Isaiah 35:1-10
Psalm 146:5-10 (or Luke 1:46b-55)
Matthew 11:2-11

By the Well (NEW): A preacher’s guide to the lectionary

The One
(would work well read in two voices)
Are you? Is it true? Has the time
arrived? Held, bound, John reaches
for the one to truly hold him, to whom
his heart is ever bound. Friends,
has he become what we hoped, has
God sent the promised Messiah?

Are you? Is it true? What time
has now arrived? Loose, free, are we
adrift from joy and wonder? Friends,
will he become in us what God
hoped he would, the light of Sacred love?

Go tell. What do you see? Good news
feeding hungry people, starving
no longer, my friend. Death to life,
blindness to sight, walking, talking,
standing tall and clean and home.

Go – tell. What do we see? Good
news quenching thirst and famine?
Friends, is death renewed, are silent
voices heard? Where is there dancing
in the streets with joy and reconciliation?

Look, see, the comfortable hide away.
Prophets are found in the wild, visible,
vulnerable, exposed. John is the one
promised, preparing: look, see, that he
is great, no greater than the least of these.

Look, see the privileged who close their ears?
Prophets will be heard, will not be kept silent:
listen and stand there by their side. I am
the one, Jesus replies, says to you
you are greater with me.
(Source: Sarah Agnew, Pray the Story)

When John heard in prison what the Messiah was doing, he sent word by his disciples and said to him, “Are you the one who is to come, or are we to wait for another?” Matthew 11.1

Someone you may not have noticed is waiting,
longing for healing, for justice, for hope.
You only mean to be passing by,
but they see you.
And even if they don’t know they are asking,
they are asking.
“Are you the one?”
Not necessarily the Messiah,
but perhaps one to bring hope,
to be a light in the darkness.
There may be someone in some kind of prison
looking for some kind of encouragement,
someone longing for healing or appreciation or forgiveness.
Will you be the one, or should they wait for another?
There may be people of color who see a white person
and assume racism, until they see otherwise.
There may be a non-conforming person
who assumes you will judge them
unless you clearly don’t.
Will you be the one to shine light in their darkness,
or are they to wait for another?

Sit still in the grace of God.
Let the light that is dawning for the world
dawn in you.
Let that light grow and radiate.
Bear it with you through the day.
You will meet someone who seeks grace,
who longs for a sign of hope.
And for them
you will be the one.
(Source: Steve Garnaas-Holmes, Unfolding Light)

Call to worship
Friends, I am here to tell you that we have received a request to prepare a place for the Christ-child to be born.
This request is not from Church Council, or even from Presbytery, Synod or Assembly, it appears to come from much higher.
And it will either alarm or relieve you
to know that we do not have to establish
a special Birthing Committee to do the planning!
The request, however, is couched in humble terms.
It asks us to simply create space and time
and to watch and wait for signs that the time has come.
It asks that each member, between now and Christmas Day, set aside a few minutes every day to reflect and pray,
and ready themselves for the moment.
It also asks that, as a congregation, we take care
not to over-clutter our days with frantic preparation, and to focus on renewing our spirits.
Needless to say it is a great honour,
and a task we should well be able to accomplish,
but it will require courage to let go of over-busyness.
May God be with us today
as we continue to celebrate Advent
and set our faces towards a Christmas birth.
(Source: Ann Siddall, Stillpoint Centre)

We have wilderness and dry land
at the heart of Australia.
We may not venture into it very often but we know it is there,
it has its place on our maps.
More familiar to us, however,
is the wilderness in our own hearts, the empty spaces in our own lives, the desert of longings
that engulf us at Christmas.
Wilderness is a hard place,
but also a place of beauty and grace, revealed by its sunsets and sunrises, the glow of ancient rocks,
the moon shining on the sand.
Do not be afraid
of the desert places in your life, for it is here
that the Good News
may be heard most profoundly.
May it be so.
(Source: Ann Siddall, Stillpoint Centre)

Prayers of petition
Preceded by the reading of James 5: 7-10
God, help us to be patient,
when we feel disappointed or frustrated about our lives.
You call us beloved,
and remind us to wait
as farmers wait for crops to grow.
Strengthen our hearts,
through the presence of Your Spirit, and help us to wait and to hold on.
Save us from grumbling
about each other’s faults and failings, and help us to be compassionate.
May we who read
the letter of James,
find its words full of encouragement. Amen.
(Source: Ann Siddall, Stillpoint Centre)

Statement of faith
(May be used following the reading, or sermon)
Luke 1: 46-55
Our souls magnify the Lord,
and our spirits rejoice in God our Saviour,
for God looks with favour upon us
and sees our unrealized potential.
In the tradition of Mary,
and all who have said “yes” to God, we stand here today,
to add our assent to theirs.
Like Mary, we feel overwhelmed;
we wonder if we are worthy,
or capable, of following the calling. Like Mary, we have our questions
and we will not be afraid to ask them. Like Mary, we will hear and ponder
the assurance that God will empower us. Like Mary we will strive to say –
“Let it be with us according to your will.”
To whatever God is inviting of us at this time in our lives,
and relying on God’s grace,
we say “yes.”
(Source: Ann Siddall, Stillpoint Centre)

About admin

Rev Sandy Boyce is a Uniting Church in Australia Minister (Deacon) in placement at Pilgrim Uniting Church, in Adelaide CBD (12 Flinders St). This blog is mainly to resource worship planners for our services, but of course may be useful for others. We have some great writers of music, words for hymns and liturgy at Pilgrim, so this blog also includes their words.
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