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 to one of your favourite hymns and listen for God’s voice. Those who have internet may find the songs on YouTube.


“A prison cell, in which one waits, hopes – and is completely dependent on the fact that the door of freedom has to be opened from the outside, is not a bad picture of Advent”

~Dietrich Bonhoeffer, God is in the Manger


     John the Baptist is a fitting messenger for the season of Advent, a time for the church to prepare for both the nativity of the Christ and for his second coming. John’s call to repentance in preparation of Jesus’ arrival carries a challenge for us to rid ourselves of everything that obstructs our view. His proclamation is filled with images of cleansing: straightening paths, cutting down useless trees, and burning away chaff. John’s baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins means cleansing as well as a changing of the mind, a turning toward Jesus, so that one’s whole self is pointed toward the Lord of this world and of eternity.

     Undistracted even by thoughts of our own worthiness, the church’s focus year-round is turned toward the coming of Christ. John points to Jesus, never to himself, and in so doing becomes a model for discipleship. Having heard John’s cry, we join the chorus, becoming messengers in turn. All our efforts in worship and evangelism, education and social ministry point, not to ourselves, our programs, our skill or our saintliness, but only to Jesus. Preparing the way of the Lord is very much about pointing others to his real presence in and among 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.

As First Peoples have done since time immemorial, we strive to be responsible stewards of the land and respect the cultures, ceremonies, and traditions of all who call it home. As we open our hearts and minds to the past, we commit ourselves to working in a spirit of truth and reconciliation to make a better future for all.


O come, Emmanuel, come to us, for we are lonely for God.

Come, bring the peace of God-with-us.

O come, Wisdom from on high,

lead us in the ways of knowledge, and show us the paths of peace.

Glorious Shoot from the Jesse tree,

come and bring life, fresh and green and lovely, to our spirits.

O Rose which blooms in the snow of winter,

come and grant to us the blessed gift of hope.

O Bright Morning Star of the darkened world,

come and be for us the Light, the Truth, and the Way.

Jesus our Christ, we welcome you.

Come and be known among us, for we want to be your people.  Amen.

CHILDREN’S SONG:  I’d Like To Teach The World to Sing



Source of all life, the One who comes in your name comes again with grace and power, with forgiveness and strength, with truth and imagination, with gentleness and love.  May the Coming One enter the hearts of those who wait with quiet expectation for all that is good and holy and just.  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.


     For Christmas one year, I think I was 12, my Aunt Ruth and Uncle Fred gave my sisters and I puzzles for gifts.  These puzzles were pictures of schools of fish in the ocean.  That means, there were hundreds of little fish, that all looked the same, and we had to sort through 3,000 pieces, yes, you read that correctly, 3,000 tiny pieces and try to figure out which fish was which.  Even with the picture on the lid of the box, I didn’t have a clue!!  What to do?!  I asked my mom and sisters to help me put the puzzle together.  Four brains were better than one!  (My dad is not a puzzle person – just sayin’)

We set up a card table, sorted the pieces – fish from the blue of the ocean and pink from the coral – and, checking the shapes needed against the shape of each puzzle piece, we FINALLY put it together.  It felt like it took forever!

John the Baptizer tells the Jewish people to repent.  Turn around and connect with God again!  The people had let other things in their lives have priority over God, and God was concerned.  God loved the people and the people were letting their relationship with God fall apart.  Not good!  John reminded the people that God loved them and wanted a relationship with them.

Relationships, any relationship – best friends, siblings, parents, neighbours – take work to keep them healthy.  Just like that puzzle, where the four of us had to focus, examine the pieces, sort through what we needed in that moment, yet keeping an eye on the big picture, well, relationships need that same amount of time, attention and keeping an eye on what is important for the big picture.

Advent is the season where we prepare for Jesus’ birth.  It is also a wonderful time to put aside some time each day to look after our relationship with God.  God helps us do that by putting other people into our lives to support us, encourage us, love us, and remind us how important our relationship with God is in our lives.  Thank you, God!

