Advent 3B – December 17
December 17, 2023
Third Sunday of Advent (Joy)
“Ancient Ruins…Everlasting Covenant” | Isaiah 61:1-4, 8-11
CALL TO WORSHIP (Psalm 34 in conversation with the Magnificat)
Leader: O magnify our God with me and let us exalt God’s name together.
All: Our souls magnify the Lord.
Our spirits rejoice in God our Savior!
Leader: We will bless the Lord at all times;
God’s praise shall continually be in our mouths.
All: Our souls magnify the Lord.
God’s mercy endures from generation to generation.
Leader: Let our souls makes their boasts in the Lord;
Let the humble hear and be glad.
All: Our souls magnify the Lord
for the Mighty One has done great things.
OPENING SONG SUGGESTIONS
Bless the Lord, O My Soul African American Heritage Hymnal #105
Joy, Joy, God’s Great Joy Georgia Mass Choir, Dorothy Anderson, Kirk Franklin
LIGHTING OF THE JOY CANDLE
*Celebrant invites member of the congregation to light the candle of joy
Isaiah 61:10 says: “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.”
Each Sunday leading up to the celebration of the birth of Jesus, we reflect on a theme that centers us as we wait with eager expectation for the glory of God to be revealed. This Sunday, we center on “Joy.”
Today is the Gaudete Sunday—the 3rd Sunday of Advent. It is a joyous celebration that is set up to provide relief or a break from the more reflective rituals, as well as focus away from all of the hardships in our midst. The rose-colored candle reminds us to be encouraged, to lean into a softer sentiment.
Let us light the candle of joy.
INVOCATION (Inspired by Isaiah 61:1-4, 8-11)
Let us pray:
God of Mary, Mother of Jesus – and all of the lowly who seek to be lifted –
God of Isaiah, who felt the Spirit upon him calling him to bring Good News—
Let your Spirit fall upon us in this hour.
Out of the ruins, remind us of your everlasting covenant.
Anoint us as we seek to share and experience your Good News.
Bind our broken hearts.
Awaken us to the liberation within and among us.
Embolden us to proclaim your favor
As we seek you more deeply.
RITUAL OF JOY AND GRATITUDE
Leader invites congregation to answer the questions: What brought you joy this week? Or What are you grateful for this morning? Congregants are invited to speak aloud or meditate on their thought. Encourage some to write it down in their phone or on a piece of paper (leader may provide materials if needed). The leader repeats and affirms what is heard and the congregation responds, “Our spirits rejoice!”
Leader: We gather together in this season of Advent anticipating hope, praying for peace, attempting to cultivate joy and share love amidst commotion, grief, despair and uncertainty. In the midst of the ancient ruins, what has brought you joy this week? Or what are you grateful for this morning?
The practice of naming our joys – or counting our blessings and naming them one by one, as the hymn says – can sustain us as we wait for the long anticipated thing.
When days get bleak and the weight of the world falls on our shoulders, we re-member God, what God has done, and what God can still do for us, through us, and by us.
PRAYER OF TRANSFORMATION
Let us pray:
Womb of Creation, we often get caught up in what we do not have –
The material things we lack, the access and privilege we may lack,
The answers, even, that seem to escape us in crucial moments.
Forgive us for the times we forgot to remember you.
Hold us accountable for the moments we failed to see you in
The blessings of ages past.
Help us reconnect with our joy and our gratitude.
Remind us to name our joys, our miracles, our deliverances, our redemptions
One by one by one, for you are there in them all.
WORDS OF GRACE
God hears what is named aloud, what is named within, and what is yet to be named.
Go forth knowing that the Spirit of the Lord is upon you, and this joy you have – the world didn’t give it and the world can’t take it.
INVITATION TO GENEROSITY
Leader: We come in the name of the One who filled the hungry, who lifted up the lowly, and brought the powerful ones down from their thrones. We aim to share our gifts and resources so that we may continue the mission of God and become the Good News we wish to see.
PRAYER OF DEDICATION
We dedicate these gifts that have been shared for the fortification of the beloved community. Let these gifts usher joy into this world and signal to the people that God is still setting captives free. Amen.
BENEDICTION (Inspired by 1 Thessalonians 5:16-24)
May the God of peace sanctify you entirely;
May your spirit and soul and body be kept sound.
May you go forth knowing you are held by The One who calls you faithful.
I’ve Got The Joy, Joy, Joy, Joy Down In My Heart African American Heritage Hymnal #622
Count Your Blessings African American Heritage Hymnal #533
Ancient Ruins…Everlasting Covenant: Service Prayers for the Third Sunday of Advent Year B was written by The Rev. Mia M. McClain, Senior Pastor of Riverside Baptist Church in Washington D.C. She is an ordained UCC minister.