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


     The arrival scripture speaks of is both more profound and more sublime. It is the coming end of a way of being that has seemed like exile, like imprisonment. It is salvation from all that has torn us and our world apart. As we wait alongside the readers of Mark’s gospel, we too hear voices from the past in the prophetic words of Isaiah that prepare us to receive the one who is coming into the world: Jesus Christ, the Son of God.

     As with any long period of waiting, we know that the final days are the hardest to bear. We struggle to understand why we ourselves, never mind the rest of creation, must wait any longer for the salvation and redemption God has promised. Our salvation is bound up with one another’s though, and we are reminded that God has been patient with us, “not wanting any to perish”. We therefore practice patience with God as we remain steadfast in hope and lead lives of holiness and godliness worthy of the new era that is coming.



     Our lists are long, even in this strange mess where we live these days. And we want to do it right, we want to be safe, but we want to be able to enjoy the season. We’ve got work to do to put right what has gone wrong, to heal what is broken, to mend the relationships, and to prepare for the company that will come.

     The prophet Isaiah reminded us that there is work to be done. “Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God.” When God comes in, then healing is to be found, but we need to make the way; we need to open the door into our lives.

     So, we light this candle as a sign of our faith that the God we worship is not far from us and that we can clear the way for that God to come and dwell with us. We light this candle in faith that company is coming in the form of the Christ Child, the Prince of Peace.

     O Come, O Come Emmanuel.



The God of all time and space is in this place.

Come, Creating God; shape us according to your hopeful vision.

Come, Living Christ; reveal to us your way of peace.

Come, Holy Spirit; stir us to the gift and joy of compassion.

Loving God, to you we raise our hearts and voices.

Shine your light of love in us and in all that we do.

O Wisdom, O holy Word of God,

you govern all creation with your revealed, compassionate care:  come and show your people the way to salvation.

CHILDREN’S SONG   Voices United #6  A Candle Is Burning


Generous God, you have created all that is, and you provide for us in every season.  Bless all that we offer, that through sharing ourselves the world will receive your blessing.  In the name of Jesus, Emmanuel, we pray.  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.


     When I was little, I shared a room with my younger sister.  At bedtime, mom or dad would come and tuck us in.  We liked it when dad tucked us in because he would tell us stories of when he was a child.  Our favourite stories were the ones where he got into trouble, or he and his brothers got into trouble, or he and his friends got into trouble!  You can see the pattern.  My sister and I would laugh and laugh and then, finally, laugh ourselves to sleep.  They were good stories, and they all had a happy ending.

     We are in the season of Advent.  It is a time to prepare for Jesus’ birthday.  We decorate, we bake, we clean…. we also pray, ask for forgiveness, look at ourselves and our behaviour, our attitude, our faith and see how we can be better people, listen for God’s voice and do what God wants us to do to help our hearts, minds and spirits get ready for Jesus. 

     Part of that getting ready is listening to the stories of our parents, our grandparents, those who have meaning in our life and who have helped us with our faith.  In sharing our stories, in sharing our faith, we keep Jesus alive for others.  We help others prepare for Christmas day.  A good story is worth telling over and over.  That is why we hear about Mary, Joseph and baby Jesus every year.  It is a story about God’s love for us, about ordinary people being chosen by God to do extraordinary things, it is a story about difficult times and trusting in God to get through those difficult times.  We may laugh, we may cry, we may be surprised, we may feel at peace.  A good story brings out those feelings.  A good story encourages us, gives us strength and hope. 

     We are getting ready to hear the story again.  We are also preparing to share that wonderful story with others.  After all, that is the whole point of a good story.  Especially if it is about Jesus!




     Mission & Service-funded global partner the World Student Christian Federation-Africa Region gives    university students a place to come together in education, faith and activism.

     WSCF-Africa empowers and connects responsible young leaders around the world on their path to change tomorrow.  It encourages a culture of democracy to mobilize youth to become proactive in society, promoting positive change through dialogue and action between different traditions and cultures. 

     At a gathering, one of the World Student Christian Federation members shared these words:

     As young people, we ask the churches no to spread hate speech or judgment but to preach love, peace, and acceptance for all people as God’s creation.  We ask our churches to take part in interfaith dialogue, to start building relationships with members of other faiths, so that we may come to understand their beliefs and accept them as brothers and sisters.  We ask our churches to acknowledge that we cannot master the truth; we can only approach the truth.  Only God holds the truth.  As the present youth, we are the church of the future.  Because of this, it is important for the churches to communicate with us and to ensure that our opinions are heard.  It is part of the role of churches to promote human dignity and to serve the common good.

     We are thankful that Mission & Service is in partnership with the world Student Christian Federation and its vision of change the world for the better.

     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 40:1-11

In grand, flowing, poetic lines, the prophet announces that the exile of God’s people in Babylon is over. The Lord will deliver Israel and will care for her as a shepherd cares for his sheep. This word can be trusted, because the only enduring reality in life is the word of the Lord.

