithfulness in our contexts.

What are signs of hope, of encouragement, of change, of comfort,
that point to the Holy One at work?

          Are there signs which call us to join in, or amplify these signs in our community?

Encourage people to use the chat, or answer out loud.


Assurance of Grace

Holy one,
we give you thanks that you meet us in our struggles,
and call us into a future of hope and joy.
You have promised to be faithful,
and we open  our hearts to you in trust,
in the name of the one you send, Jesus.

Scripture, Sermon, Prayers of the People 

Notes for the worship planners in 2020:

Consider a simple message or even an  interactive Bible Study that engages people with the Scriptures for today.  For the Prayers of the People, you might use a bidding prayer (“God, we pray today for those who are sick, including ….”) and encourage folk to type in their prayers using Zoom chat or Facebook Live; allow for more time in silence for those prayers to be typed and read. Consider a collective response at the end of each bidding prayer.

  • A caution regarding prayers of the People online: Folks gathered in-person often recount a lot of detail in their prayers concerning other members or family (“Elderly Name, living alone, experiencing isolation…”  In  a private, in-person gathering, this information may be safe, but online, it can expose vulnerable people to harm, since we can’t control who will join the gathering or access it later online.  Invite people to be prudent in offering prayers:  “For First name only, in need of healing”; “For First name only, comfort in grief”  etc. 

Encourage people to contact the pastor directly with news of those needed extra pastoral care 

Call To Offering

In struggle and in joy, God is faithful to us.
We bring forth our offerings – our tithes, our treasures, our least coins –
to demonstrate our faithfulness to God.


People:         Out loud, but muted
                      O Faithful One,
                      accept these gifts of our hearts and hands.
                      May they be multiplied and magnified
                      as the living presence of Christ  in the world. Amen.


Go forth confident that God is faithful:
Those who have sowed in sorrow will return with shouts of joy
Bearing the harvest of God’s work.
Rejoice always—the Lord is near.


Service Prayers for  Advent 3 Year B 2020 are written by the Rev. Susan A. Blain, Minister for Worship and Gospel Arts, Faith INFO Ministry Team, UCC.

Copyright 2020 Local Church Ministries, Faith  INFO Ministry Team, United Church of Christ, 700 Prospect Avenue, Cleveland, OH  44115-1100.  Permission granted to reproduce or adapt this material for use in services of worship or church education.  All publishing rights reserved.

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