Due to copyright 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.


Never be in a hurry; do everything quietly and in a calm spirit. Do not lose your inner peace for anything whatsoever, even if your whole world seems upset.

~Saint Francis de Sales


Luke sets the preaching of John the Baptist clearly in the midst of the political and religious environment of his day. We are told the names of the emperor, governor, and other political rulers of the day. They are the ones who are supposed to care for the welfare of the citizens of their territories. Although John gave his message while he was in the wilderness, it was intended to have its impact in the farms, villages, and cities where the ordinary and the powerful live out their daily lives. John is not satisfied with the way things are, and his words help prepare us for the coming of one who will turn the world upside down. John’s words tell us to examine our own lives and the world around us. We should not be complacent in the face of injustice, but instead seek forgiveness and strive for lives that bear fruit according to God’s vision for the world.


For many of us, the call to head home is one of joy and of hope. We can’t wait to reconnect with family, with history and tradition, with a wonderful time of freedom and loving support. We can’t wait to go home.

There are those who fear going home, however, and there are times when going home brings back memories that are not so good, not so healing. We are reminded of when we didn’t fit in, when we didn’t measure up, when we weren’t loved like we needed to be loved. Home can be a difficult place for some.

The prophet Malachi tells us that even when we are in the hottest of fires, there is a presence who can make us better, who can refine and purify. John the Baptist tells us that the road home is always under construction, mountains leveled, and valleys filled in, to make smooth the path that leads us to our true destination, where we can live in peace and unity with all.

We light the candle of peace as a sign of our assurance that though the road is hard, we believe it is worth the journey. It is time to go home.

Light the candle of peace.


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    This Little Light of Mine


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.


     Waiting for something can be so hard, especially when you know there is something special waiting for you after the waiting!

     I remember when my Aunt Ruth was training their German Shepherd puppy, Timber, to “sit and stay”.  Aunt Ruth showed Timber a small dog treat.  Then she gave the command and hand sign for Timber to “sit”. 

     Remember, Timber was still a puppy, and a fast learner.  She learned the “sit” command very quickly.  It was the “stay” command that was the problem. 

     You see, Timber kept looking at that dog treat in my aunt’s fingers.  She wanted that dog treat!  Timber heard and obeyed the command to sit, but “stay”?!  Aunt Ruth kept backing up, using the hand sign for “stay” and repeating the word.

     Timber’s tail was wagging so hard, her whole body was wagging with her tail!  Her mouth was open, she was whining and her eyes were focused on that treat.  Suddenly, she couldn’t wait any more and ran toward my aunt, expecting to get the treat!  This did not happen.

     Back to the sitting spot Timber went, the whole command process repeated over and over until Timber learned to wait, patiently, for the “OK!” command.  That waiting was hard for a puppy!

     Christmas is coming!  Baby Jesus is coming!  It is so exciting!  It can be hard to wait, even for adults!  So, in Advent, we focus on preparing for Jesus.  It makes the waiting less difficult.  We vacuum, dust, bake, decorate, clean, put up the tree…but what about us?  How do WE prepare ourselves for Christ’s coming?  Well, we can find a quiet place to read our daily devotions, we can focus on helping our neighbour, helping our family members… yet is that enough?

     The beauty of God is that God takes all that we do to prepare ourselves for Jesus’ birth, and finishes the job!  The beauty of God is that even if we don’t get the house totally clean, Jesus comes anyway.  Even if we don’t get all the decorations up, Jesus comes anyway.  Even if we run out of time to do all the things for our family and neighbours that we wanted to do, Jesus comes anyway!

     God’s love embraces us in our waiting, God’s hope fills us in our waiting, God’s grace is given to us in our waiting.  God prepares us so that we can prepare to receive Jesus.

     Yes, waiting is difficult.  And, the gift that is waiting for us after our waiting is over, is so worth the wait!

     Come, Lord Jesus!






“We’re all human. All created by the same divine being.”

     December is one of the holiest months of the year. Along with Christmas, there’s the Jewish festival of Hanukkah, winter solstice rituals, as well as spiritually significant days for Buddhists, Muslims, and Zoroastrians. That makes this month a good one to remember what unites us.

     And it’s important we do. In October, Global Affairs Canada stated that, worldwide, the right to practise, choose, and change one’s religion or belief is increasingly under attack. According to the Pew Research Centre, in 2018 more than a quarter of the world’s countries experienced hostilities caused by religious hatred, mob violence related to religion, terrorism, and harassment of women for violating religious codes.

     “I think we have a great lack of understanding of other faith traditions. Lack of understanding breeds contempt and fear. The more we understand and the more we talk, there’s a greater opportunity to break down some of the walls of fear. We can’t do that if we keep talking about us and them,” says John Dowds, City of Edmonton Chaplain in a film called Building Bridges.

