Nov 29

3rd Sunday of Advent (Year B)

Isaiah 61:1-4, 8-11

  • Have I mentioned that I adore the book of Isaiah?  I really do.  This passage beautifully sums up all that it means to be a follower of the Christ.  We are called and anointed by the Spirit.  We are given the gift of the Good News (for the purpose of giving it away to others).  We are sent out to serve others, acting as the hands and feet of God.  We are blessed so that we may bless others.  We are called to build up, repair, restore, love, forgive, and rejoice!
  • If you use electronic slide shows in your worship space, you could highlight a variety of mission projects or church activities while you read this passage.  To prepare for this, go through this passage verse-by-verse, and think of all the ways in which you/your congregation/your community/your denomination have brought these words to life.  Maybe you brought the good news to people through Vacation Bible School or a community worship service.  Perhaps you provide comfort through a prayer shawl ministry.  Some churches help “build up the ancient ruins” of cities through their work with Habitat for Humanity or Disaster Assistance programs.
  • You could also use images and items that highlight these same mission projects and church activities in your sanctuary decor.  Objects like Bibles, prayer shawls, building materials, etc could be arranged on the Table or throughout the worship space.
  • Or, you could decorate your worship space with actual garlands and/or jewels, since they are mentioned in the reading.  Large “jewels” can be found at most craft stores (as well as in the wedding decor aisle of many discount stores).

Psalm 126

  • Anyone else humming “Bringing in the Sheaves” after reading this passage?
  • The obvious decor possibility involves (drumroll please…) seeds/grains and sheaves (of wheat or other grain).  You can display bundles of wheat (or another grain) in tall vases, or simply lay/stack them on the Table.  Seeds could be scattered or displayed in jars/bowls/baskets.

Luke 1:46b-55

  • There is a kind of raw, unbridled joy and awe found in this text.  Think about it – these are the words of a teenage girl who is coming to grips with the fact that she is not just pregnant…she’s pregnant with the Son of God!  Talk about a “wow” moment!
  • If you are looking for a more creative presentation of this text, consider having a young woman (under the age of 20) read it.
  • The NRSV is a fantastic translation, but I’m a big fan of Eugene Peterson’s version of this passage in The Message.
  • If you are focusing on Mary and her song, you may want to use icons or statues of Mary in your worship decor.  You could your congregation to bring in the Mary figurines from any of the Nativity sets that they use at home – this could be really interesting, as there are a wide variety of ways that Mary is depicted.  I would encourage you to try to have a variety of ethnicities represented.

1 Thessalonians 5:16-24

  • This passage of scripture is ideal to use as a Charge and Benediction.
  • This passage also provides great material for a Prayer of Confession.
  • While this may seem like a simple and straight-forward text, it does give us plenty to ponder.  In particular, I am struck with the question of how we do all of the things we are directed to do in this passage.  How do we rejoice always?  How do we pray without ceasing?  Likewise, I wonder how we fall short of these ideals.  How do we quench the Spirit?  How do we despise the words of prophets?  Things to consider, to be sure…

John 1:6-8, 19-28

  • Last week, we were introduced to this wacky fellow “crying out in the wilderness”.  This week, John the Baptizer encounters some priests and Levites from Jerusalem – folks who have been sent to find out who this locust-and-honey-eating guy is.  I always imagine John chuckling with each of his responses to the Jewish leaders, toying with them a bit.  If you have ever seen the movie version of Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing that starred Kenneth Branagh and Emma Thompson, you may recall the exchange that their characters (Benedick and Beatrice) have at a masquerade – Benedick toys with Beatrice while behind the mask, laughing as he responds cryptically to her questions.  I imagine John responding to the Jewish officials with the same sort of tone.  (If you haven’t seen the movie before, I highly recommend it as a fun diversion from your worship preparation – links are below.)
  • If you have created any “paths” in your worship space (as described and suggested last week), you may want to use them again this week.  Or, if you haven’t created any yet, this is a great week to do it!
  • If you are speaking about baptism, make sure that your baptismal font is front and center (or, at least, visible) and filled with water.  You could (also) place a decorative bowl filled with water on the Table – perhaps including blue or purple stones on the bottom (people could reach into the water and take a stone to “remember their baptism”).


4 pings

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