MINUTE FOR MISSION:  Gifts With Vision Solves The “What To Buy” Dilemma

Is there someone on your Christmas list who is hard to buy for or doesn’t need yet another gadget or figurine? Do you long to sidestep the consumerist trappings of the season for something more meaningful?

Gifts with Vision—the United Church’s giving catalogue—is the answer.

Gifts with Vision is full of gifts that will help transform people’s lives throughout Canada and across the world. While Gifts with Vision continues to feature gifts for Ukraine and COVID-19, we have been busy adding new gifts to support people across the world who are experiencing the effects of climate change, economic instability, and war. Particularly children. There are several new gifts for children in this year’s catalogue.

We have added a new category, too: anti-racism. Projects in Nunavut, Guatemala, and Palestine—just to name a few—support the rights, culture, and dignity of people who experience racism daily. In addition, several gifts that have been very popular in the past, like Operation Backpack, Help Build a Well, and A Safe Place to Heal, are returning in this year’s catalogue.

And that’s only the beginning!

Mindful of the environment, the print catalogue continues to be small—but there are a lot more gift choices on the Gifts with Vision website. Stories of our partners’ projects are also available there.

Every Gift with Vision provides support for a specific Mission & Service partner offering a unique project. Without Mission & 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!


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 11:1-10

Isaiah describes the coming of a future, ideal ruler who will renew David’s royal line (the stump of Jesse). Gifted by the spirit of God, this ruler will reign with perfect justice. Enmity and danger will be restored to harmony and peaceful coexistence.

1A shoot shall come out from the stump of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of his roots.
2The spirit of the Lord shall rest on him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding,
the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord.
3His delight shall be in the fear of the Lord.  He shall not judge by what his eyes see,
or decide by what his ears hear; 4but with righteousness he shall judge the poor,
and decide with equity for the meek of the earth; he shall strike the earth with the rod of his   mouth, and with the breath of his lips he shall kill the wicked.
5Righteousness shall be the belt around his waist, and faithfulness the belt around his loins.
6The wolf shall live with the lamb, the leopard shall lie down with the kid,
the calf and the lion and the fatling together, and a little child shall lead them.
7The cow and the bear shall graze, their young shall lie down together;
and the lion shall eat straw like the ox.
8The nursing child shall play over the hole of the asp,
and the weaned child shall put its hand on the adder’s den.
9They will not hurt or destroy on all my holy mountain;
for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.
10On that day the root of Jesse shall stand as a signal to the peoples;

the nations shall inquire of him, and his dwelling shall be glorious.

Psalm 72:1-7, 18-19

R:  May the righteous flourish; let there be an abundance of peace. (Ps. 72:7)

1Give the king your justice, O God, and your righteousness to the king’s son;
2that he may rule your people righteously and the poor with justice;
3that the mountains may bring prosperity to the people, and the hills, in righteousness.
4Let him defend the needy among the people, rescue the poor, and crush the oppressor. R
5May he live as long as the sun and moon endure, from one generation to another.
6Let him come down like rain upon the mown field, like showers that water the earth.
7In his time may the righteous flourish;
and let there be an abundance of peace till the moon shall be no more.
18Blessed are you, Lord God, the God of Israel; you alone do wondrous deeds!
19And blessed be your glorious name forever, and may all the earth be filled with your glory. Amen. R

Second Reading: Romans 15:4-13

God’s promise to include Gentiles within the circle of God’s blessed people has been fulfilled in Jesus Christ. Christians live out their unity by welcoming and encouraging each other just as Christ has welcomed them into God’s family.

4Whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, so that by steadfastness and by the encouragement of the scriptures we might have hope. 5May the God of steadfastness and encouragement grant you to live in harmony with one another, in accordance with Christ Jesus, 6so that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

7Welcome one another, therefore, just as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God. 8For I tell you that Christ has become a servant of the circumcised on behalf of the truth of God in order that he might confirm the promises given to the patriarchs, 9and in order that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy. As it is written,

“Therefore I will confess you among the Gentiles, and sing praises to your name”;

10and again he says,

“Rejoice, O Gentiles, with his people”;

11and again,

“Praise the Lord, all you Gentiles, and let all the peoples praise him”;

12and again Isaiah says,

“The root of Jesse shall come, the one who rises to rule the Gentiles; in him the Gentiles shall hope.”

