Your December 3rd, Sermon & Ministry Resources
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Lectionary Readings — 1st Sunday of Advent, December 3, 2023
Isaiah 64:1-9; Psalm 80:1-7;17-19; 1 Corinthians 1:3-9; Mark 13:24-37
Call to Worship (based on Psalm 80-1-7;17-19)
Leader: Give ear, O Shepherd of Israel, you who guide your people like a flock!
People: You who reign in glory and majesty, shine forth in our midst.
Leader: Stir up your might, O Lord, and come to save us!
People: Restore us, O God; let your face shine upon us, that we may experience your salvation.
Leader: O Lord God of hosts, how long will you be angered despite our prayers?
People: We have known sorrow and shed many tears; our challenges are great.
Leader: We feel the weight of our struggles, and those around us seem to prosper.
People: Restore us, O God of hosts; let your face shine upon us, that we may find peace and joy.
Leader: Empower us, O God, as your people, strengthened and upheld by your hand.
People: Renew our spirit and resolve; in your grace, we find our strength.
All: Restore us, O Lord God of hosts; let your face shine upon us, that we may be saved and renewed. Amen.
Opening Prayer (based on Isaiah 64:1-9)
Almighty and Everlasting God, as we enter this sacred season of Advent, we come before You with hearts open and spirits attuned to the message of Isaiah 64. In these ancient words, we find the echo of our own longing – a cry for Your presence to break into our world, to rend the heavens and come down, to make Your name known to those who do not call on Your name.
Lord, in Your great mercy, hear our prayer. We acknowledge, like clay in the hand of the potter, that we are the work of Your hand. Shape us and mold us according to Your will. In our imperfections and frailties, remind us of Your steadfast love and unending mercy. Forgive us for the times we have turned away from Your ways and hardened our hearts.
In this season of anticipation and hope, we yearn for the transformative power of Your love. We wait for the promised coming of Your Son, Jesus Christ, our Savior, who brings light into our darkness and peace to our turmoil. As we prepare our hearts for His birth, let us not lose sight of the profound mystery and joy of Your incarnation.
We pray for our world, longing for Your justice, peace, and healing. May Your Spirit move among us, bringing renewal and restoration. Guide us to be bearers of Your hope, love, and light to all those we encounter.
We lift up to You those among us who are suffering, whether in body, mind, or spirit. May they feel Your comforting presence and find strength in Your unending grace.
God of all ages, as You have been with Your people through generations, be with us now. Renew our faith, rekindle our hope, and deepen our love for You and for one another.
We offer this prayer in the name of Jesus Christ, our hope and our redeemer.
Sermon Outline: [NOTE to Paid subscribers — scroll down for the full manuscript sermon].
Purpose: To instill a deep sense of anticipation and preparedness for Christ's return, central to the Advent season. It aims to inspire awe for the majesty of Christ’s second coming, urging believers to be spiritually alert and observant of the signs of the times. The focus is on living a life of watchfulness, rooted in prayer and active service, emphasizing the importance of engaging actively in God's work. This sermon seeks to encourage believers to live each day in expectancy of Christ's Kingdom, actively participating in His redemptive mission.
Title: Vigilant Vision: Awaiting Advent’s Arrival (Mark 13:24-37)
Introduce the context of Mark 13:24-37, emphasizing the Advent theme of anticipation and preparedness for Christ’s coming.
Highlight the significance of Jesus’ teachings about the end times and the relevance of this passage for the first Sunday of Advent.
1. Prophetic Proclamation (Mark 13:24-27)
Discuss Jesus' vivid description of the events surrounding His return, including cosmic disturbances and the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory.
Cross-reference with Old Testament prophecies (e.g., Daniel 7:13-14) to deepen understanding.
Application: Encourage reflection on the majesty and power of Christ’s return, inspiring awe and reverence in our faith journey.
2. Readiness Required (Mark 13:28-31)
Explore the parable of the fig tree as Jesus teaches the signs of the times.
Emphasize the certainty of Jesus' words: “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.”
Application: Challenge the congregation to be observant and discerning of the signs of the times, staying spiritually attuned and grounded in Scripture.
3. Alertness Advocated (Mark 13:32-36)
Explore Jesus’ exhortation to stay awake and alert, as no one knows the day or hour of His return.
Draw parallels with the need for vigilance in our spiritual lives.
Application: Urge the congregation to cultivate a lifestyle of watchfulness in prayer, devotion, and service, living each day with expectancy and readiness for Christ’s coming.
4. Vigilance Vitalized (Mark 13:37)
Summarize Jesus' call to constant vigilance: “And what I say to you I say to all: Keep awake.”
Discuss how this call to vigilance extends beyond mere physical alertness to a spiritual readiness and active engagement in God’s work.
Application: Inspire the congregation to embrace a proactive approach to faith, actively engaging in the mission and ministries that prepare ourselves and others for the Kingdom of God.
Recap the main themes of the sermon, reiterating the importance of preparedness, watchfulness, and active engagement in our spiritual lives.
Offer a call to action for this Advent season: to live in a manner that not only anticipates Christ’s return but also actively participates in His redemptive work in the world.
Close with a prayer for guidance, strength, and wisdom as we await Advent’s arrival, asking for God’s help to live out these principles in our daily lives.