I’m late posting this, probably because I’m not preaching every week in Advent this year. This liturgy uses the Isaiah texts for Year B, except on the fourth Sunday, which I used Romans. You can use this liturgy for home or church. If you do, please write or note the following: Liturgy prepared by Quentin Chin. Used by the author’s permission.
Dec 3: Isaiah 64:1-9
O that you would tear open the heavens and come down, so that the mountains would quake at your presence– as when fire kindles brushwood and the fire causes water to boil– to make your name known to your adversaries, so that the nations might tremble at your presence! When you did awesome deeds that we did not expect, you came down, the mountains quaked at your presence. From ages past no one has heard, no ear has perceived, no eye has seen any God besides you, who works for those who wait for him. You meet those who gladly do right, those who remember you in your ways. But you were angry, and we sinned; because you hid yourself we transgressed. We have all become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a filthy cloth. We all fade like a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away. There is no one who calls on your name, or attempts to take hold of you; for you have hidden your face from us, and have delivered us into the hand of our iniquity. Yet, O Lord, you are our Father; we are the clay, and you are our potter; we are all the work of your hand. Do not be exceedingly angry, O Lord, and do not remember iniquity forever. Now consider, we are all your people.
One: We turn to face the past and see a world with gaping wounds. Too many victims of mass violence. Anger simmers in our communities. Children suffer in poverty. Opioids flood our streets. We are lost. We need the Almighty to tear open the heavens and come among us. We need the sword of righteousness. We need love’s healing balm. We need God to lead us towards a new day.
Many: The world we see, O God, is of our making. When we are motivated by fear rather than love, believing in scarcity more than abundance, we lose our way. Come among us and guide us from this world’s turmoil to your realm of peace and justice rooted in your steadfast love. Amen.
Dec. 10: Isaiah 40:1-11
Comfort, O comfort my people, says your God. Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and cry to her that she has served her term, that her penalty is paid, that she has received from the Lord’s hand double for all her sins. A voice cries out: “In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Every valley shall be lifted up, and every mountain and hill be made low; the uneven ground shall become level, and the rough places a plain. Then the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all people shall see it together, for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.” A voice says, “Cry out!” And I said, “What shall I cry?” All people are grass, their constancy is like the flower of the field. The grass withers, the flower fades, when the breath of the Lord blows upon it; surely the people are grass. The grass withers, the flower fades; but the word of our God will stand forever. Get you up to a high mountain, O Zion, herald of good tidings; lift up your voice with strength, O Jerusalem, herald of good tidings, lift it up, do not fear; say to the cities of Judah, “Here is your God!” See, the Lord God comes with might, and his arm rules for him; his reward is with him, and his recompense before him. He will feed his flock like a shepherd; he will gather the lambs in his arms, and carry them in his bosom, and gently lead the mother sheep.
One: Have we been watchful? Have we listened carefully? In the midst of bad news, there are signs of hope and glimmers of new possibilities leading us to God’s kingdom on earth. This year researchers tested a new drug to fight ovarian cancer. The civil war in Columbia ended. Americans of all ages and political persuasions set aside their differences to marvel at a solar eclipse. A court in Chicago extended civil rights to LGBTQ people.
Many: Steadfast and loving One, though we may have difficulty seeing signs of your love and peace in our midst, you do not fail us. Nothing shall stand in the way of your coming. We have nothing to fear. May we not wither like the grass or fade like the flower, but stand fast and proclaim your power and glory in this world. Amen.
Dec. 17: Isaiah 61:1-4, 8-11
“The spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me; he has sent me to bring good news to the oppressed, to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and release to the prisoners; to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn; to provide for those who mourn in Zion– to give them a garland instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the mantle of praise instead of a faint spirit. They will be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, to display his glory. They shall build up the ancient ruins, they shall raise up the former devastations; they shall repair the ruined cities, the devastations of many generations.
For I the Lord love justice, I hate robbery and wrongdoing; I will faithfully give them their recompense, and I will make an everlasting covenant with them. Their descendants shall be known among the nations, and their offspring among the peoples; all who see them shall acknowledge that they are a people whom the Lord has blessed. I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, my whole being shall exult in my God; for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation, he has covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decks himself with a garland, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels. For as the earth brings forth its shoots, and as a garden causes what is sown in it to spring up, so the Lord God will cause righteousness and praise to spring up before all the nations.
One: By our baptisms, God calls us to bring good news to the oppressed, to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and release to the prisoners. We shall with God’s guidance and help rebuild the ancient ruins, raise up the devastation, and repair our communities. The Holy Spirit, which is in each of us, gives us strength and courage to exceed our limitations and in so doing make plain the good news to come.
Many: O God, lover of justice and purveyor of peace, let the struggles we see in our community and the world prod us to be your instruments of peace. May we be inspired by love to serve as your hands and feet in order to hasten the new day when your peace and your justice will prevail. Amen.
Dec 24 (morning): Romans 16:25-27
Now to God who is able to strengthen you according to my gospel and the proclamation of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery that was kept secret for long ages but is now disclosed, and through the prophetic writings is made known to all the Gentiles, according to the command of the eternal God, to bring about the obedience of faith–to the only wise God, through Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory forever! Amen.
One: The new day is almost here. We can hasten that day when we serve God as Jesus demanded of us. Peace and justice rooted in radical, inclusive love will prevail. Fear will be banished. Scarcity and deprivation will be no more. Hope will spring forth. Be strengthened in Spirit.
Many: O God, we will be your instruments of grace. We will bring hope to the poor. We will be stewards of your Creation. We will be your servant leaders. By your Spirit give us strength. By your Spirit give us courage. May your Spirit move us to action. Lead us on righteous paths so that we do not stray. Amen.
Dec. 24 (Christmas): Isaiah 9:2-7
The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who lived in a land of deep darkness– on them light has shined. You have multiplied the nation, you have increased its joy; they rejoice before you as with joy at the harvest, as people exult when dividing plunder. For the yoke of their burden, and the bar across their shoulders, the rod of their oppressor, you have broken as on the day of Midian. For all the boots of the tramping warriors and all the garments rolled in blood shall be burned as fuel for the fire. For a child has been born for us, a son given to us; authority rests upon his shoulders; and he is named Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. His authority shall grow continually, and there shall be endless peace for the throne of David and his kingdom. He will establish and uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time onward and forevermore. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this.
One: Christ has come again. Though peace and justice for all is not yet, we know that God has been working to bend the moral arc of the universe towards justice. Such work cannot be done without the Holy Spirit moving in us and through us. Progress has been made and progress will continue.
Many God of peace, we are awed that you came to us on a night long ago to share our common lot, to proclaim the captives free, and make the lame leap for joy. We give thanks for your presence in our lives. In celebration of your presence in our world tonight, we promise to be your hands and feet to continue the ministry Jesus began so that the darkness of this world will be dispelled forever. Amen.