     The film is produced by the Edmonton Interfaith Centre for Education and Action, a Mission & Service partner. Your gifts through Mission & Service support the centre―the first of its kind in Canada―to hold interfaith celebrations, dialogues, and learning events. You can watch Building Bridges on the centre’s website, and faith communities are encouraged to host a screening. This is one way your Mission & Service gifts not only transform the lives of others but can also change yours for the better, too.

     Karen Lumly Kerr from the Society of Edmonton Atheists speaks compellingly about finding common ground in the film: “We all have to learn how to cooperate and figure out how to get along…trying to understand each other a little bit better and finding your common ground. What things do you all believe in? What things do you all find important?”

     “Look at my veins, they’re blue,” says Indigenous Elder Fernie Marty, lifting his arm slightly before the camera. “It’s so important to understand our own values and understandings and share them openly and honestly. When we don’t share who we are as individuals, the different cultures, it creates fears…. All of us have blue veins. That tells me we’re all royalty. We’re all equal. None of us is superior to the others. We’re all human. All created by the same divine being,” he says.

    Each one of us needs to take a clear and public stand against intolerance and for love. During this month, which is so much about spiritual deepening for so many of us, let us take that stand. Let’s build bridges of peace with all of our neighbours.

     Thank you for your generosity through Mission & Service.  Your gifts support organizations that remind us there’s more that unites us than divides.


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.

Readings and Psalm

First Reading: Malachi 3:1-4

God announces a covenant with Israel. A messenger like Malachi (his name means “my messenger”) will prepare the way for the coming of the Lord by purifying and refining God’s people, as silver and gold are refined.

     1See, I am sending my messenger to prepare the way before me, and the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple. The messenger of the covenant in whom you delight—indeed, he is coming, says the Lord of hosts. 2But who can endure the day of his coming, and who can stand when he appears?

  For he is like a refiner’s fire and like fullers’ soap; 3he will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver, and he will purify the descendants of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, until they present offerings to the Lord in righteousness. 4Then the offering of Judah and Jerusalem will be pleasing to the Lord as in the days of old and as in former years.

Psalm: Luke 1:68-79

R:  In the tender compassion of our God the dawn from on high shall break upon us. (Lk. 1:78)

68Blessed are you, Lord, the God of Israel, you have come to your people and set them free.
69You have raised up for us a mighty Savior, born of the house of your servant David. R
70Through your holy prophets, you promised of old to save us from our enemies, 71from the hands  of all who hate us,

72to show mercy to our forebears, and to remember your holy covenant.

73This was the oath you swore to our father Abraham:  74to set us free from the hands of our enemies,
free to worship you without fear, 75holy and righteous before you, all the days of our life. R
76And you, child, shall be called the prophet of the Most High, for you will go before the Lord to prepare the way,

77to give God’s people knowledge of salvation by the forgiveness of their sins.

78In the tender compassion of our God the dawn from on high shall break upon us,

79to shine on those who dwell in darkness and in the shadow of death, and to guide our feet into the way of peace. R

Second Reading: Philippians 1:3-11

The apostle Paul was the pastor of many new churches. He writes in this letter about his joy to be in partnership with the Christians of Philippi. Listen to how tender-hearted Paul, sometimes a stern preacher, is with his friends as he encourages them to grow in love and knowledge.

3I thank my God every time I remember you, 4constantly praying with joy in every one of my prayers for all of you, 5because of your sharing in the gospel from the first day until now. 6I am confident of this, that the one who began a good work among you will bring it to completion by the day of Jesus Christ. 7It is right for me to think this way about all of you, because you hold me in your heart, for all of you share in God’s grace with me, both in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel. 8For God is my witness, how I long for all of you with the compassion of Christ Jesus. 9And this is my prayer, that your love may overflow more and more with knowledge and full insight 10to help you to determine what is best, so that in the day of Christ you may be pure and blameless, 11having produced the harvest of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ for the glory and praise of God.

Gospel: Luke 3:1-6

John the Baptist is a herald of Jesus, whose way is prepared by “repentance for the forgiveness of sins.” As we hear the careful record of human leaders, we sense the spectrum of political and religious authority that will be challenged by this coming Lord.

1In the fifteenth year of the reign of Emperor Tiberius, when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, and Herod was ruler of Galilee, and his brother Philip ruler of the region of Ituraea and Trachonitis, and Lysanias ruler of Abilene, 2during the high priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John son of Zechariah in the wilderness. 3He went into all the region around the Jordan, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins, 4as it is written in the book of the words of the prophet Isaiah,
 “The voice of one crying out in the wilderness:
 ‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.
5Every valley shall be filled, and every mountain and hill shall be made low,
 and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough ways made smooth;
6and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.’ ”


SERMON:  Judith Jones, Vicar, St. Stephen & St. Luke by the Sea Episcopal Churches, Waldport, Oregon

My thanks to Vicar Judith Jones, whose words I am sharing this morning, as well as my own words that she inspired.

