Due to copyright limitations, we are unable to print the words to many of 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 of one of your favourite hymns and listen for God’s voice. Those who have the internet may find the songs on YouTube.


Yes, let God be the Judge. Your job today is to be a witness.

– Warren Wiersbe


The reading from 1 Thessalonians advises, “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (1 Thess. 5:16). For anyone struggling with grief, anger, and doubt (as many are during the darkness of the Advent season), this advice can feel shallow and cold. When paired with an overly upbeat reading of Mary’s song (the alternate psalmody of Luke 1), it can feel completely untethered from reality. Can a more nuanced reading offer an invitation to accept the comfort of God’s presence, even in painful situations? It is dangerous to tell another what is God’s will for them, yet it is always God’s desire to be with us.


We acknowledge we gather and worship on Treaty 1 Territory, the original lands of Anishinaabeg, Cree, Oji-Cree, Dakota, and Dene peoples, and on the homeland of the Métis Nation.

Our hope is in you because you gave your Son Jesus to reconcile the world to you.  We pray for your strength and grace to forgive, accept and love one another, as you love us and forgive and accept us in the sacrifice of your Son.

Help us to share justly the resources of this land.  Help us to bring about spiritual and social change to improve the quality of life for all groups in our communities, especially the disadvantaged.  Help young people to find true dignity and self-esteem by your Spirit.

May your power and love be the foundations on which we build our families, our communities and our Nation, through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

– taken from Wontulp-Bi-Buya Indigenous Theology Working Group, 13 March 1997, Brisbane


Sing praises to God on high, for glorious are God’s works.

Sing praises to the ends of the earth.

Shout and sing for joy, O people of God,

for great is the Holy One in our midst, blessed is the One who comes to dwell among us.

~Harry Disher, Grand Bend/Greenway P.C., Etobicoke, Ont.

CHILDREN’S SONG:  VU 585  Jesus Bids Us Shine


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.

MISSION & SERVICE:  Gifts with Vision: Transforming Lives

“I don’t want anything for Christmas. I really don’t need anything this year.”

This is something many of us have heard, and maybe something we’ve found ourselves saying. And while it may be true, despite not wanting or needing anything, gifts are going to happen anyway. Instead of searching “gifts for someone who is hard to buy for,” why not give Gifts with Vision?

Gifts with Vision is a way to give gifts from the comfort of home, with no packaging or wrapping needed. Instead of gadgets and fleeting trends, Gifts with Vision is full of gifts that will help transform people’s lives throughout Canada and across the world. When placing your order, you’ll be able to add an e-card, including a delivery date, for each gift.

Every Gift with Vision provides support for a specific Mission and Service partner offering a unique project.  Without Mission and Service, Gifts with Vision projects would not be possible. Thank you for supporting both.

When Christmas rolls around, remember that a meaningful gift is a simple click away. If madly dashing around the mall on Christmas Eve is your gift-buying style, kick back and relax. Gifts with Vision has you covered!


I love rainbows!  I have loved rainbows since I was a child.  I loved the story of Noah, his family and the ark because at the end of the story, God sends a rainbow!  I remember camping in the summer with my family and watching some amazing thunder storms only to wait for the rainbow when it was over.

Have you noticed that people stop what they are doing to look at a rainbow?  Pay attention the next time you see a rainbow.  Watch how many people stop and look, or at least look, at the beauty and wonder of the rainbow!

Just as we stop and focus on the beauty of the rainbow, John, the witness to Jesus, stops and admires the light and beauty of Jesus.  John helped people prepare to meet Jesus in person.  He directed them to the source of God’s love.

We are followers of Jesus.  Like John, with our lives, our words and our actions, we direct people to Jesus who loves, heals and saves the world.  Thank you, Jesus!


O God, beginning and end, by whose command time runs its course:  bless our impatience, perfect our faith, and, while we await the fulfillment of your promises, grant us hope in your Word.  Amen.


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 God, 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; he has sent me to bring good news to the oppressed, to bind up the brokenhearted, 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 his 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 he has clothed me with the garments of salvation, he 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

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. 
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.

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 himself 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 he 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.

HYMN:  VU 166  Joy Comes With The Dawn


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.”

Point taken.

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, whom he is not.  John states clearly that he is not the Messiah, Elijah or the prophet.  He is a witness.  He points to the one who is greater than himself.  He sends people to Jesus.  One would think that John, like the drama student, should 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 visiting 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 and accepts.  Perhaps we believe that our part is too small, or not large enough, it’s obvious that people know what they want and so there is no need to show the way.  Perhaps.

