December 17, 2023 – Third Sunday of Advent

Lectionary Readings   -   Gathering   -  Word  -   Eucharist   -   Sending   -   Music and Art

Lectionary Readings

Isaiah 61:1–4, 8–11
The spirit of the Lord is upon me; I will rejoice in my Savior.

Psalm 126
When the Lord restored our fortunes, we shouted with joy.

or Luke 1:46b–55
My soul magnifies the Lord, who has done great things.

1 Thessalonians 5:16–24
Rejoice, pray, give thanks; may God keep you until Christ’s coming.

John 1:6–8, 19–28
John came to testify to the light, so that all might believe.

— Gathering —

Opening Sentences

With open hands, we proclaim:
God promises to bring good news to the afflicted,
the disenfranchised, the oppressed, the tormented,
the grieving, and the imprisoned.
With open spirits, we shout with joy.
God calls us to rejoice, pray,
and give thanks constantly.
With open minds, we gather in God’s covenant.
God sanctifies us so that we will be ready
for the coming of the Lord.
Let us worship God!

Prayer of the Day

Great God,
when John the Baptist identified with Jesus,
many regarded his testimony as insignificant.
Yet he continued to witness to the light.
When we feel unimportant to society,
remind us that you have called us
to fulfill the mission of Jesus.
You have asked us
to bring good news to the oppressed,
to bind up the brokenhearted,
and to proclaim liberty to the captives
and release to the prisoners.
Help us to love justice, rejoice, and witness,
that righteousness and praise might spring up. Amen.

Hymn, Psalm, or Spiritual Song

Thanksgiving For Baptism

At the baptismal font:
The Lord be with you. And also with you.
Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.
It is right to give our thanks and praise.

O Lord our God, we give you thanks
for the hope and longing you instill in us
through the promise of our baptism—
a voice crying out in the wilderness,
a messenger to prepare the way,
the day of redemption drawing near.
By the power of your Holy Spirit,
poured out upon us in baptism,
keep us awake and make us ready
for the coming of your glorious realm
of righteousness, justice, and peace;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Confession and Pardon

At the baptismal font:
We have all sinned, not one of us is clean;
but there is mercy for those
who call on the name of the Lord.
Trusting in God’s grace, let us confess our sin.

Your love is good news for the oppressed, O Lord,
and you bind up the brokenhearted.
Forgive us, O God,
when we think that your good news is only for us.
Forgive us, O God,
when we twist your gospel into something that fits comfortably into our lives.
By your light,
let us see you leading us beyond ourselves and into the world you love.
By your grace,
forgive us, and free us to try again.

Lifting water from the font:
Every valley is lifted up; every mountain, made low.
Now the glory of the Lord is revealed,
for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.

In the name of Jesus Christ, we are forgiven!
Thanks be to God.

— Word —

Prayer for Illumination

At the lectern or pulpit:
Holy God, our hope and strength,
by the power of your Spirit
prepare the way in our hearts
for the coming of your Word,
so that we may see the glorious signs
of your promise fulfilled;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.


Before the readings:
A voice is crying in the wilderness:
Listen to the word of the Lord.
Mark 1:3; John 1:23

After the readings:
Heaven and earth will pass away
but the word of the Lord stands forever.
Thanks be to God.
Isaiah 40:8; Mark 13:31


Ascription of Praise

After the sermon:
Now to the God of all wisdom,
who strengthens us according to the gospel,
through Jesus Christ be all glory forever. Amen.
Romans 16:25–27

Hymn, Psalm, or Spiritual Song

Affirmation of Faith

Season of Advent (and Christmas)
Out of Israel, God in due time raised up Jesus.
His faith and obedience were the response
of the perfect child of God.
He was the fulfillment
of God’s promise to Israel,
the beginning of the new creation,
and the pioneer of the new humanity.
He gave history its meaning and direction
and called the church to be his servant
for the reconciliation of the world.
Adapted from the Confession of 1967, 9.19

Prayers of the People

Watching and waiting for the coming of Christ,
we pray for the promise of a new creation,
saying: Come quickly, Lord; our hope is in you.

With expectation, we pray for the church . . .
Anoint us with the gift of your Spirit
that we may feed the hungry
and proclaim good news to the poor.
Come quickly, Lord; our hope is in you.