Today’s Gospel begins not with the Baptist’s ringing call to repentance, but with a long and detailed list of rulers.  It contrasts human kingdoms with God’s reign. The claims to authority that Tiberius or Herod or the high priest may make are not ultimate. God’s people owe allegiance first and foremost to God. And it is God’s word that sets John’s ministry in motion. John has been commissioned to prepare the way, not for lord Caesar or any earthly lord, but for the one true Lord.

Like Moses, like the prophetic voice in Isaiah, John challenges God’s people to see the wilderness as a place not of desolation, but of hope. God is calling them, like the Babylonian exiles, to leave their captors behind and head home through the wilderness. God is calling them, like the people of Israel in Egypt, to join an exodus out of slavery into God’s promised fresh start. John preaches that the first step on this journey toward freedom is a baptism of repentance.

John’s hearers were probably already familiar with two kinds of baptism: the baptism by which Gentile converts became Jews and so embarked on a whole new way of life; and the ritual washings that the Qumran community understood as cleansing them, but only if they turned from their sins and obeyed God. Both types called for changed behavior. John’s baptism of repentance does too. Repentance,  metanoia, is not mere regret for past misdeeds. It means far more than saying, “I’m sorry.  Please forgive me.” Metanoia means a change of mind and heart, the kind of inner transformation that bears visible fruit.

John proclaims a baptism of repentance that leads to release from sins. Release, aphesis, is the same word that Jesus uses to describe his mission: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me … to proclaim release to the captives and … to let the oppressed go free … ” The release or forgiveness that follows repentance does not undo past sins, but it does unbind people from them. It opens the way for a life lived in God’s service. By proclaiming such release, John fulfills his father’s prophecy: “you, child, … will go before the Lord to prepare his ways, to give knowledge of salvation to his people by the forgiveness (aphesis) of their sins”. This salvation looks like a new dawn for those trapped in darkness and death’s shadow. It is light that reveals a new path, the way toward peace.

Preparing the Lord’s path toward peace requires overturning the world as we know it. John quotes the prophet Isaiah to describe the earthshaking transformation that must take place. Though his words can certainly be taken as mere pictures of road construction, in the context of Luke’s writings they call up richer connections: valleys filled full, mountains and hills humbled, everything crooked made straight and true.  Mary sings of the God who has looked on her humble state. She praises the One who saves by dethroning the powerful and exalting the humble, sending the rich away empty-handed and filling up the hungry. Jesus blesses the poor and the hungry and the weeping but announces woe for the rich and well-fed.  On the Day of Pentecost Peter warns the people, “Be saved from this crooked generation”. ‘Crooked,’ skolia, is the same word that Isaiah uses for the things that must be straightened out. Preparing for God’s arrival means rethinking systems and structures that we see as normal but that God condemns as oppressive and crooked.

I received an education in language and theology these past few weeks.  I have always loved learning, and while the lessons may sometimes be difficult, even painful, I appreciate the knowledge.

My education began during the confirmation class on Sunday, November 21.  I use the re:form curriculum and we were studying the discipleship section, the first video titled, Why should I follow Jesus?  Can’t I just say I believe in Him?  In the video, it states that actions must accompany words.  The love Jesus has for all must be present in our words and actions.  At one point in the video, one of the characters says, “So, basically the Bible is telling us to ‘get over’ ourselves.”  The narrator replies, “Another way to put it is, in order to be faithful to God, things have to stop being all about you and start being all about God.  And the moment things start being all about God, then following and believing just come naturally because God is working in you.”

Now, I already know this.  I strive to live this.  What is important about that moment in the video is how it connects with the continuing of my education this past Monday. 

The CBC had an informative and enlightening article about language and the history of some of the expressions we use without thinking, because many do not know the history behind the expression – myself included.  The article also impressed upon the reader that, having learned the history of the expression, we cease to use said expression out of respect for others and how they have been affected by white culture.

This, too, is a subject about which I am familiar.  The inclusive language discussion was prominent when I was in seminary.  Sometimes, the discussion became quite heated.  At first, I could not see the ‘big deal’ about inclusive language.  Then, as I began to do pulpit supply in congregations outside of Saskatoon, and as I entered into the ministry of my first parish, I began to listen to the experiences of the women.  I heard some stories that moved me to tears, others had me angry at the injustice of it all!  Then I began to reflect on my experiences as a woman.  Suddenly, inclusive language was a ‘big deal’, especially if I was wanting others to feel welcomed by the church in general, and by me in particular.

