Your December 17th, Sermon & Ministry Resources
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Lectionary Readings — 3rd Sunday of Advent, December 17, 2023
Isaiah 61:1-4;8-11; Psalm 126; 1 Thessalonians 5:16-24; John 1:6-8;19-28
Call to Worship (based on Psalm 126)
Leader: As we gather in this sacred space, let our hearts and minds reflect on the marvelous deeds of the Lord, as if we are living a life filled with God's promises.
People: Our spirits are lifted with laughter, and our voices ring with songs of joy, a testament to the overflowing grace of God.
Leader: Remember how God transformed our sorrows into joys, our trials into triumphs, turning our mourning into dancing.
People: We stand firm in the Lord's unending love, like streams that rejuvenate the driest deserts, bringing new life where there was once barrenness.
Leader: May those who carry burdens feel the lightness of hope, and those who weep sow seeds that will sprout with joyous harvest.
People: We come together, not just as individuals, but as a community of faith, united in our belief in God's power to restore and renew.
Leader: In this season of Advent, let us embrace the joy of anticipation, for the Lord is doing great things, and in Him, our dreams of peace and joy find fulfillment.
People: With hearts full of gratitude and voices united in praise, we worship God, from whom all blessings flow, and in whose presence our joy is made complete.
Opening Prayer (based on Isaiah 1:1-4;8-11)
Gracious and Loving God,
As we gather in Your presence, we are reminded of Your promises in Isaiah, where You sent Your servant to bring good news to the oppressed, to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and release to the prisoners. Lord, let Your Spirit be upon us, as we seek to embody Your grace and compassion in our world.
We pray for those among us and around us who are burdened, for the oppressed seeking justice, for the brokenhearted in need of healing, and for all who yearn for freedom. May Your comforting presence be their strength.
Lord, You have called us to be rebuilders of ruins, restorers of streets to live in. Guide our hands and hearts as we work towards creating a world that reflects Your love and righteousness.
We thank You for Your faithfulness, for the promise of salvation and for clothing us with garments of salvation, a robe of righteousness. May our souls rejoice in You, as the earth brings forth its shoots, and as a garden causes what is sown in it to spring up.
In Your loving and powerful name, we pray. Amen.
Sermon Outline: [NOTE to Paid subscribers — scroll down for the full manuscript sermon].
Purpose: To highlight key themes such as bearing witness to the Light (Christ), embodying humility, nurturing expectant hope for the Messiah, and engaging in active preparation for His coming. Through these themes, the sermon seeks to connect the biblical narrative of John the Baptist to contemporary Christian life, encouraging the congregation to reflect on and embody these principles in their personal journey of faith, especially during the anticipatory period of Advent.
Title: Preparing the Way (John 1:6-8;19-28)
Brief context of Advent season: a time of expectation and preparation for the coming of Christ.
Introduction to John the Baptist's role in this narrative.
I. The Mission (John 1:6-8)
Bearer of Light: Emphasize John's role as not the light, but as a witness to the light.
The True Light: Discuss the significance of Jesus as the true light coming into the world.
Application: How we, like John, are called to bear witness to Christ in our lives.
II. The Humility (John 1:19-23)
A Voice, Not the Word: Contrast between John's self-identification as 'a voice' and Jesus as the 'Word'.
The Call to Humility: Explore the importance of humility in Christian leadership and witness.
Application: Encourage self-reflection on our roles as humble messengers of God's word.
III. The Expectation (John 1:24-27)
Expectant Hope: Discuss the anticipation of the Messiah among the people and religious leaders.
John's Revelation: Focus on how John points beyond himself to Christ.
Application: How does Advent season renew our expectation and hope in Christ's coming?
IV. The Preparation (John 1:26-28)
Preparing the Way: Delve into the concept of preparing for Christ, both in John's time and now.
Baptism of Repentance: Discuss the significance of John’s baptism as a symbol of repentance and preparation.
Application: Practical ways we can prepare our hearts and lives for Jesus during Advent.
Summarize the key points: Witness, Humility, Expectation, Preparation.
Encourage the congregation to embody these themes in their Advent journey.
Closing prayer, reflecting on the themes of the sermon and the season of Advent.