3rd Sunday of Advent
Sunday, December 11th
Sunday, December 11th
We extend a special welcome to those who are single, married, divorced, separated, straight, gay, transgendered, mighty rich, mighty poor, or mightily trying. We welcome those who are crying newborns, skinny as a rail, or aiming to lose a few.
We extend a special welcome if you can sing like Andrea Bocelli or can only sing into a bucket. You’re welcome if you’re “just browsing” just woke up, or just got out of jail. We don’t care if you’re “cradle Episcopalian” or a “cafeteria Christian” or if you’re not sure what to be or believe. We don’t care if you have only seen the inside of a church through YouTube, think Hozier invented “Take me to church”, or haven’t been in church since your BFF from high school got married.
We extend a special welcome to those over 60 who haven’t grown up yet, and to teenagers who think they’re already grown up. We welcome soccer dads/moms, NASCAR moms/dads, starving artists, tree-huggers, latte sippers, card-carrying NRA members and card-burning Socialists. We welcome vegetarians and junk-food aficionados. We welcome those who are in recovery or still addicted. We welcome you if you’re having problems, or you’re down in the dumps or if you don’t like “organized religion” – hey, many of us have been there too.
We extend a special welcome if you blew all your offering money at the casino, still think the earth is flat, work too hard, can’t sepll, or because grandma is in town and wanted to go to church.
We extend a special welcome to those who are inked, pierced, both or undecided. You are welcome if you need a special prayer right now, don’t trust “religion” yet feel a spiritual tug, or got lost in traffic and wound up here by mistake. We welcome seekers, finders, tourists, wanderers, doubters, bleeding hearts…and you.
This is your home. What unites us is Jesus Christ, his Life, Death, and Resurrection. The rest is details.
Stir up your power, O Lord, and with great might come among us; and, because we are sorely hindered by our sins, let your bountiful grace and mercy speedily help and deliver us; through Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom, with you and the Holy Spirit, be honor and glory, now and for ever. Amen.
The wilderness and the dry land shall be glad,
the desert shall rejoice and blossom;
like the crocus it shall blossom abundantly,
and rejoice with joy and singing.
The glory of Lebanon shall be given to it,
the majesty of Carmel and Sharon.
They shall see the glory of the Lord,
the majesty of our God.
Strengthen the weak hands,
and make firm the feeble knees.
Say to those who are of a fearful heart,
“Be strong, do not fear!
Here is your God.
He will come with vengeance,
with terrible recompense.
He will come and save you.”
Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened,
and the ears of the deaf unstopped;
then the lame shall leap like a deer,
and the tongue of the speechless sing for joy.
For waters shall break forth in the wilderness,
and streams in the desert;
the burning sand shall become a pool,
and the thirsty ground springs of water;
the haunt of jackals shall become a swamp,
the grass shall become reeds and rushes.
A highway shall be there,
and it shall be called the Holy Way;
the unclean shall not travel on it,
but it shall be for God’s people; no traveler, not even fools, shall go astray.
No lion shall be there,
nor shall any ravenous beast come up on it;
they shall not be found there,
but the redeemed shall walk there.
And the ransomed of the Lord shall return,
and come to Zion with singing;
everlasting joy shall be upon their heads;
they shall obtain joy and gladness,
and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.
Lauda, anima mea
4 Happy are they who have the God of Jacob for their help! *
whose hope is in the Lord their God;
5 Who made heaven and earth, the seas, and all that is in them; *
who keeps his promise for ever;
6 Who gives justice to those who are oppressed, *
and food to those who hunger.
7 The Lord sets the prisoners free;
the Lord opens the eyes of the blind; *
the Lord lifts up those who are bowed down;
8 The Lord loves the righteous;
the Lord cares for the stranger; *
he sustains the orphan and widow,
but frustrates the way of the wicked.
9 The Lord shall reign for ever, *
your God, O Zion, throughout all generations.
Be patient, therefore, beloved, until the coming of the Lord. The farmer waits for the precious crop from the earth, being patient with it until it receives the early and the late rains. You also must be patient. Strengthen your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is near. Beloved, do not grumble against one another, so that you may not be judged. See, the Judge is standing at the doors! As an example of suffering and patience, beloved, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord.
When John heard in prison what the Messiah was doing, he sent word by his disciples and said to him, “Are you the one who is to come, or are we to wait for another?” Jesus answered them, “Go and tell John what you hear and see: the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor have good news brought to them. And blessed is anyone who takes no offense at me.”
As they went away, Jesus began to speak to the crowds about John: “What did you go out into the wilderness to look at? A reed shaken by the wind? What then did you go out to see? Someone dressed in soft robes? Look, those who wear soft robes are in royal palaces. What then did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. This is the one about whom it is written,
‘See, I am sending my messenger ahead of you,
who will prepare your way before you.’
“Truly I tell you, among those born of women no one has arisen greater than John the Baptist; yet the least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.”