Third Sunday of Advent A, December 11, 2016

Isaiah 35: 1-10
Psalm 146: 5-10 or Luke 1: 47-55
Romans James 5: 7-10
Matthew 11: 2-11

CALL TO WORSHIP [ADVENT CANDLE LIGHTING – LOVE]
One: Prepare the way for the Christ child.  God is about to be born among us.
All: We humbly wait for the light of the world to descend into our midst.
One: The Lord loves the righteous, watches over the strangers, and upholds the orphan and the widow.
All: We have much to learn at the feet of the teacher of how to love and cherish.
[One: We light this candle today hoping that it refreshes the light of love inside of us.
All: May this light illuminate those around us today, who are just as forgotten and in need of love as the strangers, orphans and widows of scripture.]
One: Strengthen your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is near.
All: With quiet expectation, we come to worship the God who is, was, and is soon to come again.

OPENING PRAYER
O Holy One, the farmer waits for the precious crop from the earth and is patient with the rain. We understand that need for patience as we wait for your son to join us and quench our thirst and heal our cracked brokenness with his loving presence and living water. Yet we still sit in parched thirst. We try to strengthen our hearts. But we come almost ready and waiting.  We are here, impatient. Amen.

CALL TO CONFESSION
The judge is standing at the doors.  As examples of suffering and patience we listen to the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord.  Following their lead in looking to righteous living, let us confess our sins.

PRAYER OF CONFESSION
Everlasting God, we are so caught up with ourselves and right now that we do not seek you. We read of your priorities and do not know when we last lived into them.  We have not scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts.  We have not brought down the powerful or lifted up the lowly.  We definitely have not filled the hungry with good things or sent the rich away empty.  We do not execute justice for the oppressed, set the prisoners free, open the eyes of the blind or lift up those who are bowed down.  We look at your scriptures and are humbled.  Their vision is so far from the reality we have brought about.  Please forgive us.  Please help us live into the loving work you want us to do.  Please make us your people again.  Amen.

ASSURANCE OF PARDON
Isaiah says “The wilderness and the dry land shall be glad, the desert shall rejoice and bloom; like the crocus it shall blossom abundantly, and rejoice with joy and singing.”  What the Lord does for the dry land, can God not do with you?  May you feel your drought of sinfulness quenched by the loving, living water that comes from above.  In the name of Jesus Christ I declare to you that your sins are forgiven.  Now go and sin no more.

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