Due to copywrite limitations, we are unable to print the words to the songs.  However, our musicians have chosen music to fit the scriptures.  We invite you to look up the words in your worship book and ponder them.  If you do not have a worship book, ponder the words to one of your favourite hymns and listen for God’s voice. Those who have internet may find the songs on YouTube.


“Peace cannot be kept by force. It can only be achieved by understanding.”

—Albert Einstein


In a haunting mashup of Psalm 126 and “Joy to the World,” a band from Atlanta called The Orchardist has a created an Advent song that captures both the longing of Advent and the joyful themes of today’s readings. Give it a listen online, along with a little background on the band’s Advent project and the song’s lyrics, at the Christian arts and culture blog The Rabbit Room (“Advent with The Orchardist: Psalm 126,” Drew Miller, December 22, 2017).



     We want everything to look nice: the decorations of the season, our homes with their lights and tinsel, wreaths and ribbons. We want to lighten the darkness around us, bring beauty to the ugliness that wears us down. We decorate, because it is tradition. Because it lifts our hearts. Because it makes us feel like children again. We deck our halls because company is coming.

     The prophet Isaiah smiled when he said, “God will give a garland instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, a mantle of praise instead of a faint spirit.” No matter how far we feel from the spirit of the season, God promises to decorate us with love and with joy.

     We light this candle as a sign of our joy in the beautiful things of this season – not just the things that glitter and flash, but the deeper things, the beauty of the heart and the soul, the beauty of love shared in service and hospitality. We light this candle of joy because company is coming.

     O Come, O Come Emmanuel.



Rejoice!  The spirit of God is sending us: 

to bring good news to the oppressed, to comfort the broken-hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, to proclaim the year of favor among God’s people. 

Rejoice!  The work of the Spirit is calling us: 

To rebuild ancient relationships ruined by injustice, to repair the cities as places of hope, to restore land devastated across generations.  To proclaim the year of favor among God’s people.  Rejoice!  The Glory of the Spirit is leading us:  

To cast off any faint spirit and put on the mantle of praise, to take root as the plantings of the HOLY ONE, to display God’s glory. 

Come, let us worship in Joy!


CHILDREN’S SONG   Voices United #87  I Am The Light Of The World


Stir up the wills of your faithful people, Lord God, and open our ears to the words of your prophets, that, anointed by your Spirit, we may testify to your light; through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.  Amen.



We are not alone; we live in God’s world.

We believe in God:  who has created and is creating, who has come in Jesus, the Word made flesh, to reconcile and make new, who works in us and others by the Spirit.

We trust in God.

We are called to be the Church:  to celebrate God’s presence, to live with respect in Creation, to love and serve others, to seek justice and resist evil, to proclaim Jesus, crucified and risen, our judge and our hope.

In life, in death, in life beyond death, God is with us.  We are not alone.  Thanks be to God.


     Have you ever been in your car, driving down the highway, and suddenly, the car coming toward you in the opposite lane has something shiny hanging from the rear-view mirror, and just as your car gets close, the sun hits the shiny object and you nearly get blinded?!  You don’t have to be driving, you could be in the passenger seat – front or back – and that zap of light from the sun’s reflection makes you turn your head away, or close your eyes!  Not a safe thing to do!  It is a natural reaction to something so bright.   It is so bright, it hurts!

     John, the one who directs people to Jesus, tells the people that he is not the Messiah.  Jesus, also called the light of the world, was coming, and John made certain the people were ready for Jesus in body, mind and soul.  Jesus may be a bright light, yet he is a light that draws people in, rather than making them hide their eyes and turn away.

     When we are baptized, the Holy Spirit is given to us and we become little lights for Jesus.  Where our love shines, so does the Holy Spirit.  We reflect the light and love of Jesus onto others, like the shiny object in the car window, so that people see the light of Jesus and are drawn to the love we share.

     May the Holy Spirit always remind us that we are the light of hope for others in the world.





     In 2015, the Un adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which named 17 Sustainable Development Goals to end poverty.  Goal 4, quality education, is critical for communities to develop innovative solutions to daily challenges.

     According to UN statistics, over 265 million children worldwide are not enrolled in school.  Access to education is a challenge in many parts of the world, particularly in rural areas, and it’s one that Zambia’s Mission & Service partners Women for Change and People’s Action Forum are tackling.

     Women for Change encourages girls and young women in rural Zambia to stay in school.  The group works with national and community leaders to develop an understanding of the importance of education for all young people.  It works with families, offering livelihood training to help address the economic issues that may be keeping girls out of school.  It also works with teachers to support girls who return to school, and with communities to break down the cultural and social norms that sometimes prevent girls from completing their education.

     People’s Action Forum (PAF) also works with rural communities in Zambia to help them see how their resources can be used to improve local education.  Collaboration between schools and local communities has turned schools into hubs of community health and development, including providing safe community water supplies.  Through a mentorship program called Girls Action Forum, PAF helps girls succeed by providing the skills, space and encouragement they need to thrive.

      If Mission & Service giving is already a regular part of your life, thank you so much!  If you have not given, please join me in making Mission & Service giving a regular part of your life of faith.  Loving our neighbour is at the heart of our Mission & Service.