John’s method of pointing the way to Jesus was to wear a camel pelt, eat bugs, and dunk people in the Jordan river once they confessed their sins.  Obviously, this would not go over well today.  So just how do we point people to Jesus?  Ironically, it is the little things that add up that guide others.

Recently I read a news article about how London, Ontario, is working with people in encampments, rather than forcing them to move and destroying their belongings.  The organizers of this plan recognize that people are already traumatized because they are living in tents with few belongings in winter.  They have little money and fewer resources.  To force them to move, to where, no one knows since shelters are full, creates more trauma.  The plan is to keep the encampments small, place a central mobile unit for showers and toilets, provide garbage pick up and a portable unit where people can get out of the cold and socialize.  While this is taking place to keep people safe during the winter, the city of London is proactively working on ways to deal with the housing crisis and provide permanent residences.

As I read this article, I was filled with hope.  As a person of faith, I see the love of Christ in this situation.  I see a group of people who are attempting to change the hearts and minds of those who view the encampments as a nuisance, the occupants a problem, and forcing them to leave with the clothes on their backs the solution.  This group of compassionate souls is aiming for metanoia on the part of the governing bodies to see people as people, to offer respect and dignity to those who are already brought low.  Why?  Because they believe it is the right thing to do.  I don’t know what the rest of London calls this plan, but I call it ‘love of neighbour’.

1The spirit of the Lord God is upon me,
because the Lord has anointed me;
he has sent me to bring good news to the oppressed,
to bind up the broken hearted,
to proclaim liberty to the captives,…

25 asked , “Why then are you baptizing if you are neither the Messiah, nor Elijah, nor the prophet?”  The answer is that John is preparing the way.  Through the confession of sin and the absolution of baptism, John is proclaiming to the people that God loves them.  More importantly, he is preparing them for the reality that God is coming to walk among them, touch them, heal them, hear their pain, challenge their heart’s motivation and love them more deeply than they have ever known.

Love changes people.  When one takes the time to connect with others, see them as fellow human beings and not as a problem; when one chooses to offer a hand up rather than another handout; when one is motivated to help make the world of their neighbour a better place, Christ is present.  Those who experience the presence of Christ, be they the hands and feet of Christ or the recipients of Christ’s love, can’t help but be changed.

The world is still a hurting place, a broken place, a beautiful place, a hope-filled place.  No small act of love or kindness goes unnoticed.  The Spirit of God, no less, is upon us!  We are anointed!  As we wait and prepare for the coming of the Christ child, may we be guided by the Spirit and live out Christ’s love so that God’s Good News brings renewed strength and healing to all of God’s creation.  Amen.

HOM:  MV 75  Holy Spirit, Come To Us


With hope and expectation, we offer our prayers for the church, the world, and all who await God’s day of restoration.

Fill our mouths with laughter and our tongues with shouts of joy as we bear witness to the great things you have done. Give your church a spirit of gladness as we gather and as we are sent. Merciful God,

receive our prayer.

Let the trees of the field sing your praise. Protect forests, orchards, rainforests, and all wooded areas from disease and deforestation. Keep us grateful for their gifts of oxygen, food, shade, and shelter. Merciful God,

receive our prayer.

You love justice and promise your favor to those who are oppressed, brokenhearted, and incarcerated. Grant wisdom and compassion to those who work for public safety and all who work within prisons, jails, and courts, that mercy may increase and violence wither away. Merciful God,

receive our prayer.

Give us strength to pray for our world without ceasing and provoke us toward love and good deeds for all who are in need. Provide for all without adequate housing, food, employment, or access to health care. Empower us as helpers and advocates. Merciful God,

receive our prayer.

Open our hearts to those who serve as truth-tellers in our church and in our society. Bless leaders in church and society in their task of proclamation. Amplify voices of peacemakers, advocates, and especially those whose voices are ignored or marginalized. Merciful God,

receive our prayer.

With gratitude we rejoice in the saints who witnessed to your life in all circumstances, in whom your Spirit was not quenched, even in death. Through them, teach us always to hold fast to what is good. Merciful God,

receive our prayer.

Listen to these and all our prayers, O God of hosts, and restore us with your great and everlasting mercy.



SENDING SONG:  VU 57  Oh, How Joyfully


Return now to our world with its pain and wonder, remembering the words of the prophets, the faithfulness of Mary and Joseph, and the longing of all who yearn for a sign of hope.  And may the blessing of God who is ever faithful, the blessing of Christ who still comes to us, and the blessing of the Holy Spirit who moves within us and throughout our world, rest upon us and abide with us, this day and forevermore.  Amen.

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