Call to worship
Today we celebrate the Sunday of Rejoicing. We are filled with Advent joy knowing that God’s Spirit moves within the poor and the broken hearted. John the Baptist reminds us that those moved by God always point joyfully beyond themselves.
- To the point: John the Baptist is sure about his own identity because he is sure about the identity of Jesus. John knows himself as the precursor of the greater One yet to come, whose sandal strap he is not even worthy to untie. Because of his self-knowledge, he is enabled to be who God intends him to be, not the Messiah, but the one who points beyond self to the Messiah’s presence. If we are asked, “Who are you?” can we be so sure about our own identity in relation to Jesus that our lives also point to him?
- Connecting the Gospel (John 1: 6-8,19-28) to the first reading: John the Baptist in the gospel describes the great difference that exists between who he is and who Jesus is. By implication, the same great difference exists between Jesus and us. Yet, in the second reading Paul makes clear that God indeed diminishes this difference through the grace of the Spirit in whom we are made “perfectly holy” and are “preserved blameless.”
- Connecting the Gospel to experience: “American Idol” showed us identities and gifts in fierce competition to be No. 1. John shows us the opposite: how different identities and gifts must cooperate to bring about the reign of God by not focusing on self but on each other.
(John 1: 6-8, 19-28)
He came for testimony, to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him.
Send us too, like John, Lord.
Let us be the sound of your voice
crying out in the desert.
Let our whole life be a witness to your light.
Make it our reason for being.
No guile in us. No dimness. Not anymore.
The First Reading
(Isaiah 61: 1-2a, 10-11)
The spirit of the Lord God is upon me.
Lord, you bring glad tidings to the poor.
Let us rejoice in it.
You heal the brokenhearted.
Heal us, too.
You free prisoners from their jails.
Free us from everything that shackles us today.
Loving God, please come to us,
and send us out — forgiven, healed —
to the poor, the brokenhearted and the prisoners.
The Second Reading
(I Thessalonians 5: 16-24)
Jesus, let us rejoice in you
and then let everything work together for us,
whether listening to you or not,
feeling your presence or not,
still, let it be our unceasing prayer,
as you embrace us with love.
Let us never quench your Spirit.
Copyright © 2020, Anne M. Osdieck.