O Lord God, at the first coming of your Son Jesus Christ, you sent John the Baptist in the spirit and power of Elijah to prepare the way before him. Grant to the ministers of your Word and sacraments
the same burning zeal to prepare the way for his coming again, and our hearts to yearn for him and hear your word; through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.

Readings and Psalm

First Reading: Isaiah 61:1-4, 8-11

Though the people had returned to Jerusalem from exile in Babylon, they continued to face hardship and oppression. In the language of the jubilee year described in Leviticus 25, the prophet, moved by the spirit of the Lord, announces deliverance for those who are oppressed and comfort for those who mourn.

1The spirit of the Lord God is upon me,
  because the Lord has anointed me;
 and has sent me to bring good news to the oppressed,
  to bind up the broken-hearted,
 to proclaim liberty to the captives,
  and release to the prisoners;
2to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor,
  and the day of vengeance of our God;
  to comfort all who mourn;
3to provide for those who mourn in Zion—
  to give them a garland instead of ashes,
 the oil of gladness instead of mourning,
  the mantle of praise instead of a faint spirit.
 They will be called oaks of righteousness,
  the planting of the Lord, to display God’s glory.
4They shall build up the ancient ruins,
  they shall raise up the former devastations;
 they shall repair the ruined cities,
  the devastations of many generations.

8For I the Lord love justice,
  I hate robbery and wrongdoing;
 I will faithfully give them their recompense,
  and I will make an everlasting covenant with them.
9Their descendants shall be known among the nations,
  and their offspring among the peoples;
 all who see them shall acknowledge
  that they are a people whom the Lord has blessed.
10I will greatly rejoice in the Lord,
  my whole being shall exult in my God;
 for God has clothed me with the garments of salvation,
  and has covered me with the robe of righteousness,
 as a bridegroom decks himself with a garland,
  and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.
11For as the earth brings forth its shoots,
  and as a garden causes what is sown in it to spring up,
 so the Lord God will cause righteousness and praise
  to spring up before all the nations.

Psalm 126

R:  The Lord has done great things for us. (Ps. 126:3)

1When the Lord restored the fortunes of Zion,
  then were we like those who dream.
2Then was our mouth filled with laughter, and our tongue with shouts of joy.
  Then they said among the nations, “The Lord has done great things for them.”
3The Lord has done great things for us,
  and we are glad indeed.
4Restore our fortunes, O Lord,
  like the watercourses of the Negeb. R
5Those who sowed with tears
  will reap with songs of joy.
6Those who go out weeping, carrying the seed,
  will come again with joy, shouldering their sheaves. R

Second Reading: 1 Thessalonians 5:16-24

Paul concludes his letter to the Thessalonians by encouraging them to live lives of continual joy, prayer, and thanksgiving. The closing blessing is grounded in the hope of Christ’s coming.

16Rejoice always, 17pray without ceasing, 18give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 19Do not quench the Spirit. 20Do not despise the words of prophets, 21but test everything; hold fast to what is good; 22abstain from every form of evil.

  23May the God of peace sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be kept sound and blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. 24The one who calls you is faithful, and God will do this.

Gospel: John 1:6-8, 19-28

John’s gospel describes Jesus as the “light of the world.” John the Baptist is presented as a witness to Jesus, one who directs attention away from himself to Christ, the true light.

6There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. 7He came as a witness to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him. 8He himself was not the light, but he came to testify to the light.

  19This is the testimony given by John when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, “Who are you?” 20He confessed and did not deny it, but confessed, “I am not the Messiah.” 21And they asked him, “What then? Are you Elijah?” He said, “I am not.” “Are you the prophet?” He answered, “No.” 22Then they said to him, “Who are you? Let us have an answer for those who sent us. What do you say about yourself?” 23He said,

 “I am the voice of one crying out in the wilderness,

 ‘Make straight the way of the Lord,’ ” as the prophet Isaiah said.

  24Now they had been sent from the Pharisees. 25They asked him, “Why then are you baptizing if you are neither the Messiah, nor Elijah, nor the prophet?” 26John answered them, “I baptize with water. Among you stands one whom you do not know, 27the one who is coming after me; I am not worthy to untie the thong of his sandal.” 28This took place in Bethany across the Jordan where John was baptizing.



John 1:6-8, 19-28

When I was in university there were several drama students whose egos were larger than their talent.  One became quite vocal about not landing the main role in one of our season productions.  The professor who was directing the show overheard this student, walked up to him and said, “There are no small parts, only small actors.”


In our Gospel reading for this third Sunday in Advent, we focus on John.  Not John the Baptist.  In the Gospel according to St. John, John is not referred to as John the Baptist.  He is John, the witness.  In the Divine Drama, John’s role is small compared to Jesus’ role as the messiah.  However, John’s role is no less powerful.

There are no small parts.