With expectation, we pray for the world . . .
Use us in your work to heal the brokenhearted,
grant freedom to those who are held captive,
and bring liberation to those who are in prison.
Come quickly, Lord; our hope is in you.

With expectation, we pray for this community . . .
Be present in abandoned and forgotten neighborhoods,
places where mourning overshadows joy
and healthy food is hard to find.
Come quickly, Lord; our hope is in you.

With expectation, we pray for loved ones . . .
Remembering your commandment to love,
we pray for our enemies and those who trouble us,
as well as those whose presence in our lives brings us joy.
Come quickly, Lord; our hope is in you.

God our hope, as the promised day approaches,
fill us with the joy of your Holy Spirit
and strengthen us to serve you faithfully;
through Christ, who is coming to reign. Amen.

— Eucharist —

Invitation to Offering

At the communion table:
All things in heaven and earth belong to God,
who is coming in glory to reveal a new creation.
Therefore, let us offer our lives to the Lord.
2 Peter 3:8–15

Prayer of Dedication

At the communion table:
God Most High, receive the gifts of our lives
as an offering of gratitude for your grace.
Overshadow us with your Holy Spirit
and let it be with us according to your word,
for nothing is impossible with you. Amen.
Luke 1:35–38; 1 Corinthians 1:4

Great Thanksgiving

The Lord be with you. And also with you.
Lift up your hearts. We lift them to the Lord.
Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.
It is right to give our thanks and praise.

Blessed are you, O Lord our God:
You are good news to the oppressed, healing for the brokenhearted,
freedom to the captive, and comfort for those who mourn.
Now the time has come at last to proclaim the year of your favor.
Therefore we praise you, joining the song
of the universal church and the heavenly choir:
A Sanctus (“Holy, holy, holy”) is sung.

Blessed is Jesus Christ, our Savior:
Jesus Christ is the true light that the prophets foretold.
He has come into the world to enlighten everyone
so that we might testify to your saving power and love.
The words of institution are included here.
Remembering your goodness and grace,
we offer ourselves to you with gratitude
as we share this joyful feast.
A Memorial Acclamation (e.g., “Christ has died”) is sung.

Pour out your Holy Spirit upon us
and upon this bread and cup;
make us one in the body and blood
of Jesus Christ our Lord.
Teach us to rejoice and give thanks always, to pray without ceasing,
to follow the Spirit, heed the prophets, and hold fast to what is good,
so that we may be holy and whole at the coming of our Lord.
Through the Lord Jesus Christ,
in the unity of the Spirit,
we bless you, God of glory,
now and forever.
An Amen is sung.

Lord’s Prayer

Breaking the Bread

Communion of the People

Hymn, Psalm, or Spiritual Song

Prayer after Communion

At the communion table:
God our hope, we give you thanks
that you have given us this foretaste
of the justice, righteousness, and peace
of your promised new creation.
Strengthen us with this heavenly food
as we seek to serve your holy realm.
Lead us to live in joyful expectation
of the coming again in glory
of Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord. Amen.

— Sending —

Hymn, Psalm, or Spiritual Song


Blessing and Charge

At the doors of the church:
May the God of peace make you holy
and the power of the Spirit sustain you
until the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Alleluia!
1 Thessalonians 5:16–24

Prepare the way of the Lord! Amen.
Isaiah 40:3; Mark 1:3

Birth Triptych (detail)

by Anne Emmons

Additional Materials

Congregational Song


  • Awake! Awake, and Greet the New Morn (O) REJOICE, REJOICE GTG 107
  • My Soul Cries Out with a Joyful Shout (G) STAR OF THE COUNTY DOWN GTG 100
  • Savior of the Nations, Come (G) NUN KOMM, DER HEIDEN HEILAND GTG 102
  • When Morning Gilds the Skies (E) LAUDES DOMINI GTG 667


  • Hark! The Herald Angels Sing (Jesus, the Light of the World) (OG) WE’LL WALK IN THE LIGHT GTG 127
  • In You, O God, Our Hearts Rejoice (E) ST. ANNE David Gambrell, Breathing Spirit into Dust, GIA
  • Sing Out, My Soul (Magnificat) (G) MAGNIFICAT (Taizé) GTG 646
  • Tell Out, My Soul (G) WOODLANDS LUYH 364


