Lord, our God, we praise You for Your Son, Jesus Christ, for He is Emmanuel, the Hope of all people.
He is the Wisdom that teaches and guides us.
He is the Savior of us all.
let your blessing come upon us as we light two (purple) advent candles and the third (pink) of this wreath.
May the wreath and its light be a sign of Christ's promise of salvation.
May He come quickly and not delay.
We ask this in His holy name. Amen.
"(The desert) will bloom with abundant flowers and rejoice with joyful song." "Rejoice in the Lord always!" "Shout for joy, O daughter Zion!"
The Scriptures for the Third Sunday of Advent proclaim their message in no uncertain terms: Rejoice! Joy is all around us and our celebration of Advent calls us to discover it. The joy that the Scripture passages speak about is not a joy that equates with hilarious laughter. It is a joy that comes from a security with our God, those around us, and our place in the world. It is the joy Isaiah describes when he writes, "I rejoice heartily in the Lord, in my God is the joy of my soul." It is a joy that cannot be bought or obtained from artificial highs. It is a joy that comes from our living faith in a living God.
It is the joy we feel as we approach the birth of our Savior and remember the awesome beauty of what happened on that cold Bethlehem night.
When He had come into the temple area, the chief priests and the elders of the people approached Him as He was teaching and said, "By what authority are you doing these things? And who gave you this authority?" (Matthew 21:23)
The question of authority always followed Jesus. Different groups and individuals would try to ask Him difficult questions to trick Him and make Him look stupid in front of the crowds who listened to His teaching. It is clear that Jesus derived His authority from an unshakable inner knowledge of His relationship to the Father. Do we have confidence in our relationship with God so that we can speak the truth as we see it? Or do we expect the Church or some other authority to speak for us?
Make something (bake a cake, draw a picture, cut out a cartoon) to cheer someone up or as a means of sharing the spirit of the season.
Lord, make me confident anew of Your great gift of faith that I may tell others of Your goodness.
For then I will change and purify the lips of the people, that they all may call upon the name of the Lord, to serve Him with one accord. (Zephaniah 3:9)
Zephaniah's prophetic dream of unity seems no closer to reality today than when it was 2500 years ago. Even though our world enjoys many modern technological advantages over the world of Zephaniah, it seems that there is not technological "fix" for the human heart.
"Change" and "pure lips" require personal conversion. What have I done to promote "one accord" in the world? No matter how we might view ourselves, all people are equal in the sight of God. We are all His servants.
Examine your conscience. Are you continually turning towards God?
Lord, purify me of everything, whether present or past, that hinders me from serving You.
Turn to Me and be safe, all you ends of the earth, for I am God; there is no other! (Isaiah 45:22)
We need to be reminded, just like the Israelite people in the desert who built a golden calf, that it is God who is God, not the idols we create. It seems that times are more subtle now. People melting down their jewelry to fashion an idol in a public place is not a common sight in our day. But we do, as a people, flock to certain places and events as if they were important: television sets, soap operas, celebrities. Do I live my day-to-day life as if a supernatural being is my God? Or do I live as if some earthly pleasure or diversion is? Where is my energy expended? Where is my time spent? Where do I turn?
Think of some possession you have that you can give away to the poor. Give to the Catholic Relief Fund or to some other charity.
Lord, help me turn to You and let nothing take me from You, for You alone are my God.
Though the mountains leave their place and the hills be shaken My love shall never leave you nor My covenant of peace be shaken, says the Lord, who has mercy on you. (Isaiah 54:10)
Sometimes we take God's promises for granted. We have listened to them so many times that their meaning makes no impact on us. But consider: "Though the mountains leave their place…" God's love is so steadfast, there is no event that could diminish it. There is no action on our part by which He would consider us unworthy. Have we shared this good news with anyone lately?
Send a get well card to someone in the hospital.
Pray for those affected by war.
Lord, Your wondrous good news of unshakable love for me, leaves me comforted and at peace.
All this took place to fulfill what the Lord has said through the prophet: "Behold, the virgin shall be with the child and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel" which means, "God is with us," When Joseph awoke, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him and took his wife into his home. (Matthew 1:22-24)
Joseph's commitment to Mary and to the child in her womb caused confusion and pain. He was a devout and honorable man, determined to do what was right. He trusted what he heard God say in his dream and obeyed the command of the angel.
In our own lives our commitment to Jesus can cause discomfort, confusion, even pain. We must depend on God as did Mary and Joseph.
If you haven't already done so, put up a crèche or some other symbol to remind you of the coming feast.
O come, O come, great Lord of Might, Who to your tribes on Sinai's height In ancient times one gave the Law In cloud and majesty and awe.
But the angel said to him, "Do not be afraid, Zechariah, because your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall name him John. And you will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth, for he will be great in the sight of (the) Lord. He will drink neither wine nor strong drink. He will be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother's womb, and he will turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God. He will go before him in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of fathers toward children, and the disobedient to the understanding of the righteous, to prepare people fit for the Lord." (Luke 1:13-17)
Luke tells the beautiful story of John the Baptist who came to prepare the way for the coming of the Messiah. Have I "prepared the way" in the heart of a loved one or acquaintance for Jesus' coming? Have I been a "John?"
In a card or letter, tell someone how much you care for them. Let them know they are loved by you – and God.
O come, O Rod of Jesse's stem, From every foe deliver them That trust your mighty power to save: And give them victory o'er the grave.