13May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Gospel: Matthew 3:1-12

Just before Jesus begins his public ministry, John the Baptist appears, calling people to mend their ways and speaking of a powerful one who is to come.

1In those days John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness of Judea, proclaiming, 2“Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.” 3This is the one of whom the prophet Isaiah spoke when he said,
“The voice of one crying out in the wilderness:

‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.’ ”

4Now John wore clothing of camel’s hair with a leather belt around his waist, and his food was locusts and wild honey. 5Then the people of Jerusalem and all Judea were going out to him, and all the region along the Jordan, 6and they were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins.

7But when he saw many Pharisees and Sadducees coming for baptism, he said to them, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? 8Bear fruit worthy of repentance. 9Do not presume to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our ancestor’; for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children to Abraham. 10Even now the ax is lying at the root of the trees; every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.

11“I baptize you with water for repentance, but one who is more powerful than I is coming after me; I am not worthy to carry his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. 12His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor and will gather his wheat into the granary; but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.”

HYMN:  VU 18  There’s A Voice In The Wilderness


The story is told of a rabbi welcoming a group of confirmands into the synagogue for a visit.  Much to the pastor’s chagrin, one of the students asks the rabbi, “Is it true you don’t believe Jesus was the Messiah?  “That is true,” the rabbi answers.  Trying to smooth things over, the pastor adds, “You’re still waiting for the Messiah.”  The rabbi responds, “No.”  The pastor is surprised.  The rabbi clarifies, “We’re not just waiting.  We’re preparing.”  What is it that we’re doing?

John the Baptist’s whole being is vibrating with the conviction that the Day of the Lord is at hand.  With his prophetic intuition, he is absolutely sure that the long-awaited one is about to be revealed.

But John is terrified that the Son of Man will arrive and no one will even notice.  The people are too preoccupied, too filled up with themselves, too prosperous, too busy, too satisfied.  These people don’t act as if they need anything more.  They don’t act as if they hope for anything different.  They don’t act as if they expect the Lord to do anything new.  John senses that he has a critical role to play in God’s plan.  Someone has to help the people prepare for the coming of the Lord.  John journeys to the outskirts of Jerusalem and begins to preach.  Gradually people venture out to hear him.  John never goes into the city.  He always insists that the people join him in the desert, for he knows that the desert setting is part of his proclamation.  The desert:  a place of stark contrasts between light and dark, hot and cold, hard and soft.  A place of simplicity, even monotony, with few distractions.  And there in the desert John preaches his gospel:  Repent, prepare and hope.

Repent.  The word John uses means literally “turn around.”  Repent.  Turn around.  Turn back to God.  Turn away from the world.  Turn your life around.  Repent and ask for forgiveness.

Prepare.  Prepare the way of the Lord.  Live sacramentally, that the outward and visible aspect of our daily lives may more accurately reflect our inward and spiritual values and beliefs.

Hope.  Expect to encounter the Lord face-to-face and live.  Anticipate that your deepest prayers will be answered.

John reminds them that God has acted before in the past and proclaims that God will act again in the very near future.  Quoting the prophets of the exile–Isaiah, Malachi and Baruch–John recalls that hundreds of years earlier God had freed Israel from captivity in Babylon and they had returned to Jerusalem through this same desert landscape.  John proclaims that God is about to act again, even more decisively, freeing the people from their captivity to the world and showing them the way back to the Lord.

For those who dare to believe his gospel of penitence, preparation and hope, John asks them to step into the Jordan River and be baptized, an ancient purification ritual symbolizing the washing away of sins, the death of the old and the birth of the new.

The days and weeks go by, more and more people come out into the desert.  Many are baptized.  And together, they wait for the advent of the Lord.