John knows who he is, or rather, more to the point, who he is not.  John states clearly that he is not the Messiah, Elijah or a prophet.  He is a witness.  He points to the one who is greater than he.  He sends people to Jesus.  One would think that John, like the drama student, would feel slighted.  After all, John had his own disciples!  He baptized people, proclaimed the word of God to them, told them to repent and change their lives around – and some actually did!  Yet John is aware that he is not the headliner.  Jesus is.  John is needed to point people in the right direction.  John is needed to show the path to redemption.  Without John, the people would be lost, wandering, wondering. 

Thank the universe for the GPS on my phone!  It has saved me so many times!  There are streets in Winnipeg with no sign indicating the name of the street.  There are streets that are more like alleys that I would have driven past were it not for the GPS.  When I was in Calgary, a city that has continued to expand beyond comprehension, I would never have found my friend’s house in one of the new subdivisions!  An arrow is such a small thing, yet so needed to find one’s way. 

I’m looking for Jesus -à. 

There are no small parts.

Perhaps that is the struggle with the Church.  Perhaps, in this world of secularism and political correctness, we have ceased to stop pointing to the one who saves, heals, loves challenges and accepts.  Perhaps we believe that our part is too small, that our talents are not being recognized, that people know what they want and so there is no need to show the way.  Perhaps.

Experience has taught me that people are very good at putting up facades.  This need to appear to have it all together is so important, the attempt at perfection so overwhelming, the desire to prove that one can deal with everything on one’s own, without any assistance…it is any wonder that psychiatrists, psychotherapists, mental health works and others in the caring professions are overwhelmed by the sheer volume of people who finally fall apart because they can’t keep up the pretense.  Art imitates life, not the other way ‘round.

That is the beauty of John as the witness.  There is no pretense.  John will prepare you to face the light.  John will open you up to yourself and purge you of any notion that you do not need God, neighbour or any help whatsoever.  John will have you laughing with joy at the freedom you feel when you shed the mask and let it smash on the ground.  Then, John will point.  John will say, “Now that you are empty, you are ready to receive the light!  Jesus is that way!  Go and embrace the love and grace of God!  I have straightened the path; the way is clear!”

Sometimes, in the midst of the din that is the world, there is that one voice that you can hear above all the rest.  It is the voice that guides, the voice that is true, the voice that encourages, the voice that announces that hope is coming, joy is real, the promise is kept.

There are no small parts.  Each action, every word, inflection, gesture has a ripple effect.  Each expression of love, kindness, justice and compassion builds the wave for the next expression until we all are afloat in the waters of our baptism, a reminder that God cares, the Holy Spirit calls and Jesus’ love surrounds us all.

Thanks be to God for all the people in our lives who have, and continue to, point the way to repentance, forgiveness, redemption and peace.  Amen.



HYMN OF THE MONTH  With One Voice  #636  Before The Marvel Of This Night 



God of power and might, shine your radiance and come quickly to this weary world. Hear our prayers for everyone in need.

God of preachers and messengers, you have entrusted your church with the work of proclaiming good news. Strengthen the witness of bishops, moderators, pastors, deacons, church musicians, lay leaders, and all people who contribute their prayers and talents to public worship. Embed your word in their hearts. Hear us, O God.

Your mercy is great.

God of every living creature, you announce the year of your favor for all of creation. Extend your kindness and relief to endangered animals and plants. Strengthen the human beings who rely on the rhythms of nature to make their living. Hear us, O God.

Your mercy is great.

God of all peoples and nations, you plant us as your oaks of righteousness and ask us to care for one another. Be present with the leaders of every nation as they govern. Give them a spirit of righteousness, that your goodness and mercy is revealed through their actions. Hear us, O God.

Your mercy is great.

God of exiles and wanderers, you repair what was once destroyed. We pray for people who have been displaced from their homes by fire, flood, earthquake, or storm. Support the work of Lutheran World Relief, Lutheran Disaster Response, Mission & Service, Gifts With Vision and all disaster relief organizations in their recovery efforts. Hear us, O God.

Your mercy is great.

God of the powerful and helpless, you clothe us with strength when our spirits are weak and weary. Bestow your spirit upon this congregation and empower us to comfort the people who turn to us in times of need. Make your church a place of refuge and healing. Hear us, O God.

Your mercy is great.

God of sinners and saints, you offer joy even in the midst of our grief. We are grateful for the beloved, imperfect people whose lives testified to your radiant love. Anoint all who mourn with the oil of gladness. Hear us, O God.

Your mercy is great.

Tender God, you know sorrow and joy alike. We pray for those in our families and congregation who are not joyful in this holiday season. Comfort those who grieve, be a companion to all who are lonely, tend those who are sick or struggling with depression, and gather all people in your healing embrace.  We pray for Mike Froese, Brooke Alexiuk, Tracy Skoglund, Carolyn & Douglas; Gordon Dreger; Debbie & Dwayne; Nicole; Sandy Lange; Gordon Fulford and Elaine Hancox. Ease their suffering and support them when they struggle. Hear us, O God.

Your mercy is great.

Draw near to us, O God, and receive our prayers for the sake of your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.




The Creator of the stars bless your Advent waiting, the long-expected Savior fill you with love, the unexpected Spirit guide your journey, ☩ now and forever.


SENDING SONG  Voices United #883  Comfort, Comfort




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