1Comfort, O comfort my people, says your God.

2Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and cry to her that she has served her term, that her penalty is paid,
that she has received from the Lord’s hand double for all her sins.

3A voice cries out:  “In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God. 

4Every valley shall be lifted up, and every mountain and hill be made low; the uneven ground shall become level, and the rough places a plain.

5Then the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all people shall see it together, for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”

6A voice says, “Cry out!”  And I said, “What shall I cry?”  All people are grass, their constancy is like the flower of the field.

7The grass withers, the flower fades, when the breath of the Lord blows upon it; surely the people are grass.
8The grass withers, the flower fades; but the word of our God will stand forever.
9Get you up to a high mountain, O Zion, herald of good tidings; lift up your voice with strength, Jerusalem, herald of good tidings, lift it up, do not fear; say to the cities of Judah, “Here is your God!”
10See, the Lord God comes with might, and his arm rules for him; his reward is with him, and his recompense before him.

11He will feed his flock like a shepherd; he will gather the lambs in his arms, and carry them in his bosom, and gently lead the mother sheep.

Psalm 85:1-2, 8-13

R:  Righteousness shall prepare a pathway for God. (Ps. 85:13)

1You have been gracious to your land, O Lord; you have restored the good fortune of Jacob.
2You have forgiven the iniquity of your people and blotted out all their sins.
8I will listen to what the Lord God is saying; for you speak peace to your faithful people and to those who turn their hearts to you.
9Truly, your salvation is very near to those who fear you, that your glory may dwell in our land. R
10Steadfast love and faithfulness have met together; righteousness and peace have kissed each other.
11Faithfulness shall spring up from the earth, and righteousness shall look down from heaven.
12The Lord will indeed grant prosperity, and our land will yield its increase.
13Righteousness shall go before the Lord and shall prepare for God a pathway. R

Second Reading: 2 Peter 3:8-15a

This short letter deals with pressing concerns regarding the final advent of Jesus, especially concerns that could arise over its apparent delay. The author of the letter calls on Christians to anticipate the promised coming of the Lord through conduct dedicated to God.

8Do not ignore this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like one day. 9The Lord is not slow about his promise, as some think of slowness, but is patient with you, not wanting any to perish, but all to come to repentance. 10But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a loud noise, and the elements will be dissolved with fire, and the earth and everything that is done on it will be disclosed.
  11Since all these things are to be dissolved in this way, what sort of persons ought you to be in leading lives of holiness and godliness, 12waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be set ablaze and dissolved, and the elements will melt with fire? 13But, in accordance with his promise, we wait for new heavens and a new earth, where righteousness is at home.

  14Therefore, beloved, while you are waiting for these things, strive to be found by him at peace, without spot or blemish; 15aand regard the patience of our Lord as salvation.

Gospel: Mark 1:1-8

The Gospel of Mark does not begin with a story of Jesus’ birth but with the voice of one crying out in the wilderness: Prepare the way of the Lord.

1The beginning of the good news of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
  2As it is written in the prophet Isaiah,
 “See, I am sending my messenger ahead of you,
  who will prepare your way;
3the voice of one crying out in the wilderness:
  ‘Prepare the way of the Lord,
  make his paths straight,’ ”

4John the baptizer appeared in the wilderness, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. 5And people from the whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem were going out to him, and were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins. 6Now John was clothed with camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey. 7He proclaimed, “The one who is more powerful than I is coming after me; I am not worthy to stoop down and untie the thong of his sandals. 8I have baptized you with water; but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”


SERMON  Mark 1:1-8

A number of years ago, the Lutheran Seminary in Saskatoon made a promotional video to send to congregations across western Canada.  My friend, Paul, was in a scene in the film.  You see a small, wooden church standing out in the middle of the prairies.  A car pulls up beside the church.  The pastor gets out of the car (Paul) and looks around.  The camera pans a full 360*.  All one sees is prairie, more prairie, more prairie, and then the church.

If you want to truly repent, head out to the wilderness.  If you want to confess all your sins, you will find redemption in the middle of nowhere.  It makes sense.  There are no distractions in the wilderness.  This is particularly true if you live on the Canadian prairies.

John the Baptizer lived and preached in the wilderness around Jerusalem.  Go on the web and look at the pictures of the area – there isn’t much in the way of distractions over there either!  Yet the writer of Mark’s Good News stresses that “everyone” was coming out to the wilderness to confess their sins and be baptized by John.  Why?  What was going on at that time that huge numbers of people felt the need to head out into the heat and the barren landscape to tell some guy in a smelly camel coat, eating bugs dipped in honey, their greatest transgressions and then be dunked in the muddy waters of the Jordan, sins washed, redemption gained?!  Had they all lost their senses?  Not at all.  In fact, their senses and their faith were restored after their confession and baptism.

Rome was the oppressor.  Life was hard, for the poor, even harder.  The Hebrew people equated suffering with sin – they had broken their covenant relationship with God, therefore, the consequences suffered reminded them that they needed to repent and restore their relationship with Yahweh.  John proclaimed this in the wilderness.  He was God’s prophet.  John knew Jesus was coming.  Early church tradition says they were cousins.  Whatever the connection, John knew Jesus was coming to turn things around for the Israelites, and people had best be ready!

Jim was one of the Clinical Pastoral Education students completing the 3-month course, as was I, at the University Hospital in Vancouver.  He was a retired math teacher and a great wit!  I recall him telling the rest of us about one his visits. 

There was a young man in the hospital on Jim’s ward.  He presented himself as a tough, “I can take it!” individual.  Jim went to visit him and they got to talking.  Jim asked him about his life and what kind of work he had done as a means of making conversation.  After this young man finished listing off his accomplishments, Jim said, “My, you look young for a man your age!”  The patient asked Jim what he meant.  Jim said, “Well, as you were talking, I was adding up all the years of education needed to get your various certificates and degrees to accomplish all you said you have done.  By my estimation, you must be 85!”  The young man was speechless.  Jim tried again.  “How about we start at the beginning, only this time, you tell me the truth.”

Repentance is exhausting work.  Being brutally honest with how much you have missed the mark of what God desires you do with your life, well, that takes a lot of courage.  Taking the steps for permanent change is even harder.  Those around you will know you have changed for the better, when the better happens – and stays.  Big brother isn’t the only one watching!

The people of God must have been sensing a need to come clean with God.  John was there to remind them that honesty was the best policy.  Get your life in order, because Jesus is coming, and this is only the beginning of the ride!

Today isn’t just the second Sunday of Advent.  It is also White Sunday – the giving of anonymous gifts for those living in the margins.  It is also Human Rights Sunday and the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women.  Specifically, today is the 31st anniversary of the Montreal Massacre. 

On December 6, 1989, Marc Lépine entered a mechanical engineering class at the École Polytechnique and ordered the women and men to opposite sides of the classroom. He separated nine women, instructing the men to leave. He stated that he was “fighting feminism” and opened fire. He shot at all nine women in the room, killing six. Lépine then moved through corridors, the cafeteria, and another classroom, targeting women for just under 20 minutes. He killed a further eight before turning the gun on himself.1  

Ten other women were injured, as well as four men.  At the time, the incident was the deadliest mass shooting in Canadian history.

We will never know why Marc Lepine did what he did.  Is there ever any satisfactory reason for violence?  What we do know is misogyny – the hatred of women – is alive and well all over this little blue planet, third from the sun.  What we also know is that John calls us to prepare for Jesus’ arrival.  John calls us to confess the ways in which we have broken our relationship with God.  Part of that confession is admitting those times we did nothing, when we could have done something in a given situation for our neighbour, also a child of God.  John calls us to acknowledge that our lives have to change, permanently, for the better, if our words of repentance are to mean anything.  If you only plan on giving John lip service, don’t even bother coming out to the desert.  Then again, to be spiritually separated from God is like being camped out all alone in the desert.

Mark Allan Powell, Professor of New Testament at Trinity Lutheran Seminary in Columbus, OH, writes:

     …children play a game called “Hide-and-Seek” in which everyone hides and tries not to get caught, but eventually, when the game goes as it should, everyone gets found. The game is interesting from a psychological point of view because “hiding” is not really very much fun. If you ask most children, “Do you want to sit somewhere all by yourself and keep very quiet for a long time?” you will not get many takers. What’s fun about “Hide-and-Seek” is not hiding, but getting found. Everybody likes to be found.

     So, when Advent comes around every year, we are reminded that God is coming to find us. We have our ways of hiding. But on Advent 2, when John the Baptist shouts, “Prepare the way of the Lord!” it is as though God has just called, “Ready or not, here I come!” And we remember: this is the God who always finds us.




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



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

Faithful God, you teach us to wait for you with faithfulness and patience. Sustain and support us in our doubts and questions. Nurture our faith as we discern and enact your mission. Hear us, O God.

Your mercy is great.

Loving God, you set the stars in the sky and breathe life into the earth. Renew the face of creation where it is in need of your healing touch. Mend the wounds of environmental damage and restore balance to ecosystems so that all creation can declare your praise. Hear us, O God.

Your mercy is great.

Steadfast God, you never tire of seeking justice. Where people suffer from discrimination, judgment, and injustice, speak words of truth and comfort. Lead us toward a world where faithfulness will sprout underfoot and righteousness rain down from above. Hear us, O God.

Your mercy is great.

Leading God, you ask us to make uneven ground smooth. Make even the disparities between your people. Sustain and support people with physical and intellectual disabilities. Accompany disability advocates who work for a world accessible to all. Teach us to celebrate the great diversity in our midst. 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. Ease their suffering and support them when they struggle. Hear us, O God.

Your mercy is great.

Eternal God, we give thanks for the saints who have prepared your way in the wilderness and taught us to continue their faithful work. Make their generous lives an example for all. 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  With One Voice #692  For All The Faithful Women




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