Advent season.  Again this year we hear the familiar words of John the Baptist:  Repent and prepare the way of the Lord.  But most of us are too preoccupied to pay much heed.  Too filled up with our many responsibilities at work, at home, in the community, at church.  Sometimes it seems like it takes everything we have just to get through the day.

John calls us out into the desert, away from the noise and the frenzy.  A few minutes a day in prayer.  Periods of silence in our advent liturgy.  Time apart by ourselves.  For only in the desert times and places can we begin to hear the Advent gospel.  Repent.  Turn around.  Turn away from all the unnecessary things of this world that clamor for our attention in our time and our energy and our worship.  Reassess what is really important, what is really valuable, what is really worthy of our worship.

So let’s go back to the question, “What is it we’re doing?”  We are Christians who believe the Messiah has already come.  We claim Advent as a time of preparation to celebrate the Incarnation and also to get ready for the return of the One who came into the world.  But what does that mean?  It may be helpful to dip into our Jewish heritage.

The story is told about a rabbi who looked longingly and intently out his window every morning, only to pull his head back in sadly and announce, “The Messiah hasn’t come yet.”  The next time we lament the state of the world, let’s ask ourselves, “Are we preparing or are we just waiting?”

It is interesting that the voice cries out “in the wilderness.”  Have you ever wondered why?  Is it because there the voice cannot be drowned out?  Or, because that is where the crier has been driven?  Or, because that is where the people have been led?  All of these?  If the wilderness isn’t only solitude but also suffering, this is an especially good time of year to connect with the “preparation” that suffering can enable us to do.  How do our “Little deaths” purify us?  When unavoidable suffering assails us, can we experience it as the refiner’s fire and the fuller’s soap?  Only through God’s grace, certainly.  But how does community make that more possible?

Prepare.  Prepare the way of the Lord.  Prepare one’s home for the arrival of the long-awaited one.  Prepare for holiday festivities and visitors and gift-giving, not out of a sense of duty but out of a sense of joyful anticipation and expectation that we encounter Christ face-to-face in those we love.  Above all, dare to hope that just as God has acted dramatically time and time again to save the people and lead them back home, so this Advent God will act in a new way in our lives.

We venture out into the desert.  We reflect on the meaning of our baptism.  And we wait, and prepare, for the advent of our God.  Amen.

HYMN OF THE MONTH:  WOV 632  The Angel Gabriel From Heaven Came


As we prepare for the fullness of Christ’s presence, let us pray for a world that yearns for new hope.

God, you renew the church in every age. We give thanks for hymn writers and theologians, especially John of Damascus, whom we commemorate today. Inspire teachers, writers, and musicians to delight and instruct your people. God, in your mercy,

hear our prayer.

You give us a vision of creation in harmony, when hurting and destruction will be no more. Teach us to be stewards of the earth and companions to its creatures. Restore to balance and wholeness what human greed has harmed. God, in your mercy,

hear our prayer.

You defend the cause of all who are poor and oppressed. Raise up leaders who will govern with equity and serve the common good. Guide judges, lawmakers, and public officials to protect the rights of those who cannot advocate for themselves. God, in your mercy,

hear our prayer.

You deliver those in need from suffering and fear. Come to the aid of any who are exploited or abused, especially children, elders, and victims of human trafficking. Provide safety and help to our neighbors without shelter, refugees, and those fleeing violence. God, in your mercy,

hear our prayer.

You urge your people to welcome one another as you have welcomed us. Nurture ministries of hospitality and care in this and every congregation. We pray for people who are homebound, hospitalized, or separated from loved ones. God, in your mercy,

hear our prayer.

You embrace all who have died trusting in your promises, and we give thanks for their faithful witness. Sustain us in hope until we are united with them in the joy of your eternal presence. God, in your mercy,

hear our prayer.

God of our longing, you know our deepest needs. By your Spirit, gather our prayers and join them with the prayers of all your children. In Jesus’ name we pray.



SENDING SONG:  WOV 723  The Spirit Sends Us Forth


God the eternal Word, who dwells with us in Jesus, and who holds us in the grace of the Holy Spirit, ☩ bless you now and forever.  Amen.

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