Sunday Readings & Comments


Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,

The Collect for this Sunday in 1928 Book of Common Prayer fell on the Sunday before Advent. It was called “Stir Up” Sunday as some may recall. I am told it began the baking season for Christmas – the work of stirring to prepare for baking. Now, in Advent, we pray for God to come mightily among us – stir us up. We acknowledge our sins, asking for God’s grace, help and deliverance. We prepare ourselves in Advent, as in Lent, by taking stock of ourselves, repenting, and returning to the Lord. God is faithful to answer such prayers.

The reading from Isaiah reflects confidence in the coming of the Lord. A new day is dawning – of great joy by all the people. Expectancy turns into joyful exuberance. That which was is now past. The anointed one, here first speaks, then the Lord — a message of liberation. Justice, righteousness and praise will blossom – and all nations, are included in this vision. God’s vision is one of justice, compassion for those who struggle and suffer, and walking the way of doing right, not wrong to others.

Psalm 126 recalls a time past when God’s mercy broke out surprisingly, Laughter and joy rang out. And now the poet prays God will produce these same mercies and joys. The character of the community and individuals will be transformed.

The Epistle from 1 Thessalonians yearns for the Second Advent – the Coming of the Lord Jesus Christ, an expectation of the early church. We still wait for that event – when this world comes to an end, in some way. When it does, Christians rejoice, pray, and give thanks. For now, blessings of rejoicing, thanksgiving – are offered as if that day has occurred. We think of Jesus’ promise of presence with us through the Spirit as we wait— not just the physical, bodily return of Christ.

The Gospel from John also raises the spirit of expectancy — a period of time between promise and fulfillment. John the Baptist is here to prepare people – make straight the Lord’s way into our lives and bring the kingdom to come, near. The Lord came. John wasn’t so sure — and many, religious leaders and governments didn’t want him. He threatened their worlds, with the Kingdom of God, as do those who follow the Lord. Not much has changed. Soon the Advent of the adult Christ will come. John’s baptism prepares for that moment.

As you read, and re-read aloud, and listen to your speech, and pray to receive God’s word for you in each — more and more the despair of the earlier Sundays of Advent begins to shift. Think of the coming of God’s great and gracious inbreaking just ahead.

Blessings, and faithfulness to the God who came, will come, whom we ask to be present in our hearts and minds, words, thoughts and actions, Fr. Steve 

Third Sunday of Advent – December 13, 2020

The Collect

Stir up your power, O Lord, and with great might come among us; and, because we are sorely hindered by our sins, let your bountiful grace and mercy speedily help and deliver us; through Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom, with you and the Holy Spirit, be honor and glory, now and for ever. Amen.

Old Testament

Isaiah 61:1-4, 8-11

The 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;
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor,
and the day of vengeance of our God; 
to comfort all who mourn;
to 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.
They shall build up the ancient ruins,
they shall raise up the former devastations;
they shall repair the ruined cities,
the devastations of many generations.
For 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.
Their 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.
I 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.
For 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.

The Response

Canticle 15

The Song of Mary Magnificat

Luke 1:46-55

My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord,
my spirit rejoices in God my Savior; *
for he has looked with favor on his lowly servant.
From this day all generations will call me blessed: *
the Almighty has done great things for me, and holy is his Name.
He has mercy on those who fear him *
in every generation.
He has shown the strength of his arm, *
he has scattered the proud in their conceit.
He has cast down the mighty from their thrones, *
and has lifted up the lowly.
He has filled the hungry with good things, *
and the rich he has sent away empty.
He has come to the help of his servant Israel, *
for he has remembered his promise of mercy,
The promise he made to our fathers, *
to Abraham and his children for ever.
Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit: *
as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be for ever. Amen.

The Epistle

1 Thessalonians 5:16-24

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise the words of prophets, but test everything; hold fast to what is good; abstain from every form of evil.

May 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. The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do this.

The Gospel

John 1:6-8,19-28

There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him. He himself was not the light, but he came to testify to the light.

This is the testimony given by John when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, “Who are you?” He confessed and did not deny it, but confessed, “I am not the Messiah.” And they asked him, “What then? Are you Elijah?” He said, “I am not.” “Are you the prophet?” He answered, “No.” Then they said to him, “Who are you? Let us have an answer for those who sent us. What do you say about yourself?” He said, “I am the voice of one crying out in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the way of the Lord,’” as the prophet Isaiah said. Now they had been sent from the Pharisees. They asked him, “Why then are you baptizing if you are neither the Messiah, nor Elijah, nor the prophet?” John answered them, “I baptize with water. Among you stands one whom you do not know, the one who is coming after me; I am not worthy to untie the thong of his sandal.” This took place in Bethany across the Jordan where John was baptizing.

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