Advent Liturgy Week 4: Joy
Reader: During this season we light candles to mark the character of our preparation for the advent of God’s Kingdom.
People: This fourth week of Advent we reflect on the Joy to which God calls us.
Reader: Joy is not the same as happiness.
People: Joy is centered in accepting God’s love and loving others
Reader: Joy does not disappear in the face of overwhelming grief
People: Those who answer the call to joy acknowledge their circumstances and choose gratitude instead of despair.
Reader: With courage inspired by the Holy Spirit let us answer the call to hope, peace, love and joy.
Pause as the candle is lit. The Lighter lights the first candle on the Advent wreath. Once the candle is lit the Reader continues.
Reader: The apostle Paul writes to the Philippians;
Philippians 4:4-14 (NRSV)
4 Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. 5 Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near. 6 Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
8 Finally, beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think aboutthese things. 9 Keep on doing the things that you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, and the God of peace will be with you.
10 I rejoice in the Lord greatly that now at last you have revived your concern for me; indeed, you were concerned for me, but had no opportunity to show it. 11 Not that I am referring to being in need; for I have learned to be content with whatever I have. 12 I know what it is to have little, and I know what it is to have plenty. In any and all circumstances I have learned the secret of being well-fed and of going hungry, of having plenty and of being in need. 13 I can do all things through him who strengthens me. 14 In any case, it was kind of you to share my distress.
*Litany Inspired by “Loving my Actual Christmas” by Alexandra Kuykendall
The musicians at Third Church give program notes about the pieces they choose for the service. Today, the organist, Michael Hammer, wrote these words about the prelude pieces: I am using a healthy chorus of string stops, the one family whose euphonious sounds can be heard both in the front of the church and emanating from the rear balcony. Joy is not always loud. It may not be absolute. As in all of these pieces, there are moments of melancholy before the joy springs forth, just as the light shines…. in the darkness.
Here are other elements of today’s worship service:
Prayer of Confession:
O God of Isaiah and John, You call but we have not listened. We walk away from you and from our neighbors in need, too wrapped in our own concerns to hear your cries in their cries. Forgive our sins so that we may repent, turn to you, and receive forgiveness.
O God of Elizabeth and Mary, you visited your servants with news of the world’s redemption in the coming of the Savior. Make our hearts leap with joy, and fill our mouths with songs of praise, that we may announce glad tidings of peace, and welcome the Christ in our midst. Amen. 
Prayer of the Day & The Lord’s Prayer: (BCW page 175)
Eternal God, as you led your people in ages past, you direct our journey into the future. We give you thanks that you came to us in Jesus Christ, and we eagerly await his coming again that his rule may be complete and your righteousness reign over all the world. Then we will feast at his royal banquet, and sing his praises with the choir of heaven. By your Spirit, open our eyes to the generosity of your hand, and nurture our souls in all spiritual gifts. Fill us with gratitude overflowing that we may share life and love in praise to you, God of all the ages, in the gracious name of Jesus Christ, your Son, who taught us when we pray together to say, Our father…
Scripture Reading: John 3:22-36 (NRSV)
22 After this Jesus and his disciples went into the Judean countryside, and he spent some time there with them and baptized. 23 John also was baptizing at Aenon near Salim because water was abundant there; and people kept coming and were being baptized 24 —John, of course, had not yet been thrown into prison.
25 Now a discussion about purification arose between John’s disciples and a Jew. 26 They came to John and said to him, “Rabbi, the one who was with you across the Jordan, to whom you testified, here he is baptizing, and all are going to him.” 27 John answered, “No one can receive anything except what has been given from heaven. 28 You yourselves are my witnesses that I said, ‘I am not the Messiah, but I have been sent ahead of him.’ 29 He who has the bride is the bridegroom. The friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly at the bridegroom’s voice. For this reason my joy has been fulfilled. 30 He must increase, but I must decrease.”
The One Who Comes from Heaven
31 The one who comes from above is above all; the one who is of the earth belongs to the earth and speaks about earthly things. The one who comes from heaven is above all. 32 He testifies to what he has seen and heard, yet no one accepts his testimony. 33 Whoever has accepted his testimony has certifiedthis, that God is true. 34 He whom God has sent speaks the words of God, for he gives the Spirit without measure. 35 The Father loves the Son and has placed all things in his hands. 36 Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever disobeys the Son will not see life, but must endure God’s wrath.
#10 On Jordan’s Bank the Baptist’s Cry
#15 Rejoice! Rejoice, Believers
#464 Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee
Year D: Advent 4 readings:
Here are my other year D advent reflections: