A Service for the Third Sunday of Advent

¶ The Gathering

Grace, mercy and peace
from God our Father
and the Lord Jesus Christ
be with you
and also with you.

Prayer of Preparation

Almighty God,
to whom all hearts are open,
all desires known,
and from whom no secrets are hidden:
cleanse the thoughts of our hearts
by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit,
that we may perfectly love you,
and worthily magnify your holy name;
through Christ our Lord.
Amen.

Lighting the Advent Wreath

God our Father,
you gave to Zechariah and Elizabeth in their old age
a son called John.
He grew up strong in spirit,
prepared the people for the coming of the Lord,
and baptized them in the Jordan to wash away their sins.
Help us, who have been baptized into Christ,
to be ready to welcome him into our hearts,
and to grow strong in faith by the power of the Spirit.
We ask this through Jesus Christ,
the light who is coming into the world.
Amen.

Lord Jesus, light of the world,
John told the people to prepare,
for you were very near.
As Christmas grows closer day by day,
help us to be ready to welcome you now.
Amen.

Prayers of Penitence

If we claim to be without sin,
we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.
If we confess our sins,
God is faithful and just
and will forgive us our sins
and purify us from all unrighteousness.
1 John 1.8-9

Heavenly Father,
you call us to prepare for the coming of your Son:
forgive us our unreadiness to receive him.

Lord, have mercy    
Lord, have mercy

Lord Jesus,
you were proclaimed by John the Baptist:
help us also to prepare your way.

Christ, have mercy  
Christ, have mercy

Holy Spirit,
you speak through the prophets:
make us attentive to hear your word.

Lord, have mercy    
Lord, have mercy

Absolution

Almighty God,
who in Jesus Christ has given us a kingdom that cannot be destroyed,
forgive us our sins,
open our eyes to God’s truth,
strengthen us to do God’s will
and give us the joy of his kingdom,
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Amen.

The Collect  

The president introduces a period of silent prayer with the words “let us pray” or a more specific bidding.
God for whom we watch and wait,
you sent John the Baptist to prepare the way of your Son:
give us courage to speak the truth,
to hunger for justice,
and to suffer for the cause of right,
with Jesus Christ our Lord.
Amen.

¶ The Liturgy of the Word

Readings

At the end of each the reader may say
For the word of the Lord
Thanks be to God.

Isaiah 61.1–4,8–11  

The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me,
because the Lord has anointed me
to preach good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the broken-hearted,
to proclaim freedom for the captives
and release from darkness for the prisoners,
2 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour
and the day of vengeance of our God,
to comfort all who mourn,
3 and provide for those who grieve in Zion—
to bestow on them a crown of beauty
instead of ashes,
the oil of gladness
instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise
instead of a spirit of despair.
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
a planting of the Lord
for the display of his splendour.
4 They will rebuild the ancient ruins
and restore the places long devastated;
they will renew the ruined cities
that have been devastated for generations.
8 “For I, the Lord, love justice;
I hate robbery and iniquity.
In my faithfulness I will reward them
and make an everlasting covenant with them.
9 Their descendants will be known among the nations
and their offspring among the peoples.
All who see them will acknowledge
that they are a people the Lord has blessed.”
10 I delight greatly in the Lord;
my soul rejoices in my God.
For he has clothed me with garments of salvation
and arrayed me in a robe of righteousness,
as a bridegroom adorns his head like a priest,
and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.
11 For as the soil makes the young plant come up
and a garden causes seeds to grow,
so the Sovereign Lord will make righteousness and praise
spring up before all nations. [NIVa]

1 Thessalonians 5.16–24  

16 Be joyful always; 17 pray continually; 18 give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
19 Do not put out the Spirit’s fire; 20 do not treat prophecies with contempt. 21 Test everything. Hold on to the good. 22 Avoid every kind of evil.
23 May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. 24 The one who calls you is faithful and he will do it. [NIVa]

Gospel Reading

The Gospel is announced then the reader says

John 1.6–8,19–28

Hear the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ according to John.
Glory to you, O Lord.

6 There came a man who was sent from God; his name was John. 7 He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all men might believe. 8 He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light.
19 Now this was John’s testimony when the Jews of Jerusalem sent priests and Levites to ask him who he was. 20 He did not fail to confess, but confessed freely, “I am not the Christ.”
21 They asked him, “Then who are you? Are you Elijah?”
He said, “I am not.”
“Are you the Prophet?”
He answered, “No.”
22 Finally they said, “Who are you? Give us an answer to take back to those who sent us. What do you say about yourself?”
23 John replied in the words of Isaiah the prophet, “I am the voice of one calling in the desert, ‘Make straight the way for the Lord.’”
24 Now some Pharisees who had been sent 25 questioned him, “Why then do you baptise if you are not the Christ, nor Elijah, nor the Prophet?”
26 “I baptise with water,” John replied, “but among you stands one you do not know. 27 He is the one who comes after me, the thongs of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie.”
28 This all happened at Bethany on the other side of the Jordan, where John was baptising. [NIVa]

At the end

This is the Gospel of the Lord.
Praise to you, O Christ.

Sermon

The Creed

Let us declare our faith in God, Father Son and Holy Spirit
We believe in one God,
the Father, the Almighty,
maker of heaven and earth,
of all that is,
seen and unseen.

We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ,
the only Son of God,
eternally begotten of the Father,
God from God, Light from Light,
true God from true God,
begotten not made,
of one Being with the Father;
through him all things were made.
For us and for our salvation he came down from heaven,
was incarnate from the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary
and was made man.
For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate;
he suffered death and was buried.
On the third day he rose again
in accordance with the Scriptures;
he ascended into heaven
and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead,
and his kingdom will have no end.

We believe in the Holy Spirit,
the Lord, the giver of life,
who proceeds from the Father and the Son,
who with the Father and the Son is worshipped and glorified,
who has spoken through the prophets.

We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church.
We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins.
We look for the resurrection of the dead,
and the life of the world to come,
Amen.

Prayers of Intercession

There are no prayers included in this service, but please do pray. You may wish to pray now (you will need to pause the audio if you do) or do so after the Dismissal.

The prayers usually include these concerns
The Church of Christ
Creation, human society, the Sovereign and those in authority
The local community
Those who suffer
The communion of saints

This week’s prayer resource is available here

The Lord’s Prayer

Awaiting his coming in glory,
as our Saviour taught us, so we pray…
Our Father in heaven
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins
as we forgive those who sin against us.
Lead us not into temptation
but deliver us from evil.
For the kingdom, the power,
and the glory are yours
now and for ever.
Amen.

¶ The Dismissal

The president uses a suitable blessing

Go in peace to love and serve the Lord.
In the name of Christ. Amen.