Advent 2: Preparing the Way

Whereas last week’s readings invited us to see the signs God’s needed presence, we must do more than pray, “Come, Lord Jesus, come into the dark and despairing places of our lives, our world.” The second Sunday of Advent calls us to be people who prepare the way: who make straight that which is crooked and who set an example of an alternative way of life.

The lectionary readings that give voice to this call this week are:

  • Malachi 3:1-4 speaks of the labour-intensive processes of refining and laundering that are necessary to purify and clean us as we make ready for God’s coming.
  • Luke 1:68-79, also known as the Benedictus or “Zechariah’s Song,” stirs notes of hope and anticipation of what it means to “prepare the way” as Jesus would and did – to make known our salvation through the forgiveness of sins, to shine with the light of God’s tender mercy on those living in darkness and in death, and to guide our feet in the path of peace.
  • Philippians 1:3-11 gives us assurance that the good work begun within us not only has its origins in God, but will be carried by God until its completion with the coming of Christ Jesus.
  • Luke 3:1-6 begins the story of John the Baptist who, as the prophets foretold, gave up a life in the wilderness in order to preach a gospel of repentance that would eventually cost him that life.

Call to worship (based on Malachi as the second candle of Advent is lit):
We come into this sacred space,
at this sacred hour,
hoping to glimpse the light of Your presence
and to feel the comforting warmth of Your hand
guiding us through the twists and turns of our lives.
Satisfy our desire for You, O God.
Come to us with forger’s fire and launderer’s soap in hand
that we might be pure,
that we might be clean,
that we might be made new in our meeting.

Prayer of praise and pardon (based on the Benedictus):
Let us give praise to the Lord, the God of Israel, who does not remain distant or untouched by our troubles:
Blessed be He who has come to help his people,
who has given us our freedom.

Let us give praise to the Lord, our powerful Saviour; descended from a line of servants to serve us as the prophets foretold:
Blessed be He who saves us from our enemies and our oppressors,
who shows us mercy and grace.
Let us give praise to God, the Father of Abraham, who is faithful in keeping promises and offering us protection from those who persecute us:
Blessed be He who who makes us good and holy,
who, as we worship, carries our cares and quells our fears.
Let us give praise to the Most High God and to Christ Jesus, our Lord, who has gone before us to prepare the path of eternal life and love:
Blessed be he who forgives our sins,
who gives us the assurance that we have been saved.

*a moment of silent confession can be offered as people claim the blessing of forgiveness as they have just blessed the One who Forgives*

With the loving mercy of our God,
a new day from heaven will dawn upon us.
May it shine on those who live in darkness,
who tremble in the shadow of death and despair,
and show us the way – step by step – to perfect peace.

 

The Benediction (based on the Philippians reading):
May He Who Began A Good Work In You
be faithful to complete it:
and until we meet again may we grow in love
and in the way of life that Christ would be proud of;

pure and blameless and righteous
to the glory and praise of God.

 

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