  • Here, O Our Lord, We See You (O) MORECAMBE GTG 517
  • Light One Candle to Watch for Messiah (G) TIF EN VEDELE GTG 85
  • Lo, How a Rose E’er Blooming (O) ES IST EIN’ ROS’ GTG 129
  • You Satisfy the Hungry Heart (EG) BICENTENNIAL GTG 523


  • Arise, Your Light Is Come! (OG) FESTAL SONG GTG 744
  • Longing for Light, We Wait in Darkness (Christ, Be Our Light) (OG) CHRIST, BE OUR LIGHT GTG 314
  • Rejoice, Ye Pure in Heart! (E) MARION GTG 804
  • When the Lord Redeems the Very Least (OG) I’LL FLY AWAY GTG 852

Psalms and Canticles

Psalm 126

  • When God Restored Our Common Life [RESIGNATION, SALVATION] GTG 74, PAS 126E
  • When God First Brought Us Back [WAYFARING STRANGER] PAS 126A, LUYH 55, SSS 32 (with Spanish translation)
  • When God Delivered Israel [SHEAVES]; GTG 73, PH 237
  • Los que sembraron con lágrimas / Those Who with Tears Went Out Sowing; SSS 333
  • When the Lord Restored Our Blessing [HATIKVAH]; PAS 125C (part 2), LUYH 51
  • His Love Is Everlasting; OLOF 691
  • Our Mouth Was Filled with Laughter; PAS 126B
  • Those Who Sow Their Seeds [HATIKVAH]; PP 254
  • The Lord Has Done Great Things [NEW BRITAIN/AMAZING GRACE]; HTP1 86

Luke 1:46b-55

  • My Soul Gives Glory to My God [MORNING SONG/ CONSOLATION]; GTG 99, PAS 1042
  • My Soul Cries Out with a Joyful Shout [STAR OF THE COUNTY DOWN]; GTG 100, LUYH 69, PAS 75B, SSS 68 (with Spanish translation)
  • Holy Is Your Name [WILD MOUNTAIN THYME]; PAS 1020
  • Tell Out, My Soul [WOODLANDS]; LUYH 364
  • My Heart Sings Out [CAROL (Willis)]; OLOF 696
  • My Soul Rejoices in the Lord; PAS 1022
  • My Soul Proclaims; PFTS1 66

Organ Music

  • “Fantasy for Organ,” VALET WILL ICH DIR GEBEN, HYFRYDOL, Emma Lou Diemer, MSM (M)
  • “Wake, Awake, for Night Is Flying,” WACHET AUF, Advent Postludes for Organ, Robert A. Hobby, MSM (M)
  • “Prelude on ‘Savior of the Nations, Come,’” Easy Organ Library, vol. 68, Grimoaldo Macchia, LOR (E)
  • “When Morning Gilds the Skies,” The Organist’s Library, vol. 51, Dale Wood, LOR (M)

Anthems for Adult Choirs

  •  “Canticle of the Turning,” Anne Krentz Organ, AF, SATB, pno, ob, vc (E)
  • “My Heart Shall Sing,” Karen Marrolli, MSM, 2 pt or SATTB, pno, cga, vln, hd (M)
  • “Creator of the Stars of Night,” Michael Burkhardt, MSM, uni, cong, org, hb (M)
  • “Rise, Shine,” arr. Marques A. Garrett and Tom Trenney, MSM, SATB, pno (E)
  • “How Shall We Know Him,” Gilbert Martin, LOR, SATB or SAB, org, C inst (M)
  • “The Lord Shall Come and Not Be Slow,” Zebulon Highben, AF, SATB, acap (A)

Handbell Music

  • “Savior of the Nations, Come,” Jason Krug, 3‑7 oct, opt hc, Grassy Meadow Music, H350020, Level 3+
  • “Everlasting Light,” Fred Gramann, 3‑5 oct, opt Bb2, CGA, CGB361, Level 4
  • “Morning Song,” Jason Krug, 3‑6 oct, BP, HB752, Level 3-


  • Testify to the Light, Jan Richardson (JR)
  • Mary’s Song, Lauren Wright Pittman (VDL)
  • Magnificat, Jan Richardson (JR)
  • Magnificat on Silk, Frank Wesley (VDL)