Third Sunday of Advent
Call to worship
On this great Sunday of our rejoicing, Advent calls us to patiently look deeper to discover God’s goodness within and around us, to recognize Christ, and to rejoice.
- To the point: The gospel begins with John questioning who Jesus is and concludes with Jesus extolling who John is. What makes John great is that he recognizes in “the works of the Christ” the person and presence of the Messiah — “the one who is to come.” This is exactly our Advent challenge: to see in the goodness around us the works of Jesus and the presence of “the Christ.” Advent calls us to look deeper and then to trust what we see. Whom we discover depends upon what we see.
- Connecting the Gospel (Matt 11:2-11) to the first reading: Isaiah announces that salvation is revealed in such wonders as making the blind see, the deaf hear, and the lame walk. These are exactly the works Jesus does, revealing to all that Jesus is “the Christ,” the Savior.
- Connecting the Gospel to experience: We learn who a person is by observing how that person lives and behaves. We learn who Jesus is by observing how faithful believers live and behave.
Today invites us to rejoice in all the good around us. It challenges us to recognize the presence of God in everything that promotes freedom and communion. The more we participate in Jesus’ work of transformation, the more we will understand that we have encountered God with us and need not look for another.
If John could talk to us as we prepare to celebrate Christmas, he would probably encourage us to join with him in questioning. At a time when there was a wide variety of religious opinions and paths offered for public consumption, John asked Jesus if he were the One. Today, Christians seem content to say that Jesus is the One, but we too often trim him to our own expectations rather than wonder who he is and where we should look for him.
If we allow today’s Scriptures to guide us, we will ask more questions and give fewer answers about the Christ of Christmas present. If we wish to seek him, our starting place must be among those who are serving the blind, the lame, the outcast and the poor. Some of those people are scandalous, but so were Jesus and John. Blessed will we be when we see God at work through them.
(Matthew 11: 2-11)
Go and tell John what you hear and see.
Jesus, you make the blind to see.
Help us to see our neighbors’ needs.
You open deaf ears to hear.
Please open our ears to hear the cry of the poor.
You made clean the lepers.
Clean us too, we beg,
of the many wrongs we do,
and the right things we fail to do.
Our mute tongues want to sing your praise.
We want to leap in joy like the stag.
Heal us, please.
The First Reading
(Isaiah 35: 1-6A, 10)
Strengthen the hands that are feeble, make firm the knees that are weak.
Say to those whose hearts are frightened: be strong, fear not!
Flee, sorrow, grief. Be strong, O heart.
Christ himself labors within us,
making our knees strong and limbs agile.
Come, joy and gladness. Come to us.
Make our prairies and deserts
bloom into meadows of flowers.
O God, we watch for you, and
count the ways you come to us.
The Second Reading
(James 5: 7-10)
You too must be patient.
See the farmer await the precious yield of the soil.
Precious Jesus, we await your presence
every moment of our lives.
Come to us bit by bit, day by day.
Teach us to wait for the exquisite yield of your love.
Copyright © 2022, Anne M. Osdieck
Music for reflection