With laughing hearts and joyous hope, we come to you, O God. With tired souls and withered dreams, we come to you, O God. In our joy and in our sorrow, we turn to you, O God. Renew us with your love. Gather us into your strong embrace, that we may know your presence and rejoice in your promised coming. With hopeful expectation, we pray. Amen.
Prayer of Confession
Almighty and merciful God, in this busy season help us to keep our prayers and our concerns most simple. Forgive us for not seeking light in our darkness; for not listening to your voice and your Word; for not believing that you make surprising difference in our world; for not speaking good news of great joy. Teach us to live in peace; to long for your presence; to celebrate with true joy, and to always share your love. Accept our prayer this day, and hear us as we offer the prayers of our hearts in silence . . .
Old Testament Lesson: Zephaniah 3: 14-20 NRSV (source)
Sing aloud, O daughter Zion; shout, O Israel! Rejoice and exult with all your heart, O daughter Jerusalem! The Lord has taken away the judgments against you, he has turned away your enemies. The king of Israel, the Lord, is in your midst; you shall fear disaster no more. On that day it shall be said to Jerusalem: Do not fear, O Zion; do not let your hands grow weak. The Lord, your God, is in your midst, a warrior who gives victory; he will rejoice over you with gladness, he will renew you in his love; he will exult over you with loud singing as on a day of festival. I will remove disaster from you, so that you will not bear reproach for it. I will deal with all your oppressors at that time. And I will save the lame and gather the outcast, and I will change their shame into praise and renown in all the earth. At that time I will bring you home, at the time when I gather you; for I will make you renowned and praised among all the peoples of the earth, when I restore your fortunes before your eyes, says the Lord.
Gospel Lesson: Luke 3: 7-18 NRSV (source)
John said to the crowds that came out to be baptized by him, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bear fruits worthy of repentance. Do not begin to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our ancestor’; for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children to Abraham. Even now the ax is lying at the root of the trees; every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.” And the crowds asked him, “What then should we do?” In reply he said to them, “Whoever has two coats must share with anyone who has none; and whoever has food must do likewise.” Even tax collectors came to be baptized, and they asked him, “Teacher, what should we do?” He said to them,“Collect no more than the amount prescribed for you.” Soldiers also asked him,“And we, what should we do?” He said to them, “Do not extort money fromanyone by threats or false accusation, and be satisfied with your wages.”As the people were filled with expectation, and all were questioning in their heartsconcerning John, whether he might be the Messiah, John answered all of them bysaying, “I baptize you with water; but one who is more powerful than I is coming; Iam not worthy to untie the thong of his sandals. He will baptize you with the HolySpirit and fire. His winnowing fork is in his hand, to clear his threshing floor and togather the wheat into his granary; but the chaff he will burn with unquenchablefire.” So, with many other exhortations, he proclaimed the good news to the people.
- No. 38 – It Came Upon the Midnight Clear
- No. 36 – In the Bleak Midwinter
- No. 11 – O Lord, How Shall I Meet You?
“Tipping Points Everywhere” – Rev. Scott G. Loomer