The CBC article was titled, Words and Phrases You Might Want to Think Twice About Using.  I was familiar with some of the words and phrases.  The rest took me by surprise.  I have attended workshops on inclusive language over the years.  I thought I was doing fairly well with my words, until I recently Googled “inclusive language” and discovered that I am about 5 years behind in my awareness!

I am guessing that there will be those who feel angry, should they read this CBC article.  I can hear in my head comments such as, “Why can’t people just get over themselves?!”, or, “I may as well stop talking because everything I say seems to cause offence!”, or, “How long do we have to keep doing this?!”

I repeat Vicar Jones’ words: 

Preparing for God’s arrival means rethinking systems and structures that we see as normal but that God condemns as oppressive and crooked.

This includes our words and phrases and how we use them.

I repeat the narrator’s words from the re:form video:

…in order to be faithful to God, things have to stop being all about you and start being all about God.  And the moment things start being all about God, then following and believing just come naturally because God is working in you.”

Our children, grandchildren, our neighbour’s children, learn more from the words and actions we live out than by what we actually teach.  Being a Christian is not, “Do as I say, not as I do”.

The word ‘education’ is derived from the Latin word educere (educhaire), educare (edukare), and educatum which means “to learn”, “to know” and “to lead out”.  That is, education means to lead out the internal, hidden talent of a child or person.

As I read the CBC article, I was somewhat taken aback.  Words and phrases that I have used, and use, were included in the list.  I found the origin of these words and phrases interesting and insightful.  I was also inspired to come up with new ways of saying what needed to be said with words that are not hurtful.  I am a crafter of words, after all!

At the conclusion of a most engaging conversation with my confirmation students, the understanding was reached that being a follower of Christ could be very difficult at times.  It requires courage and stamina.  To follow Christ is not always convenient – it may even get you into trouble!  To follow Christ is to be fully alive, seeing holiness in each person, recognizing God’s call in oneself to connect Spirit to Spirit and learn how God sees the other.  More importantly, it is to learn how God wants you to see the other.

Preparing the Lord’s path to peace means letting God humble everything that is proud and self-satisfied in us, and letting God heal and lift up what is broken and beaten down. The claims that the world’s authorities make often conflict with God’s claims. Paths that seem satisfactory to us are not good enough for God. John calls us to let God’s bulldozers reshape the world’s social systems and the landscape of our own minds and hearts. God’s ways are not our ways.

But God’s ways lead to salvation. God’s glory will be revealed in Jesus, the judge who comes to save us. This is the good news that John proclaims, and it is good news not just for us, but for the whole world: all flesh will see God’s salvation. This is God’s promise, and our hope. Bring on the bulldozers. Let’s prepare the way.

Amen.  Come, Lord Jesus!

HYMN OF THE MONTH:  VU 25   Lo, He Comes With Clouds Descending


In this season of watching and waiting, let us pray for all people and places that yearn for God’s presence.

You send messengers into the world to proclaim the day of your coming. Make our bishops, pastors, deacons, and lay preachers confident in their preaching, that their words and our lives witness to your grace.

God, in your mercy,

Hear our prayer.

Send your Spirit to all living creatures that are endangered. Provide them with shelter and care and bring us into right relationship with the earth that you create and call good.

God, in your mercy,

Hear our prayer.

Send leaders to our nations, cities, schools, and businesses to work on behalf of those who have lost parents, spouses, and loved ones; immigrants; the imprisoned; those living in poverty; and all who are oppressed. Make them bold in their commitments to justice and reconciliation.

God, in your mercy,

Hear our prayer.

Send your servants to care for those who suffer. Use our ministries and our lives to reach out with compassion to those who are hungry, oppressed, lonely, or ill or grieving, especially the family of Joan Dreger, Dwayne, Tracy Skoglund, Kathryn Schmidt, Brooke Alexiuk, Mike Froese.  Grant them healing and wholeness.

God, in your mercy,

Hear our prayer.

Send prophets to speak difficult truths, even when they are poorly received. Embolden those who ask hard questions and challenge accepted ways. Instill in youth and elders alike a passion for pointing to Jesus in all things.

God, in your mercy,

Hear our prayer.

We remember your saints, both those publicly celebrated and those more humbly remembered. Confident that your work will be completed, we live in faith until the day of your coming.

God, in your mercy,

Hear our prayer.

God of new life, you come among us in the places we least expect. Receive these prayers and those of our hearts, in the name of Jesus.



SENDING SONG  VU 9   People, Look East   


The God of hope fill us with all joy and peace in believing, so that we may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit, through Christ Jesus for whom we wait.



Go in peace. Christ is near.

Thanks be to God.



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